I really feel silly writing about this “issue.” With all the pain and suffering in the world, moms breastfeeding in public should be a non-issue, no matter what side you are on.
My first thought was to refuse to address the right to bare breasts, until the right to life was won. Yet some how, breastfeeding in public has become a hot controversy that won’t go away. It was just yesterday, when I saw a national ad campaign with pictures of women breastfeeding in public toilets, that I finally decided to throw my two cents into the arena.
Last summer, Janine and I took our kids to the Boise Aquarium, where we saw sting rays, sharks, turtles, snakes, and one pair of boobs. In fact, I practically walked into them before I realized what was happening.
A young mother sat down with her baby, pulled her boob out, let it hang as she readied her hungry baby before beginning to feed him, which she eventually did, but without a cover. I blushed a little, but survived, and my kids were too young to notice or care. I thought, “That’s it, I have just witnessed firsthand the focal of a national controversy,”
and to be honest it was little anticlimactic.
We all did what any polite person would do, we averted our eyes and pretended not to notice. And while I am a huge fan of modesty, I realize that a hungry baby is the greater of the two evils. It may inconvenience people or make them feel a little uncomfortable, but manners is about putting petty comforts aside for the sake of others. So, I am also a fan of breastfeeding in public when it can’t be avoided.
The problem is, the pro-public-breast-feeding crowd seems to have forgotten that manners is a too way street.
Take the breastfeeding mother in the aquarium for instance. She might have had the courtesy to be a little more discreet. I am willing to give her the benefit of the doubt; perhaps she didn’t see our family standing in front of her, was too shy to warn us, forgot her cover, didn’t think to turn the other way, had to feed then and there, didn’t see the benches 10 feet away in a less-public area, forgot to put her boob away, or didn’t know that exposing herself makes others feel uncomfortable.
But what I really think is that she didn’t care. She had the attitude that it is her right to breastfeed and too heck with everybody else. I agree that it is her right, and more importantly, her baby’s right to be fed, but she also has the right to be considerate of others whenever possible.
But how old fashion, right?
The new way is to take our rights and smash people in the face with them. We have a right to bare arms, and that means we’ve got to take our AR-15 in crowded malls and to hell with those anti-second-Amender’s who dare to feel uneasy.
And if a mom’s got a right to breastfeed, that means that instead of offering a polite explanation to a concerned business manager, or even agreeing to cover up a little, she’s got to teach that prude a lesson. She’s got to rant on facebook against the business and organize a mob of breast-baring mommies who, in the name of freedom, will proudly march outside that business flashing customers!
People need to be tolerant of mothers and mothers need to be considerate. Of course, for the most part we already are. In fact, I still consider this a non-issue – a molehill made into a media mountain!