Singer and actress Bette Midler received a round of boos on Twitter Inc. TWTR after proposing the idea that American women affected by the current shortage of infant formula should turn to breastfeeding.
What happened: Midler replied to a tweet by MSNBC host Stephanie Ruehlewho observed, “The shortage of infant formula reveals an astonishing secret oligopoly: 3 American companies control more than 90% of the mkt; an extremely restrictive regulation (thanks to a big lobbying $) prohibits the foreign formulas. Name another industry/sector/product like this. »
Midler responded to Ruhle’s comments by notice, “TRY BREASTFEEDING! It’s free and available on demand” – and that comment quickly generated her worst public response since her Razzie nominee “Isn’t she awesome”, with many prominent women expressing their anger.
Clara Jeffreyeditor of Mother Jones and president of the American Society of Magazine Editors, tweeted in response to Midler, “Extremely, deeply even, disappointed that you took that line. Yes monopolies are real and @Nestle in particular has had bad practices. But that doesn’t mean breast-only (or none at all) is doable for many women.
Ilyse HouguePresident of the association Objective and author of “The lie that binds”, tweeted“Bette, respectfully, that’s a really bad catch. I had twins. I didn’t produce enough milk for both of them. Without formula, I would have had to choose which one to eat. Not to mention the kids who are separated from their very young biological mothers.
Emmy-winning producer and author of “Chalked Up” Jennifer Sei tweeted“It’s deeply insensitive. First, there are a million reasons why some women can’t breastfeed at all, or can’t breastfeed full time and supplement with formula. Second, women don’t have she doesn’t even need a “reason”. She can decide not to just because she doesn’t want to. Period. Third, if she hasn’t done it by now, she can’t start at any time. It’s not like turning on a tap. The “breastfeeding wars” are just another example of class division. It’s the elite class of the WFH that judges those who cannot breastfeed or who do not breastfeed full time.
And Midler found no favor with male Twitter users: Graham Allenhost of the “Dear America Podcast,” summed up the male response when he tweeted“That’s really something a stupid/uneducated person would say….”
Midler responded to the critics by doubling down on his remarks, Tweeter“People are piling up because of the old tweet. No shame if you can’t breastfeed, but if you can and are somehow convinced that your own milk doesn’t isn’t as good as a “scientifically researched product” is something else again. News of Monopoly is news to me, but no lie. #WETNURSES.
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Why it happened: The “monopoly news” that Midler referred to was based on the United States Food and Drug Administration action in March that expanded its recall of Abbott Nutrition baby food products after the death of a child from an infection related to the company’s products. Abbott Nutrition, the food industry leader for this product, is a unit of Abbott Laboratories ABT.
With much of the Abbott Nutrition product line sold out, continued supply chain disruptions have impacted the availability of infant formula from other manufacturers, including Danone DANOI, Kraft Heinz Co. KHC, Nestle ADR NSRGY and Perrigo Company PLC PRGO.
As for Midler, she went beyond the ruckus she sparked with news of the baby formula shortage and offered condemnation of her country this morning by sharing a New York Times Co. NYT title of the mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, while Tweeter“This country is a disgrace.”
Photo: Courtesy of the Library of Congress