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Why Breastfeeding Is A Feminist Issue

What’s going so wrong with the breastfeeding and formula-feeding conversation?

Start with the rampant individualism. Conversations about how you feed your baby tend to be preoccupied with women’s choices and decisions.. and then, blame. You know the conversation has little feminist value when you end up at a point where some poor, exhausted woman is trying to justify her decision to formula-feed her baby to you, or likewise, if some other poor woman is trying to justify her reasons for breastfeeding her toddler to you.

The main reason why the breastfeeding/formula feeding conversation is not moving forward is because it is bogged down with this individualism. I think there are several factors behind that. Firstly, public health messages, like those promoting breastfeeding, are notoriously heavy-handed and don’t deal well with nuance. This is a shame because people’s health is actually quite nuanced. Secondly, the breastfeeding message is, in part, a marketing message attempting to compete with the marketing messages of formula companies. When you do this you invariably make women consumers. Thirdly, we live in an era when motherhood is hyper-competitive and driven by perfectionism. Everyone is trying to Get It Super Right Or Terrible Consequences Will Happen For Their Children, and everything seems to come down to mothers and their choices. This leads to conversations that over-emphasise the role of choice in outcomes and also, that invariably run into the limitations of professionalising motherhood when it is still monetarily worthless. Finally, it’s just so terribly easy for a patriarchal culture to put all the responsibility on mothers and not chase the real culprits behind the big decline in breastfeeding and long-term breastfeeding rates in Western countries, which are things like inflexible workplace policies, the absence of universal maternity leave schemes, insufficient anti-discrimination legislation and hostile societal attitudes towards women’s bodies.

One of my good friends was an unapologetic formula-feeder with her children. She tried breastfeeding but having grown up with constant fat-shaming she was unable to ever feel comfortable with breastfeeding. When she found herself forcing her newborn to skip feeds during the very hot days of summer so as not to have to breastfeed in front of visiting family and friends and then panicking about whether she had dehydrated her tiny baby, she decided it was time to formula feed. She loved bottle-feeding – it helped her to start enjoying her baby. Was there much pressure on you, I asked, to breastfeed, and were people judgemental about your formula-feeding? Not that I noticed, my friend told me, but this world can apologise for how much it hated my body before I will apologise for not breastfeeding my children.

Good for her, except, what a bloody heart-breaking way to finally reclaim some space for yourself. Experiences like hers remind me what is so damn wrong with individualism in the breastfeeding/formula-feeding conversation. We’re pushing breastfeeding as a message but we sure aren’t embracing it as a culture. And we somehow blame individual mothers for the shortfall.

After recognising the problem with individualism, often the feminist discussion retreats to a place where everyone agrees to respect one another’s right to choose what is best for them and their babies and then to just all shut the hell up. Initially this makes sense, if everyone is shouting over the top of one another and everyone is feeling very defensive about their feeding decisions then let’s agree to turn down the volume. The problem is that once you turn the volume down on breastfeeding activism and formula-feeding choices we don’t get silence, we get another kind of noise. Because we exist not in a vacuum but in a misogynist culture.

I swear, I really do write about other issues in motherhood, even though I seem to have made breastfeeding my core topic in guest posts at Feministe.. and this is maybe why it has been my topic du jour, because breastfeeding is more than a choice about how to feed your baby, it is a lens through which you can see with absolute clarity the intersection between misogyny and motherhood. There are a million other possible examples but this area of mothering is a stunning case of it. Because, let me be clear about this – women get harassed and shamed and illegally evicted from public space for breastfeeding; women get threatened with losing custody of their children for breastfeeding for ‘too long’; women get ridiculed and bullied for trying to pump milk at work; women get described as a freak show for breastfeeding twins or tandem feeding; women get called names like ‘stupid cow’ or ‘filthy slut’ for breastfeeding; women get told they are sexually abusing their children for breastfeeding; women get told they’re not allowed to keep breast milk in communal fridges because it’s a dirty bodily fluid (and cow’s milk isn’t?); women are bullied into stopping breastfeeding because breasts are the sexual property of their husbands; women get told that breastfeeding is obscene in front of other people’s children or other people’s husbands; women get told their bodies are too fat and too saggy and too veiny to be exposed while breastfeeding; women get told to stay at home with their babies until they are no longer breastfeeding; women get instructed to throw blankets over themselves and their babies if they wish to breastfeed outside the home.. and on it goes. This is not the result of some peculiar sensitivity towards babies and small children eating, this does not happen with bottle-feeding, this is specifically about breastfeeding and it is about policing women’s bodies and lives.

Breastfeeding is a feminist issue not because mummy bloggers like me say it is, but because it’s about working to ensure that women and their bodies are considered as important (as normal) as men and their bodies. Something happens for all of us – regardless of whether we are breastfeeders or not – when a woman is allowed to breastfeed, in public, as a member of her community, while getting shit done in her life – it makes a statement that women belong, that women’s bodies belong, that women are here.

The animosity shown towards mothers who formula-feed is judgemental crusading and it should never be condoned by feminists but you are missing the big picture if you argue that bottle-feeding is demonised and breastfeeding is not – that we’ve gone too far with lactivism. Quite simply, something is very frigging wrong in our world when women are harassed and shamed for doing something that women’s bodies do as a routine part of raising children. This should trouble all feminists.

Breastfeeding also provides an example of how deeply hostile workplace culture is towards mothers.

Breastfeeding can be hard work in the beginning. (I got the latch so messed up when I breastfed my first baby that in the first couple of weeks I almost ended up with the end of my nipple torn off. My baby would finish a breastfeed and dribble blood out of her mouth. I know, so vampire. All those years of averting my slightly horrified gaze from mothers breastfeeding in public when I was young did not prepare me at all well when I came to breastfeed my own baby). Breastfeeding in those early months requires a lot of energy. You need to be eating and drinking and resting regularly or you can’t sustain a milk supply. (Try chasing dairy cows around the paddock all day long and see how much milk you get from them in the evening). This is an excellent argument for maternity leave, lactation breaks in the workplace and generally supporting new mothers. But it also shows you how far we have to go, because in the United States there still isn’t a universal paid maternity leave scheme and even for those who do have access to maternity leave it is usually woefully short. No sooner do you get breastfeeding established and bang! you’re back at work (full-time, of course), and separated from them all day long while now being expected to suddenly get used to a breast pump. And then, oh, breastfeeding didn’t work out for them, what could possibly be the explanation?

When feminists write about these tensions for mothers there is a tendency to argue that because it is so difficult to breastfeed in these circumstances that we need to back-off about breastfeeding. I’m a little sceptical of this strategy, though I think it comes from a good place. Women are entitled to their choices, of course, let’s not head back into individualism, but isn’t it awfully convenient that we never question the institutions of power that happen to arrange themselves in such a way that women have little real choice about breastfeeding?

Because here is the other thing about breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is lazy. Ultimately, I came to love breastfeeding as a mother because I am quite lazy. Breastfeeding is fast food. Breastfeeding is multi-tasking. Breastfeeding is portable. Breastfeeding is unstructured and unscheduled. All of these elements are very pleasing to lazy people, like me. So, it annoys me no end as a feminist that we, as a Western culture, stigmatise breastfeeding when in the long-run it can often make mothers’ and children’s lives easier.

I can’t help but be suspicious that we prioritise solutions to this work-life conflict that suit a model of workplace built around men’s lives and that consistently challenge women to find new ways of adapting without ever questioning whether our economy could be moulded just a little more fairly around care work and dependency. Because, dependence is not deviant behaviour – being young, being old, being unwell, being hurt and healing, being disabled – it’s normal life. And this is not hippy stuff; this is just finding a better way of working with capitalism. For that matter, breastfeeding is not hippy, it just is. It’s not some special gift, it’s not a sacrifice, it is just the way mammals generally feed their young.

If we were more accepting of breastfeeding on those grounds instead of trying to up-sell it then maybe we wouldn’t be stuck in such an endless loop of defensiveness with formula-feeding choices. Yes, breastfeeding has nutritional and immunity merits but it is also offers a way of being close with a baby and that, in itself, is valuable enough. There are other ways to experience that closeness, of course, and mothers shouldn’t be forced to parent in that way if they don’t want to, but for those who do, we shouldn’t sabotage them. And this is where the feminist conversation must be particularly careful, and it’s a tricky juggling act, but in our desire to neutralise all that ridiculous individualist blaming of women for their choices we often diminish the significance of their choices to them. Because when we say breastfeeding is not all that important we silence the grief some women feel about not having been able to breastfeed and we take away the sense of achievement other women feel about breastfeeding in spite of multiple obstacles, but possibly worst of all, we undermine the broader message every parent is trying to give, which is that workplace and institutional change needs to happen.. and it needs to happen soon.


P.S. I want to acknowledge and thank one of the writers of Hoyden About Town, Lauredhel who stayed up late with me one night so I could bounce my arguments around with her and who steered me when I was off-track and reminded me of elements I had overlooked. Thank you, L.

P.P.S. I also want to acknowledge that although I have generalised about breastfeeding mothers here, as I recently discussed on Feministe, fathers sometimes breastfeed, too.

Meet Your Local Extreme Breastfeeder

The other day one of my seven year old daughter’s guinea pigs died and it is the first death my two kids have dealt with up close and they love their guinea pigs, and I do, too, and so it was really very sad. Their father was away trekking for two weeks – because I am a saint and I gave him the gift of solitude for his birthday – and so, I found myself alone in a way too, with all of this. (Huge eye-roll in sympathy to the real single parents who do this solo parenting gig all year around and who get crapped on by so many people for their, frankly, friggin’ heroic efforts). The guinea pig death happened on this very chaotic morning. Actually, all the days where I am working in the city are chaotic because ‘school + kindy + workplace’ and back again in the evening equals a whole lot of trips in opposing directions and a very long day for all. The three year old was being a really obnoxious griever, entirely missing the point of why his big sister and I were so upset, and just wanting to endlessly explore the nature of death in gruesome detail. All he knows about death is that it is something that can happen when people fight with guns and it is why his mother is a bit sensitive about gun-play for little kids and why he gets frowned at when he pretends to shoot anyone. So, every second phrase out of his mouth was “who killed her, but who killed our guinea pig?”. Didn’t matter how many times I explained that death just happens sometimes, all he wanted to do was be a frickin’ detective. Meanwhile, his poor sister was getting more and more distressed by her brother’s death carnival. It was awful. And I did think quite a lot – why me, why am I having to deal with this alone while their father is out in the wilderness enjoying himself?

But by that night, when we three got home from ‘work + school + kindy + after-school care arrangements’ and I showed them where the little pig was buried, the three year old finally appreciated the finality of death and he was suddenly on the same page as the rest of us. We were all in my bed together (see the title of this post above), and I was breastfeeding him because that’s what he likes to do when he goes to sleep and also because I thought that breastfeeding might be a better comfort than story books. But he immediately came off the breast because he was sobbing too much to feed and it seemed he wanted to talk to my breasts about the guinea pig’s death. So, if your rule is ‘kids should stop breastfeeding when they are old enough to ask for it’ how do you feel about kids who are old enough to emote their grief to it? I don’t even know how I feel about that.

Sometime in their first year babies go through a developmental stage where they finally understand that the hand you wave in front of them or the nipple you pop into their mouth whenever you appear, is actually part of you and not some random toy you happen to pick up. Considering babies arrive in the world knowing almost nothing, you can see why this would be a concept that would require some thinking about for them, but apparently, that developmental stage can be incomplete. Three year olds exist in this really trippy stage of life where they know puppets aren’t real, and that’s why they’ve stopped screaming when one approaches them, but they are still capable of getting completely lost in ‘pretend’ and they really do imagine that inanimate objects can be kind of real and have personalities. So, when he started talking to my breasts (“breastfeedings” he calls them, in case you were wondering), and he was being so sincere and sad I did not know quite what to do. Should my breasts be answering him, it seems rude to remain completely indifferent to someone who is sharing the most tragic moment of their life with you? I mean, my breasts aren’t cold-hearted. And if my breasts answered him should they have my voice, which, would kind of take you out of the moment, or should they have a unique voice of their own, and in which case, what does a breast’s voice sound like?

So, this is breastfeeding beyond babyhood. It’s both strange and normal.

I hear you have a reality TV show coming to your screens in the US about ‘extreme breastfeeders’ and I thought you might like to know one of those weirdos for yourself. Here I am. Before I had children I thought breastfeeding for twelve months was pushing it. Six months is fine, but if they can eat solids then why breastfeed any further? With the first child I really surprised myself and I breastfed her for just under two years. Now I am breastfeeding a three and a half year old who is tall enough to look like a five year old. We could definitely do an impression of that notorious TIME magazine cover. He’s partial to a bit of standing-up breastfeeding, too. ‘This me’ would totally have horrified ‘old me’. Public breastfeeding? Wasn’t keen on that. Breastfeeding toddlers? Really wasn’t keen on that.

The thing I didn’t realise back then when I was repulsed by the idea of breastfeeding a child ‘old enough to ask for it’ is that babies ‘ask for it’ right from birth and they never stop asking for it, their methods just get increasingly sophisticated. And that sophistication, like all other milestones your baby achieves, makes a parent beam with pleasure. If you found yourself compelled to respond to their earlier requests you will quite likely feel compelled by their later requests.

Here is how a baby ‘asks for it’: they cry shrilly, they nuzzle you, they suck on your finger, and they turn their face towards you if you lightly brush their cheek. Then one day, while balanced in your lap, they throw themselves backwards to be laying down near your chest. You think, holy hell, your little neck is going to break, because they do this when they’re still in their floppy stage and haven’t developed proper neck muscles. Sometimes, they clamp on to the fleshiness of your arms and they suck you a hickey. If you teach your baby to sign, like I did, of course I did – see the title of this post, then they might even begin signing ‘breastfeed’ to you at five months old. When someone else holding them passes the baby into your arms they will tilt their head sideways with their mouth gaping in anticipation. They can burst into impatient tears at the sight of you undoing your bra. Sometimes they will reach their arms down your dress or lift up your t-shirt. They usually do all of this before they finally ‘ask for it’ with a spoken word and even then their word may be nothing more offensive than the adoption of a particular pitch when they plead “Mama” at you. At what point are ‘they old enough to ask for it’, and at what point is it too much? Depends on you, their mother, but don’t be surprised if you start to find the notion of ‘old enough to ask for it’ absurd.

Maybe you want to ask me, your local extreme breastfeeder, some questions.

Am I an earth mama?

No, I’m an economist, remember? I do not fit the stereotype you probably have of extreme breastfeeders and I would be surprised if you find all that many mothers do. I vaccinate my children, I wear pencil skirts and high heels, I ride a motorbike, I can’t sew, I like sex and violence in my TV shows (hello True Blood!), I used disposable nappies (diapers) on my babies, I am an atheist, I have never learnt yoga or meditation, and I am argumentative (so, I really should have taken the time at some point to learn yoga and meditation). I love earth mama types, they’re some of the most generous mothers I know, but I am not one of them.

Do I feel like breastfeeding for so long has taken over my body?

I think this is the number one concern I hear coming out in discussions where certain feminists are sounding a little anti-breastfeeding, and this notion that breastfeeding undermines your bodily integrity is definately what I sense in some of French feminist, Elisabeth Badinter’s work. I can see that breastfeeding may feel that way for some women but for me so much of mothering ‘takes over my body/life’ that it would be difficult to identify exactly which aspects I can attribute to breastfeeding. I hope women aren’t stuck resentfully breastfeeding for months and months because of the pressure to breastfeed, but the truth is, plenty about mothering is done with a little bit of resentment on the side. Breastfeeding can be terribly annoying when you urgently want to get up off this damn bed and get on with something else for the night, but for the most part, breastfeeding is a lazy parent’s best friend.

Motherhood is a very challenging identity for many of us. There’s a huge fear of losing yourself, and your boundaries, and your sex appeal, and your focus and direction, and control over your body when you transform into a mother. Breastfeeding can push all of those buttons. We live in a very misogynist culture. The worst trolling on my blog has always been about calling me a cow and trying to humiliate me about breastfeeding. Clearly, the concept that we can be lactating animals scares the shit out of some of us.

Do I feel forced into breastfeeding for so long by society’s expectation of what the perfect mother should be?

No. I have really, really enjoyed breastfeeding, it’s as simple as that. I understand that not everyone finds breastfeeding to be so nice but for me it has been a very lovely, intimate, relaxing experience. Breastfeeding fills me with love and that’s a nice thing to feel with your children. And for someone like me, who has had a love-hate relationship with their breasts, I have to acknowledge that breastfeeding has been a rather healing experience for my psyche.

Do I feel smug about breastfeeding for so long?

To be honest, I feel kind of embarrassed about breastfeeding for so long. It’s a terrible thing for a feminist mother who advocates for breastfeeding to admit but the stigma attached to breastfeeding kindergarteners (and beyond) is really strong and I have not really outed myself in my writing before as an ‘extreme breastfeeder’. I think that says quite a lot, that a ranty feminist like myself can feel so intimidated by the prejudices against long-term breastfeeding in our culture.

Do I find breastfeeding for so long to be sexual?

Very much not. Three cheers for women who manage to have a discreet orgasm while breastfeeding because they like the sensation so much. There are not enough orgasms in motherhood. But for me, breastfeeding is not a sexual experience. And let me clarify, no mother finds the concept of their child breastfeeding to be a sexual experience; really, they don’t. You might just as well try to convince us that wiping toddler’s bottoms is sexual. So Much No.

Does my child find breastfeeding sexual?

No. He doesn’t find sippy cups sexual either. He’s a little kid and he doesn’t know about anyone finding breasts sexy yet.

Does my partner resent me for breastfeeding for so long?

If I’m going to be really honest here (why not?) – I think he feels a little impatient with the fact that significant amounts of breast-play have been off my menu for a while but he doesn’t feel in any way competitive with his son for my body, and he doesn’t find breastfeeding repulsive, and he doesn’t think my decision to breastfeed is particularly any of his business. (He knows that my breasts belong to me – he successfully went through that developmental stage as a baby).

When will I stop breastfeeding?

Soon, I hope. I am getting a little sick of breastfeeding and the right time for weaning for me is coming soon. Get in now with your questions before I am no longer your local extreme breastfeeder.

(Post-script: my blog is and you can follow me on twitter @bluemilk).

Feminism + Housewifery

I realize the rest of the feminist internet is going to disagree with me on this one, but I loved this Elizabeth Wurtzel piece on 1% housewives.

Is it mean? Yes. Is it representative of most women’s lives? No. But maybe it’s time modern “internet feminism” made room for polemics and hard-nosed viewpoints and positioned itself as a serious social movement, instead of focusing on identity and making everyone feel good.

Daughter of the Patriarchy: Admissions

“When I was your age, my parents wouldn’t send me to college,” my mother was telling me. “I had to work my way through on my own. I don’t want you to have to stop. I will do everything I can to help you keep going to school. Your education is the most important thing to me.”

We stood in the kitchen, a printed letter lying on the counter between us. It was not good news.

I glanced up at my mother with a strained smile. I knew that if wishes could be cashed at the bank, I’d be writing my admissions essay to an ivy-coated castle. Instead, I was trying to find a way to pay the bill from my last semester of community college in time to register for fall classes. It was already August.

Also: pink NFL jerseys

This book is dedicated … to those women who cope with kids six days a week and when it’s Daddy’s turn on Sunday–find him long gone to the stadium or equally long gone in front of the TV, watching football from August to January.

All this is generally bad news for American Womanhood.

Definitely. That a woman should be expected to take care of the kids solo all week, and then when their dad has a single day of responsibility there, he still manages to find a way to dick off? That is terrible (if not uncommon) news. It’s not good for a woman to have sole responsibility for homemaking in what is generally accepted as a domestic partnership, and it’s not good for kids to grow up seeing manhood modeled by a guy who can’t be bothered to participate in said partnership.

Except this isn’t commentary on contemporary women’s issues circa 2011–it’s commentary on American football (or, as I like to call it, God’s football) circa 1966. Bird’s Eye Vegetables’ “Ladies Guide to Football” teaches you enough about football to “ask your hero intelligent questions” so he’ll let you hang out with him while he watches football.

And that’s what all women want, isn’t it? Not to be left out of things or, Heaven forbid! ignored.

As the gendered, outdated guide to Good Wifehood that it is, this book is kind of funny/sad. But simply as a guide to God’s football for the uninitiated–without the gendering–it’s actually pretty good. It translates the refs’ arcane hand signals, gives an illustrated rundown of various player positions, and provides a glossary of football terms that don’t really self-define. I know more than a few guys who would benefit from a book like this, because they don’t really understand the game but have to pretend to avoid being unmanly. And the design reminds me of a reading book I had in elementary school.

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Cupcake redux

A post a few weeks ago about girliness, gardening, cupcakes, and Sigourney Weaver was the focus of some amount of passion from women who happen to love cupcakes, gardening, and/or Sigourney Weaver in equal parts. One member of those ranks is, apparently, original post author Peg Aloi, who had the following to say in our fair comments:

Gosh. I had no idea this would stir up such anonymity. For the record, I am a feminist, a professional gardener and a professional baker (cupcakes my specialty in fact)! I was hired to write this piece for a website I work for (not HuffPo) and was given a topic and slant the editors wished me to use. I suppose my intentions were misconstrued as I was hoping there was plenty of tongue-in-cheek attitude to balance out my complaining. Also, my bio for the piece originally mentioned I was a professional gardener and baker, but that was edited out by the PR guy who gave it to HuffPo, so the irony was not there to help folks discern my stance, I guess.

Gardening is definitely for for wusses! I work my ass off at it and come home sweaty, dirty and tired from my professional landscaping gigs. I do everything on my own, no male helpers of big equipment. Maybe I should blog about that instead??? And for the record, Cupcakes Take the Cake and Garden Rant are two of my favorite blogs.

Anyway, mea culpa! I meant no offense to anyone who is a badass gardener, baker, knitter, fashionista or otherwise engaged in some artful domestic pursuit. I am one of you…

One of us. One of us.

So there’s that. And now it’s time to put it all behind us and celebrate with red velvet cupcakes and a showing of Alien.

Penelope Trunk’s new “Blueprint for a Woman’s Life:” Same as the old blueprint. Sigh.

I think that Penelope Trunk sometimes gives great career advice. I like that she values being lost, being open and honest, and making interesting mistakes on the way to finding an interesting and happy life. And even when I strongly disagree with her she never bores me.

She really pisses me off sometimes, but she never bores me. Until last week, when she basically tried to pass off “make it your life’s ambition to find and keep a husband” as groundbreaking life advice for women.

I debated posting about her “Blueprint for a Woman’s Life,” which is a plan she wishes she had followed between 18 and 45 and now wants to give to young (straight, educated, wealthy) women (who want marriage and kids with a wealthy man), because I think she’d loooooooove to have the attention of pissed-off feminists. But then I started reading all the blog comments that were like “OMG, this is the best and wisest thing that you could ever have said!” and then I Feminist-Hulked out.

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Strength in cupcakes

“Women are girly. Again,” she says. And apparently, that sucks.

Writing for the Huffington Post, Peg Aloi bemoans the death of the “tough gal,” as evidenced by blogs about cupcakes, gardening, Hello Kitty, and knitting. Women write about cuddly kitties. BUST is sponsoring a craft fair, holy shit! Feminism has not only come to an end but is actually regressing, and it’s all because of heirloom fucking tomatoes. Thanks, ladies.

It would appear that the world, as seen through Ms. Aloi’s TV, has become squishy, pink, and birthday cake-scented. (Oh, my God, how cool would a birthday cake world be, at least for a few hours?) The view from my window looks nothing like delicious baked goods, though, so I thought I’d share some of that view with Ms. Aloi.

Before we begin: Ms. Aloi, most of the examples of “tough gals” you provide hit somewhere around the mid- to late-’80s. Blogs, in the form we enjoy today, didn’t really come into popularity until the late ’90s. Women in the Age of Ripley still were knitting and baking cupcakes–they just weren’t blogging about it, because, y’know, no blogs.

Moving on:

Those “tough gal” examples cover a fairly vast range: leather-wearing rock rebels like Joan Jett and Courtney Love*; supernatural kickers of ass like Xena, Buffy, and Ellen Ripley**; iron-spirited fighters for right like Norma Rae and Erin Brockovich. You identify them as “strong, sexy, and take no crap.”

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More on Kay Hymowitz

So I should probably stop beating this Kay Hymowitz horse to death, but her “successful women have made men TERRIBLE” really stuck in my craw. In her piece, she suggests it’s a big problem that “Not so long ago, the average American man in his 20s had achieved most of the milestones of adulthood: a high-school diploma, financial independence, marriage and children. Today, most men in their 20s hang out in a novel sort of limbo, a hybrid state of semi-hormonal adolescence and responsible self-reliance.”

Matt Yglesias has a really great response

Since I’m still in my twenties for a few more months, I thought I’d actually look up the median age at first marriage for American males. The most recent year the data is reported for is 2007, when it was 27.7 which is indeed a few years older than it was “not so long ago” in 1960 when it was 22.8 years. But in 1920, it was 24.6 years. In 1890, it was 26.1, presumably because everyone was too busy watching Judd Apatow movies. Or maybe this number just bounces around over time and it’s always been the case that some people are sometimes frustrated with some members of the opposite sex.

World of Warcraft was invented in 1890, right?

Kay Steiger, who shares a first name with Hymowitz but little else, also has a piece worth reading, and rounds up a lot of the internet-talk about the original article.