I feel a disclaimer is needed before I continue, in an attempt to hold off the masses of disgruntled breast feeding mothers, though from experience it won’t help. But here it is: I support breast feeding our infants, and I nursed my son until he was four months old. I had hoped for longer, since I truly believe that my milk was better for him than cow’s milk, but personal issues I dealt with forced me to stop a few months early.
Having said that I need to discuss something troubling that I read online a while ago. Someone wrote a blog about how children and teenagers should have to watch breast feeding mothers in an attempt to help normalize breast feeding in our culture. Others have written about nurse-ins they hold at public places, especially where breast feeding women have been offended by being told to cover up.
While it is a woman’s right to nurse her baby in public, it is also another person’s right not to have to watch it. If a woman is in the front row of a play and takes her shirt off to nurse an unruly toddler, there is a good chance they could distract the actors. Is it fair to them or the other spectators to lose enjoyment of an event because a woman incorrectly assumed the only way to feed her child was with her breast instead of giving him/her a juice box or some cookies? Had the child been an infant, and she displayed modesty, chances are good that no one would even be aware she was nursing. Why do I bring up these two extreme cases? Merely to point out how they can’t be considered the same thing.
Infants subsist solely on breast milk (or formula), so if a mother is out on the town and her baby gets hungry, she has to feed him. So the law was created to protect mothers in these instances. I sincerely doubt the creators of that law took into consideration that women of three year olds would be using that protection to nurse their children in public instead of giving them real food. After all what three year old isn’t eating regular people food? How is it the mother’s only option to nurse? Simple answer is that it’s not. She doesn’t have to nurse her toddler in public, but she chooses to despite how the majority of society finds it distasteful. So then she can go on a nurse-in or write an angry blog about how someone scowled at her and/or told her to cover up. I recently saw a photo on Facebook where nurse-ins were at Targets around the country. A photo was posted of many of the women and their children. While many were babies, a few were toddlers. The one that stood out the most was of the young mother holding her toddler, who wasn’t nursing, but her breast was hanging out and captured on film.
Yes, nursing is natural. So is sex, but that’s done in private. Every other natural human right I can think of is done in privacy, other than eating and breathing. As you can guess I was not one of those mothers who felt it was OK to whip out a boob any time my son was hungry in public. I’m modest and don’t want people gawking at me. I certainly wouldn’t want to take the chance of some pervert seeing my nipple and getting turned on. And no matter how many nurse-ins are held or how many extremists stomp their feet and proclaim that the breasts are only for our children and not our husbands (or boyfriends), nursing in public will never be accepted by everyone. I’m pretty open minded about it, but even I don’t want to see an indiscreet woman baring her chest to let her three year old nurse.
This brings me back to the title, which is breast feeding should be watched. I agree with this, but not for the reasons the BF supporters want. I can’t help but remember when a particular fast food restaurant had a nurse-in because one breast feeding woman was asked by the manager if she minded covering her breast with a towel she offered. That woman got offended and didn’t care that the manager approached her because other diners were bothered by her public display, and the manager was forced to apologize. A bunch of nursing mothers stormed the place and displayed their breasts, daring anyone to say anything to them. Had I been the manager forced to apologize, I would have found every male teenager I could and have them attend the nurse in. I would try to find 16 and 17 year old boys, who would merely sit and stare at them as they nursed their kids. They want to be watched in hopes it would make it more normal? Well, I would be very curious to see how they would feel at having a bunch of horny teenagers hoping for a glimpse of their nipples.
Don’t get me wrong. Like I’ve said numerous times, I have no problem with a mother nursing her baby. The only ones I have ever come across have been discreet and showed very little if any skin. It was obvious what they were doing, but it’s doubtful anyone would notice unless they actually stopped and stared. Most people wouldn’t stare. Most people wouldn’t comment. I suppose there are the rare exceptions, especially when the child being nursed is unruly and playing more than nursing. I am afraid I might be one of those people scowling if I ever came across a woman nursing her three year old in public, since it’s very doubtful she could do it discreetly, and I doubt she would even try. After all that time nursing, she probably doesn’t see her breasts as anything other than bags full of milk. Problem is they are still human breasts, which are considered sex objects, whether or not a BF supporter wants to admit that.
I am sorry if this offends any nursing mother. That is not my intent. Many women nurse their children, and I’ll bet the only ones who get offended by this are the extremists who have made breastfeeding their own personal agenda. If you’re one of those women who would disrupt your child’s day by dragging him/her to a nurse-in, or if you’re one to sit next to a woman feeding her child with a bottle and whip out your boob in hopes of making her feel bad, or you don’t care who you bother as you fully expose your chest at a busy event to nurse an unruly toddler, this blog is for you. If it still doesn’t offend you, great. If it does, then consider it payback for all the people you have offended.