Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Poppin' boobs in your face, baby...

cleavageImagine this: I’m posting about a news story that provoked me without waiting a month…or three;>

I read a Women’s Health News blog entry yesterday that led me to read this story, which then led me to this other coverage of the same story. I was completely fired up yesterday afternoon by the comments on those stories, particularly the negative ones that shunned the woman for breastfeeding in public.

I’m going to admit right now that I am not uncomfortable breastfeeding in public. At all. I would not feel an ounce of shame if I had to completely uncover myself to do so, but I also don’t like to do things that might draw an excessive amount of attention to myself, so I do attempt to minimize the skin I show when nursing in public places. (All bets are off if you’re in my home, though, because I will not be juggling blankets or cover-ups in my own living room. I tried a time or two when visitors were here while LMX was a few weeks old, but it became futile, and I decided I didn’t care if my boobs were exposed, and anyone who might care could either be an adult and look away or leave.) However, I cannot stand it when people 1. Compare breastfeeding a baby with urinating or defecating (because those things are so far from being the same; breastmilk is life-sustaining nourishment while urine and feces are waste products), and 2. Act as though they are physically incapable of not staring at a woman who may have some breast skin showing. It's almost the opposite of how some men try not to stare at women with breast implants or naturally large breasts.

Today, I read another story, and this statement bothers me: "The Sheriff's Department acknowledges in the statement that breastfeeding is legal in Tennessee, but if there are complaints, they ask women to cover up or move to a private area."

Hmmm, let's see...
Why suggest the mother cover up or move to a private location at all? Why not simply tell those who were complaining that she is doing nothing illegal or wrong and suggest they refrain from watching if they find it offensive or indecent?

And, if one of the stories is correct in that they were asking her to move for her safety as there were inmates being brought through the hall, then I wonder if this was expressed to her? Did that first deputy say, Ma’am, we’re preparing to bring inmates through here. If you would feel more comfortable in a private room, then I can help you get to one.? Somehow, I doubt it, especially since none of the stories indicate this amount of concern was used when talking to the mother. It seems as though she was approached by a female deputy and asked to cover herself more or move to another location, and after she declined, she was approached again by Sgt. Potts. The bottom line is this: if she was comfortable feeding her child where she was, then they needed to let her continue to do so without making any additional pleas for her to move.

From what I’ve read, and the way the incident has been portrayed, the mother could have handled the situation more gracefully, but maybe she was having a sucky day or a crappy week, and maybe, just maybe, she was just plain fed up with people acting like she should be embarrassed for feeding her child the way her body intends, especially by law enforcement folks who should have been aware that she was not doing anything illegal. I just don't understand why anyone, let alone two people, felt obligated to say anything to this woman about what she doing; her reaction is irrelevant, in my opinion.

I’m also irritated by the amount of people who commented to say women should just pump and feed from a bottle when they need to feed their infants in public. Excuse me? First, not every mother can afford to buy a pump, especially a decent one, if it isn’t a necessity, and I don’t like the implication that a desire to leave the house for more than 20 minutes at a time makes a pump necessary. Second, the likelihood that any non-top-quality, non-double-electric pump will produce as much milk as the baby would need is pretty slim, and even if you have a top-quality, double-electric one, you might not get as much as the baby wants. And third, do these people have any idea how annoying and time-consuming pumping and bottle-feeding is in comparison to just latching the baby to a breast? Trying to keep the milk stored properly, cleaning the pump parts and bottle parts, not to mention that hands-free pumping is near impossible…it’s just more trouble than it’s worth so that somebody doesn’t have to witness breastfeeding, which is significantly less disgusting than someone blowing their nose, picking food out of their teeth, or licking - I do mean licking, not sucking - their fingers in public, at least to me, and when I glimpse someone doing one of those things, I simply look away and keep going about my life without giving them a second thought.

12 comments:

heather said...

1st, the picture threw me for a moment. i thought i lost a day and it was half naked thursday over at hello's place. :-)

2nd, this kills me. as 'sophisticated' as we americans like to think we are we are such hypocritical prudes sometimes. i just don't have the words right now...
i just don't get it. i never will.

Jen said...

The idea that women should "just pump" whenever they want to leave the house witha nursing infant just bugs the every loving snot out of me. It's just not feasible or reasonable at all. When I first had my daughter I had a major hang-up about nursing in public. I would hook myself up to the pump (a high quality, very expensive pump) and pump and pump and pump and pump. In the end I would be lucky if I was able to get two ounces. But that was only half the battle. Trying to get a squalling infant who loved the real thing to try to drink from a bottle was the worst part.
One day I realized that I could either a) go through this battle every time I wanted to go somewhere b) never leave the house again unil my girl was weaned c) grow up and stop worrying about showing a flash of nipple as I nursed in public. I chose to nurse in public without giving a damn what anyone thought. Once I did that I had a happier baby and I was a happier mama. And frankly, if I pissed anyone off or offended anyone with the sight? Well that just makes me laugh. Anyone who gets upset at seeing someone NIP needs to get the hell over themselves and their delicate sensabilities.

Susan said...

We all know I don't have kids but the idea of "pumping" in general makes me almost ill. It's like...why....that's not how it was intended. It's a natural thing. If I, super easily nausciated Susan can handle a mother feeding a child anyone can.

Tera said...

I nursed both of my boys and to this day, I totally attribute they good health to it. I used to nurse them when I needed to, being discreet of course, but regardless, they needed to be fed. Breastfeeding is natural, and quite frankly is much cheaper than buying that damned formula which stains their clothes!!! Society always has to look for the negative in situations, and that pisses the shit out of me!

As far as pumping goes, Susan my dear not being a mother, you wouldn't understand :) It really helps to let the rest of the family (i.e. your significant other and/younger sibling) share in the bonding experience because they can feed the baby too...shoot it ALSO serves as a relief for the mother who is away at work or shopping all day thinking about the baby, thusly a throbbing boob that needs faster relief than one feeding!!! LOL!

Churlita said...

Yeah. It's totally fine to have boobs flashed in our faces all day from the media, but the minute someone wants to use them for their actual purpose everyone gets all squeamish. So annoying.

Shaken Mama said...

I guess this would be one reason I'm glad that breastfeeding isn't working for us this time around. I can't tell you what a relief it is to use a bottle in public and not worry about flashing a boob to a rube!

NoRegrets said...

It's the whole concept of people not being responsible for their own actions. If the boob is exposed, then it's the breast feeder's fault that people look, stare, are uncomfortable, etc. Stoopid.

melanie said...

I hate the whole "why don't you just pump" mentality. I've tried pumping - but no matter how long I go I never get more than an ounce. I think it is beacuse my little girl still eats every 2 hours (3 tops!) at 5 months. And I do cover up when I go out just because I find it more comfortable and less distracting for her - but at the same time I will feed her ANYWHERE if I need to and if I didn't have my "hooter-hider" with me, I would just feed her because she is more important than anyone else right now.

Thanks for letting me join your rant. :)

*melanie from www.meli-mello.com

Anonymous said...

Well yes your child is more important, but maybe there's a comprimise in that you could go into a restroom for a little bit?

carpenterz@tamu.edu

sarah said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

Sarah

http://www.thetreadmillguide.com

Anonymous said...

It makes me furious when people suggest the baby should be nursed in the restroom!!!!!! I would never dream of eating in a public restroom. So why would I make my son eat in one!!!

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