Blacksburg, Va. Bernice Hausman, associate professor of English and director of the Women's Studies Program Virginia Tech, will be the keynote speaker at the symposium "Breastfeeding, Motherhood and Feminism," that will bring together a panel of women who are mothers, feminist scholars, practitioners, policy makers, and advocates. The symposium will take place at the University of North Carolina-Greensboro from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, April 15, in the Elliott University Center's Cone Ballroom.
Dramatic changes in employment patterns in recent decades have brought women many new opportunities. But along with these gains come challenges, including the well-documented work-family dilemma -- the struggle to be employed and provide for a family's health and well being at the same time. A woman's ability and willingness to breastfeed is strongly related to the social and labor structures of which she is a part. If it is not possible to incorporate the practice into her daily schedule, she will probably not do it. Recent national data show that most women introduce formula early and do not breastfeed for very long, thereby decreasing the health benefits of the practice.
Hausman's main research interests are sexed embodiment, feminist and gender theory, and cultural studies of medicine. She is the author of many scholarly articles and the book Mother's Milk: Breastfeeding Controversies in American Culture (2003), which draws on medical studies, feminist scholarship, anthropological literature and Hausman's own experiences to demonstrate what is at stake in mothers' infant feeding choices. "Social controversies around breastfeeding reveal social tensions concerning the meaning of women's bodies, the authority of science, and the value of maternity in American culture," Hausman said.
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Contact: Carole Lindsey-Potter
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