Mammals? Using mammaries? Shock. Horror!

Or, it shouldn’t really be the case. I don’t understand what motivates such virulent responses to public breastfeeding in North America, but Tony Thompson reviews some common responses:

Once upon a time, in a land across the country, there existed a woman. This woman was mother to a 10-month-old. One day, the two of them set out on a journey to the house of the mouse in Anaheim, California. While they were there, her child became hungry, and the woman found herself facing a critical decision: “do I feed my child like any loving parent would, regardless of when and where” or “do I say screw it kid. You can starve” ? In short time, she made her decision and boy was it shocking: she chose to breastfeed her 10-month-old. Right then and there.

I’m glad she received more support than criticism. That she received a backlash at all though, is really annoying and frustrating. It’s far from surprising though.  It’s pretty much to be expected. Here in the great old USofA, any woman who breastfeeds in public will quickly find herself on the receiving end of some vicious comments. I can predict some of the responses without even going to look:

Read more here.



  1. says

    Holy fuck, one of the very real advantages and redeeming features of breastfeeding was the fact that you always had a meal ready and could drag your infant pretty much everywhere.
    And no, I didn’t carry any special blanket or shit. Pull up shirt, unclip cup (nursing bras are a real pro) dock baby, hope that somebody brings you some water.
    If you really looked carefully, you might have been able to spot a nipple.

  2. says

    WMD Kitty
    Really? I suppose you never tried it, right?
    Might there be a lactating person who really wants you to look at them? Sure, there’s one of every kind. There’s the holier than thou mommies. I doubt there are many. Believe me, women and others nursing their babies are 99% concerned with the nursing. Try it on a bar stool, that one’s fun.
    If you are under the impression that one is making a spectacle to attract your attention, just ignore them, you’re a big kid.
    Most of the time this person will actually just be trying to feed the baby and encountering some problems and you’ll be rudely staring, adding to their discomfort.

  3. Siobhan says

    @3 WMDKitty

    I haven’t breastfed but I imagine it’s not the sort of thing that can go on the down low, especially in North America where our prudish norms about bodies make it an ordeal. Regardless, even if someone’s doing it for attention, you don’t really have to provide it?

  4. =8)-DX says

    I had one (1!) unpleasant breastfeeding viewer experience and that was my RCC bro’s wife standing talking to me, then just casually popping boob and docking infant right next to me. I chocked my internal unpleasantness down to culturally reinforced sexualisation of women’s bodies and natural functions, alongside the cognitive dissonance of catholic puritanism/breastfeeding absolutism… and… no one was harmed?

    Like my wife breastfed and I had zero problems with that and kinda makes me grin and smile and feel good in an abstract direction when seeing docked babies in public, but I guess it’s healthy to come face to face with one’s own internalised sexism from time to time.

    Bystanders’ unpleasant feelings don’t trump the practicality and necessity for socially accepted ad-hoc breastfeeding is what I’m getting at.

  5. =8)-DX says

    @WMDKitty — Survivor #3
    Um, I’d see the problem then is women who impose breastfeeding as an absolute necessity on others, not procedure, the infant, the breast or suckling itself. Humans are elite at making even the most mundane actions publicly obnoxious. Personally though, as an insecure underacheiver dude, I’ve never really seen the value in mind-reading people who “only do things for attention”. The need for social acceptance is universal. Exaggerated expressions of harmless/useful social behaviour should be met with unconditional support, not condemnation for the exaggeration (although that may annoy us).