Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Society! You need to grow up!

Much has been said about the Bill Maher debacle on nursing in public, I won't rehash it since it has been covered extremely well by other bloggers, here, here and here to mention but three.

What amazes me as much as the idiocy of Bill Maher's comments are the debates that rumbled on in the comment sections of some posts on the issue. It is so sad to see that so many people, including many women are so against nursing a baby in public.

Comments I've seen made on the issue in blog comments and elsewhere are:

"I don't want to see anyone's blue veined engorged tit at my dinner table"

"A baby doesn't need the distraction of a busy restaurant, go take them somewhere quiet to eat"

"I can't stand to hear the sound of a baby slurping at the breast" (and a bottle fed baby doesn't slurp, right?)

"I have the right not to have to see you breastfeed, as much as you have the right to breastfeed"

Then there are people who have obviously made assumptions that when a woman breastfeeds a baby they must need to be half naked to do so?

I have nursed both my children, my first for 17 months, and Baby J is still nursing at 11 months. I have no doubt that some of my family and friends had some level of discomfort over my choice to nurse for this long - but I don't care. I know I did and am doing what is best for my babies.

I have paid attention to other people's comfort levels, and when it was possible I would nurse in another room so as not to make people uncomfortable. If it was not possible I went ahead and fed my baby anyway. I've nursed on planes, in restaurants, at the Mall, at the park, during playgroups and in stores. I have done so in the most discreet way possible. I have never received disapproving looks, nor have I received any comments on what I was doing. Perhaps I live in a more enlightened part of the country? (I doubt it, I live in the redneck capital of Florida *snort*).

Maybe I have a different take on this since breastfeeding was demystified for me by seeing my own mother breastfeed. I hope so, because then there is hope for my kids' generation - that they will not carry the same prejudices or distaste on the subject.

'So, what's your point Annie? You said you weren't going to rehash all of this' I hear you say.

I guess my point is this. If you have a problem seeing a mother care for and nurture her baby. In the way that nature intended, with the best possible substance available. And if you have a problem with a mother providing that nourishment on demand, which is the best way to provide it, meaning that sometimes yes, she'll have to do it in a public place, then they are most definitely exactly that. YOUR PROBLEMS.

Mothers should not have have to justify themselves on this issue. We should not have to respond to the Bill Mahers of this world. We should not have to be asked to cover up in a restaurant, or be escorted off a plane for feeding our children. Who would do any of these things to a mother bottle feeding a baby? It's the same thing - feeding a child, involving a different vessel - plain and simple.

Society - you need to get over this prudish misplaced discomfort you have with breasts being used for their intended purpose. It is unnecessary, juvenile, and downright irritating!


Brillig said...

That "prudish misplaced discomfort" is so fascinating, isn't it? I mean, we're all okay with seeing plunging necklines on TV, revealing an awful lot more of the breast than what's visible when a baby is nursing! So bizarre. Great post. I've read some of the posts you linked to, along with quite a few others on the topic. I watched the Bill Maher clip and couldn't BELIEVE he would say such things!!!

Great post, Annie!

laurie said...

i'd not heard about the bill maher debacle.

but i'm with you; it's what breasts are for. i dont' have children, but i have lots of nieces and nephews--my sister in law nursed her kids until they didn't want to be nursed any longer. she left it up to them. so my youngest niece was three, i think, when she quit.

seemed reasonable to me. they're a close family but not weird; the kids are very healthy; it's only unsual in this country, i think; and jeez louise it's their damn business.

i don't know why people get creeped out about it. i really don't.

andi said...

Well said, my friend. I too was shocked that the hateful comments some people left on other's blogs (thankfully, not on mine). I really don't understand why people (especially other women!) would get so put out by seeing a flash of breast tissue for what? 5 seconds? I wish these same people would put themselves in our shoes and think about if THEY are uncomfortable that rare time they see someone nurse, how WE must feel the countless times we must nurse out of necessity while being out. Of course, I suppose we should really just stay home for a few years. They never should have let us barefoot, womenfolk out of the kitchen in the first place! Look at how much trouble we're causing.

Jennifer aka Binky Bitch said...

I have to take issue with one thing you stated, Annie.

ALABAMA is the redneck capital, sheesh.

Anyway, your post was terrific and well-stated. I wish society could just accept this, as it's really such a simple thing...feeding a child.

Jessica said...

AMEN!!! I breastfed in public places, too...and while I always tried to be discreet and hide in the corner, sometimes it just had to be done.

Kimberly said...

It's so sad that some people get more upset over a woman nursing in public than they do over a barely bikini clad poster at a city bus stop. Ugh.

Feener said...

i didn't read the comments, i can NOT believe people wrote those comments.
I mean really what is wrong with these people.
It is nursing? When did nursing a baby become something voodoo?? most times people don't even see the boob ??? argh what is wrong with them. look away if you don't like looking at a baby getting the most healthy thing possible for them.

Mrs. Schmitty said...

Great post. I'm with Brillig too. Girls can walk around with barely a stitch of clothing on, that's okay. But a mother can't feed her child? We live in a very messed up society.

Gunfighter said...


It's all about the American psyche, and our pseudo-puritanical prudishness.

This country would be so much better if everyone just got laid more.


Maybe we'd stop minding other people's business so much.

(Thanks for the visit! Come rant any time you like!)

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

When I had my son and my friend had hers, we treated ourselves to a nice lunch at the Grosvenor Hotel in Chester. We both were breastfeeding our boys, and when needed picked them, put a shawl over our shoulders and babies and fed them. The staff were incredibly kind and I don't think any other diners even knew what we were doing. At any rate, it was a better sight than somebody's thong creeping up over their low-slung jeans.

Julie Pippert said...

Yes, exactly. The comments are what motivated me, too.

Excellent post. You're right that the imagination is nowhere near the reality.

Using My Words

Joeprah said...

Being a dad I really had no opinion on the matter until we had our daughters. U hit it on the head though...grow up people--really. Maher is just lame. I can't believe it really is an issue. Nice post.