Moms get berated for breastfeeding in public all the time, it seems. But what about when baby is fed from a bottle? What about Jill Harper, bottle-feeding mom, who was asked to leave Wyoming coffee house Percolation for giving her baby formula?
While having lunch with friends, Harper's 5-month-old daughter, Katherine, started to fuss, so her mother made her a bottle and began to feed her. Then, the unthinkable happened, which Harper describes:
A woman walked up to our table (who I later learned was the owner) and said, "Please stop or go somewhere else with that. It's just gross." I stared at her, not understanding.
I said, "Excuse me?" She then waved her hand, obviously agitated, at my baby in my lap. I looked down, wondering if Katherine had puked or leaked poop or something 'gross' but no, she was just drinking from her bottle, a little dribble of her meal down her cheek.
Harper's friends sat in dumbstruck silence, trying to figure out what could be so offensive about a baby. But the real shocker came in a minute, when the owner said what really bothered her: the bottle. Harper said:
She then said it was made to LOOK like a breast, just like dildos are meant to look like penises, that it was 'like me waving around a dildo in the bathroom.' She really compared my baby's bottle to a fake penis, intended for mimicking SEX!
Harper and her friends packed up and left, totally in shock. The owner maintains that she's uncomfortable with the mess the baby made while eating, and disliked bottles and, really, even babies. Law of Wyoming be damned, I guess.
Quite obviously, this is 100 percent crap. I made it up ... because flipping normal treatment of breastfeeding moms around just sounds STUPID, doesn't it? Some women say, "Why should it matter how the baby is being fed, as long as they're being fed?" but turn around and insist that only CERTAIN methods of feeding should be visible in public, putting restrictions on the very thing they seconds earlier insisted shouldn't matter.
A man peeing in a public restroom is not the same as a man masturbating in there. A woman nursing her baby is not the same as a woman showing off breasts for sexual reasons. It takes two seconds to get over the knee-jerk reaction of "OMG A BOOB!" and realize that they have multiple uses, and just like many things, some are acceptable in public and some aren't. We wouldn't clap for property rights if a store owner kicked out a straight couple for hugging, a mom for bottle-feeding, or a woman who wore shorts because he thought she was too large to wear them.
Why are moms subject to abuse and discrimination and kicked out of places? Is it because we're innocent, quiet victims? But many of us have had enough, and are fighting back. Just as we'd never dream of telling a bottle-feeding mom to throw a blanket over a bottle, or applaud a store owner for telling her to leave, we need to extend that same support to ALL moms who are "just trying to feed their babies" whether it's formula or breast milk in the bottle, or breast milk from the tap. A hungry baby doesn't have the ABILITY to wait, but adults have the ability to get over themselves and look elsewhere -- and there are laws in place for those who can't.
Do you think people would look at it differently if a bottle-feeding mom was treated the same way breastfeeding moms are?
Image via Enokson/Flickr