So, there’s been this thing in the news (national and local) about a woman branded as ‘a tramp’ for breastfeeding in public. Her picture was taken and sent around social media, making her into a modern-day, one-woman Victorian-style freak show.
A local woman led a demo in support of this lady yesterday in County Durham (see this news article here: )
Read that? Great. Now, for your own amusement, read the comments as well. (I have come to the conclusion that the handful of people who comment on the Northern Echo news page – and there seem to be five or six regulars and not many others – are some of the nastiest, most unpleasant internet trolls I’ve ever seen: but that’s by the by. Let’s get back to the subject of breastfeeding).
So. Let’s say it again. Let’s break it down and analyse it.
Breast. Feeding. Feeding from a breast. Giving your infant the nutritional support he/she requires and which you can hopefully provide. It’s not a choice for all mothers, and despite the endless banging on about it by those who decree what is right and wrong in parenting, it’s most certainly the most traditional method of feeding your hungry baby. A personal word of advice though – find what works for you and don’t ever let anybody tell you that your choice is wrong.
So. It seems that, due to the blatant over-sexualisation of the female breast in our ‘enlightened’ world, the sight of a woman engaging in probably one of the most natural, healthy things in the world is enough to cause Outrage™.
It’s an interesting debate, isn’t it?
Most of us who have been, at some point in our lives, breastfeeding mothers, can tell you that it’s the most difficult thing in the world to be ‘caught short’ with a hungry baby when you’re out with them. It’s an even more difficult thing to find somewhere discrete to go to tend to that child’s needs. Especially as a new mother, struggling with a gazillion new things in your world.
In the days before they seemed to close every shop they had, Mothercare made great provision for nursing mothers. Many local public conveniences have ‘parent/baby rooms’ where you can go to feed/change your child in a slightly less uncomfortable space that being squashed into a toilet cubicle offers. But sometimes – just sometimes – you have no choice but to get on with the process where you happen to be.
And it’s entirely possible to be discrete. If you are, say, in a restaurant, you simply turn away from the rest of the room, or you drape a shawl or whatever over your shoulder to hide your unfortunately-exposed flesh from the world. The baby doesn’t care. It just wants food. The mother, more often than not, will be far more embarrassed than the people offended by the sight.
Mind you, most people who see a mother feeding have the common decency to not gawk. To give the poor woman the privacy she needs to deal with what is already an uncomfortable situation.
As with so many other things in the world, this sort of debate will always bring up the militants on both sides of the fence: the fiercely ‘pro-public breast’ and the vehement ‘anti-public breast’ brigades. Both of these groups need a lesson in how to communicate with each other. The ‘pro’ group need to listen to and respect the concerns of the ‘anti’ group. Meanwhile, the ‘anti’ group need to learn just what problems the ‘pro’ group are facing…
Wait. I’m talking about being sensible and logical, aren’t I? My mistake.
As you can probably tell, I support breastfeeding in public for the majority of considerate mothers. The people I do NOT support are the ones, as mentioned in the comments on that news thread, who make no effort whatsoever to be discrete and who do the breastfeeding equivalent of jumping up and down waving a sign that says LOOK AT ME DEFYING SOCIAL CONVENTION, AREN’T I DARING?
No, love, you’re just making it harder for the rest of us. Now cover up. You’re putting Mr. Average Citizen in the corner off his Ploughman’s.