Saturday, August 10, 2013

Some Breastfeeding Business:

Today I read a really good post on Facebook about how women should be allowed to breastfeed when and where they like without feeling uncomfortable.
First I was like, "Yeah! Lady-Mom Power!"
Then I saw the comments.
The comments consisted mainly of the following types:
1. Ladies saying, "I'm all for breastfeeding! Boobs everywhere! I will nurse my baby at your dinner table!"
2. Other ladies saying, I'm all for breastfeeding, too! There's no need to rush to bathroom for privacy, just use a blanket if you feel exposed!"
3. Occasional men saying, "Actually, Breastfeeding in public is gross and/or sexual."
4. The first ladies (now in all caps) saying, "YOU PRUDES DON'T GET THE POINT. IF YOU SUPPORT BREASTFEEDING TEMPERED WITH MODESTY, THEN YOU ACTUALLY DON'T SUPPORT BREASTFEEDING AND ARE A TERRIBLE PERSON WHO IS HELPING SUPPORT A MALE-DOMINATED SOCIETY BY YOUR PRUDISH SUBMISSION."
5. Then some people are like, "If you don't breastfeed your baby- you are an evil devil and your babies will die of asthma and allergies and obesity!"
6. And then I was like, "Holy WHAT?! Calm down my friends!"

I think we can all agree that those guys in the middle don't deserve to be a part of the conversation. Okay. We ALL agree, men are dumb and aren't the boss of breastfeeding. There's no need to fight about this. Let's move on.

Those ladies at the top: Sure. Breastfeed your baby at the dinner table. Moms aren't going to ask you to leave because we don't want you to have to breastfeed in the bathroom. We want you at the table, even if it means we have to see your nipples. Men might feel uncomfortable but we've already decided that their opinions aren't super relevant. A few young women at the table might feel uncomfortable (or catty, because women can be mean)- but we can also overrule their opinions, because their only experience with having breasts is that they make men feel sexy / hurt their backs / are displayed in a sexual manner everywhere ever. So it's good for them to see you using your boobs they way they were meant to be used.
Great. No one of consequence is attacking you now.

Second ladies: Good on you for understanding that- despite the fact that nipples aren't inherently sexual- they are still private parts of your body. There is nothing wrong with feeling shyness or exposure when breastfeeding in public. I hereby validate your feelings. If you are ashamed of the way that you are feeding your child, maybe there are some larger issues at hand- but if you just seek a little decency: good on you. We will continue to not judge, just as we did not judge those more flamboyant breastfeeders above.
If you seek to cover up your body out of polite concern for the feelings of those around you, thank you for your kindness. In our world we like to rant that everyone has a right to do and think and act the way that they please, regardless of how it makes people feel- we sometimes forget that others' feeling are as acute as our own.  But we all know the uncomfortable itch that one gets when their feelings are trod upon. It's okay to also think of the way people around you might react. You don't need to scurry away to a bathroom, but if your elderly grandfather is at the dinner table and doesn't want to see your nipples, why put him in the uncomfortable position of perhaps accidentally doing so?

Now back to you first ladies: Don't you agree that dictating how anyone believes or breastfeeds is wrong? For a stupid man or dumb girl to tell women to cover themselves up is rude, demeaning, and inconsiderate. But for you to tell her that she ought to UNcover is equally rude and oppressive. To try to force women to display their bodies in ways that make them uncomfortable is EXACTLY THE SAME as trying to force them to cover up in ways that make them feel uncomfortable.
To inform someone who is clearly breastfeeding that they do not support breastfeeding is totalitarian at worst and absurdly unobservant at it's best.
To announce that the only proper way to think and act is the way that you think and act is just plain mean.
And I think that we can all agree, there's no need to be mean to each other. We're all on the same page here. We all support breastfeeding.

Now, you last people, those of you who chant that breast is not only best, but also the only humanitarian way of feeding babies:
First of all, I'm really glad that you were able to nurse all your children such ease and success.
But for the sake of your empathy (and perhaps for the sake of the rest of us imperfect models of women who are sick of being harassed for our shortcomings), I sincerely hope that your next baby is a huge pain the ass to nurse. I hope that you are in constant pain, that your baby is sickly and underfed, that your breast milk doesn't produce, that your child cannot latch, that you blister, bleed, are swollen and clogged, that you have bouts of unresolved mastitis and eventually give up and have to buy enough formula for your twins- which by the way is going to be over $400 a month.

Okay. I don't REALLY wish all those things upon you.
Only some of them.
Only enough of those things to make you stop harassing other moms whenever the time arises, and in fact, often when the time hasn't arisen at all.

Let's all high-five to feeding babies how, where, and what we may.

Note: To read about my personal experience, just click the link to the right that says Breastfeeding Twins. Or click right {here}

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7 comments:

Anna said...

A-frickin'-men, sister.

Lana said...

Did someone leave a mean comment that you had to remove? That's too bad. Why are people so mean? I am not the biggest fan of breastfeeding. I know it's best and I know it's cheapest, but I don't particularly "enjoy" it. Also, Vera has decided that the left boob is gross so she will eat for about 5 minutes and cry and pound on me with her fists. I have tried every hold and sometimes end up just squirting that boob milk in her mouth while she screams at me. le sigh. Incidentally, my right boob is way bigger than my left now. Which is not only dumb looking, but my shirts are stretching on one side, my bra doesn't fit, and sleeping has become more uncomfortable. I cried about this for 10 minutes today. I would like to stop and salvage my boobs (which people shouldn't judge me for either I feel) but I'm so cheap and I don't want to buy formula. Can't V just be old enough to eat real food now? Also, I'm watching Harry Potter while I'm typing this. Why did anyone think it was a good idea for Snape to "cry" his memories. I think it's dumb.

JustaMan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Angela D said...

Well said, especially this line: "To try to force women to display their bodies in ways that make them uncomfortable is EXACTLY THE SAME as trying to force them to cover up in ways that make them feel uncomfortable." I agree that women should be able to feed their child anywhere they need to, but I also agree that they shouldn't be stripping off all their clothes and flashing people in so doing. No matter how wonderful I know breastfeeding is, I don't want to see the private, sacred parts of your body as you engage in the private, sacred act of breastfeeding. When I am a mom I plan to try getting to a point where I'm comfortable doing it in public, but I'll be covered to protect the modesty and comfort of me and those around me. If someone is having troubles and wants to see how breastfeeding works (another argument against covering up is that nobody knows how it works), they can ask and I can demonstrate.

Mrs. G said...

This all goes with the whole mom-petition. In the age of social media, what would normally be conversated privately, is blasted for all to hear and throw in their two sense of what is best...ie extended rear facing, cloth/disposable, cereal in the bottle, 1 yr with binki etc...

I've had some say that they think a woman covering up actually brings more attention to what they were doing than if they quietly and discreetly nursed. Sometimes I would go in another area to latch my kids and then return all covered up. But, I do take a quick inventory of the male audience I am around so I know just how modest I should be. I know men are visual and I don't want to cause them to stumble with their eyes if I can help it for those I knew.

Can't we all just be happy for all those mommies who found what worked the best for them and their children?

amberly said...

I loved this blog post. I think this is an issue even more than breast feeding. There is always judging and I hate it. I'm not a mom yet, my husband and I are wanting to start our family soon, but the biggest fear that I have is the fear of being judged no matter what I do. I feel sure that in every situation, there will be someone who feels the need to "enlighten" me to their opinion. Thanks for posting something so refreshing and open.

MARCIE said...

Lana is so funny. And I still think modesty is best in every condition.