B's in a tizzy over breastfeeding
The two editors here at Queen B are strong and opinionated women. Surprised? Of course, you probably could guess that by reading this magazine.
The beauty of their relationship is that they don’t always agree, which makes for interesting discussions, story ideas and the occasional stomping off mid-diatribe. This feature, Bs in a Tizzy, was born of that dynamic.
But the Bs respect each other, so the work gets done, regardless, and laughter and cooperation always follow.
An example: A particularly lively exchange over breast-feeding ensued after Time magazine came out with that provocative cover featuring a 26-year-old mother breast-feeding her 4-year-old son. It is a striking image — a gorgeous, fit woman with teat bared for a boy dressed in camouflaged pants who looks too big to partake.
One of the Bs thinks this is just gross. The other one thinks it is perfectly natural and wonders why the other B has an issue with it. The other B thinks women should keep their boobs hidden from public view when feeding their offspring. The other B thinks this is silly and antiquated.
It is a ping-pong match, and I enter, waving the Swiss flag. I am not sure I want to jump into a debate between two mothers who each have two kids.
One wonders if Time magazine staffers had similar struggles.
A May 10 story in the LA Times says, “Editors at the news magazine said they ran the provocative cover photo and a story on attachment parenting to mark the 20th anniversary of the Dr. Bill Sears book on the subject, which helped power the movement for moms to establish deeper, and more prolonged, physical bonds with their children.”
Time magazine certainly succeeded in generating a discussion, and we at Queen B never shy away from a good dust-up, so take it away, ladies.
— Pam Doto, Swiss Miss Feminist
I’m all for breast-feeding — but it shouldn’t be in public. Both of my children were breast-fed, and it was a great bonding experience and made sense both financially and health-wise. But I never breast-fed in public. I can think of only one time when I didn’t have a bottle and needed to feed my hungry babe while out and about, and in that situation, I went into the ladies’ room. I did this so I felt comfortable and so the people around me were comfortable. Those who want to pick a fight with me have shrieked, “It’s for the good of the baby,” or “A baby needs to eat” and my favorite, “It’s natural.” Hey, if you’re going to go out, pack a bottle; that’s what breast pumps are for.
I was not breast-fed, nor was my sister. My mother felt it was borderline repulsive. Her generation was taught/brainwashed/trained to go right for the infant formula, which seemed like an anti-breast-feeding campaign that was probably launched by doctors who had stock with formula makers. That was my mother’s and many in her generation’s prerogative. When I would visit my mother after the birth of my son, I would leave the room while I breast-fed because I knew it made her uncomfortable.
Today, more women are breast-feeding, and that’s awesome. But feeding time should be kept private. We’ve heard the stories about enraged and engorged mommies protesting a business that asked a mother to cover up or female members of military in hot water for being photographed while breast-feeding in uniform. And that Time cover was odd for so many other reasons I cannot get into here. Feeding your baby in public with breast exposed makes people uncomfortable, plain and simple. And it’s not because a breast may or may not be partially exposed; it’s the event itself — tiny lactose vampires sucking away. It’s all about the verb, not the noun.
Breast-feeding is a private, maternally intimate event, and I respect other people’s feelings. If my child was hungry, I had the bottle ready to go, or I would escape to a place to find privacy. To counter the “it’s natural” gripe, I could say it’s natural for a baby to also make stinky in his or her diaper, but you’re not going to change the baby in the middle of a restaurant or on a bench at the mall, are you? Then why whip out the nip? So you can feel empowerment while making others feel awkward? I don’t see how it’s any different than over-the-top PDAs or when someone is having a public screaming match. Save it for when you’re alone, and spare others the discomfort.
Please note, angry mothers: If you’d like to protest, I’m out of the office on Wednesdays.
— Laura Kokus, Lactose Intolerant Feminist
I think the one point Laura and I can both agree on is that breast-feeding a 4-year-old (Time cover), whether in public or private, is just weird and unnecessary. The length of time that’s appropriate to nurse a child and public vs. private breast-feeding are two separate debates. I think, and most doctors will agree, that mothers should breast-feed for one year, and after that, it’s not necessary.
But, Laura, if breast-feeding my age-appropriate infant in front of you makes you uncomfortable, too damn bad. You and others with your opinion, frankly, need to get over it. I’m not doing it to piss you off. It’s ridiculous to compare breast-feeding to making out or a screaming match. It’s not sexual or angry. It’s about eating, plain and simple.
Breast-feeding is hard enough, and I’m not going to make concessions (pumping, carrying around bottles in ice packs, finding a way to warm it up, etc.) to make it even harder. If my baby is hungry, and we’re out, I’m not going to find some skeezy bathroom and feed my baby while sitting on a toilet. Does it even occur to you how disrespectful and degrading that is?
Speaking of toilets, why do people compare breast-feeding with going to the bathroom? The two are both bodily functions, yes, but they’re opposites — not analogous. Eating is an appropriate bodily function for the public sphere. All humans, no matter their age, have the right to eat in public, even the ones who eat with their mouths open or talk while they chew. Plus, Florida law allows a woman to breast-feed in any public place and excludes breast-feeding from various sexual offenses, such as lewdness, indecent exposure and sexual conduct.
Our society has conditioned people to associate breasts with sex rather than what they’re meant for, which is feeding. It’s sad that such a natural thing has become perverted by mainstream brainwashing. An acceptable compromise in this day and age would be to cover up when out in public. I did because I know what goes through the minds of men influenced by our society’s breast obsession, and I didn’t want the attention.
Instead of putting the burden on the mother to make concessions, remember that breast-feeding has been going on since the dawn of time. Give nursing mothers the respect they deserve, and relax. They’re not out to make you uncomfortable; they just want to be able to enjoy a day out like everyone else.
— Kyara Lomer-Camarena, Dairy Queen Feminist