Your arguments against breastfeeding in public. They are invalid.

I’m sorry, everyone. I never intended for this to be a breastfeeding advocacy blog, but – y’know. Boobs and their baggage are things that predominate my life at the moment, so…

You’ve probably read about Cheese & Biscuits cafe in Rockhampton, who kicked a massive goal for breastfeeding mothers this week by politely ejecting a customer who was frightened by the sight of a lactating breast in their courtyard. He’d already complained to management, who’d informed him they were a breastfeeding friendly establishment and that they would under no circumstances ask a nursing mother to cover up or leave. He then took it upon himself to approach her, leaving her visibly upset when the owner came out to deliver his coffee. When apprised of the situation, the owner swiftly transferred the man’s coffee to a takeaway cup and showed him the door. She later posted about the incident on Facebook: Capture14

The post went viral, was picked up by local then national and international media and at last count their business page had over 5000 ‘likes’ and hundreds of five-star reviews from all over the world. Not bad for a small cafe in a regional city. I’ve seen it suggested that this was just a really well-executed viral marketing campaign, which I guess is totally plausible – but given that nobody was hurt, they’ve publicly affirmed their nursing-friendly stance and there’s been a huge groundswell of online support for mothers who breastfeed in public, I say ‘bravo!’ anyway! Reading the article online warmed the cockles of my, er, bosom.

But then… oh, then. I scrolled down. I broke my rule. I read the comments underneath the article. And while the overwhelming majority of them are positive, supportive, and lovely (and at least a million of the bajillion supportive comments are from MEN, hooray!), a small but ugly minority are foul. And so, because I am a complete masochist, I have trawled the grimy depths of the comments section for the most ill-informed, grotesque and idiotic arguments against breastfeeding in public. I give you them here, along with my retorts. If you are of a delicate disposition, you may wish to avert your eyes:

1. The I was fed poo and wee as a baby! argument: Capture8 Aviary Photo_130777194779944941 Capture10

These poor folk are confused. They seem to believe that the observation that ‘breastfeeding is natural’ implies that all natural things are acceptable in public. Let me make it very easy to understand.

Urination = expelling waste. Illegal in public. Smelly.

Defecation = expelling waste. Spreads disease. Illegal in public. Kind of gross.

Spitting = expelling waste. Spreads disease. Usually unnecessary. Illegal in public. Very gross.

Nose-picking = a dirty habit. Spreads disease. Not illegal in public, but not well-tolerated in offenders over the age of five.

Masturbation = a sexual activity. Illegal in public.

Breastfeeding = giving a small child food and comfort. Provides protection to infants against disease. Recommended as exclusive food for babies under six months of age, according to peak health bodies. Not only legal, but protected by law.

So, unless your argument is that urination in public is natural AND provides the ideal food for someone in your care (ewww), we are talking about two completely different, equally natural things. So hush your dirty mouth, please.

2. The This is discrimination against teh menz!! fallacy: Aviary Photo_130777196119103834

OK, clearly this fellow is a bit of a loony who may be unfamiliar with the concept of ‘male privilege’, but let’s humour him for a minute. If anyone complains, they are the bad guy. Male or female. Old mate is more than welcome to go to ADCQ, where I’m sure he would be educated about the section of anti-discrimination law that protects the right of babies (both male and female babies, incidentally) to be breastfed without impediment anywhere they have a legal right to be. I doubt his own claim of discrimination/harassment would hold water. He’d probably just end up embarrassed at his own behaviour all over again.

3. The weird, pervy argument that reminds us our boobs don’t actually belong to the baby. Or to ourselves: Capture15 Capture9

Yes, us exhibitionist mothers. We’re known for our rabid urges to expose ourselves for our own (and your) sexual gratification. Because we’re certainly not tired, or sore, or distracted by the responsibility of attending to the myriad needs of a tiny baby that we’re quite possibly still learning how to keep alive. I was totally up for a bit of casual flirting with strange men when I dragged myself to town in the early postpartum days. And we certainly wouldn’t hold a man accountable if he assumed we were being provocative by feeding our infants and subsequently raped us (victim-blame, a whole other argument in itself). Or if he raped some random woman he passed on the way home, given he’d been worked into such a lather, based on how ‘MM of NSW’ believes the system works.

Seriously. I’m sure some strange people are indeed turned on by breastfeeding, possibly because it’s the only glimpse of breast tissue they’ve ever had up close, or because they are confused and completely blank out on the fact there is a BABY there. By the same token, I also know that some people are turned on by feet. Does that mean I shouldn’t ever wear sandals to a cafe, in case I provoke a foot-fetishist into depraved lust? What about Plushies? Should I forbid my children from taking their stuffed animals out in public, in case Monkey or Miss Rabbit have an undesired effect on someone who finds them unusually attractive? Please. Take responsibility for your own reactions, no matter how hot under the collar you get. If you can’t keep yourself on a leash, maybe consider covering your face with a light shawl or moving to a quieter area.

4. Think of the CHILDREN!!

Capture7

How awful! Imagine, if children got the idea that boobs were intended for feeding babies, instead of thinking they’re for selling things! What would be going through a poor child’s mind? I’d hazard a guess it would be along the lines of ‘Cute baby. Wonder if I can get close enough to sneeze in its face once it’s finished drinking?’.

Or, if the child isn’t familiar with breastfeeding, experience tells me they’ll simply march up to the mother and ASK:

Kid: Why is your baby doing that?

Me: She’s having a feed. She drinks milk that I make for her in my body.

Kid: Oh. Why doesn’t she drink it from a bottle?

Me: Because it’s easier for me this way, and I get to give her a cuddle at the same time.

Kid: Cool. Does she like bacon too? I like bacon. *Sneezes on baby*

Which leads us to…

5. The completely misguided personal hygiene argument:

Capture12 Capture13

Wait, what? So, there’s dangerous airborne bacteria that can enter my baby’s lungs, right? But I only need to worry about those while she’s feeding? Or do I need to have a hankie covering her mouth and nose at all times while we’re in public? Because I really don’t know if she’ll be down with that…

Or are you worried about my breastmilk somehow spurting across the room and landing in your coffee, poisoning you? Pooling on the floor beneath my seat, creating a slip hazard? Let me assure you, it’s fairly unlikely. My goal is generally to get most of it into my kid’s mouth. It’s probably more likely everyone will be subjected to a bit of baby spew at some stage, but that’s going to happen regardless of the feeding method.

Maybe you guys are confusing breast- and bottle-feeding. There’s lots of sterilisation and so on involved in feeding a baby out of a bottle, which is one of the many factors that makes breastfeeding the right choice for me: always on hand, always sterile, always the right temperature and quantity. And all those immunity-boosting antibodies will, I’m sure, offset the risk of her inhaling any airborne diseases should her hankie slip.

6. The It wasn’t acceptable in the old days, you need to respect your elders mistruth:

Aviary Photo_130777194419254813

Really? Are you sure?

enhanced-31888-1391392673-2
Everyone looks pretty scandalised, don’t they? Clearly, mothers didn’t feed uncovered in ‘the old days’.

In any case, no. Even if things were different in his day and he was embarrassed, he had the option of accepting the seat that was offered to him inside when he first complained to the staff. Depending on how old he was, in his day Aboriginal people may still have been classified as ‘fauna’ under Australian law and denied access to many facilities. Does that mean he has the right to object to an Indigenous guy ordering a coffee and sitting at the table beside his today? Nope, nope, nopity nope. Some change is for the better, especially when the principles have been enshrined in the law. Sorry, not sorry.

7. The I can’t see what’s happening right in front of me dummy spit:

Aviary Photo_130777195367256061

Yes… they’re clearly leaving in droves.

Capture16

As you say: ‘Oh well’… I’m sure the proprietors won’t miss one or two customers now. Chances are they wouldn’t welcome your business anyway. But remember, there’s no guarantee if you go elsewhere that some other mother isn’t planning to ruin your day with her tits:

Image credits: Breastfeeding at Chattanooga Bus Stop 1943 via thederangedhousewife.com

Breastfeeding at an Outdoor Meeting via buzzfeed.com – I couldn’t find the original source, please let me know if you can.

Flawed arguments against NIP courtesy of visitors to The Brisbane Times, The Morning Bulletin, news.com.au and Cheese & Biscuits’ Facebook page.

‘Ruin Your Day’ is by Sparrow Folk and will do the opposite when you listen to it!


So, it seems this post is going to be receiving a lot more attention than I’m used to, sometime in the next few days! Thanks for reading. If you have a comment, please leave it below – I’d love to hear from you. Comments will be moderated so may not appear immediately – but I’ll happily publish any comment that isn’t obscene, abusive or obviously spam. (Yes, even if you disagree with me!).

If your comment starts with ‘I’m all for breastfeeding, but…’, please read this post before you proceed.

If you imagine my staunch support of breastfeeding means I look down on parents who bottle-feed, please read this post and think again.

You can find out more about me (and how this very amateur blog came to be) here.


351 thoughts on “Your arguments against breastfeeding in public. They are invalid.

    1. Oh, this makes me sad to hear. Our expectations for ‘good sleep’ in little babies are so out of sync with what most of them are biologically capable of. Yes, formula will keep them fuller for longer, because cow’s milk takes longer to digest – but for me that wouldn’t be worth the cost (both financial and physical), and topping-up is a recipe for losing your supply. 😦

      Liked by 2 people

  1. The issue, in my opine, being those people who continue to misunderstand the concept of ‘natural’ vs ‘sexual’.

    Judging by their sexual comments proves a lack of understanding on their part. Kinda ridiculous considering we are ‘evolving’ intellectually aware of naturalism – supposedly an advanced global society – yet unable to make fundamental distinctions.

    Yay! To cafe management.

    Great post 🙂

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I wish i could give you a medal for speaking the truth with such humour. I’ve been giggling ridiculously to myself at your wonderful take on such idiots. Well done for posting such a fabulous article x

    Liked by 3 people

  3. Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! I only want to say something about the one that said guys may come and masturbate in front…she was crazy! And if some guy does it, it’s a psychopath. How could someone who see you giving food to your child, start to stair at you and have fantasies about you??? I mean! It’s like pedophilia!!!! What happen to the people out there???? You feel ok with girls showing her butts and chest at TV, at public meeting etc (see Rihanna, and company), but you feel revolted of a mother gives Brest to her child. We live in a crazy world!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thankfully there are still many men out in the real world who do not find the sight of a woman breast feeding scary, threatening or disgusting. I enjoy boobs as much as the next man, I will freely admit that. My fascination for boobs hasn’t stopped me from not staring at a woman breast feeding, it also hasn’t stopped me from not raping a woman due to some uncontrollable urges forced upon me by the sight of some woman breast feeding!
    I think the sooner attitudes towards breast feeding (and numerous other social issues) change the better. As a collective people all over the world need to take a grip and deal with things rather than ignore them.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know. My mother’s generation worked so hard to normalise breastfeeding, it seems absurd that we’re still having the same endless conversations about it thirty years later! Maybe by the time my daughter is feeding her own children it’ll be a non-issue?

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Goodness! You’re too kind. I had forgotten, until I started this blog, how much I enjoy writing. It came as a surprise to me when others told me they enjoyed reading what I had to say – especially when it started coming from people who weren’t even my blood relatives! Thank you. It means a lot.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Hello! I love the way you have been able to get your point across without offending anyone reading it.

    I mean, a part from the haters and stereotype artists.

    I am all for this, even in a public place and I’m only a 15 year old boy!

    I mean, as the saying goes: ‘Everyone’s gotta eat!’

    Does this have to be any different to a baby being fed from healthy, natural nutritional milk from a mothers boob?

    I don’t believe so.

    Well established blog post!

    I have followed and look forward to seeing more!

    Jason.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I laughed and laughed and laughed. thank you. it really is no wonder why so many women are shamed into cutting their breastfeeding days short with ridiculous comments like the ones highlighted here- love the rebuttals. you rule.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. While I do not currently have tiny humans, I have friends that do. One of which just gave birth not too long ago, so while visiting her and her beautiful child, felt the need to breastfeed in front of me. Why? Cause as a mother, you do what you need to do to make sure your child is taken care of. Did it bother me? Of course not. Why should it? If the child is hungry, you feed them. Simple as that. The man was obviously in the café because he was hungry. If he is able to go out and get food by whatever means he needs too, why can’t the child? Its literally the same idea. I want to strangle the people that say its disgusting and should not be in public. You probably breastfed at one point in your life, if it wasn’t an issue then, it shouldn’t be one now! Bravo on your post. I loved it.

    Liked by 3 people

  8. Glad you found yourself as a vocal advocate for breastfeeding. I used to be afraid to feed in public because I didn’t want people judging me. Then I realized (when I had twins and was constantly nursing), that breastfeeding is amazing and I should be proud of my ability to do it. Needless to say I have no qualms about it now. If people don’t want to see it then they can just NOT look.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Twin-feeding is taking it to a whole new level. My Mum fed my twin sisters into toddlerhood and I remember her boobs being out pretty much constantly for a while there. (Amazingly, my siblings and I aren’t even traumatized a little bit! Phew!) She’s an inspiration, as are you!

      Liked by 2 people

  9. Ma’am, your article is unscientific and nonsensical. It has no association to critical thinking or common sense and reasoning. “Breasts” are sexual organs and regardless of their function, people in public has nothing to do with this but through their sights. There is absolutely no reason for a mother to be obliged to breastfeed in public. This argument has no logical basis and only aims to free oneself from basic social restraints.
    Urination is an expulsion of wastes from a human body, and it is perfectly fine in private, but never in public. Because of the inappropriateness of the act itself; there is a place called “bathroom” meant for this. So is breastfeeding and its function/cause/aim, whatever it was, it is something inappropriately done in public and cannot be accepted as a normal social behaviour. SInce basic human anatomy implies that they are sexual organs (distinguishing a woman from a man) and that they should not be exposed amidst people that are even strangers to the breastfeeding woman, and even more, in a public zone.
    I do not see any conflict that should arise.

    Like

    1. Just in case you are actually serious:
      1. I’m sorry my article appears unscientific to you. I guess that’s why it appears on a blog and not in the BMJ!! As for nonsensical, lacking critical thinking, poor reasoning, perhaps you’d better read your own comment there.
      2. Breasts are mammary organs. Their primary function is the feeding of our young, because (here’s some science) humans are mammals.
      3. Breasts are a secondary sexual indicator, in that (most) women develop breasts at puberty. This isn’t so they can be distinguished from men. It’s so they can feed babies when they reach sexual maturity (again: science). If you’re trying to distinguish a woman from a man, genitals are a better indicator. Lots of men grow breasts but don’t lactate. Some women have hardly any, yet they can still breastfeed.
      4. By your logic, secondary sexual characteristics are obscene and need to be hidden. Best advise men to cover their beards please. Also, I find beards quite attractive. Those men are being rude by exposing me to their beards in public.
      5. WTF do you mean, there is absolutely no reason for a mother to be obliged to feed in public? Have you ever MET a baby? Do you know that they need feeding every couple of hours when they’re small? Do you also realise that there is absolutely no human way to get out of the house and back in that amount of time when you’re carting around a tiny baby and probably other small children as well? Have you visited these plush nursing rooms that everyone seems to think are on every street corner? They’re usually cramped, crowded and smell like dirty nappies. There are dozens of very good reasons why a mother might need to feed her baby in public, the primary one being that her baby is hungry.
      6. No breastfeeding mother that I know actually exposes any significant amount of breast while feeding. The baby’s head is in the way, unless you’re craning your neck to get a better look.
      7. Thank you for presenting me with the ‘urination’ analogy as a rebuttal to my rebuttal of the urination analogy. I suggest you read the article again for my response, which hasn’t changed.

      Liked by 4 people

      1. Breasts are sexual organs with mammary glands.Basic.Human.Anatomy. (They do distinguish a man from a woman, but that is not their purpose.How is that hard to understand?)
        What you mention about men having breasts is hilarious. Those are special cases, or obese men.
        Another nonsense, is that “some” women have hardly any. Even the smallest breast sizes, still are “breasts of women. ”

        Secondary sexual organs are not the same as secondary sexual characteristics. Grow up.

        Whether someone looks or not, is not the issue at all, it would still be a breastfeeding act in public. You cannot prevent people to look that is the reality of it, whether you exposed or not, some will look and some won’t. But when one does expose their breasts in public, even if ” the baby is hiding it” which is nonsense, you should expect more looks and more attention. If the baby is hungry, and you can’t find an appropriate place to feed him/her, go to an appropriate place then, ex: home. An educated mother should know her baby’s habits and how often do they get hungry, keeping account of their eating time-intervals. If all she wants is to give them natural milk, then let her make plans for that. Give one reason why is it hard not to breastfeed in public. If a man takes off his shirt in a cafe’ because he feels hot for instance, people will wonder what is that about, and everyone will find it inappropriate. It is as easy as that. You’d say ” the purpose of breastfeeding is of much higher importance”. Then what about not doing it on the way , or at picnic? It is something unhealthy to do it in public on all accounts.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You make it sound so easy! Sadly, nobody gave either of my children the book and the clock that tells them how to get hungry at specific and predictable intervals. Sometimes they need feeding outside the home, because I am an inconsiderate and uneducated mother who insists upon participating in society like a human being. And, you know, buying groceries for my family sometimes.

        Honestly, I can’t get angry at your bile. I’m just sad that you have such a skewed view about something that really does no harm and a great deal of good (there are many excellent reasons why breastmilk is recommended by WHO as the exclusive food for babies and a complementary food for toddlers, but I don’t see much point going in to detail with such an unreceptive audience). I will end by hoping sincerely that my lactating breasts are never near enough to you to cause any embarrassment or discomfort – a hope that I’m sure is mutual.

        Liked by 2 people

      3. It is surely that a baby does not get hungry all the time !! When you finish feeding him, go buy your grocery needs !!
        Personally I have never seen a mother who breastfeed her baby in public, ever !

        I can’t believe this discussion, THERE IS NO HARM , BUT IT IS INAPPROPRIATE. That is what is the whole argument is about.
        There is nothing to receive from your nonsense.

        If a baby needs to get fed although you have fed him already before you got out and prepared him well for that outing, then GO home and feed him ! It is as simple as that.

        Instead of trying to excuse yourself about such an act in public, and acting as if it was something ordinary to happen in front of everyone (People who look, or don’t look, agree or don’t agree) ,
        fight or demand your right as a mother that all the private places meant for breastfeeding children be clean and well prepared for a mother to do so.

        Like

      4. Did you know that small infants have a stomach the size of a marble? And breastmilk is very efficiently digested, being ideally designed for a baby’s delicate gut (formula takes longer as it’s based on cow’s milk – the ideal food for baby cows). That’s why the stomach needs refilling so very frequently.

        We’re obviously from very different cultural backgrounds, if you’ve truly never seen a woman breastfeeding in public. I suspect you may be from somewhere with very different attitudes/traditions about how women and children participate in society.

        Where I live, it is already my right (yes, my legally protected right) to breastfeed my baby anywhere we are both legally allowed to be. So that is why I take issue with those who choose to harrass or belittle breastfeeding mothers: here, now, in Australia it has already been formally accepted that breastfeeding in public is totally OK. Through most of Europe, the UK and USA similar laws are in place to protect breastfeeding, and social norms are slowly catching up with the law. Things may be different where you are from. You may like to check out the other 250 or so comments (and the 600+ ‘likes’) on this article, to guage the opinions of the rest of the global community.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. Exactly. If you already have the right, then what exactly are you arguing about?!! What, you want moreover to control what people think? Try making their “what you count as harassment” illegal.This is unbelievable.
        Your comment is wholly utter nonsense. You are bringing nothing to the argument with what you’re saying and your expectations are …..I can’t even describe that level of misleading idiocy. What has the baby’s stomach to do with the argument? Till what age exactly does this marvelous process go on in their stomachs? What has “your global community” to do? Oh man, this is serious. You have lost your focus.
        Nothing would justify a woman in a first world country to breastfeed her child pleasantly in public, or even the third world, but since you live somewhere more advanced….
        “Did you know that small infants have a stomach the size of a marble?” ….. I HAD NO IDEA!!

        Like

  10. Kudos! Logical and funny expression of what used to be common sense. I applaud women who choose to breastfeed. There is no placebo for this type of bonding/nutrition shared between mother and child. We (sensible humans) should support and defend practices that promote health and wellness, and it all starts here

    Liked by 2 people

  11. I’m a really sensitive guy; so you’ll have to excuse me for being blunt. We’re talking about BREASTS here – boobs, sweet orbs, a wondrous sight, dreamy both by day and night, caressable, delightful, eminently kissable, divinely inspirational, pink centers soft between the lips, suddenly awakened, possibilities anticipated…oh, I could go on, believe me!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great post! I find it so crazy to think people are bothered by breastfeeding they need to grow up! I’m a nursing mother in Canada and anywhere is acceptable. The only time women seem to get weird looks is when they use a nursing cover, let that kid breathe! Hopefully more awareness will bring it from bathroom stalls to anywhere and everywhere. There is no reason people should feel uncomfortable by such a tender act. Good job!
    Makeitmom.ca

    Liked by 3 people

  13. I’m all for breastfeeding,… no buts. Full support.

    I don’t think the situation is as black and white as it’s made out to be. I don’t see the “It’s Natural!” argument as a point for either side. Farting and belching are also entirely natural, and neither sexual or harmful, but generally considered inappropriate in public. “It’s Natural!” isn’t a valid argument — neither side should endorse it.

    Make all the cute comments you want about how men react to breasts, the bottom line is we like them. I’ve seen my fair share in print, video, and real life, and that doesn’t change the reality that they are a sexual attribute in a woman. If bared breasts were such a no big deal, why are not all beaches topless (I’d be entirely in favor of that)? If you agree your nipples are an erogenous zone, then you must also agree breasts have a sexual component, like it or not.

    I do not offer these as points against public breast feeding. Again: Full support. I just get very tired of living in a world of overly polarized arguments where neither side can admit the other side might have a few points. Life is not a zero-sum game. If one side wants the other side to appreciate their sensibilities, a good place to start is appreciating the other side’s sensibilities.

    For me the bottom line argument is pretty simple. If this is to be a free respectful world, then the “no harm done” rule is the only rule that really matters. Whatever my sensibilities might be, I don’t see how a breast-feeding mother is any skin off my back, so live and let live. After all, life doesn’t promise you’ll never be offended, and if you just can’t deal with the sight of a mother and child, just turn your back.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yup, and you’ll never see me using the ‘breastfeeding is natural’ response in defense of nursing in public, because it’s too easily given the straw man treatment and compared to farting/belching/nose-picking/whatever (none of which feed another person – breastfeeding can’t be compared with anything else because there IS nothing like it). Which isn’t to say that being natural isn’t one of the great reasons to breastfeed, just that it’s not one of the reasons I do it in public. I do it in public because it’s unequivocally the healthiest, cheapest, fastest way to settle my hungry child, because it harms nobody, and because we are in no way responsible for anyone’s problem with it.

      I know lots of men (and some women, although nobody ever mentions that) like breasts. Let’s say I like muscular forearms – I don’t lose my mind whenever a man rolls his sleeves up. A breast just isn’t sexual when it’s being used as a food source, and it’s honestly not ‘bared’ in the process for more than a second while the baby latches on. If anyone can see enough boob to get worked up about it, they’re staring, which is rude no matter what.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “…it harms nobody…”

        Yep. I think that’s the crux of it right there.

        “…we are in no way responsible for anyone’s problem with it.”

        Our comportment in the public square is bound by public perception. The same argument can be made about many things (from nose-picking to lovers kissing). We don’t get to pick and choose. Either we’re all in this social experiment together or we’re not.

        We’re not responsible for how people feel, but we are responsible for acknowledging the legitimacy of their views. That, as I mentioned, is what gets under my skin a little: the idea that there’s only one correct way to view this, and anyone who doesn’t see it that way is a child or stupid or just plain wrong.

        People are allowed to see something as personal and as intimate as breast-feeding as not appropriate for public display. We may not agree with that, but that doesn’t make them wrong. Some feel kissing in public (outside of a peck) isn’t appropriate. If we wish others to acknowledge our views, we have to be willing to acknowledge theirs.

        I think the better argument is that a society that embraces kids and family is probably a happier, healthier society.

        “Let’s say I like muscular forearms – I don’t lose my mind whenever a man rolls his sleeves up. A breast just isn’t sexual when it’s being used as a food source,”

        Forearms don’t have clusters of very sexually sensitive nerve endings, nor do they have the thousands of years of cultural sexual attitudes about them. (And for that matter, women aren’t as visual sexually as men are.)

        Look at it this way: the genitals have a urinary function, but that doesn’t change their sexual nature. To men (and, as you say, to some women) breasts — at least sometimes — are sexual. Most of us men spent a lot of time in our youth giving them a great deal of thought. (Some still do, I hear.)

        All that social conditioning — thousands of years of it — doesn’t change overnight.

        As your post indicates, there are women who don’t approve of that level of intimacy or personal function in public. I suspect most view it as a kind of TMI thing rather than as a sexual thing. I’ve never heard anyone object to it because it turned them on. It’s usually more of an “Ugh, I don’t want to have to see that!” response.

        [shrug] Some people are easily offended, but they are entitled to their views. Society changes slowly, but the good news it tends over time to evolve in better ways. But being on the leading edge of that can be… challenging and difficult.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. “…they’re staring, which is rude no matter what.”

        Wait. Careful! Think about what you’re saying here. The public behavior of staring is rude, but breast-feeding is not? If you can define a public behavior as rude, why can’t others equally define yours that way?

        What’s the difference between watching and staring? If you breast-feed in public, am I allowed to watch, or are you requiring me to turn away?

        If I’m not allowed to watch, then are you admitting there is something too personal about it for public display?

        “Watching is rude” is a dangerous argument to make!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. If I’m eating my lunch and you’re staring at me? One of us is being rude and it’s not me.

        If I’m breastfeeding, I’m not doing it ‘at’ anyone, which is why staring is rude and breastfeeding isn’t.

        And watching/staring are subtly different, but both a bit creepy. ‘Am I allowed to watch?’ No, if you’re asking. You’re allowed to look, same as if I was engaged in any other ordinary activity, but if you settle in for a show I’d be taking issue with that. I’d like to think I’d tell you to back off, but honestly most likely I’d probably just shift so my back was towards you, as I’d do if some guy was creeping me out by watching me eat my own lunch.

        Liked by 1 person

      4. “If I’m eating my lunch and you’re staring at me? One of us is being rude and it’s not me.”

        Says who? 🙂 Children are socialized: “Don’t stare; it’s rude!” We impose artificial social restrictions on them in order to make the public square less uncomfortable.

        Say I come from a society without that rule, or that I come from here but reject that rule as silly. Consider the arguments I might make: It’s natural — all (sighted) humans look at things. I’m not hurting you in any way. It’s not in any way illegal. If my gaze makes you uncomfortable, that’s your problem, so you deal with it (by leaving or turning away — but you don’t get to dictate my behavior anymore than I do yours).

        Obviously those are familiar arguments here, and maybe you can see how others might equate public nursing with something like staring. They would argue that public nursing is also rude, just like staring. For them it creates discomfort in the public square just like staring does.

        The ‘at’ argument doesn’t hugely differentiate them. I might just be gazing at nothing thinking about a movie I saw. I might be looking at something behind you. Maybe I’m an anthropologist studying human public behavior.

        Even if I am looking directly at you, so what? Who am I harming? “It makes me uncomfortable (because I think it’s inappropriate),” is exactly the argument some make regarding public nursing. You agree watching is inappropriate, so it effectively creates a “no look” zone in a public area. As such, it stands out just as staring does.

        To maybe end this were I started: Just the recognition that this isn’t an obvious, clear-cut issue. People with a different point of view on it are entitled to their view without being mocked. They’re socialized differently is all.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. OK, this is starting to feel like an argument about semantics rather than a discussion of breastfeeding in public, and I’m not keen to prolong it. But I just need to clarify a couple of things in case anyone’s playing along at home.

        1.My personal ‘no look’ zone you referenced above applies whether I’m breastfeeding or not. I don’t ask for any more or any less attention/consideration/regard when I’m feeding than when I’m just sitting holding my baby. Staring (in our culture, because of the way we’re socialised, yada-yada-yada) is inappropriate in any situation where the ‘staree’ hasn’t directly and unambiguously invited and welcomed that attention.

        2.Because staring is by definition directed at a single individual, it is completely different from nursing in public – which is simply minding one’s own business and feeding a baby with one’s bewbs – and I do think that distinction is key. Staring is easily interpreted (social conditioning, yada-yada) as hostile, aggressive, threatening, challenging, even predatory, and the individual under the gaze becomes less of a person and more of an object in the exchange. You may have experienced this differently (if at all?) as a male, but as a female the experience of being stared at by a male stranger can be quite unnerving. I know #notallmen and all of that, but my objection is less ‘It makes me uncomfortable because I think it’s inappropriate’ and more ‘It makes me uncomfortable because I have no idea whether you might be a creep who means me harm’. Nobody could seriously argue the same for being seated opposite a woman breastfeeding, surely?

        And I’m sorry, but if people are going to freely spout drivel online about urination, mens’ suffrage, and completely fabricated hygiene concerns with regard to nursing in public, I’m going to give them a gentle ribbing about it, because that nonsense needs to disappear out of our cultural script for these conversations already.

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Totally with ya WRT your last paragraph. I regard the whole “mens’ rights” thing with dismay. It’s one more case of social polarization, and while most such cases are a little scary, that’s one of the ones that scares me a bit more.

        I don’t mean to overstay my welcome. Semantics can be important when we disagree on terms, but I don’t see any disagreement like that there. It’s possible I gave a wrong impression though…

        I intended no line from staring as an action to breast-feeding as an action. I’m not meaning to equate them as actions (and therefore argue, since this, therefore that). In a complex society filled with strangers, we see staring as unwelcome interest because we fear what’s behind that interest. I get that; men aren’t completely immune to it.

        So I don’t mean to stand up for staring! 🙂 The line I tried to draw was from the discomfort staring causes nearly everyone to the discomfort felt by those socialized to have strong feelings about very personal behavior in public (such as PDA, arguments, nursing, and many others).

        Shoe on the other foot sort of thing to illustrate why reactions are so strong. I totally get (and support) your point of view; I get their side, also, is all.

        Liked by 2 people

  14. Thank you for writing this post and for WordPress to Freshly Pressed this! I’ve been thinking what to write about the topic myself lately as a mom that nursed one child for 22 months, the other for 9. I’ll let it simmer for while, but your post inspired my definitely. It amazes me how brainwashed, twisted and all f*&ed up men AND women can be about breastfeeding. I have to correct you on your title though. I would even put it stronger. It’s not only invalid to be against breastfeeding, no. I say it is IMMORAL. I’m not saying you have to breastfeed your child at all cost, but it is too easily put aside for convenience, shame and what others think. But saying that feeding your child the healthies and most comforting way is wrong, that is wrong. Dead wrong.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. I am a healthy man, yet it would be perverse to be aroused by an infant having lunch.

    Feed’em babes, hot milk from the tavern. I see it happen where I live and I see no reason why people could be offended yet don’t mind tampon ads on TV while having dinner, or see blood spatter from gunshots while munching along.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Reblogged this on Ai Kant Spal Kwit and commented:

    I am a healthy man, yet it would be perverse to be aroused by an infant having lunch.

    Feed’em babes, hot milk from the tavern! It is beautiful to see the love and trust between mother and child. A special moment. As a man, I look away the moment I see it yet it is beautiful to see that it happens.

    I see it regularly where I live and I see no reason why people could be offended yet don’t mind tampon ads on TV while having dinner, or see blood spatter from gunshots while munching along.

    Liked by 2 people

  17. I was laughing and applauding the whole time. Mom’s should be applauded for what they go through. Your body changes and you become a human vending machine. These men should thank their wives/girlfriends/baby mothers for what they do for their children. Hopefully, this ideology changes soon! I don’t have kids yet, but when I do I will be breastfeeding.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. That’s what I call my sister-in-law. My niece cries and she pulls out the boob. No matter what she’s doing or where she is. Oh the life! I wish someone would walk around with my food and feed me like that. A girl can dream.😩

        Liked by 2 people

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