I’ve noticed recently that I suddenly seem to be friends with a lot of parents, or more specifically, mothers. I’ve reached that age when approximately 83% of my Facebook newsfeed is photos of babies, toddlers, pushchairs for sale and status updates about what foul smelling substance has just been explosively propelled out of one of the many places foul smelling substances can be propelled from a human infant.
Still the addition of several mothers to my social circle has led me to come across an issue that I’ve not really had cause to notice before. It seems that there are many people who have a problem with women breast-feeding their babies in public, as well as seeing photos of it on social media.
Personally, I cannot understand why this is even an issue, but apparently it still brings snide comments and disapproving looks.
Breast-feeding is an entirely biological process that humans have been performing for, well as long as humans, and since lactation is pretty much the main definition of a mammal, for millions of years before that. It should be perfectly acceptable in public places.
Now I have no doubt that someone will argue that if we allow this particular biological process to take place in public, whats to stop people urinating or defecating in the street?
To counter that: firstly, shut up and don’t be ridiculous. You’re probably one of those people who suggests that allowing gay marriage is the same as allowing a man to marry a dog or a Chippendale dining table. Secondly, breast feeding doesn’t smell, it’s not unhygienic and doesn’t leave a mess all over the floor. And thirdly, shut up again.
Here is my main argument against those who are anti-breast feeding in public. It seems to me that the reason you are so offended by the sight of a baby feeding from its mother’s breast, is down to the taboo of the exposure of women’s breasts. The reason its not considered polite for women to expose their breasts in public is because they’re a part of the body that is heavily sexualised. There’s nothing wrong with them being sexualised per say. I’m a heterosexual male and as a result am a fan of boobs. The problem is that there doesn’t seem to be a very well defined line between their primary biological function and their role in sex. However anyone with at least half a brain should be able to separate the two (no pun intended). If you see a woman breast-feeding a baby and your mind instantly jumps to her breasts being a sex organ, you have, however inadvertently, sexualised that as an act. You have sexualised a baby sucking milk out of its mother’s breast.
And that, my friend, is creepy and wrong on a massive scale and you should probably take a long hard look at yourself, rather than the woman’s chest. It’s kind of ironic that the people who are most offended are the ones who should be the most ashamed.
It’s a bit like when someone uses a double-entendre, I mean a clever one. Generally speaking, if you got the joke, then you made it yourself because that thought was already there. Comedian Frankie Howerd was famous for doing that, using a double-entendre and being scandalised when the audience laughed because they got it while he pretended it was an innocent statement. The audience made the joke in their own head.
In a world where sex is the primary method of selling everything, I find it hard to believe that there are people who are still offended by breast-feeding in public. You turn on MTV and you’re faced with Miley Cyrus shaking her arse like she’s got a severe spinal injury and a particularly bad case of Parkinson’s. You look at the front cover of a “celebrity” magazine and you’re bombarded with photos of blokes from TOWIE wearing half a banana-hammock. In the grand scheme of things how can you really complain about seeing a woman feeding her child?
Some people seem to think that, like other current social issues such as same-sex marriage, that the sight of breast-feeding will confuse or somehow damage children. Since children who apparently “aren’t old enough to understand” also aren’t old enough to understand all the other ideas you’re projecting on to them either, they won’t be as confused as you think they will be. Just tell the child what is happening. It’s called biology and education.
I should state that I’m not joining any debate on whether babies should be breast-fed or bottle fed. Frankly that’s the mother’s choice, I’m staying well out of it. As a childless man who hasn’t spent years studying nutrition in infants I really am entitled to no opinion on that subject. I am merely championing the idea that there is nothing offensive in breast-feeding and women should be free to do it without being told to hide it away like it’s some disgusting act best done behind closed doors.
And if you’re still not convinced, if you still think breast-feeding in public is offensive, remember that a well-fed baby is a quiet baby and a quiet baby won’t disturb you while you’re sitting in Starbucks trying to enjoy your overpriced mochaccino/crapaccino/AlPacino and talk with your equally narrow-minded friends about how much better you are than everyone else.