In the April 29-May 1, 2011 issue of the METRO, there was a brief article titled “Human cheese, please.” Back in the spring, NYU grad student, Miriam Simun was exhibiting her “Human Cheese” at the Michael Mut Gallery. The exhibit featured ricotta, mozzarella, and blue cheeses that visitors could sample made from the breast milk of three different women.
According to Robert Sietsema of the Village Voice, Simun’s cheeses were illegal. Interestingly, one of Sietsema’s main arguments is against, “turning women into farm animals by way of using their milk to make human cheese.” Sietsema continues in his Five Reasons Why Manufacturing Human Breast Milk Cheese Is Disgusting:
Women are not farm animals. Human-breast-milk cheese casts them in that role. There is nothing “ethical” about milking humans.
In her music video for Raise Your Glass, P!NK not only toyed with the idea of milking mommies, she flipped the script entirely by showing women being milked to feed a baby calf.
I wouldn’t necessarily offer myself up to the pump, but considering Sirum reportedly found the mothers’ online at OnlyTheBreast, it doesn’t seem she was swindling impoverished babies from their poor mothers’ milk. It seems Sietsema, though, envisions a slippery slope to a new world order where women are mass milked like, well, cattle.
Is it really “human instinct talking,” as Sietsema puts it, for us to be put off by the thought of breast milk cheese, as though it’s genetically ingrained? Or the product of culturally enforced norms regarding life cycles? Like wanking off was considered something impulsive children did? You’ve seen the Cheerios commercial: “That’s for babies.”
In our culture, breasts are prominent (no pun intended). The cancer organization Keep-A-Breast has a catalog full of boobie loving merchandise. But why? If breasts’ appeal is supposed to be for nourishing babies, after you’re old enough to be weened off, shouldn’t they just be seen as useless mounds of fatty tissue? Yet you’ll have to really try to find a porno where one partner doesn’t spend a little time sucking the other’s like an infant.
Even more interesting a question is whether vegans would consume human breast milk and breast milk cheese. As to whether Simun’s cheeses in particular were made with the use of animal rennet is undetermined and would be a concern. If veganism, though, is about eliminating the use of animal products, but animal products are defined as coming from non-humans, would human breast milk be as acceptable as almond or soy milks if it contained no animal by-products or derivatives?
And would you drink it?