Doin' It Halfway Since 1996

being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus

To Breastfeed (in public) or not?

Tomorrow is trash/recycling day. I’m gathering it all for Destination: Curb and something caught my eye as I was making sure I didn’t miss any coupons from Sunday’s paper.

This article about a woman who was approached about her choice to breastfeed in public.

Here’s an interview that a local news station did with her (by the way, my favorite part of this news story is the guy with the beard at the end of the interview – he’s so salt of the earth, matter of fact. Love it).

I tried to find out and see if the “nurse-in” actually happened, but I can’t find that anyone did a story on it. I haven’t seen evidence that it happened, or that it was as big a deal as the news made it out to be.

I am a proponent of breastfeeding. I nursed all three of my babies longer than most women do (I used to lament joke about how I had been pregnant or nursing without break for five years). I used to nurse in public, but I was most always discreet about doing it. I had a homemade nursing cover that I kept in my diaper bag. If I ever did have to nurse in public, I did so in a way that few people actually knew or could tell what I was doing.

I appreciate the irony that this woman pointed out, that what she was doing was much less offensive and inappropriate as the Victoria’s Secret ad she sat near (that’s another post entirely). I also appreciate that she takes her right to breastfeed so seriously.

However, I don’t believe a nurse-in will change the minds of those who are against breastfeeding in public.

The point of a nurse-in, from what I can tell, is to throw breastfeeding in the face of naysayers. It’s to say, “Look at me, I’m exercising my rights and there’s nothing you can do about it.” Or, in other words, “Nanny nanny boo boo. I’m lactating and I can nurse. Let me shove it in your face.”

How does this help the cause of breastfeeding? All it does is make those who are uncomfortable with mothers who breastfeed in public even more against and uncomfortable with it. I believe that breastfeeding mothers should ere on the side of discretion when it comes to nursing in public.

The bottom line is that people aren’t bothered by a mother with a baby. Or a baby who is eating.

The problem most people have with breastfeeding in public is that the mother’s ta-tas might accidentally make an appearance. A child might see them. Someone’s husband might notice. Impressionable teenage boys might catch a glimpse.

Therein lies the problem, folks.

While I’m sure there are very few exceptions, the majority of lactating women aren’t exhibitionists. Women who breastfeed don’t wear sexy, lacy bras. Nursing bras are functional. And I can tell you from experience, I never felt sexy in one. Breastfeeding mothers don’t see their breasts as an opportunity to get men to lust after them (as, say, the aforementioned Victoria’s Secret models). They see their breasts as a body part with a function that coincides with mothering. And that’s it.

However, society, in general, sees breasts as serving a sexual purpose, and therefore, are inappropriate anywhere but on a porn video and in the bedroom.

Until we can change the idea that breasts only = sex, breastfeeding in public will be an issue.

Until men stop making sexual objects of women and their body parts, breastfeeding in public will be an issue.

Until ALL women (breastfeeding or not) learn how to be modest so that men can stop making sexual objects of women and their body parts, breastfeeding in public will be an issue.

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4 responses to “To Breastfeed (in public) or not?

  1. Erin February 23, 2011 at 8:11 pm

    You think that a nurse-in would help, or not help? You might have a typo.

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