Why do people get offended by nursing in public ?

Normalize breastfeeding

So let me tell you one thing. It’s all because of porn. And baby formula. There, I said it.
Now you’re probably sitting there, choking on your coffee, asking yourself since when do I write about porn, and what does this have to do with harmless, sometimes life-saving baby formula ?

Ok, so think about this for a minute. Around 100 years ago, nobody had ever heard of porn. There were no formula-fed babies either. Of course most women didn’t nurse in restaurants, but they didn’t hide in toilets either, and most people would have seen their mother nursing a baby, or their sister, or a neighbour. It was normal to use breasts for feeding babies. Every one was doing it. It was as obvious as the sun above us.

At the same time, porn didn’t exist. People didn’t see naked bodies a lot. Actually exposing a knee or an ankle was quite sexy. Some rich and educated men had access to the first nude photos or could find some kinky literature, but there was no media bombarding them with images of half-naked bodies.

What they did see were women nursing their babies. Using their body parts: breasts. And if they saw a knee, they got excited.

And here we are now. The twenty-first century, progress and all that…
Women are hiding in nursing rooms or behind covers to feed their babies. If they don’t, they risk being told that they disturb, that they are offending others or that they are seeking attention. At the same time, you can walk around in shorts that show your butt. Media that are heavily influenced by porn are showing erotic images everywhere you look. Women in underwear are the ultimate images that sell it all: from cars to cosmetics. And porn aesthetics shape our behaviour.

Why no, you say, you are by no means influenced by porn, you don’t watch it; you don’t approve of it! Well, the images in which young women in their underwear pose for a perfume or apparel ad are influenced by porn. Wanting to buy these items after viewing these ads means that you are influenced by porn. We all are. Shaving one’s bikini area demonstrates the influence of the porn industry which first started it. It’s mainstream culture that is responsible for over-sexualizing women’s bodies in general, and their breasts in particular.

The funny thing is that the stereotypically appealing breast shape in Western culture is the one of a breast full of milk. How ironic. Porn stars, actresses, and women who believe that they to need to be sexy above all go under the knife to have breasts that look just like the breasts of a nursing, full-of-milk mom. Yet full-of-milk mom is not supposed to show her breasts any more. She should hide.

Of course, she has the choice to bottle feed in public like all women do in media, in movies, tv series. Do we see nursing mom breastfeeding on TV? Not really. So why should we see them in real life?

That’s why I say that it’s all because of porn and formula. Porn has over-sexualized our bodies and influenced mass media. The existence of baby formula has allowed people the choice to switch to a “decent” way of feeding.

And the generation that was bottle fed doesn’t have the reference that the generations before did. They are not used to seeing women nurse because they weren’t. They didn’t see their mothers, aunts and neighbours nurse. They learned to believe that breasts are for sex and that milk comes from a bottle.

That’s why it’s all because of porn and baby formula. Breastfeeding in public is called offensive because of porn and baby formula. And I refuse to agree with that. I refuse to feel like I’m doing something wrong or socially incorrect by simply feeding my baby in the oldest, simplest and most natural way possible.

I feel that it’s a black path of history that we’re walking now. I know that one day it’ll be only history, but for now I feel that we need to normalize breastfeeding.
Nurse in public, especially around kids so they’ll grow up seeing women’s bodies as fantastic life-giving, food-producing organisms rather than sexual objects that exist to please others.

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13 thoughts on “Why do people get offended by nursing in public ?

  1. So well written! I remember nursing my baby daughter in the backseat of the car or in some closed off room and how terribly, horribly lonely it felt. I would venture to say that the ostracizing of the nursing mom contributes to post partum depression. I also think that the inconvenience of finding a tucked away private spot to nurse contributes to mom’s giving up breastfeeding early. Life is tough enough in those precious months after a baby is born, we should do everything in our power to support mothers who are simply feeding their baby.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you ! Me too I felt really lonely when I had my first baby and I was hiding or just staying home. I totally agree with you that it can be a big factor in developing postpartum depression. So true what you say about moms giving up early . And it’s really sad.

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  2. It’s offensive because it’s a naked breast. Why it’s out in the open doesn’t matter. Modesty is key. I don’t want my husband OR children seeing a woman’s breast hanging out on TV, in a coffee shop or the like. This should not be the kind of thing that is flaunted around. Be modest and cover up – point blank. No boobs, no butts, period. If you choose to feed, cover up. I don’t care that you’re feeding, I just don’t want to have to look at your exposed body while my husband is averting his eyes and my child is gawking awkwardly. If I just sat there with a boob hanging out I’d get thrown out, but latch a baby to it and people get thrown out for requesting they cover up.

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    • Kittery, you have just demonstrated the point of this article perfectly. A breastfeeding woman should not be seen as offensive. It is only so because we have been brought up to see nakedness in a purely sexual way. I wish I had the link for a gallery I saw a while back that showed through art that breastfeeding used to be seen as what it is – a mother nurturing her baby. A pure and natural occurrence. The Virgin mother and infant is always depicted in paintings breastfeeding. Even the Victorians, the most prudish and repressed generation, had photos taken while breastfeeding because it WASN’T SEXUAL. Around the world in communities that aren’t constantly bombarded with sexual images and media mothers sit outside and feed their children with no shame because it is not a shameful act. Why does your husband feel he has to avert his eyes if he sees a feeding mother? Because he is taught that breasts are a sexual organ and therefore ’embarrassing to look at. Why is your child ‘gawking awkwardly’? Because you have not exposed them to the concept that feeding a child with our bodies is perfectly natural. They are picking up on your misplaced discomfort. Whether you have a boy or girl, you are affecting the chances of your grandchildren being fed in the healthiest way because a girl will find it harder to be comfortable with breastfeeding and a boy will find it harder to support his partner to breastfeed. Telling women that they have to cover up perpetuates the problem and gives the message that breastfeeding is somehow shameful. I always try to be discreet when I feed my son but he has other ideas when he is feeling nosey and pulls away to look around. Should I then refuse to feed him when we are out? Should I compromise the benefits that I impart to him through my milk by giving him a bottle of fake food that does nothing to boost his brain development or immune system, is more likely to leave him constipated and colicky? I think not.

      There is no reason to announce what you are doing when feeding your child, but nursing mothers should never be told to cover up, it isn’t as simple as that. If you truly are that offended by the possibility of a little ‘nip slip’ may I suggest you cover your head with a blanket when you eat out? That way you can avoid any awkwardness without undermining a nursing mum who is trying to do the best by her child in difficult circumstances.

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      • I remember visiting European art galleries and seeing paintings showing Virgin mother nursing with little angels around watching and smiling 🙂 and many other art pieces from 17th , 18 the and 19th century showing the same scene, a mother breastfeeding her baby. It’s such a classic. Thank you for adding your point 🙂

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  3. Pingback: 10 things You didn’t know about breastfeeding | Lazy mom's

  4. Latch a baby to that naked breast and it’s being used for it’s original, God-intended purpose. You don’t want to see a naked exposed breast because-as she said- of our porn-influenced, sex-driven culture. I have never met a man who was turned on by a mother breastfeeding. In fact, most of them are just thinking, “Baby’s hungry.” And not giving it a second thought. I, personally, cover up because I’m uncomfortable with my breast being exposed- which is because of what our culture has taught us. However, I don’t actually cover the baby’s head. I wear a (homemade) nursing tank under my shirt so my belly isn’t exposed and baby’s head covers my breast. I’ve gotten compliment from both genders for nursing in public, but doing it modestly. I refuse to feed y child in a bathroom and I will not give in to rude people. With that said, When I see women nursing and not covered, I make a point to comment them. I nurse openly around my daughter and, yes, I even nurse in the front row in church. Nursing is normal!! Breasts have NO SEXUAL FUNCTION. I wish people wouldn’t treat them like they do. Thank you for this article!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree with you Cate ! And me too, I try to cover depending from the situation, but sometimes it’s just impossible! But my baby still needs to be nursed. Thank you for your comment 🙂

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  5. The debate about breastfeeding in public is such a frustrating topic. It sometimes angers me people, especially women with children, feel as if breastfeeding in public is inappropriate or would expect me to feed my baby elsewhere (please no offense to those who feel this way). I am pregnant with my second child and plan to breastfeed. I did not with my first for several reasons. I was young and there wasn’t really a little cheerleader anywhere rooting me on, although it did cross my mind. This time I am 100% commited to breastfeeding because I am much more educated and have the support of my wonderful husband. However, one reservation I had was the adversity I would face or the way it may make my older step children feel uncomfortable. Finally I realized it is my decision and mine only and that is a strong power to have over your newborn baby’s life. It is beautiful and it is natural. My number one question to others who feel breastfeeding in public is, “what else would you like me to do when my baby is hungry?” It seems simple enough to me. I’ve chosen to breastfeed and my baby is hungry….. I will not judge you or ostracize you for bottle feeding yours in public, perhaps in a bottle I feel is unhealthy it harmful, please give me the same respect. My hope is one day breastfeeding will lose it’s stigma and carry with it normalcy instead.

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    • I hope that you’ll have a beautiful and empowering breastfeeding experience 🙂 It can be difficult at the beginning, but later on it’s really an amazing expierience to be able do feed a baby, just like that 🙂
      And me, personally I never had an umplesent public situation, but there were some in my city, and that’s why I wrote about it. And in the end, out of all the people, it was always kids who welcomed nursing with first curiosity, and then as something normal.

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  6. I’d like to point out that 100 years ago women largely spent their time at home, particularly if they had an infant. I disagree that it was normal or acceptable to expose a breast in public for any reason. To portray recent history prior to formula and porn as “the good old days” for women is just wrong. Our modern culture is a vast improvement over what our great-great grandmothers experienced, and it will continue to improve if women continue to fight for it. The objectification of women’s bodies is just one area we need to fight for change in. That being said, changing culture is a somewhat slow process, so modest public BF is the best way to slowly turn the tide. You aren’t going to win the masses over by shocking them and making them uncomfortable.

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    • I agree that overall women now have better lives than 100 years ago : we have access to education, work, we can wote. But I find it sad that with all this progress we need to win the masses on something as old and natural as nursing without hiding. And you are also right that in general women spent there time at home, but when they worked on the farm, with crops, or on a marketplace, they would still nurse. So people were exposed to nursing women. Or at least they would see their mother. With that said, I hope not to shock anyone 🙂 I still try to be discreet, no baby needs a fight over there head 🙂

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  7. There are parts of this article i can identify with and others that I have to say I totally disagree with. You are completely correct in stating that the offense originates from porn and formula. Each culture has different body parts of a woman that is sexually appealing. I learned in school that depending on a girls cultural background she would cover different parts of her body if someone where to walk in on her when she just got out of a shower. In our couture it would be boobs and lady parts. With this being said despite the fact that boobs are necessary for babies growth I feel that we should slowly enter this back into our culture as normal. We can start doing this by breastfeeding with a cover in public. People are still having a hard time to adjust to this. Once breastfeeding in public becomes more natural doing it more open will be easer for people to adjust to without the mom getting too much criticism. Eventually this can become a normal thing in our society just like formula and porn became a normal thing in our society but until it is normal i am going to live in reality. The reality is that boobs are sex objects in our generation and I will not be a sex object.

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