“ It is a woman’s right in that she should be able to feed her hungry baby in a discreet and respectful way without feeling shame and ridicule. ”
Breastfeeding in public has become a hot button issue as people seem to have strong opinions on how, where and when it should and shouldn’t be done. The now President of the United States once told a journalist that she disgusted him when she asked for a break to pump her milk. And the talk show host Wendy Williams proclaimed her own distatest for the act of breastfeeding in public in an interview with Alyssa Milano, saying “I don’t want to see that,” about a mother feeding her baby.
Alyssa Milano has become a strong advocate of a woman’s right to feed her baby in public. It is a woman’s right in that she should be able to feed her hungry baby in a discreet and respectful way without feeling shame and ridicule. But beyond being a woman’s right, it seems reasonable to argue that it is also a baby’s right to be fed when they are hungry.
Lately in America, there have been increasing instances of activism with women speaking up for the right to breastfeed publicly. There have been a number of scheduled “Nurse-ins” where pregnant women have gathered in flash mob style to make a statement against public restrictions and outdated puritanical prudery around societal discomfort on the issue.
It really speaks to the subliminal misogyny in a culture where a woman is made to feel she is doing something wrong if she breast feeds in public, yet it’s the same society that has giant, surgically enlarged, sexualized breasts in nearly every advertisement on nearly every billboard. So the message seems to be; breasts are only OK to see as long as they are seen through the male focused lens of sexualization. But they are not OK to be seen as the healthy, life giving instruments that they are.
The objectification of women’s bodies seems to have a lot to do with seeing breasts as sexual objects rather than as what nature intended them for as a feeding device for our infants. To advocate breastfeeding in public is not to say that breasts also can’t be sexual but it seems that as a society we have gotten too far detached from what is normal and natural. And truly, what is more normal and natural than a mother feeding her child?