“Nothing wrong with breastfeeding, but I don’t understand why you want to show it to the world. I breastfed, but a photo on instagram or FB??”
The answer to this question is simple. To normalize it.
In many cultures around the world, women breastfeed their children while they work and it is no big deal, because that’s what breasts are for. In many places in America, breasts are seen as only sexual objects, where breastfeeding is compared to defecation, urination and pornography. Our society has it backwards.
People say things like “they have the right to ask you to cover up.” But in reality, nobody has the right to ask a nursing mother to cover up. If you wouldn’t say it to a mom feeding her baby with a bottle, don’t say it to a breastfeeding mom. The baby is eating.
“But, can’t she just put a blanket over herself and be modest?”
There are several problems with that question. To begin with, people just don’t eat with blankets over their heads. Babies are people too. If you wouldn’t eat with a blanket over your head, don’t expect my baby to either.
“Modest” is a fluid word. It’s definition varies from person to person. In some cultures, modest means wearing a burka. In some cultures, modest means covering your midsection (stomach), while exposing breasts is no big deal, because breasts are meant to feed children. In some cultures, modest means women only wear long skirts. And then for some people, modest means making sure your genitals are covered when you are in public. If you don’t want someone else’s definition of “modest” pushed on you, don’t push your definition of modest on a mother feeding her child.
You see, breastfeeding is not sexual. It is not promiscuous. It is not scandalous. It is not something to be ashamed of. It is not “a mother looking to be an exhibitionist”. It is simply a mother feeding her child in the best way possible. It is natural. It is normal.
When we STILL have media saying things like “we don’t run such photos in our press” in reference to a breastfeeding mama, yet they are willing to run photos of Miley Cyrus and Robin Thick (king of promoting rape culture) twerking together on stage in front of a national television audience, there is a problem. When photos from a zombie walk of a man spitting blood from his mouth is acceptable, but a mama feeding her baby is considered “indecent”, there is a problem. And until this changes, breastfeeding mothers will continue to fight for their right to feed their babies without being harassed.
Did you know that breastfeeding mothers have legal rights?? That’s right! YOU can get arrested for harassing a mother feeding her child.
“She’s welcome to feed her child, but I shouldn’t be forced to see it.”
There’s a few simple solutions to this:
Close your eyes
Turn your head
Put a blanket over YOUR head
Educate yourself on the benefits of breastfeeding
Apples don’t lose their nutritional value when a child reaches a certain age. Neither does breast milk. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding until 2 years of age and beyond. Also, some babies are BORN with teeth. My first-born had 6 teeth by 6 months old. They NEED milk until at least 1 year of age in order to grow and develop correctly. Why would I give my child milk from another mammal just to make a stranger comfortable?
“Teeth and nipples don’t strike me as cute”
I don’t breastfeed to be “cute” nor to get the approval of strangers. I do it because it is the healthiest option for my children.
Another thing, depending on what person you ask, many people think breastfeeding should stop at age _____. I would much rather take the advice of the World Health Organization than some stranger on the streets who is clearly uneducated on the benefits of breastfeeding. Like this woman, who thinks it should end at the age of 3 months. >_<
Switch to what? Donor milk from a cow?? Why do some people find it more appropriate to feed their child milk from a cow than milk from a human? The disconnect is so strong. The social conditioning to view breasts as sexual is intense.
And the woman-on-woman hate is the strongest. It absolutely makes me so sad to see women making comments like “Cover them saggy tits up. Nobody wants to see that.”
Why refer to other women that way? Again, it’s a mother FEEDING her child. If you are so offended by eating, I must ask, do you go to restaurants where tons of people are eating? What if I said I was offended by seeing people shove nasty McDonald’s down their throat? Does this give me the right to approach someone with a hamburger and tell them to cover up? It’s just rude.
“I breastfed my child and was respectful enough to use a cover.”
I’m respectful enough to allow my child to eat without feeling smothered, and the comfort of my child comes before the comfort of total strangers.
And again, comparing feeding a child to sex on a plane… Total disconnect.
Comments like this one above encourage rape culture. Blaming a woman who is feeding her child for all the men gawking at her is completely inappropriate and wrong. I am not responsible for a grown adult’s actions. If YOU stare at a woman feeding her child, YOU have the problem, not her. You are welcome to use your adult head and look the other way. When a baby needs to eat, you feed the baby, right then and there, regardless of who else is around.
“force others to observe…”
I often hear phrases similar to this. Again, the solution here is pretty simple. LOOK AWAY. No one is forcing you to stare.
Comparing breastfeeding (the feeding of a child) in public to having sex on a McDonald’s table is beyond my comprehension. Having sex and eating are not the same thing. There is no comparison. If you have to exaggerate this bad to make a point, your point is totally moot.
Defecation and sex are not the same as eating. When you start eating a poop sandwich and drinking urine for lunch, then you can make a comparison. Until then, please understand that “pushing out a huge turd” and feeding a baby are not the same thing. It’s pretty simple, really.
And last but not least, there is the argument of “give the kid a bottle when you are in public”.
It is not that simple. Some babies won’t take bottles. Would you rather hear a screaming child who is hungry or have a mother feeding her baby in public? Also, some women don’t respond to pumps. Pumps are expensive pieces of equipment. Pumping is time-consuming. Everything has to be sterilized. You then have to warm the milk to the right temperature (which requires a way to heat it– not always available in public). And the milk has to be stored at a certain temperature until the baby is ready, which requires coolers, ice packs, etc. It’s not as simple as just “giving the baby a bottle”. Neither I, nor many other breastfeeding mothers are going to put in that much unneeded extra energy and effort (especially on the little sleep that most new mothers get) just to make a stranger comfortable. If you don’t want to see it, don’t look. Problem solved.
And for those who understand flow charts best, this one is for you…