Rant cream, part deux

Pluck
Kim Schomburg

Full-on rage. That’s what I felt this morning when I read, “I don’t want to see your boobs: Military Moms Breastfeeding or Super Models on Time,” from ChicagoNow blogger kirby on Cheaper than Therapy. 

If you haven’t read my partner-in-crime’s original post on the military moms breastfeeding hullabaloo, you should start there. 

Kirby’s post basically details her revulsion at seeing breasts in public. The Time cover, the photos of military moms trying to encourage others to breastfeed, and any other woman she sees feeding her baby in public apparently grosses her out. 

“My problem is, I don’t want to see everyone’s boobs everywhere. Maybe I’m a little traumatized by my first breastfeeding experience, but I just don’t want to see them whipped out and on the cover of magazines.”

Why is she traumatized? Because she saw women’s breasts at a breastfeeding instruction session led by a lactation consultant after giving birth. She talks about how everyone’s boobs were huge and how this freaked her out. She actually left the room because she couldn’t handle other women’s breasts. She goes on to compare breastfeeding to all kinds of things:

“I know the argument is that it’s completely natural.  But if you think about it, so is urinating and defecating, but I’m not going to do it in public, or put it on a magazine, right?  But it is natural, so what’s the big deal?

Passing Gas?  Natural.  Runny Nose?  Natural.  Menstruation?  Natural.  Belching?  Natural.

Yet all those things are not really appropriate in public.  All I’m asking is if you are going to breastfeed that’s great, can you just do it discretely? (sic) Nobody even needs to leave the room like you do for those other natural occurrences.  There’s just no need to whip them out, or post pictures on facebook.”

OK, lady. I’m really holding back the urge now not to punch you. That’s also completely natural when someone compares me feeding my child to pooping. 

Here’s three things I have to say to you, kirby, and your funny little argument about how I should stay inside for the next two years, lest I upset your stomach.

Breastfeeding isn’t dirty. We don’t poop and pee in public because it’s unsanitary. It smells bad. There are germs. It’s waste material. For the same reasons, we don’t sit on park benches with naked butts because it would spread such germs around.

My breasts are not dirty. They do not harbor e.coli. Breastmilk is not waste material. It’s food. It doesn’t smell bad. 

My child’s mouth may harbor some germs, but so does yours. Should you not be allowed to eat in public? Perhaps that’s the logical conclusion. 

Just this week a woman in Skokie was told she couldn’t breastfeed her child while she waited to apply for food stamps in a government building. She was told to go do it in the public bathroom. Now, that’s gross. Would you want to eat your lunch in the public bathroom? Neither does my baby.  

Do you have a problem with cleavage? You talk about your extreme discomfort with breasts. Do you go to the beach or are the ladies in bikinis too much for you? Because you’re seeing the same amount of breast. Do you get upset by liquor ads featuring voluptuous women or boycott the networks when they air those Victoria’s Secret fashion shows? Do you shame women who leave the house with cleavage?

Then what you have a problem with, kirby, is breasts in a non-sexual context. You’ve bought the patriarchal lie that breasts are for men to enjoy, and any other context makes them unacceptable. I understand that, kirby. We live in a misogynistic society where women and their bodies are marginalized. But we should be fighting back against these notions, not trying to reinforce them. 

Who is whipping it out? Constantly, I hear this phrase, “whipping it out,” when it comes to breastfeeding. Seriously, who is doing this? I go out in public a lot, and I see mothers and babies all the time. I have never seen anyone do anything that resembles “whipping it out.” Kirby compels women to be modest and discreet, and that’s what I see happening.

As for the photos of breastfeeding, well, if you’re going to take a picture of something, it’s best that it’s not covered by a large piece of fabric. It sort of defeats the purpose. 

Women are being discreet. Have you seen the size of those nursing covers? I have one that could double as a tent if me, Teddy and our diaper bag were thrust into some sort of Hunger Games scenario. 

Here’s a solution, kirby. If you don’t want to see women breastfeeding in public, don’t go out in public. Or just look away. No one’s asking you to stare.

Kirby tries to back out of her argument in the comments section, claiming people aren’t understanding her and she only wants people to breastfeed discreetly. Uh-uh. No can do. You compared me feeding my child to someone pooping in public. Perhaps she also doesn’t mind people pooping on the sidewalk, as long as they do it discreetly.  

Actually, I hate calling out this poor blogger and her blog post because I have been blogging long enough to get lots of nasty comments and even a few posts back from someone who disagreed with me. I’d rather just ignore this one, but I can’t. No, this kind of misogynist Victorian-era flashback bullshit needs to be addressed out in the open so that we can get over it. 

Society implores us to breastfeed our children for the good of everyone. Mothers who don’t are called selfish and uncaring. The message: We absolutely insist you breastfeed to be a good mother, but we never want to see it.

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