We live in a society where cleavage is everywhere, women get breast implants to make that cleavage even bigger, and we often know what kind of underwear a woman is wearing (if any at all) because of the shortness of her skirt. I have no problem with any of these things, mind you (though if my daughter someday wants to get implants I will work every kind of magic so she doesn't). But I do take issue with people who feel that women who breastfeed in public are doing something obscene.
Since when is feeding a baby an X-rated act? Sadly, since way too many people in our society consider breasts to be sexual objects and sexual objects only.
Thankfully there are women who stand up for a baby's right to eat whenever and wherever that baby is hungry. I'm sure babies would be rallying themselves except they can't so moms have to be their advocate for their right to eat. Currently there is a nurse-in at Target stores in 35 states after one mom said she was told not to breastfeed in the store.
Target released a statement on the matter saying they support breastfeeding in their stores in both the public areas and the fitting rooms, and they are sorry for the inconvenience the mother experienced. They went on to say they were proud to "support all mothers who breastfeed year-round, including today."
I don't think this is Target's fault, but maybe a worker who clearly didn't know any better. I'm not sure if stores have it in their employee handbook that if they see a nursing mother to just go about your business. Really, why should they? It's the most natural act. It's like pointing out the obvious: If you have a customer asking you where the fitting room is, direct them to the fitting room. If a baby is hungry and eating, let that baby eat.
But just about every breastfeeding mom knows, we are discriminated against. We do get startled looks and disapproving glares when we nurse our babies in a public place. I experienced it myself when I nursed my kids in public. Even with a nursing cover, I felt judged, like I was doing something wrong. Fifty-seven percent of Americans think women shouldn't nurse in public. Instead we should be banished to dirty public bathrooms or let baby go hungry until we get home. These same people must also believe a woman should just cancel her life when she is nursing and stay home without any visitors so no one will ever see a child at her breast. They also must not take any issue with other things that are way more "obscene" than breastfeeding, like littering or spitting in a park.
I think it's the backward thinking of people still brainwashed that formula is better than breast milk that makes nursing in public something people consider taboo. Babies get bottles -- that's what ingrained in our minds so seeing anything else seems wrong. Which is exactly why I love the breastfeeding doll. I'm not saying there is anything wrong with formula feeding -- there is not. I'm just saying that breastfeeding moms need to be respected now. Babies need this respect. We are loud and activisty because we have to be, because we are disrespected, and that's wrong. We just want to feed our babies. We aren't flashing our breasts or showing off our cleavage. We are feeding our babies. And while so many people claim that breastfeeding is showing off the breast or a nipple and that makes it sexual, then why is it okay for a woman who is not breastfeeding to wear a tiny triangle bikini top on the beach or a low cut shirt without a bra in the supermarket? That's sexual.
The discrimination really doesn't make much sense when you think about it. But most discrimination doesn't. This is why we have nurse-ins. This is why we all should accept that breastfeeding isn't obscene. But if your mind is troubled and you think that it is, you have this amazing power to just look away so a baby can be fed without mom feeling bad about it.
Do you breastfeed your baby in public? Do you take issue if you see a woman nursing in public?
Image via Bryce Edwards/Flickr