Thursday, February 12, 2015

That's inappropriate! Wait...what?

Lately the interwebs have been exploding with stories about nursing mothers asked to leave public places when they are "caught" feeding their babies. I don't know...I feel like this shouldn't be news, because this shouldn't be an issue. 

My first experience *that I can recall* seeing a woman breastfeeding in public, was when I was in my 20s and had already delivered and nursed three boys. This woman was confidently walking around this children's consignment store nursing not one, but two babies simultaneously. I mean...there was no cover, there was no care in the world, she was just feeding her hungry twins. Lots was hanging out and at first I was a little embarrassed because honestly, I don't want to see that :( Her shirt was practically off, but you know what...you couldn't see anything that I would consider inappropriate...

But I couldn't help but admire this lady for doing something I never could do, which is nurse in public. And she was so confident in doing so...I just...I admired her because she didn't care! I was the mom that, when baby would cry to be fed, would push her grocery cart up to the front, not check out, and leave so I could go to my car to feed my baby. I'm a rather modest girl, but I had been exposed to so much RIDICULE of nursing mothers in public that the idea of having to nurse my baby in a public place terrified me beyond reason. 

I know, I know..."Use a cover and everything will be fine! Even a spare blanket would work!" Mhmm...yeah...tell that to my babies. I could never, ever get a cover to stay in place or work for me and it's not incredibly discreet anyway with this giant piece of cloth over your body while you feed your baby. Everyone knows what you're doing, they just can't "see" it. Which brings me to one of my points...how much do you *really* see when you see a woman feeding her baby in public? Are there women that show a little more than others? Of course there are. But people don't make that distinction...they see all breastfeeding in public as a serious offense, even though some mothers are able to do it so discreetly that you can't tell unless you're looking closer than you should at a woman's chest.

We all have our own reasons for liking or not liking stuff. But honestly...the arguments against public breastfeeding really bother me. They include:
1. It's inappropriate. No one wants to see your breasts. 
2. It's an impressionable male's absolute dream to see breasts in public. 
3. It's not necessary to feed your baby in public, you failed to prepare.
4. It's not a big deal to use a cover, you're just being a martyr. 
5. I don't want to have to explain to my children what's going on. 

Okay, seriously...it's inappropriate because no one wants to see your breasts? And it's a young man's dream? Um...either you're blind to what pop culture and mainstream media pushes, or you're just being ridiculous. FAR MORE SKIN is shown at the beach and shoot, even in schools these days, than is shown when breastfeeding. Are there some women who happen to show a bit more when nursing without a cover? There's bound to be extremes...but for the most part, you are seeing very little, if any breast when a woman is nursing her baby. My *personal* opinion about these two arguments is that our culture has so grossly over-sexualized breasts that it makes people uncomfortable to see them being used for any purpose other than, well, sexual enjoyment or as something fun to look at. The other problem I have here, especially with the "young man's dream to see boobs in public" is that you're putting responsibility for their thoughts and indiscretions on the person who is nursing. That is not their fault...you cannot control what another person is thinking. It's not fair to pin another person's inappropriate thoughts on someone else. It's like saying a rape victim was asking for it because of the way she was dressed. Granted that is an extreme example, it's just not fair. We need to teach our young men to be mindful of what they are thinking and to respect women. "Respect women? How can we do that when their breasts are hanging out while feeding a baby?" Uh, well, they're not just "hanging out when they're feeding a baby", in fact, they're hanging out all the time. All over billboards, all over magazines and TV and in schools and offices. SO, yeah, I hope you're petitioning that all of that changes as well. 

Point three is that you're unprepared. This is stupid. Because babies *totally* follow your schedule, you're unprepared when your infant wakes up in the middle of the store and is hungry. Babies don't always cooperate, they don't always eat when you want them to, and they don't always stay asleep on your errands. Sometimes the best way to get a baby to calm down is to put them to the breast, where they eventually fall asleep. But seriously, if it's not someone complaining about your crying baby, it's someone complaining about you nursing in public. 

Point four is a valid one...why not use a cover? Well, I had zero zero zero point zero luck using a cover with any of my babies. Blankets didn't work, covers didn't work, they were uncomfortable and cumbersome and incredibly awkward. But some women don't use covers because they simply feel they just shouldn't HAVE to. I support that. I may not have used a cover, but I certainly didn't let it all hang out. It wasn't until I had my 5th baby that I actually dared nurse in public, and it was incredibly liberating. Nobody stared, nobody made comments or whispered. I was in a booth in a restaurant with the rest of my family, and I simply turned inward and fed the little one. 

The last point, number five, I find a little sad. Children are naturally curious, and if you feel squeamish about explaining the natural function of breasts, I feel sad for you. "But I have boys and they have no business..." Honey...yes they do. It's a simple "She's feeding her baby, and we can talk about this later". That's it. Leave it at that. 

It's sad that people have such an issue with nursing in public. Or breastfeeding, PERIOD. I don't get it. These women are trying to feed their babies. And honestly, I had more looky-loos looking in to my car while I was feeding my baby than I did when I was in a store, on a bench, at the beach, in a park, etc. I don't like the "mom shaming" I see when the debate comes up. These are just my thoughts so take them with a grain of salt. I don't see how breastfeeding in public is offensive, dirty, or inspires nasty thoughts. But to each their own.

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