03 January 2009

Girls gone child

Rumor has it that the noxious sight of breastfeeding mothers has been upsetting you teenybopping Facebookers. I vaguely recall some comments around here about those famous "obnoxious breastfeeders" we all love to hate--you know, the gals who remove their shirts entirely to feed a baby (or, more likely, a tween) and decorate the spare with a tasseled pastie just to offend you. Man, if I had a dollar for every time I ran into one of these people . . . .

I'm shy. I usually use a blanket cover and/or a nursing top when I'm going to be feeding out and about. If I'm with people with low nursing exposure or tolerance, I find a private room. But I operate this way because that's my personality, not because I think it's the right way to do it. I'm not worried about offending someone, I'm worried about someone offending me by not giving me the space I prefer (all it takes is one ogling redneck in a mid-Missouri Taco Bell parking lot to send me diving for cover). I fall into that category of females who don't cruise locker rooms in skivvies or less. Or publicize photos of herself feeding her kid. Or take such photos in the first place. I digress.

"Smokey, how many times do I have to tell you to put that *$&# camera away?"

Some girls just aren't shy and don't take the extra coverage/sequesterage measures that I do. They aren't trying to make a political statement with their matter-of-fact feedings any more than I am with my mummy approach. They're just living their lives, and I don't have a problem with it. I think it sets a good example by normalizing breastfeeding. In pondering this topic, I realized I'd rather have my kids see a mom nursing not-so-discreetly in real life than a Victoria's Secret billboard. Why? Because one is meretricious, and the other isn't. Seeing breastfeeding helps my kids, boys and girls, contextualize female anatomy appropriately.

Disrobing to make a political statement is tactless. An unclothed person is distracting to any other person, regardless of the sexes of either of them, so there are always some discretionary measures to be taken (take the tassel off the pastie for t-ball games). But it's ridiculous to get ticked off at mothers for not wanting to feed their little sweatlings under blankets on an 85 degree day when all the other women in sight are exhibiting endowments of varying merits in halter tops. Why should we let Victoria's Secret win and concede all our mammary goodness to the pervs? And by the way, your husband isn't looking. He's too embarrassed. See? The system works!

Ok, but how do I feed the baby in it?

My personal suspicion is that women who are offended by other women breastfeeding are those who, for whatever reason, haven't breastfed for any amount of time. Breastfeeding weirded me out until I was always doing it. You can't be weirded out by your own way of life.

So I defend my freedom to nurse on the sly, although the lactivists may call me a sellout. And I salute the moms out there who aren't as inhibited. Represent away.


Reb. Mary said...

I will object to but one of your astute observations and conclusions: I do indeed feel that I can most heartily be weirded out by my own way of life :D (though breastfeeding has gone the way of normalcy; maybe there's hope for the rest?).

There is at least one picture on record of me (discreetly :) ) breastfeeding: My husband caught me in a classic multitasking moment (nursing the baby, reading, and drinking Berry Weiss) and couldn't resist the temptation to record the moment for posterity.

Joy said...

I'm of the less inhibited variety, mainly because I can't get my kids to be content under a blanket, shawl, wrap, etc. How do you do that?

You think you're joking about the mid-Missouri rednecks? No, sweetie... I LIVE with them. And when they ogle, I smile and say, "We've missed you at church!"

Right on with the contextualizing of a woman's body. I don't want my daughters to grow up thinking they're for boys to play with.

Rebekah said...

RM, good point. :D The closest I ever came to a photo shoot was when I was feeding a 3-month-old in a little monkey suit at Halloween, which looked REALLY funny.

Joy, I can't believe I missed an Ablaze! moment. Next time we're driving through I'll try to do better.

Joy said...

Yes, shame! (factorial) on you, Rebekah! You would do better to avoid the Taco Bell and dine at the Golden Bed & Breakfast. Lots o' Lutherans (some with 6 children) have graced our home. DakotaPam and her crew, for example.

Gauntlets said...

I'm still a little weirded out, too. :P Too many cows in my childhood, I guess, and the similarities are too unsettling for such a civilized brain as mine. ;D

Rosie said...

I have a friend who said, "Hey, if I have to haul these things around from puberty on, I'm sure going to use them for their actual intended purpose when I have a chance."

Sadly, another friend (a labor/delivery nurse) reported that one of her patients said "boobies are for daddies, not for babies."

And what do I have to say? Meh. Not much - other than that I don't hate it nearly as much as I thought it would.

Joy said...

Oh, how I wish to have been that labor nurse! Funny, we don't see male cattle, dogs, bears, horses and other mammals playing with their partner's ta-tas. and we don't see them mixing formula either.

MooreMama said...

Can I just say two things?
1) The people in my life (even the general public that I have encountered), most especially my Dear Husband, have been much more supportive of my breastfeeding than I would have ever expected/wished for.
2) During a "dry" spell/momentary freak-out, I offered my baby a bottle of half formula, half breastmilk (which she refused). That stuff stinks! I can't imagine that it tastes good. Can someone do a study on babies that had formula and grew up to eat cardboard ... I mean... that grew up to eat things like "processed cheese food"?

Jane said...

I was a "mummy" nurser myself, but was confronted more than once by folks who felt that my baby should be fed in the ladies room, not on a bench, next to a pillar, tented with a blanket.... I keep hoping that the 12 or so years since I nursed my last one have improved the situation, but then I hear stories.

Also, I am a mother of three teen boys. They will walk across the mall to avoid Victoria's Secret, but have no problem conversing with a nursing mother, because it's something they've always been around.