I just read an article about breastfeeding in public, which is what is inspiring this post, not some perverse fixation.
First of all, I think it should be allowed in public, without any kind of cover. I don’t think a baby should have to eat in a public bathroom—I don’t particularly like doing what they’re intended for in there. Having a baby in a coffee shop, or a restaurant, or a park, and breastfeeding them should be no big deal.
Because I think it should be no big deal, I think people need to stop shaming, or confronting women who are breast feeding. It’s literally the most natural thing in the world. If you don’t want to see a woman breastfeeding don’t look, and if you are worried your kid is going to be corrupted by the sight, there is something either wrong with you or the kid. I get that breasts have been fetishized, and therefore we think of their only actual function as being secondary to the fact that they cause sexual arousal in some.
Something causing sexual arousal should not be the bar at which we set decency and censorship. There are plenty of people who are attracted to feet, but (in this country at least) you will never see someone confront someone over their provocative footwear either sandals or heels (unless it is unsafe given work situations). That’s because feet aren’t inherently sexual. Same with breasts, they are created for nourishment of babies.
Having said that, if you begin breastfeeding in front of me, I’m going to behave awkwardly. I am going to immediately look away, and then realize what I did and try to look more casual while not looking. I look away, because I want to show some respect for your privacy, and the I intimacy of feeding your child, just because you’re doing it in public doesn’t mean you want an audience. I assume that while you’re comfortable if my eyes accidentally stumble upon your breast for a second, that you don’t want me staring.
Please do not take this as any indication of judgement, really don’t care, nor think it’s any of my business, I’m just awkward in general, and I don’t know how to react in this situation. It has happened in public and at family events before, and I almost definitely make things less comfortable.
I would also like to mention the other side of breastfeeding, which I do think is bad. The snobbery.
I get there is a significant amount of the population who thinks there is an advantage to breastfeeding—I personally believe there is— but that doesn’t mean it’s an option for everyone.
I was shopping at Christmas time, with my son, and waiting in line, and a woman and her son were in line behind me. My son started to fuss, then found his bottle, and grabbed it to drink.
“Wow, he’s good at grabbing that bottle, how old is he?” the woman asked.
“8 months!” I said proudly.
“My son’s fifteen months and he can’t even grab his bottle that we’ll yet,” she said, “but he only started using the bottle because I actually breastfed him the whole first year like recommended.”
I gave her a simple nod and moved forward in line. I wanted to be say, “look, asshole, I know I’m overweight but these puppies don’t lactate.” It irritated me because for all she knew, the bottle was filled with pumped breast milk.
I guess the point is, don’t be an asshole. If someone’s breast feeding near you and you don’t like it, look/go away. If someone isn’t doing what you think is right, keep it to yourself. Simple.