I recently read a reader’s comment in one of my local magazines, which was titled “Moms that breastfeed annoy me.” The topic of breastfeeding appears to somehow regularly make the news as many people speak up in different discussions. It is not uncommon to hear how breastfeeding annoys or bothers people and that women should not have their breasts out in public. At the same time, we are bombarded with half-nude pictures of women’s bodies in advertisements, magazines, the news, and even newspapers, which often do not seem to elicit similar discomfort.
This comment was made by a woman complaining about moms breastfeeding at the playground near her apartment, and that she was forced to watch these moms feeding their children every time she looked out the window. She stated that instead of feeding their children in public, these women should go home to breastfeed.
These statements annoyed me on many levels. Breastfeeding is natural, and if you are able to breastfeed it is really beneficial for the child. It can also be complicated to bring bottles with you when you leave the house, and children are often comforted by breastfeeding. It is so limiting to women to have to stay at home, or go back home, in order to feed their children. Small children have to eat very often and it is not like moms who breastfeed whip their breasts out in the open for all to see. Every time I have seen a mother breastfeed, she is always discrete about it. There are tops and bras that make breastfeeding easier and more discrete, and often women will put a blanket over the child, in which case you cannot see anything.
Why breastfeeding was so horrible and annoying to the reader, she did not say. Is it the prospect of perhaps seeing a glimpse of a breast, or is it that women should be in the house when breastfeeding? Surely it cannot be the fact that a child is eating.
That the woman complained that these moms were breastfeeding at the playground comes across as quite strange to me. What better place is there to breastfeed than at a place created with children and parents in mind? Perhaps instead of aiming anger at women who breastfeed in public, people should ask themselves why this bothers them so much and then remind themselves that it is none of their business. A woman breastfeeding her child does not bother me the least bit. The sexualization of women’s breasts in media, however, does.
Photo of Playground shared by Listener42 on Flickr