Go Forth And Breastfeed
There aren’t many things in the world that make me angry when it comes to feminist issues. Usually, when faced with a feminist dilemma I can approach it with an open mind and reason. However, there is one issue that infuriates me a great deal and that is the negativity surrounded breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is the most natural and normal thing there could ever possibly be, so why is it treated with such disgust? Women are asked to leave restaurants or move out of a public area when breastfeeding as it’s considered ‘obscene’ or ‘disgusting’. I am outraged that any woman supporting the life of her child is asked not to do so in public view, for fear of offending someone. I’m sure that I do not stand alone on this issue, and, I encourage you to share your voice alongside mine in support.
Now I am not a mother, nor do I intend on becoming one in the near future, but as a woman and as a human I understand that babies need to be fed multiple times a day. I also understand that, as a human, I wouldn’t be able to plan my day so that every three or four hours I was in a discrete private place in order to feed my child. Therefore, a woman will at some point, unless she lives her child’s first years in isolation, will have to breastfeed in public. This is not a crime. It is not indecency as some proclaim. It is NORMAL. And NATURAL. The sooner people understand that the better for all women, not just mothers.
When I see a woman breastfeeding in public my first thoughts are never disgust or horror, or that she is being provocative. My first thoughts are always respect, admiration and beauty. It is such a wonderful connection, that of a mother and her child, and that should be celebrated rather than shamed. I always smile, I always appreciate the love that is present. I can’t see how there is any other response! We have breastfed our children for as long as motherhood has existed, all species do it! Breastfeeding is a part of our history, something that has stood the test of time despite all the modern technologies available. It stands to this day that there is nothing better for a baby’s growth and development than the breast milk of their mother.
At 18 years old I know that one day I would like to be a mother. When that day comes I do not want to feel embarrassed or apologetic or uncomfortable if I need to breastfeed my child when in a public place. The stigma surrounding breastfeeding is confusing to me; it is sexualised. How can something so beautiful and human be sexualised in such a perverted way? No woman is “getting her tits out” for your pleasure. She isn’t flashing them around to grab your attention. She would be trying to retain some modesty whilst carrying out an essential task.
Recently, I watched a Youtube video performing a social experiment. They sat a provocatively dressed model on a bench in the middle of a town. The only comments made towards her were comments of praise and beauty, predominately cat-calls – but that’s another issue. This woman received only praise. Men approached her asking for her number, they flirted and reveled in her presence. The scene was then switched to a breastfeeding mother in her place. The opposite occurred. The mother was faced with abuse and anger telling her to cover herself and to leave. It shocked me and made me quite upset that this is clearly something mothers worldwide have to deal with on a daily basis. How could anyone be so rude to a woman modestly feeding her child and yet so warm and kind to a woman dressed in such provocative clothing? (I would like to point out at this point, I have no problem with the woman dressing proactively as all people have the right to dress the way they please.) It was a social experiment that really affected me and was an inspiration for this post.
So to end I must say, when you next see a woman breastfeeding in public admire the beauty in the task. Don’t look at it in a sexualised way, for it is not sexual. It is a mother’s role in life to support her child, so how can people be so rude and inconsiderate to ask her to do otherwise. Respect that she has probably spent the last however many months with all the broken sleep and stress that comes with being a mother. It is no easy task on its own so we should be cutting them every break we can!
It is something that all of our mother’s would have had to do. So step back and think if you’re about to make some rude comment to a breastfeeding woman. Would you have wanted your mother to receive the same abuse? The answer is very simple and straight forward no.