Once more on the subject of breastfeeding. It was mentioned on my mom’s board that the NY Times reported lactivists did a “nurse-in” of the View after Barbara Walters made a negative comment about breastfeeding in public on the View.
The calls for a “nurse-in” began on the Internet mere moments after Barbara Walters uttered a negative remark about public breast-feeding on her ABC talk show, “The View.”
The protest, inspired by similar events organized by a growing group of unlikely activists nationwide in the last year, brought about 200 women to ABC’s headquarters yesterday. They stood nursing their babies in the unmistakably public venue of Columbus Avenue and West 67th Street. They held signs reading, “Shame on View,” and “Babies are born to be breastfed.” Ms. Walters, who remarked a few weeks ago on the show that the sight of a woman breast-feeding on an airplane next to her had made her uncomfortable, said through a spokesman that “it was a particular circumstance and we are surprised that it warrants a protest.”
One of the moms who saw the show that Walters made the comment on, said she stated clearly that SHE was uncomfortable with the woman breastfeeding. However, on yesterday’s show she seems to have twisted the statement around and said that the gentleman next to them was uncomfortable. Whatevah Barb. It’s attitudes like yours that make women feel like they have to go nurse in the bathroom. Would YOU want to eat your meal in a public restroom? No? Then why should my child?
“We’re all told that breast-feeding is the best, healthiest thing you can do for your child,” said Lorig Charkoudian, 32, who started the Web site www.nurseatstarbucks.com after being asked to use the bathroom to nurse at her local Starbucks. “And then we’re made to feel ashamed to do it without being locked in our homes.”
I just took two trips in the past month and I nursed Brianna every single time the plane took off. I will tell you now that if someone had said a word to me, I would have delivered a scathing comeback. I made every effort to be discreet for my sake, Brianna’s sake (she’s easily distracted) and yes, for the comfort of others, but I’m pretty sure I flashed a nipple a time or two. But you know what? I didn’t care because I was doing what needed to be done for my daughter.
I, quite honestly, do most of my nursing in the car when we are out and about although I have nursed in public and in resteraunts. Not because I am in any way embarrased or ashamed but because breastfeeding is a special time for us and I don’t want anyone to spoil that for me with unwanted stares or rude comments. And yeah, things like that happen. And people really do think that nursing mothers should not be seen in public, as the NY Times goes on to report:
“It’s nothing against breast-feeding, it’s about exposing yourself for people who don’t want to see it,” said Scotty Stroup, the owner of a restaurant in Round Rock, Tex., where a nursing mother was refused service last fall.
And I say bullshit. I don’t want to see some guy’s nasty plumber’s crack, but I don’t see anyone asking him to leave the restaraunt. Or someone’s underwear becuase they’re following the trend wearing baggy jeans. Or what about the ultra low jeans that were so in vogue a few years ago and are still (unfortunately) wandering the streets- the ones that let us see the woman’s t-back thong, the top of her ass, her hip bones… those are all gratuitous body shots. But no one gets asked to leave the restaraunt. But the mother who was nourishing her child was? I wish I knew the name of that place because I’d be starting a smackdown campaign. Of course, I’m guessing someone already has.
Whether to breast-feed in public, many nursing mothers say, is not simply a matter of being respectful of another person’s sensibilities. They cite research by the Food and Drug Administration showing that the degree of embarrassment a mother feels about breast-feeding plays a bigger role in determining whether she is likely to do so than household income, length of maternity leave or employment status.
The American Academy of Pediatrics urges women to feed their babies only breast milk for the first six months, and continue breast-feeding for at least an additional six months. If its recommendations were followed, the group estimates that Americans would save $3.6 billion in annual health care costs because breast-fed babies tend to require less medical care. But while more women are breast-feeding for the first few weeks, fewer than one-third are still nursing after six months. Some doctors attribute the decline to self-consciousness and the difficulties of finding spaces where nursing seems acceptable.
“To many mothers, breast-feeding runs up against sexual attitudes toward the breast,” said Dr. Lawrence Gartner, who leads the academy’s research on breast-feeding. “That reduces the prevalence of breast-feeding, which is a bad situation because duration of breast-feeding is an important factor in children’s health.”
Even mothers who are committed to nursing say they are shaken when confronted with the hostility or consternation of strangers observing them.
“People make you feel like you’re doing something dirty, almost,” said Rene Harrell, 26, of Chantilly, Va., who said she was recently asked to leave a Delta airport lounge in Atlanta as she nursed her 8-month-old son, Elijah.
Once on the plane awaiting takeoff, she said, a man across the aisle complained loudly about her into his cellphone as she continued to nurse.
The scene, said Ms. Harrell, reminded her of the one Ms. Walters described, which she read about on an Internet discussion board.
Someone on my board said it’s all about the nipple. Americans view the nipple as an extremely sexual, almost taboo thing. There was a picture floating around a few months ago from a South American country. It was a woman breastfeeding her child while talking to the President of the country. Yep. Talk about a culture that embraces nurturing the child. When did the good ole U.S. of A. get so uptight? I mean, we can have an ultra-provocative commercial featuring Paris Hiltion washing a car, but my breastfeeding my child in public is offensive?
Marilyn Yalom, the author of “History of the Breast,” says Americans’ views of the breast has changed over time, and could change again. More than in other countries, she said, the breast is seen here as a sexual object.
“We live in a very mechanistic society and almost anything that doesn’t come out of a package is somehow suspect,” Ms. Yalom said. “So milk that comes out of a real human breast, we’re not very comfortable with, it brings us too close to our animal nature.”
I don’t know. I still think it’s about the nipple and the sexuality of the breast. Men see the breast as objects of desire, not a source of food. Many women obviously view them the same as evidenced by the number who buy padded bras, miracle bras, enhancements, and get boob jobs.
But my favorite anectdote from the whole View debacle apparently took place on yesterday’s show, during the “nurse-in” Rosie O’Donnell, author of the most irritating blog I have ever read and former talk show host, seemingly had feelings of jealousy towards her significant other who nursed their child. And asked her to stop breastfeeding because she was jealous of that closeness her SO was sharing with their child. When Joy (one of the View hosts) asked her about her baby getting the best (as far as nutritionally and health-wise) instead of her personal wishes, she allegedly responded that she didn’t care. Wow.