Another day. Another breastfeeding mom turning to the media after being shamed for nursing her child without a cover. But Andrea Zeledon-Mussio's story is putting a whole new spin on what it means to "nurse in public."
The mother of two wasn't breastfeeding in a store or a park when she was hassled by a Long Island cop. She wasn't whipping out a breast in front of strangers.
In fact, this mom was doing what countless breastfeeding mothers do every day -- just so they aren't hassled by prudes.
Zeledon-Mussio was in her own car! Parked in front of the police station in Wading River, New York, the mom of a 12-year-old and a 9-week-old claims she was approached by a cop who told her several times that she needed to cover up. She did -- albeit reluctantly -- but she says she's speaking out now because she wants to make sure other folks know public breastfeeding isn't illegal in New York State.
But here's the thing, she wasn't breastfeeding in public. She was in the privacy of her own car.
We've heard of moms being hassled for nursing in public. But now they can't even nurse in private without being bothered?
It's troubling any time a breastfeeding mother is harassed for doing what it is her body is made to do -- let's just get that out of the way. But it's particularly upsetting when a mom goes and hides out ... and still can't catch a break.
How many times have you been in an online forum about breastfeeding only to see a troll suggesting a mother COULD go hide in a bathroom or in her car to nurse so the rest of the world "doesn't have to see it"? It's antiquated thinking -- it's true -- but even the trolls seem to get that moms need SOMEWHERE to breastfeed.
But then we face the reality that even in your own car, you can be hassled for breastfeeding your hungry child.
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Which begs the question -- what is left for mothers? Where, exactly, is society going to let us nurse in peace? At home? Barefoot? With one hand stirring a pot of sauce?
Because that's really the root of this, isn't it? The folks who express horror and shock at a breastfeeding mother will try to tell you it's sexual and oh dearie me, think of the children, but at the end of the day, we all know there's nothing sexual about a small child eating their lunch.
No, the real issue here is that moms -- nursing moms, working moms, moms who walk, talk, and dare to breathe the rarefied air of everyone else -- are still often treated like second-class citizens. We are expected to be seen and not heard, to keep our mommyhood to ourselves ... and God forbid our kids squawk in the grocery store or get hungry and want some lunch while we're out of the house.
The fight for the right to breastfeed in public -- or heck, in private! -- isn't just about a baby's right to eat on demand. It's a fight for moms to be recognized not just as mothers, but as human beings, as people who should be allowed to come out in the light and enjoy a regular, everyday existence ... even with kids in tow. We shouldn't be made to feel like we have to hide out at home lest someone, somewhere, take issue with us or our kids.
So the next time someone hassles you for breastfeeding, might we suggest you remind them it's not only illegal to bother you, but ask if it would be OK for you to ask THEM to stay locked at home all day just so the world isn't inconvenienced by seeing them?
Have you ever been hassled for nursing your baby? Where were you?
Image via Owen Franken/Corbis