The Lactating Man
Mathilde Cohen & Yoriko Otomo (eds), Making Milk. The Past, Present and Future of Our Primary Food, pp. 141-160, London & New York: Bloomsbury, November 2017
20 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2017 Last revised: 18 Feb 2018
Date Written: May 14, 2016
Lactation and breastfeeding are typically viewed as inherently female activities. Evolutionary biology designates females as the generators of the mammalian class’ milk supply. The assumption is that only female mammals lactate and, therefore, only female mammals nurse their own. Taking on the biological, social, and cultural aspects of male lactation, this chapter questions this gender normativity of milk. It argues that male lactation can be seen along a continuum, from the literal production of milk by a small number of mammals of the male sex, to male-identified parents and caregivers breastfeeding their children, to males’ role in shaping breastfeeding norms and practices. Male lactation thus understood blurs the distinction between male and female, between genders, between sex and gender itself, between sexual orientations, between nature and culture, as well as, perhaps, between humans and animals.
Keywords: Male lactation, Nipples, Gender normativity of milk, Breast, Breastfeeding, Queer Breastfeeding, Chestfeeding, Masculinities, Mammals, Human Milk, Induced Lactation
JEL Classification: 100, J16
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation