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Chapter 18 215 Health Promotion and the Female Body In 2010 the Department of Health and Aging in Canberra released a ten-point Australian National Breastfeeding Strategy for stakeholders and government agencies. The first point reads, “Monitoring and surveillance” and the last, “Education and awareness, including antenatal education.” Between these are items relating to dietary guidelines, growth charts, the WHO’s code of marketing , training in breastfeeding support for health professionals, research into milk banks, and other worthy projects. In 2008 an Australian advertising firm released a tampon advertisement for U Tampons, manufactured by Kotex. In it an attractive young woman walks down the street with cheerful music in the background, carrying a pet beaver under her arm. They are on their way to have their hair and nails done, then head to the beach to sunbathe as young men wander admiringly past. Afterward they go out to lunch. Across the table at the restaurant, the woman presents a gift to her pet, who opens it to discover a box of U Tampons. The scene closes to a female voiceover: “You’ve only got one, so for the ultimate care down there, make it U.”1 Meanwhile, on late-night television, actress Toni Collette jokes about spraying her breast milk at the studio camera, and news of a New York chef creating cheese dishes from his partner’s breast milk circulates in tabloid media.2 Although these texts target different audiences, the gap between them highlights the extent to which public health discourse fails, in contrast to popular culture, to acknowledge women’s corporeal experience, as well as the need to embed knowledge within cultural as well as institutional contexts. Reinstating Pleasure in Reality Promoting Breastfeeding through Ars Erotica Fiona Giles The conservative discourse of the public sector is unsurprising, yet its lack of recognition of these worlds suggests a lag in its conceptualization of intimate behavior and the processes of social change. All health promotion addresses intimate behavior to some extent. The challenge is to balance scientific evidence of benefit or harm with a recognition of the complex and varied relationships people have with their bodies. In the case of breastfeeding, the scientific conceptualization of the practice of breastfeeding, together with the substance (milk) and the process (lactation), is at odds with a whole range of constraints outside clinical settings: partner expectations, sexuality, work, maternity leave, and architecture, to name a few. There exists a stark contrast between the clinical management of breast milk as a disembodied medicinal substance within a scarcity model of carefully measured protocols, risks and benefits, and the cultural celebration of a relational bodily process that engages with food, babies, and sex within a plenitude model of curiosity, irreverence, and pleasure. A small number of health promotion campaigns developed by community breastfeeding organizations have included humor and a hint of sexuality. These include the 2002 Australian Breastfeeding Association television spot with a baby breastfeeding in close-up then speaking to the camera: “Get ahead in life. Suck up to the boss.” Also in 2002 the New Zealand World Breastfeeding Week poster featured the actress Lucy Lawless breastfeeding while modestly attired in skirt and blouse, though revealing a curve of breast and legs in fishnet stockings.3 These campaigns, including the U Tampon advertisement, attracted viewer complaints, as is not uncommon following advertising with sexual references.4 While the respective governing bodies allowed them to continue, both the “suck up to the boss” and U Tampon ads were confined to mature audience viewing. The distance of these advertisements from official representations of lactation (and menstruation), as strictly the domain of the medical or asexually domestic, contributed to their shock value. In the case of the breastfeeding examples, the gap between institutional and popular culture approaches cannot be easily bridged unless advocacy discourse acknowledges that women’s bodies are not only a medical responsibility—they also belong in the realm of play. Occasional instances of irreverence in popular media cannot achieve a shift in values alone and may merely accentuate the polarization of the quirky from the proper. Given that mainstream coverage of breastfeeding rarely includes images of any kind, it is difficult to reassure women that breastfeeding is socially acceptable, even in its most decorous incarnation, particularly in public.5 Adopting a more creative approach by canvassing a range of 216 Fiona Giles behavioral possibilities might assist health communicators to legitimize pleasure and reinforce the freer models that appear...


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