Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Activism: Breastfeeding Edition

It seems like every day I see another news story about a woman being discriminated against for breastfeeding in public. The latest happened in a Target store in Detroit to a mother breastfeeding her 4 week old while shopping. Last I checked a 4 week old baby isn't going to wait (and shouldn't have to) until a more "convenient" time to eat-especially if it's only inconveniencing strangers who are worried they might see some side boob.

Facebook got in on this at the beginning of this year when the website took down any photo that showed a woman breastfeeding. Now, I could see this possibly being totally justified if Facebook had a policy against showing areolas (despite the fact that Facebook took down pictures of women breastfeeding that showed no part of the nipple) or had nudity standards, but this is not the case. Take a peek at some of the photos on facebook as of Dec. 2, 2009 that are not deemed "obscene".
From one of the Jessica Alba fan-pages. Definitely has more pics of her in semi-nude poses.

From the Women in Photography page, which has at least 1 other photo of a partially nude model

From the PETA page-which has many other nude and partially nude women often in provocative poses. Don't get me started on the feminist issues I have with this.

The saddest part is that these are some of the pictures previously taken down. I don't know about you, but they don't look too "obscene" to me.

Now, I personally have no problem with female nudity (if not done as an objectification of women to serve an agenda--I'm looking at you, PETA) or male nudity, but if people are going to get all up in arms because a woman might have an inch of her breast exposed at the park, Toys-R-Us, or at an amusement park, then maybe they should be more concerned about the nudity on magazine covers, in the lingerie store advertisements, etc. However, I don't see these busybodies complaining about the lingerie ads in target--just the nursing mother.

Ok, so maybe you are offended by all this media nudity and still think breastfeeding is obscene. I'm sure you have some common comments and arguments that I would like to refute.

  • I don't want to see it. Simple: don't look. It takes 2 seconds to turn your face. I get grossed out by kids picking their noses in public, but I don't scream that they should be kicked out of the store, or wherever. I just turn my face and grimace. Feel free to do the same!
  • Cover the kid up with a blanket! First, do you like to have your face covered up while eating, drinking, or trying to breathe in general? It's hot under a blanket! Should a baby feeding from a bottle be forced to put his little head under a blanket? Meanwhile, I don't think you should put things over an infant's face that could possibly restrict air flow-especially while eating.
  • Go to the bathroom to do that. Again, would you want to eat, or even sit, in a public restroom for longer than the minute you have to when using the toilet? It's gross in there. I don't want to smell public restroom for 10 minutes while my kid eats, and I'm sure he won't either. Not to mention you shouldn't expose infants to e. coli in the restroom if possible.
  • Go out to your car. Why, so the people in the parking lot can complain? It's not always convenient. Women often do nurse out in their cars, but if it's 20 or 105 degrees F outside, I don't want to sit in the car. Or, if I'm in the middle of my shopping, I'm not going to abandon my cart and sit in the car only to start all over again just because you can't draw your eyes from trying to catch a glimpse of my nipple so you can complain to the store manager.
  • I don't pee/poop/insert bodily function out in the street! First of all, I'm glad to hear this. Next, it isn't at all the same thing. I promise women don't leave a snail trail of milk behind them wherever they go just because they're lactating. Not to mention that unless the woman has a blood borne illness (in which case she probably won't be breastfeeding anyway), you don't have the same element of disease involved. Breast milk might even heal a common illness you have if it gets on you.
  • I don't want my son/husband/boyfriend to see your breasts! To me, this is the most sad argument of all. It hurts me to hear of women being so influenced by the media and other outside influences to regard the breast as a purely sexual organ. I assure you, most men do not get aroused seeing a baby attached to an exposed breast. Besides, we as mothers should be teaching our sons that women and their breasts are not put on earth only for the sexual pleasure of men. If you teach him that breasts are not only sexual, but life giving and perfectly evolved to feed children, then he will gain a new level of respect for women as a whole.

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