I made the mistake yesterday of following the #breastfeeding hashtag on Twitter. Most of it was good reading but there were a few comments from people who objected to breastfeeding. I have never met anyone personally who claims to be offended by breastfeeding so this was new for me and quite astonishing. These people think their personal sensitivities come before the basic survival needs of a young infant. I think this view is complete and utter bollocks. They have no right to prevent someone else from taking care of their young. They need to develop a bit of tolerance. Objecting to someone caring for their infant has got to be the height of absurdity. We live in a society where we’re constantly reading about parents abusing and neglecting their children. Let’s support the ones who want to do the right thing and supporting them does not mean it is right for you to prevent them from doing exactly that.
I used to breastfeed my babies in public spaces. It’s very difficult to avoid when babies are small as they feed every two hours and no-one wants to be house-bound. If someone had asked me to cover up I would have felt indecent, humiliated, and mortified and probably would have lost a lot of confidence and stayed at home for a good while afterwards. Breastfeeding didn’t come naturally to me at first. Like most other new mothers I found it very difficult and quite painful but I stuck with it because I had a lot of support from people around me. Being told that what I’m doing is indecent or shameful is the antithesis of supportive and *very* damaging for the mother and society as a whole.
Breasts are multifunction devices. They may provide sexual pleasure for both men and women but they also happen to provide nourishment for young infants. When they perform this latter role, they are not fulfilling their other role in any way. Breastfeeding is 100% nurturing. There’s nothing sexual about it. If people find it offensive to see someone nurture their infants then they need to ask themselves why? And they certainly shouldn’t force these warped views on other people who are simply trying to live their lives and do the right thing by their children. I wonder whether these same people are up in arms when they see women showing a bit of cleavage or tight-fitting clothing? And whether they’re being consistent and tweeting about the indecency of naked breasts in newspapers and women’s magazines?
I rather like what Barbara Ellen said in the Guardian about this –
Where public breastfeeding is concerned, it should be about other people resisting the urge to control nursing mothers and instead learning to control their own behaviour, in particular their need to gawp.
Claridge’s and Farage don’t seem to understand that breastfeeding is a woman’s own business; it remains an entirely private matter, even in a public space.
Happily, breastfeeders tend to be human-size – they don’t fill entire rooms or eclipse suns. Even in a crowded restaurant, it’s fairly easy not to look at a woman breastfeeding and to gaze elsewhere. Thus, if someone chooses to stare and becomes offended, isn’t that their own doing and their own fault?
People who drone: “It’s not about the breastfeeding, it’s the breast” need to resit their biology exams. This is how breastfeeding is done, there’s no other way. It’s unreasonable to expect the female sex to apologise for the plumbing nature gave them – for not being able to make the milk conveniently spurt out of, say, the end of their index finger.