I have something I really need to get off my chest – Oh the sweet irony. I realise I’m going out on a limb here and will quite possibly receive some hate mail after publishing this, but I just have to say it: If I see or read one more post about #BreastfeedingInPublic I’m going to have to stage some kind of a mass intervention. Oh wait, that’s what this is! It’s a message to the public asking everyone to get a grip and well, calm their titties. Please guys just here me out.
I’m pleading with you to move on from all the passive aggressive behavior, defensiveness and disrespect that has edged its way into our society over the last few years. It’s a shout out to all the breastfeeding moms to say, “Keep feeding your babies, but PLEASE stop getting your knickers (and bra’s) in such a knot”.
I love that we have taken a stand, believe me I do. I love it that most women have come together on the subject and stood up for their right to breastfeed their baby anywhere they choose. I love it that we have stood up to the bullying and some pretty harsh and stupid opinions. I mean that’s what the mamahood is about right? Joining forces and standing up for issues that are close to our hearts.
But I beg you please, can we all just carry on breastfeeding our babies without having to post pictures of ourselves doing it with the hashtag #normalisebreastfeeding attached to it? Nobody should have to normalise breastfeeding, it’s one of the most natural and beautiful things in the world. It’s the public part that some people just may have an issue with. And not all of those people are trying to be assholes about it.
I don’t think a group of people woke up one morning and said breastfeeding is gross and if I see a woman breastfeeding in public today I’m going to give her a piece of my mind. I find it highly improbable that someone opened their eyes one day while waiting in line for their popcorn at the movies and thought That woman over there has some serious nerve, why can’t she do that home??
I mean I’m sure there are some legitimate douche bags out there who, are asking for a well deserved slap across their face for voicing their wacked opinions, but I really don’t think that the majority of people who have opinions on the subject are really as evil as they are made out to be.
At the end of the day there are so many factors that play a role. Too many for there to ever be a clear-cut way to deal with the issue at hand, but many that I believe haven’t been considered by the avid public breastfeeders among us. Have you ever stopped to wonder what some of these factors may be?
Some people may be old-fashioned or little conservative, some may be particularly private. Some may find it offensive to the privacy of their relationship, or the fundamentals of their religion. Some may find it contradicts the culture in which they have been brought up, but I don’t think they are all evil scumbags who deserve to die a long and painful death. (Seriously I read a comment on a thread once where this was what this lovely young woman told a guy who said he didn’t mind women breastfeeding in public but felt there was a simple solution to cover up. She felt he deserved to die because it made him uncomfortable. Turns out he was a particularly religious man who didn’t want other men seeing his wife’s breasts either while she nursed their kids. He felt it was disrespectful to his wife and their religious beliefs.
It’s as though some women have become so aggressive and angry in their fight to advocate nursing in public that they have forgotten the more fundamental issues at hand: respect and consideration. Consideration for other people’s systems of belief.
I just think if women were really focusing on feeding their baby instead of trying to prove a point and make history by not covering up, people would be more inclined to just move on. (*There’s nothing to see here folks!) There is a major difference between breastfeeding your baby in public and throwing all discretion to the wind and popping your melons out in the mall’s food court.
It almost seems like the more women are trying to normalize breastfeeding in public the more they are trying to get a reaction by making a point to not discreetly feed their baby but rather whip their boobs out with very little thought to those around them.
These, Um…. let’s call them PABIPA’s (Passive-Aggressive Breastfeeding In public Advocates) sit in the mall and on the beach or in the 5pm queue at supermarkets taking selfies of themselves, of their babies drinking from their breasts with men wearing suits in the background. Pictures that could be beautiful in the right context no doubt (like at home without hairy strangers in the background), but pictures, which have now been turned into a fight for justice. Pictures that have just been posted to prove a point.
When they get home they quickly upload the picture to Insta with the hashtag #Normalisebreastfeeding, hoping that they are going to make waves in breastfeeding history. And while all the other PABIPs agree whole heartedly with their #BreastIsBest and #TheyCantSilenceUs support, they wait to get taken apart by the rest of the world who don’t want lactating boobs in their face while they are buying their bread and milk. And let’s not forget the odd troll who literally sits there just waiting for those pictures to be uploaded so he can rip them apart the way only a troll knows how.
And then of course you get the staged videos where they make comparisons between a sexy girl with cleavage and a breastfeeding mom, both sitting on a bench. You guys know those videos are staged right? You know this guy on the train staged the whole thing to see what people’s response would be? And if you watch the video this women was perfectly covered up. Seems to me people are just stirring the pot to create a scene, because lets face it, what would Facebook be without some juicy, opinionated breastfeeding drama?
We don’t need to dig very deep to realize that the people who don’t have a problem with a girl wearing a low top but find breastfeeding disgusting are really just the product of a twisted society. Their opinions shouldn’t matter. The problem is this though: Just because society has twisted people s misconceptions about what is morally and socially acceptable when it comes to exposing our breasts in public, does not make it acceptable. Just because Riri wears a dress that shows off her boobs does not automatically mean we should all be free to expose parts of our bodies that we normally wouldn’t. Breastfeeding is practical and vital yes, but it’s also a very sacred part of the bonding between you and your baby that doesn’t need to involve the rest of your male community.
The same way I wouldn’t want my guy friends and male family members seeing me topless, I wouldn’t feel comfortable exposing my breasts while feeding my babies. I know my husband would find it pretty uncomfortable if one of my friend’s exposed themselves this way while he were in the room. He’s not a perverted twisted man who needs to have his head checked, he’s just respectful to other women’s privacy. Call us modest and old-fashioned but I guess that’s just how we feel. Just to point out, he still supports breastfeeding for all women and loved and supported my breastfeeding journeys from beginning to end.
I breastfed both my babies and yes often that called for having to feed them in public. I used a very beautifully made lightweight feeding apron that didn’t smother my babies face or prevent him from eating with dignity. I made sure I covered myself appropriately, as best I could while still ensuring my precious bundle was nourished and fed. I don’t remember EVER having anyone say anything rude or suggest I leave a restaurant. I also don’t remember any inappropriate stares or snide remarks. And I certainly don’t remember resorting to sitting on a public toilet. SIES! For the record, I breastfeed both my boys on-the-go for 2 years!
*Sidenote: Woolworths lounges were my saving grace and their Honey Nut Lattes changed my life.
Look I know I’m going out on limb here and risking some harsh judgement, but I can’t help but think it’s just become such a huge social media war. All over Instagram you see women fighting the good fight and taking a stand. Has it not been taken a step too far? Nobody is saying don’t feed your baby; some people are maybe just a little uncomfortable with a strangers boobs out in the open. In any context.
I love breastfeeding and completely advocate all that it entails. Breastfeeding is beautiful and no, nobody should ever make you feel ashamed of it and nobody has the power or the right to do that. But please mamas, lets look at things from the other side of the coin and not turn these beautiful and sacred breastfeeding years into â€˜making history’ posts and silly demonstration wars.
Breastfeed your baby in public, you don’t need society to normalize it. Breastfeed your baby without feeling you need to prove a point to a society that is already so backward. Breastfeed your baby without feeling you need to defend your choice, but also breastfeed your baby with respect to others around you. It’s really that simple.
If you really want to see big changes without spending all your energy on demonstrations and making banners, push your local mall to create feeding facilities for moms – specially designated areas where moms are welcome to sit and chill on comfortable couches and enjoy a cup of tea. If you really are keen to fight the good fight then put your energy into getting a petition signed by your community to see practical changes implemented. Ones that will find a mutually respectful solution to the problem.
I know we can all get carried away as moms and feel the need to fight for justice on so many of these social issues, but ladies its time we realise that it’s not always just about us and our feelings. Stand strong in your convictions like you always have but remember we all come from different walks of life and if we all learn to respect those differences we may see more positive change around these issues. Normalising breastfeeding is not the issue here. Perhaps respect and tolerance is.