Let’s face it: In her waning years, Bette Midler has practically made a new career for herself posting tone-deaf, uneducated rants on Twitter, but when she took on mothers desperate to locate baby formula as the nation labors under an alarming shortage, she was promptly and unceremoniously buried.
The 76-year-old singer/actress was responding Thursday to a tweet from MSNBC host Stephanie Ruhle, who stated: “The baby formula shortage reveals an amazing secret oligopoly: 3 American companies control over 90% of the market; hugely restrictive regulations (thanks to big $ lobbying) prohibit foreign formulas.”
“Name another industry/sector/product like this,” Ruhle challenged followers.
And that’s when the Divine Miss M had a bright idea.
“TRY BREASTFEEDING!” Midler tweeted. “It’s free and available on demand.”
TRY BREASTFEEEDING! It’s free and available on demand. https://t.co/15xetgg1ps
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) May 13, 2022
Except when it isn’t, Bette, as angry Twitter users were quick to point out.
Melissa Ryan, who, according to her profile, organizes “to combat misinformation,” promptly took Midler to task.
“I spent 3+ hours a day (and night!) breastfeeding and pumping for my twins for over a year,” Ryan responded. “That’s after 3 weeks of hell getting to a place where I could make enough to feed two babies w/o supplementing.”
“I’m glad that I did it,” Ryan added, “But that s–t was not free. My time is valuable.”
Ryan then noted the “privileges” inherent in Midler’s suggestion.
“And let’s talk about the privileges that even allowed me to spend 3+ hours a day feeding my kids,” Ryan continued. “I could afford to take 3 months off; My spouse got 12 weeks of paternity leave; I could work from home and have childcare at home. None of this is free btw.”
And let's talk about the privileges that even allowed me to spend 3+ hours a day feeding my kids:
-I could afford to take 3 months off
-My spouse got 12 weeks of paternity leave
-I could work from home and have childcare at home
None of this is free btw.
— Melissa Ryan (@MelissaRyan) May 13, 2022
Parents with similar experiences were quick to voice their criticism of Midler’s overly simplistic tweet.
“Fellow parent of twins here,” tweeted SBU journalism professor, Sree Sreenivasan. “Most twin mothers are in [a] similar situation. Shame on you, Bette.”
“Bette, respectfully, this is a very bad take,” said author Ilyse Hogue. “I had twins. I didn’t produce enough milk for both. Without formula, I would have had to have chosen which one got to eat. To say nothing of kids that get separated from the birth mothers very young.”
“What Ilyse said,” replied another user. “Also, I had a different, but equally serious issue — I had undiagnosed Sjogren’s and a very premature infant. I couldn’t lactate at all. My baby would have starved.”
Fellow parent of twins here. Most twin mothers are in similar situation. Shame on you, Bette.
— Sree Sreenivasan #StandWithUkraine 🇺🇦 (@sree) May 13, 2022
What Ilyse said. Also, I had a different, but equally serious issue–I had undiagnosed Sjogren's and a very premature infant. I couldn't lactate at all. My baby would have starved.
— Stacey Dunn, Overeducated Antifascist Woman (@dunnclan) May 13, 2022
So swift was the condemnation of Bette Midler’s tweet, that she felt compelled to issue a follow-up in an attempt to smooth things over.
“People are piling on because of former tweet,” Midler acknowledged. “No shame if you can’t breastfeed, but if you can & are somehow convinced that your own milk isn’t as good as a ‘scientifically researched product,’ that’s something else again.”
“The monopoly news is news to me, tho, no lie,” she added.
People are piling on because of former tweet. No shame if you can’t breastfeed, but if you can & are somehow convinced that your own milk isn’t as good as a “scientifically researched product”, that’s something else again. The monopoly news is news to me, tho, no lie. #WETNURSES
— bettemidler (@BetteMidler) May 13, 2022
Still, the hits kept coming to her original tweet, with Last Week Tonight Executive Producer Tim Carvell suggesting that Midler should maybe remember her fan base before tweeting.
“Imagine having a large gay fanbase, many of whom are raising kids in two-dad households,” he retorted, “and thinking this is a good suggestion.”
Imagine having a large gay fanbase, many of whom are raising kids in two-dad households, and thinking this is a good suggestion.
— Tim Carvell (@timcarvell) May 13, 2022
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