(So - Christians Against Breastfeeding? Interesting.)
The Lactivist wrote what I'm coming to see is a consistently excellent response, from which the following is excerpted:
Am I the only one getting a little sick and tired of this "done with discretion" crap?
There are two issues at play here...
1.) Who gets to define discretion? To me, discretion means that I don't stand on a chair and scream "HEY EVERYBODY! I'M GOING TO BE PULLING MY BREASTS OUT NOW!" before I nurse. To others, it means "covering up" with a blanket or nursing cover. To others, it means pulling the shirt down to cover most of the breast. To others, it means that you shouldn't be able to tell the baby is nursing unless you stick your head up the mom's shirt. To others, it means "don't leave your house you hussy!"
2.) When did people lose the ability to look away? I see a lot of things in public that I don't like. I see teenagers wearing clothes so small that I can tell when the last time they cleaned their belly button lint was. I see women shoving themselves into clothes four sizes too small. I see men that need to invest in belts and suspenders to avoid showing us their own little grand canyon when they bend over. I see people with mullets.
You know what I do? I look the other way. I don't have the right to "not be offended." I have the right to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness." That's it.
Now beyond that, I really, really REALLY want to know where this magic land is where women "whip it out," "flop it out" and "hang it out" for all the world to see while they nurse. Granted, I live in a state with fairly low rates of breastfeeding, but I have never, ever EVER in my life seen even a smidgen of breast while someone was nursing in public. Not once. (Ok, truth be told, I have a hard time seeing moms nurse in public period...)
Every time I read one of these "done with discretion" comments I go back to that early Lactivist post where I wrote about the women that apparently nurse their children while standing on top of the bar with a tassel attached to the other breast shouting "hey everyone!! look at me!! I'm nursing!!!'
I just don't see it folks...
I'll add that I *have* seen breasts in public - sometimes mine. But in South Dakota, which is actually pretty pro-breastfeeding, in my experience, the breasts are never whipping, flopping, or hanging out. At most, there is the tip of a breast which is partly obscured by the baby's head. And many women cover the breast and baby with a blanket - which I think sucks, because the baby gets hot and sweaty and because sometimes one needs to see what's going on in order to ensure a proper latch - but they do it, anyway.
Which doesn't mean that I haven't heard of (I've never seen myself) the occasional brazen boob sighting. Honestly? I think that's fine. If boobs are ok to see in late-night commercials, the front page of newspapers in some countries, on HBO, at the beach, or at bars and clubs, then they're damn sure ok to see glimpses of in public places when they're being used for their natural purposes.
Now, before I get comments about how disgusting breastfeeding is and how breasts are obscene and all that, let me remind you that if you really believed that breasts were obscene, you'd be picketing the mall for selling tops that easily reveal more boob than does a breastfeeding mom. And frankly, in a world where I have to see what kind of underwear the strangers around me are wearing, I would much rather see a baby being nourished by a breast.
Here's what I think: I think the people who object to breastfeeding in public (and sometimes anywhere, because it grosses them out) can't handle the cognitive dissonance of breasts sometimes being sexual and sometimes being maternal. It's the madonna/whore split all there in one body part. And then there are also people who associate any liquids in the body with filth, and so the idea of someone drinking milk that comes from a human breast literally disgusts them. I'm pretty sure, though, that these same people drink cow milk and eat yogurt, ice cream, and cheese, so I'm not really swayed by that argument.
And then, I think that women who have internalized the notion that nice girls must always be modest have issues with the whole public breastfeeding thing. To them, it seems indefensible to purposely be in a position where one might catch a brief glimpse of boob. Some such women are, I sometimes think, perhaps the same women who police other women's behavior and their own, the ones who are comfortable calling other women "sluts" and "whores" if they perceive them as threats or as having stepped out of line. And others are just profoundly uncomfortable with what, to them, feels like it should be shameful.
I'll take this one step further. There are a lot of things we encounter in public that make us uncomfortable. It's one thing to be uncomfortable when confronted with something new that challenges our understandings of social conventions or of biological norms. Now, I'm not equating breastfeeding with a disability, but I do think it's interesting that able-bodied people often have similar reactions to both, particularly when some sort of impropriety is assumed.
Here's a (weird) example. I had a short-lived (because she refused to continue it) discussion with a woman who insisted that farting was entirely controllable and that it was just rude for someone to allow themselves to fart. (Don't even ask how we got started on this conversation in the first place. No, it was not because I farted.) I pointed out that in many cases, people have no control over this sort of thing - people who have had part or all of their colon or intestines removed, for example. People with Crohn's Disease or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. She never responded to this - I don't know why. Perhaps it offended her sense of decorum to even have such a conversation in the first place. But essentially, her sense of decorum left outside all of the people I've just described. These are, then, people whose very bodies thus become shameful and disgusting as a result of societal ignorance and intolerance.
What we immediately think of as gross or disgusting often says more about societal norms, assumptions, and expectations than about whether whatever it is - two people of the same sex kissing, conjoined twins, women with hairy legs - is actually gross or disgusting.
No, I'm not saying that breastfeeding is the same as farting. But I am saying that breastmilk, according to all research, is not just *good* for babies, but it is the *best* food for babies. The World Health Organization and the American Academy of Pediatricians have stated that newborns should be *exclusively* breastfed for a significant time, and that they should be breastfed for at least a year, and that breastfeeding should continue after that for as long as it is mutually desired (the WHO says that it is beneficial for children to breastfeed for SEVEN YEARS). Given this, and given the fact that we as a society readily accept breasts in both sexualized (popular culture, fashion) and unsexualized (visual art) contexts, it is time for us to get over our prurient obsession with the breast. Particularly when it comes to breastfeeding.