I recently read an article on the People blog about Selma Blair nursing in public. In it, she basically said she was going to feed her baby when he’s hungry and if that bothers you, well, so be it. When I read that, I thought it pretty much summed up my thoughts, although I *try* to be a little more diplomatic than that most of the time. Usually. Some of the time.
Then, I read the comments. Stupid, stupid me. When my friend posted a link to the story, I read her friends comments. Again, stupid me. Two of the “arguments” make me want to beat my head against the wall. Repeatedly. Here they are:
1. “I don’t want my husband to see another woman’s breast.”or “My husband saw her breasts!” or anything along those lines. It always makes me think that there must be husbands/boyfriends/partners out there having a reaction to nursing that goes something like this:
So, here’s the thing. My husband sees other women’s breasts (well, if you want to get technical about it, he sees portions of their breasts) all. the. time. and I’m okay with it. I’m okay with it because my husband does not turn into some sex-obsessed, crazy lunatic unable to control himself when exposed to a breast…especially when there’s a baby attached. I think we’re all pretty safe from each others husbands, unless they reacted like picture above..in which case, you have bigger problems than exposed breasts to deal with!
Have you ever watched a mother nursing her child? Sure, as newborns they probably lay there suckling quietly and contentedly, but by the time they reach a few months of age, they may be doing a number of things that distract from the act of nursing itself. In my own personal experience, they have: mashed various parts of my boobs, flopped a leg or arm around repeatedly, bobbed their heads back and forth (which results in a very stretched out version of my areola and nipple), and more. Also, my husband doesn’t get all hot and bothered when he sees me nurse our son….and at home, I have a tendency to just flop those babies out, take my sweet time getting them into baby’s mouth and, occasionally, not notice when he’s become distracted and is not actually nursing anymore. Not once has my husband said to me, “Honey, I love looking at your breasts. I want to have sex now after watching you nurse.” In fact, I have tried to get him in the mood as I was nursing a kid to sleep (you know, a little tease of guess what I want to do when this kid is out? wink, wink) and you know what happened? He was grossed out! Because there was a kid attached and that’s just NOT sexy! Nursing a baby/toddler/kid is a motherly act and most men don’t want to sleep with any version of a mother (okay, they may want to sleep with a mother, but not while she’s mothering!). Guess what? My friend sitting there nursing her son is also a mother! My husband isn’t leering at her breasts, thinking how he wants to bounce his face off them….he’s probably thinking that our son does exactly the same foot wiggle or “nursing gymnastics”. At some point, we have to decide whether our men are neanderthals or not. We can’t have it both ways ladies! Either they have a rational brain with logical thought or they are still beating us over the head with a club and dragging us home. Which is it?
In case that wasn’t enough of a rant for you, I’d like to point out that I have now nursed four children in public (no, not all at the same time!). That’s at least seven years, so far, of exposing my breast to countless people. In that time, I have NEVER seen a man staring at my breast. NEVER. In seven years. The only times I have seen men even glancing sideways at my breasts have been when there was no kid in sight *and* they were completely covered up. What is the suggestion then? Cut them off?
What I have encountered, once, was a teenage boy who saw me nursing in Wal-Mart. He asked his mom about, she was uncomfortable and complained about me. (Click here to read my FB note about it, which I tweaked a bit and sent to the editor of our local paper) Which brings me to the second argument….
2. “I don’t want my teenage boy seeing that” or “I don’t want to explain that to my teenage boy”. Whuck?? Okay, I’ll admit it, I may be a bit biased in my opinion of this. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a teenage boy. I do, however, have numerous male cousins, two younger brothers and three sons…all of whom have seen my breasts.
What I’ve never understood is why it can’t just be explained to the kid what’s happening? Oh, the shame! The horror! That mother is feeding her baby! With her breast! Believe it or not, the sight of a mother breastfeeding her baby is not earth-shaking news, nor should it be. It’s only a big deal because we make it a big deal.
What a tremendous learning opportunity to waste. What if, instead of shunning the mother, admonishing the boy for looking or the myriad of other negative responses, it was calmly explained that the reason we have breasts are to feed our babies? How would that change our culture?
Furthermore, if we take the first opportunity our sons give us to teach them about proper infant feeding and turn into something shameful or disgusting, what are we doing to their future children? What are they going to think when their wives want to nurse their babies?
And, finally, there is one other reason to proudly nurse our children where and when they are hungry, to teach our children (and husbands) that it is normal: Breasts are for feeding babies!