What the hell is wrong with us? We’ve made porn into a billion dollar industry, we put sex into everything from fast food advertisements to family TV shows, we allow our daughters to idolize teenage pop stars who dress like hookers and sing about fornication; we are a culture that is permissive, hyper sexual and overtly hedonistic, yet, in spite of all of this, BREASTFEEDING is somehow offensive to us. We suffer from a special brand of insanity, so unique that it needs its own name: Progressive Puritanism. For the most part we carry on like we’re living in Sodom or Gomorrah, but if someone goes really crazy and decides to feed their child in sight of other humans, all of the sudden we turn into Victorian prudes. It doesn’t make any sense.
In the last few days I’ve seen a few stories dealing with the “controversy” surrounding breastfeeding in public. A woman down in Texas was lectured about “decency” by staff at a rec center when she fed her infant while watching her older daughter’s dance class. Another incident happened on an American Airlines flight where a mother was shamed by the flight attendant for discreetly feeding her baby on the plane. I guess she should have taken her provocative display of child-feeding into the 2×2 foot bathroom where people go to dispel feces from their rectum, because this is totally the same thing.
OK. A few thoughts on the “issue” of breastfeeding:
1) Breastfeeding isn’t sexual. If you see it that way, you’ve got issues. Like, serious issues. Like, you-should-probably-be-on-a-registry type of issues. I actually had someone tell me today that women shouldn’t feed their kids in public for the same reason they shouldn’t conceive their kids in public. This is to draw a direct parallel between breastfeeding and sex. Again, issues. Serious issues.
2) I’ve encountered breastfeeding moms in public. Not once — NOT ONCE — have they ever ripped their shirt off and run through a crowd screaming: “Look at me! Look at this! I’m breastfeeding!!!” I’ve never seen that happen. I’m willing to bet I’ve never seen it because it’s literally never occurred in the history of the universe. I’ve also never had a young mother pull out a gun and yell: “You will watch me breastfeed or I’ll blow your brains out! WATCH OR DIE!” In other words, I’ve never been “forced” to “watch” a woman breastfeed. The way these prudes talk about it, you’d think they were being compelled to observe against their will. Personally, when I come across a woman breastfeeding, I think, “Oh OK, a mother is feeding her kid. Cool, anyway now I’ll get back to carrying on with my own existence.”
3) What exactly is so offensive about breastfeeding? Is it the amount of breast exposed? It’s hard for me to take that objection seriously. Right now, as we speak, there are millions of dads out there letting their daughters leave the house wearing outfits that are DESIGNED to highlight, expose, and sexualize that part of the body. Maybe we should reserve our condemnation for that, rather than moms who do what God intended moms to do. But, if we must have this conversation, how much of the forbidden zone is actually exposed when a mom has a child at her breast? Not much, really. If she’s just an exhibitionist she’d be better off wearing a bikini top, or even a thousand other types of tops and shirts that some women wear to their office jobs on a daily basis.
What kind of message does it send when we tell mothers to hide in dark corners or cover themselves in burlap if they wish to provide natural nutrients to their offspring? We know what the message is: Breastfeeding is gross, shameful, embarrassing. I especially enjoy the grown men who suddenly become squeamish school boys when the topic turns to breastfeeding. “Eeeeewwww, get it away from me! It’s weeeeeird!”
Good Lord. Grow up, people.
With the strange paradox of our permissive sexual attitudes contrasted with our uptight whining about breastfeeding, I shudder to think about what other inconsistencies I might find in the public psyche should I dig deeper. I mean, hell, next you’re gonna tell me that in a country where millions take prescription narcotics, we still won’t allow cancer patients to smoke marijuana in most states.
Screw it. I give up.
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