By Craig Funston
There is an increasing brouhaha over women nursing their babies in public places (eg., stores, institutions, etc.). Unless I have missed a line or two in this most recent and intriguing social hissy fit, I continue to be amazed at the hills some people choose to die on.
In a world that becoming primarily anti-child—and by extension, anti-family—I find the apparent outrage very hypocritical, though consistent– “consistent” in the sense of selective tolerance.
(Maurice, I know the basis of true hypocrisy is inconsistency, not consistency, so let me develop my rant slowly, please.)
I find it strange that these public puritans feel it’s inappropriate for women to breastfeed their children in a place where children and adults might see them. Yikes! Skin and intimacy in the public eye—how shocking! We don’t have that anywhere in public, do we? (Watch out for my puddles of dripping sarcasm.)
Their suggestion (“demand” is likely more accurate) is that nursing mothers feed their children in some obscure place, like a mall bathroom, or some other place where people won’t be offended.
Speaking of being offended, it’s my turn–but it may not be from the angle you think.
My offence comes in two parts, namely, the double standard of morality (read: selective indignation) and the persistent attack on the natural way mothers choose to feed their babies.
On the first front, malls, movies, and other venues where commodities and ideas are being sold to the public, skin, sex, and moral lawlessness are the order of the day. The raunchier, the better. What was banned in books thirty years ago is now flashed in public today. I find that I have to be so careful where I take my boys shopping, or what movies I watch with them.
But at the same time, these alleged purveyors of purity want to ban mothers from doing what is best for their babies, even if it’s in a modest, selfless way.
My wife did it, my married daughters with kids did it, and other mothers in my wide, wide circle of friends did it (and do it), so I have some, er, exposure to what I’m talking about.
On the other front, I see this as another direct attack on the family. It is a very natural process to breastfeed a baby, and that goes far beyond the physical act of drinking milk. There’s the bonding, the security, the healthiness, and the convenience that comes with this connection.
Put bluntly, that is the primary and practical reason for women’s breasts.
I have never seen a mother breastfeeding her baby in an immodest, flaunting way. I have, however, seen other women flaunt said body parts in an immodest way. And in case you’re getting outraged, I don’t go looking for it; I don’t need to: It comes at me in the form of news stories of the entertainment style, through models that pose for ads, through unexpected (on my part) scenes in movies.
One wonders if there is a genuine desire to ban the unsightly exposure of breastfeeding mothers from our public places, that maybe they should start where it really counts. To me, selling by sexual suggestion is clearly one of the worst vices we have in our cultural today. And a mother breastfeeding her baby ought to be the least of our worries.
These two distinctions are, in fact, polar opposites.
This breastfeeding brouhaha is just another skirmish in the long war on the family. It’s really up to the mother, isn’t it? There is such a hue and cry about women’s rights, yet—and here’s where some of the inconsistency comes in—those folks are strangely silent where they should be speaking up—and loudest when they should clam up.
So in the public breastfeeding debate, I side with the mothers who are doing what they know is best for their respective children. And for those wannabe moral watchmen, I tell them to back off.
If they have a sincere issue with women and modesty in public places, go ahead and take a stroll down a mall some week day. Don’t look at the mothers doing the right thing on a bench; check out the window displays. Then speak up.
Now that’s a hill you want to die on.