Who’s afraid of the big, bad boob?
I’m sure most of you have heard some of the stories going around in the news lately about mothers being told to “cover up or leave” when breastfeeding their baby in a public place. There was the Concord Mall incident in Delaware, USA, and most recently the case of miss Liana Webster at the Bribie Island Aquatic Centre in Queensland. I’m sure if I started digging there would sadly be many, many other instances.
And then of course there is the case of Cannel Seven’s David Koch, named Australian Father of the Year by the Australian Father’s Day Council in 2007, who publicly stated that women should be “discreet and modest” when breastfeeding in public, comparing it to topless sunbathing. According to David Koch breastfeeding in public is ok as long as it’s kept “classy”.
As far as I know breastfeeding in public is protected by law in most states in the US, and those who don’t yet have laws pertaining to breastfeeding have proposed legislation. It is by some courts considered a constitutional right though it has not yet, to my knowledge, reached the Supreme court. Breastfeeding in Australia is also protected by law.
As Amy Ahearn, organiser of the protest nurse-in during Sunrise’s broadcast on Monday, told Koch “[…] saying that women should cover up or be discreet, that word has a shame connotation.” And it does. We shouldn’t feel like we need to hide or force our children to go hungry until we can get home to feed them. Public breastfeeding is nothing new, but it still obviously needs to be normalised. Breastfeeding is a personal choice. Not all women are able to do so, and not all women choose to do it. Neither group should be made to feel any shame, guilt or discomfort for the way they feed their baby. It’s my opinion that if you take offence or feel uncomfortable seeing someone breastfeed you’re looking too hard. Breastfeeding isn’t about breasts. It’s about babies feeding in the most natural way there is.
I’m outraged that there are people out there who would assume that a mother isn’t showing concern for others when feeding her child. In the case of miss Webster she had two other young children to watch making it hard to feed anywhere else but pool side. It’s not like we’re taking our tops off, throwing out our racks and screaming “look at my milky breasts!” I’m proud to breastfeed and I intend to keep breastfeeding my 13 month old for as long as we both want to. If my son decides he wants a feed next time we’re at the pool, he’ll get one. I won’t run and hide in the toilet, I won’t throw a blanket over his head. My son has never been a discreet feeder, but I’ve always done my best to consider the comfort of myself and others when feeding him while always putting his need to eat first, as I believe any mother would. And I dare anyone on any given day to tell me to “cover up or leave” just because they might see some nipple. Personally I think seeing someone breastfeed is a beautiful thing.
Why is a breast so offensive when it has a baby attached to it? Who’s afraid of the big, bad boob?