I can’t wait to stop writing about breastfeeding in public

Some day I won’t write another thing about breastfeeding in public.  Because I won’t have to.  Eventually, some day, everyone will have grown weary of the debate and realize just how silly it is.  Mothers feeding their babies will be left alone, in peace to care for their children by meeting their needs for food and comfort.  In time the fact that message boards and news broadcasts filled up with comments arguing about the “appropriateness” of feeding babies in public will seem ridiculous and celebrities that dissed women that breastfeed in public will be dismissed as ignorant and intolerant.  In a lesser but similar way that we feel looking back at other civil justice issues and wonder how in the world anyone could ever have had any question about where people sit on a bus or what water fountains they drink from, breastfeeding in public debates will be an embarrassing mark on our social history.  As a society we won’t bat a collective eyelash at a woman breastfeeding in public whether she’s using a cover or not.  The idea that a women is permitted or not permitted to feed her child in public will seem as archaic as women not being permitted to vote.  There won’t be polls posted on news affiliate sites and Facebook pages won’t explode with heated arguments that resort to name calling to prove one’s point about how inappropriate/appropriate it is to breastfeed in public.  Instead, it will just be normal and nobody will even care any more and maybe they’ll take up some more important issue to pour their passionate energy into.  Some day.  Apparently, not today.

Please don’t tell me it could all be avoided if women just had some “decency” and used a cover or went some place private.  That’s not the issue nor is it the solution, women should not be ostracized from society for feeding their babies and covering is a personal choice much like clothing choices.  Not that it helps, plenty of women are harassed for breastfeeding even when they choose to cover.

The comments in those online threads often quickly turn to comparing breastfeeding to some other bodily function that people find disgusting and “nobody wants to see.”  Comments like:  “If breastfeeding in public is acceptable then I should be able to just piss anywhere I need to!”  “That’s disgusting, why can’t they just pump and use a bottle?  I don’t want to see someone getting a blow job while I’m shopping and I don’t want to see breastfeeding.”  “We go to the bathroom to take a dump and don’t just crap on the sidewalk, women can go to the bathroom to pull out their boob, we don’t have to see it.”  “If a woman can just whip out her boob and stick it in a baby’s mouth, I should be able to just whip out my dick and jerk off.”  And more, so many more.  I usually roll my eyes and move on dismissing the writer as someone that doesn’t understand some very basic and crucial differences that flaw their comparison rendering it completely invalid and not worth my time.  Moving on is also to keep me from commenting “well, when you’re ready to prepare a bottle of piss or serve up some human shit in a beautiful dish for your dinner guests and when grocery store shelves are stocked with products claiming to be ‘as good as human urine/feces’ then I might hear your point.”  But then it happened in real life and I couldn’t bite my tongue and roll my eyes in time to not decidedly educate the poor individual that would dare to compare breastfeeding in public to taking a dump in public in my presence.  As it turns out, maybe people really are confused on some of these basic differences.  I decided to see what a larger sample size thought of the issue and how breastfeeding in public compared to these body functions commonly argued as being equally as disgusting (their words, not mine) as breastfeeding in public.  To gather some admittedly biased information considering my poll group consists of fans of The Leaky Boob  (and some got very confused that I’d even ask such a question, a few were a bit upset, they didn’t expect to see that kind of question there and I can’t blame them) I asked the followers of TLB FB, Jessica The Leaky Boob Facebook page, and my own personal friends to vote which was the most disgusting: urinating in public, defecating in public, sex in public, blow job/masturbation in public, and breastfeeding in public.  The results:

In case you’re wondering, breastfeeding didn’t make it on the graph.  Nobody in our unscientific and poorly constructed poll voted for breastfeeding as being the most disgusting option of the 5.  But since not everyone followed the directions (to only pick one that was most disgusting) we ended up with another pie chart illustrating how many of those polled think  urinating in public, defecating in public, sex in public, and blow job/masturbation in public is more disgusting than breastfeeding in public.

 

 While it could be argued that this sample is biased and not indicative of the general population given that they were drawn from a breastfeeding support community, I still would argue that they all make a good point that even those not in favor of breastfeeding would find valid.  However, in case some have yet to understand how it could possibly be that breastfeeding in public is considered less gross than defecating, urinating, masturbating, oral sex, or intercourse in public I created two tables and some notes in order to help clarify.  You can find those here.  It would make me very happy if you went and checked those out, I actually made myself sick doing the research for those puppies.  Reading that much about poop while pregnant and dealing with HG is asking for trouble.

Some day my dream will be a reality and I will stop writing about breastfeeding in public.  Nurse-ins will be a thing of the past and idiotic celebrities won’t be concerned about the PR nightmare they create for themselves simply because we’ll have all moved on and they won’t be saying stupid comments about breastfeeding in public.  Kasey Kahne and Kim Kardashian (what’s with the Ks?) will be cited as examples of ignorance regarding breastfeeding and society’s attempts to control and shame women for their bodies and mothering for future generations.  For now though, I’ll keep talking about it even though I’m tired of saying the same things and I’ll be grateful for moments of sanity in rational mainstream media articles like this.  But to keep it interesting I’m going to have to start making fun of the people ignorant enough to be serious about certain comparisons.  I just can’t help it, when someone confuses urine or feces for breastmilk or thinks there’s something similar with breastfeeding and masturbating in public, I have to laugh at the absurdity or I’ll go crazy.

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Comments

  1. My grandfather inlaw grew up in a time when women wore their hair in a bun and wore long dresses to church so they would be modest. He said no one gave a second thought about a mother breastfeeding her child *gasp* uncovered in church. No one thought it was inappropriate, at all. And this was in the most conservative place I can think of….a southern Ohio church in the 40’s.

    • I have seen this as well, many times. Amazing isn’t it? ~Jessica

    • In the book “so that’s what they’re for” there’s a story about an American Dr in a Muslim heavy culture who walked into a room full of nursing woman without knocking. The woman, of course, were upset. The part of the story i loved was “Fabric flew everywhere as the embarrassed woman rushed to cover–their heads. Not one of them covered their breasts.”

      It just goes to show, even in a culture where they are taught to be a lot more modest then us in the western world, they didn’t think anything of a man seeing them breastfeeding a child.

    • This is kinda hard to describe without pictures and diagrams, but here goes. I grew up in Lancaster County, PA and while growing up I had the opportunity to interact with various Amish and Old Order Mennonite women and families. Those dresses, are the ultimate in easy access nursing wear! Most of these interactions occurred when I was a kid so I never asked them questions about their views on breastfeeding. Now I wish I did. I bet they have fewer hang ups than we do.

  2. I loved this, especially how you compared it to things in history we don’t even think about anymore. The 1st event that always comes to my mind is segregation & how it was abolished in 1964. Asking a bfing woman to use a restroom to feed her child, in my mind, is equal to segregation. Thank you for your frank and witty prose.

    • Exactly, it is segregation. Segregation based on cultural ignorance. Before the civil rights movement people believed that black people had different germs, different diseases and so they had to be separated. On a lesser scale, that’s what breastfeeding women are encountering, it’s somehow gross for breasts to be functioning normally in feeding a baby but not gross for them to be hanging out while serving beer in a restaurant. We’re happy to use and abuse breasts when it suits our purposes but give it a less than misogynistic intent and we’re disgusted. By “we” I mean some members of society, LOL! ~Jessica

  3. Duuuuuude, you went all out on the tables in the other post. I am impressed!

  4. Stephanie says:

    I recently lived in an Old order Amish community in Kentucky. They are supremely modest, with hair covered with kapps and bonnets, long dresses , But They wear cape dresses so they can “whip it out” ,lol, and feed those babies . The average family size is 8 children, and they breastfed till about two, they fed uncovered and nobody thinks nothing of it! With Amish women you only see working parts : Bare Face, hands , feet and breasts

  5. I will nurse covered up in public when I can legally:
    -inform you that you are too ugly to be seen in public and require you to stay home or wear a paper bag on your head
    -inform you that your body odor is so offensive I want to vomit and require you to be cleaned by a hazmat team before leaving your house.
    -inform you that your outfit offends me and require you to cover up some offending body part, regardless of my reasoning.
    -wash your mouth out with soap every time you curse, say a dirty joke or say something equally inappropriate or offensive in front of myself, my children or on television.

    Until then, LEAVE ME ALONE!

    • Jacqueline says:

      I’m trying to laugh softly and not wake up the kiddo, but yes! I’m okay with the outfit and ugly thing, but seriously, some folks have OB and/or a potty mouth that can rival peeing/pooping in public. Nursing doesn’t have to be anyone else’s business as long as the mother isn’t squirting you down with breastmilk… in that case, do what you would do if someone sneezed on you.

  6. You know, I have heard so many times this past week that urinating is a natural process, so why not do that in public too, and I find it hilarious that out of all the “functions” that you listed, urinating was the second least offensive behind breastfeeding. So I guess nobody really cares who pees in public either! Great post!

  7. I LOVE this blog and the Leaky B@@b. You may not change the world, but one women at a time, you give us nore confidence. You’ve also made me realize how much I enjoy breastfeeding. Thank you.

  8. it’s so hard for my 5 yr old daughter to understand why men are not considered naked when they r not wearing a shirt it public-maybe cause I can’t really justify logically why there is this difference in our society- (not that I really want to go around w/o my shirt on- but there really r some men who should have some modesty cuz gross!) n every time she sees a man w/o a shirt she screams “he’s naked!!!” – lol which just makes me smile. so don’t we already allow men un life necessary immodesty, shouldn’t we allow babies life necessary natural nutrition w/o harassment…

  9. But thanks for saying it again and again, because apparently the idiots who don’t get it need the repetition that we should be able to feed a child when he needs to be fed, wherever that is. I went to the Target nurse in and hope it made a small difference.

    • Your an idiot for forcing your view on another and in my opinion ur a slut fur exposing yourself. You might as well work at hooters

  10. considering how many great articles i have read on this blog, i cant help but say, this is my favourite one yet!

  11. Great post! Love the Leaky B@@b. Reading your blog has helped give me confidence to NIP any way and anywhere that works for me and my 22 month old child. Thanks for some great articles!

  12. KristaMish says:

    I’ve only run into that type of response online but it still boggles my mind how ignorant some people are. I nurse uncovered anytime I need to even though DS is now 30 months old. Of course NIP is coming less frequently because he rarely has an actual need for it in public and it’s quite a lot to wrestle a wiggly 2 year old in a store. Lol!

    I do want to pose a question though… We, as breastfeeding supporters, often refer to bf as “natural”. Obviously I agree but by doing so we open up this ridiculous argument since many natural things aren’t considered appropriate in public. Can anyone come up with another descriptor to use? I’ve tried and failed. Maybe a different choice of words would help with this particular argument.

    • In response to Krista Mish. Eating is natural and biologically imperative. No one else eats with a towel over their face or in the bathroom. Why should nursing be different? I don’t know why it needs to be compared to any other natural things.

  13. Ha! I just responded on our Facebook page to a sweet and surprisingly unenlightened relative, who was offended at my picture of a mom breastfeeding in public. I have included my post here. PS. Thanks for the great blog!
    Q: And why is it that we need more images of women breastfeeding in public without a coverup? Breastfeeding is beautiful but most of us would appreciate mothers having that special experience in private…
    A: We need it because the societal norm of covering it up and making it embarrassing or shameful is harming babies. It’s the cheapest and best way to feed a baby, it’s comforting and biologically perfect, it’s warm and sweet and soft and close, but it’s not yet “normal.” So in supporting images of babies breastfeeding, in all sorts of situations and with all sorts of moms, I hope to normalize it and support new moms and babies in their breastfeeding relationship. The US has a more uncomfortable relationship with women using their breasts to feed their children than using them to sell beer. I find that appalling and I want it to change. That said, I support each woman’s comfort level, and I support yours as well. I support this woman in all her glory, doing her very best for her baby and maybe showing other women and little girls that a mother’s love and care doesn’t have to hide behind a door or under a blanket or in a bathroom stall. If the baby is hungry, the baby should eat. This is one of the most amazing functions a woman’s amazing body performs and I find it utterly beautiful. An expression of love. Thank you so much for asking that question, too. Love to you!

  14. Ha! I just responded to a sweet but surprisingly unenlightened person on our Facebook page regarding my post of a publicly breastfeeding mom. Here’s the post, and PS…thanks for the great blog!

    Q: And why is it that we need more images of women breastfeeding in public without a coverup? Breastfeeding is beautiful but most of us would appreciate mothers having that special experience in private.

    A: We need it because the societal norm of covering it up and making it embarrassing or shameful is harming babies. It’s the cheapest and best way to feed a baby, it’s comforting and biologically perfect, it’s warm and sweet and soft and close, but it’s not yet “normal.” So in supporting images of babies breastfeeding, in all sorts of situations and with all sorts of moms, I hope to normalize it and support new moms and babies in their breastfeeding relationship. The US has a more uncomfortable relationship with women using their breasts to feed their children than using them to sell beer. I find that appalling and I want it to change. That said, I support each woman’s comfort level, and I support yours as well. I support this woman in all her glory, doing her very best for her baby and maybe showing other women and little girls that a mother’s love and care doesn’t have to hide behind a door or under a blanket or in a bathroom stall. If the baby is hungry, the baby should eat. This is one of the most amazing functions a woman’s amazing body performs and I find it utterly beautiful. An expression of love. Thank you so much for asking that question, too. Love to you!

  15. Melanie C. says:

    When I am confronted with these comments of breastfeeding in public is like having sex in public, etc. I often wonder then what we should compare bottle-feeding to, since it is a “substitute” breast. If we compare breastfeeding in public to having sex in public, then bottle-feeding is much like screwing a blow-up doll in public. And isn’t that absurd?!?!

    It comes down to this…if a bottle-feeding mother can feed in public and does not have to cover, then neither do I. Period. End of discussion. There are no “separate-but-equal” facilities that should even be discussed. I agree this is a civil rights issue, not just the rights of the bfing mother, but also the rights of the nursing baby/child.

  16. oops. thought I lost the first one. 🙂

  17. Love this! Fantastic 🙂 I will be sharing in my sunday surf tomorrow.

  18. It’s still gross. My gosh, just use some common sense on publicly decent manners. It’s not about the feeding, it is about the boobs.

  19. Well you jus know it all don’t you? I agree that breast feeding is about feeding and providing comfort for your baby but is it really comfortable for the baby to be fed in public? Sadly babies can’t tell us. But I personally kno I wouldn’t walk around Wal mart or sit in the movies eating my dinner. For decades there was no need to breast feed in public now suddenly there is. Why because everyone feels that everything should be convienent (sp) for them. Well being a mother isn’t convienent and u should plan around your child. Also the fact that are society has become so sexual has lead to women feeling its okay to show their breasts in public when it’s not. Breast feeding should be a intimate time for baby and mother to bond and it shouldn’t be taking place in public. It makes ppl uncomfortable and respect should go both ways. So if u have to breast feed jus plz cover up!

  20. Oh and btw breast milk is a secretion of bodily fluid and perhaps that’s ppl r comparing it to piss and shit. Bodily fluids should be secreted in private. That’s that bottom line. I hope your husbands proud u exposé ur self in public. Wonder how it feels to kno he married a whore

  21. How is covering up harming babies?

  22. Wow congratulations ur all the first ppl to have kids so let’s make the world revolve around you. Honestly as a society we should start thinking about population control because u all should be sterile

  23. I wonder how all ur husbands feel knowing they married whores who expose themselves

  24. I retract my comments an apologize.

  25. I apologize.

  26. Concerned Guy says:

    If you can whip your titties out in public and breastfeed, I should be able to whip my penis out and fap it whenever I like. They’re both natural actions, right?