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The Lactating Man

Forthcoming, Mathilde Cohen & Yoriko (eds), Making Milk. The Past, Present and Future of Our Primary Food, pp. 141-160, London & New York: Bloomsbury

20 Pages Posted: 16 Feb 2017 Last revised: 10 Jun 2017

Mathilde Cohen

University of Connecticut

Date Written: May 14, 2016

Abstract

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

Cohen, Mathilde, The Lactating Man (May 14, 2016). Forthcoming, Mathilde Cohen & Yoriko (eds), Making Milk. The Past, Present and Future of Our Primary Food, pp. 141-160, London & New York: Bloomsbury . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2916660

Mathilde Cohen (Contact Author)

University of Connecticut ( email )

65 Elizabeth Street
Hartford, CT 06105
United States

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