Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Do You Eat In The Toilet?

Or with a blanket over your head? Would you do either of those things if someone told you to? Probably not. And yet, nursing mothers are being asked to do this all the time. Why? Because people have sexualized breasts to the point that they've forgotten their original use, which is to feed babies.

I don't know and don't much care why people find breastfeeding so offensive. They don't seem to object when those same breasts are covered by the merest slip of fabric, when those breasts are push up, pushed out and spilling out of a shirt. That's ok. But nursing? God, no. We can't have that! That's sick and wrong. Facebook, while allowing all kinds of boob shots, will not allow women to post pictures of themselves nursing. Bill Maher equated breastfeeding to masturbating, for god's sake. Apparently, in Bill's world, boobs are only for fun. It's fine if they're shaking 'em in his face, but good lord, let's not feed any babies with them! That's obscene.

Well, fuck that. I will nurse my baby where ever I please. I will not be yanking my boobs out for the world to see. In fact, I'd be willing to bet, unless you were really being nosy, you wouldn't even notice that I was breastfeeding.

Women are rightly furious about this double standard. And they're speaking up, loud and clear.

I'm at 1:39.


Chrissie in Belgium said...

I guess you should move to Sweden..... You can definitely breastfeed in public! It was even OK 33 years ago when I had my first child, Eric.

LJ said...

Good on you! You rock! Unfortunately I couldn't breastfeed do to little guy having a cleft palate and poor sucking issues. However he was tube fed... and I remember my ex saying we had to tube feed in the bathroom so others wouldn't stare. When I left him I tubed that boy wherever I was! It's not a breast mind you but's different all the same. I remember when I SIL had her first child she was 20, I asked her will you breastfeed? Her reply was I ain't putting my tit in my kid's mouth. So so very sad. BUT Some mamas do and bravo to them!

sandy shoes said...

Good for you Bedhead. Your post is spot on.

As hard as breastfeeding was to get started with my first baby, I'm so glad that we stuck to it. I have many happy memories of hanging out in the car by the Cape Cod Canal, listening to the radio and feeding the lttle one, just the two of us. Nothing to pack or prepare; as long as she had me, she was fed.

Fast forward a year and a half and it was a little less tranquil nursing baby #2 with an impatient toddler in the back seat. But still, precious moments. :)

Major Bedhead said...

Laura - lots of people can't, or don't want, to breastfeed, and that's fine. IMO, as long as the kid is being fed, it doesn't much matter the method of delivery. That's the issue here - the method of delivery. It boggles my mind that people stare and comment and worse when a woman nurses a baby. And good for you for not allowing others to stigmate Aaron's tube feedings. It's people like you, who are unashamed of their children, who do wonders to make every child accepted, no matter the differences.

sandyshoes - That's it exactly.

Chrissie - Europe seems to be light years ahead of the game in so many ways.

Anonymous said...

While I do not have a problem with breastfeeding in public, I believe you come to the right conclusion for the wrong reasons. Your argument just doesn't hold water -- if it did, we would also have to live with people defecating on the bus, at street corners, and on your doorstep. After all, it's just as natural as breastfeeding.


Major Bedhead said...

Feeding a child has nothing to do with having a piss. One is nourishing a child, the other is waste elimination and unsanitary. Last I checked, breastfeeding was not unsanitary.

Women aren't whipping off their shirts and bras to breastfeed. At most, you may see an inch or two of skin. How on earth is that akin to defecation?

Unknown said...

I agree with you, Major Bedhead. It's just silly that people are so scared of a little breastfeeding. It's a boob, people. It was designed to feed babies. It's the most natural thing in the world.

Anonymous said...

I so, so agree, and I think it's so sad that people are skeeved out by breastfeeding women. I actually end up feeling sad, rather than angry, for them most of the time. I feel like it's just one more way in which we as a culture have so divorced our physical selves from our intellectual selves, and consequently we have these incredibly eff-ed up ideas about what is a sexual display vs. what is natural and good.

That said, I preferred to nurse in quieter areas, although I did nurse Eliza at a movie theater once and a various parks around the area.

I once had to nurse her at the not-big mall in our area, and I sat down on the bench near the army recruiting office. I figured with a war on they weren't going to be getting too much foot traffic so it would be nice and quiet.

Anonymous said...

Amen, amen, amen.

I nursed my now 4 year old daughter for 13 months and am now the nursing mother of an almost 1 year old boy. I was much more cowed by nursing in public with my daughter. And by public, I mean any place with people who were not my close friends or family. And even then...

This time around, I have decided that since I believe what I am doing is the best possible thing for my child and in no way indecent, I will not feel ashamed in any way while nursing. One of the results of this is that when my father(!) and mother-in-law(!!) "suggest" that I might be more comfortable nursing my child in the back bedroom, all alone, while everyone else is having a good time in the other room, I've politely said "I'm comfortable here, thanks". If they don't like it, they don't have to look at me. I'm wearing a nursing shirt, for God's sake -- they can't see a thing! It's the idea they hate, that a baby is "sucking on my boob", and I can't tell you how sad I find that.

Anonymous said...

Good for you. You go girl.
I wasn't able to breast feed my son and can not fathom why people have issues with something that is natural.
If we weren't suppose to do it, mother nature would not have built us this way.

Anonymous said...

Seems I have to continue playing the devil's advocate ....

Urinating is not unsanitary either; unless one has a raging UTI, urine is sterile.

My point was that the simple fact that something is "natural" or that feeding is the breast's intended function (a view which I dispute as incomplete; feeding is unnecessary unless a mate was attracted first, for which breasts do play a role, too) does not mean it should be done any- and everywhere.

Talking is natural, too, and communication fulfills a valuable social and psychohygienic function. Does that mean we want people to talk while we attend our favourite play, musical, opera?

Just be a little less categorical, please?


Major Bedhead said...

If I go by your argument, Felix, then eating should not be done any and everywhere. People eat. If you are allowed to eat in a restaurant or at the park or while walking around the mall, then why isn't a baby allowed the same courtesy? Because the method of delivery offends some people? I'm offended when people chew with their mouths open. I'm offended when people talk with their mouths full. I don't go tell them to go eat in the toilet or to put a blanket over their heads. I simply don't look at them.

The whole point of this post is that it's a woman's legal right, in 36 of the 50 states, to breastfeed. That women are still being told not to, or being told that breastfeeding in public is akin to masturbation, is wrong. Flat out wrong. Feeding a child shouldn't have to be legislated. If it is because people find it indecent, then by the same argument, there should be laws against low cut shirts that show lots of cleavage, half shirts that bare the stomach, low-rider jeans that show thong underwear and pubic bones and string bikinis that are little more than scraps of fabric and thread.

kittenpie said...

I like your point in the comments best, actually - I have a coworker who loudly smacks and slurps as she eats. I would never think to tell her to take her plate to the bathroom. On the few occasions when it's just too much for me to bear, I pick up MY plate and move. If I'm the one who's having the problem, why do I think the other person should have to accomodate me? I don't. It's called being a grownup. And oh yeah, it comes with being comfortable with human bodies, too, in most cases.

Shannon said...

I've breastfed in restaurants, in SUPERMARKETS WHILE PUSHING A CART ('s true), at the mall, at the park, at a flea market, pretty much where ever I was when one of my babies was hungry.

Women should be allowed to breastfeed wherever it is necessary to do so and wherever a bottle fed baby is allowed to be.

P.S. Felix, you're way off the mark as usual.

Stepping Over the Junk said...

WOOOHOOOO! I used to get dirty looks from people when I nursed...AND I ALWAYS covered the baby and my breast, but still...people are such old fashioned pigs.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is one of the first things you wrote - that breats have been sexualised out of any relation to their purpose. And it seems it's some kind of perversion or betrayal to use your breasts for any purpose that doesn't gratify the viewing public, and how could they be gratified by you feeding your child?


Anonymous said...

Hi again, Julia,

and thank you for your reply. I am happy to say that I find people who chew with their mandibles hanging down to their navels as disgusting as you do (a sentiment which does not apply to breastfeeding, btw). I always wonder upon seeing such a person -- why don't these people suffocate? Don't they need their mouths for breathhing?

It surprises me, having spent my first forty years in Europe, that there actually _is_ legislation on breastfeeding at all. In my opinion, privately-owned (non-tax-financed) venues should be able to make up whatever rules they like (e.g., no chewing with mouths hanging open); in public spaces, basic courtesy and common sense are sufficient to ensure babies won't go unfed (and that their mothers won't be importuned).

In short, I see nothing to get angry about, except the fact that once again, the law intrudes where it has no business to do so. If your aim is to change the unwritten rules of whether breastfeeding is to be accepted or not, I would think that less outrage and more convincing will get better and faster results.


Anonymous said...

Hi Shannon,

I am glad I am way off (your!) mark -- it would be terminally boring to always agree with everyone. But perhaps you would like to clarify in which way I failed to live up to your expectations?


BookMamma said...

WHOO-HOO! That rocks!
Yay you and to the Justice League.