Is Public Breastfeeding Inappropriate?

The other day at uni some of the class got into a bit of a debate about breastfeeding in public. There’s this Italian chick in that subject who seriously reminds me of the bitch from Mean Girls. I’m not sure if she’s trying to act like her, or she just unconsciously channels her personality but I swear you’d see it too if I pointed her out. So naturally she’s a bigoted ignorant mofo, and she was arguing against it, saying it was inappropriate.

Me and this Portuguese girl were on the other side, saying that women should be allowed to do it and everyone else was shouting their opinions over the top of us. But the more I thought about it, the less I could reason why I thought I was right. Breastfeeding is important for a baby because they get the nutrients that can only come from their mothers milk and it helps them to become strong and healthy babies. To deny or discriminate against mothers would make them stop the act much faster than is healthy for the baby, when it should be encouraged. It is against the law under the sex discrimination act to discriminate against women breastfeeding, even in the workplace.

But I think what I thought about it was that it was not intended as a sexual act. So I said that to Italia adding, “Its for the purpose of nourishing the baby. In that case I would not find the nudity inappropriate, like I would if say, some guy revealed himself to me on a train or whatever. Which to me would be offensive, and I’d find it harassing.” Then, this guy jumps in and says, “Oh yeah sure, if it was David Beckham I bet you wouldn’t care.” Is that the most stupidest point in the world or what? Portugal and I gave him this look that said he was a retard and I told him that actually yes, I would care.

Anyway the teacher stopped us and changed the subject, but later I was thinking about it and I realised that comment is way more fucked up than I initially thought. Is he trying to insinuate that as long as harassment comes from a good looker, women would be okay with it? What the fuck? Sure, Mr. Beckham, you may as well rape me while you’re out there, I mean I’m lucky to come across a piece as fine as yours! Or was he just trying to imply that only I was a slut, in an indirect way? That I couldn’t resist one if it was put in front of me? Yesterday I was kind of okay with the whole argument but today I want to go back and punch him in the face. Fucking slow brain, never understanding things properly until the next day! Arghhhh.

His whole ‘point’ just ruined the convo anyway, because the teacher obviously clicked better than I did and intervened before we got any more offensive. But what is it that makes some nudity less offensive than others? In Australia we have plenty of commercials with bare bottomed babies running around jumping into piles of nappies and such, but in America its considered crude, and they never show babies nude on television. Some child nudity in art is okay, but as we all saw not long ago, some people find child nudes in art to be bordering on pedophilia.

If I was offended by breastfeeding, I would simply turn my head. I mean, why are you watching anyway? Facebook also got into the debate last year, after removing pictures of women breastfeeding which resulted in a massive outcry from so-called ‘lactivists’ around the world. What do you think about it? Is it a mothers right or is it an inappropriate display of nudity? I know I’d probably feel embarrassed to do it in public, but I would like to have the option should I need to do it one day. And I expect that by the time I was a mother I would be a lot more mature and less shy anyway. Man, I really wanna slap that guy now.


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18 Responses to “Is Public Breastfeeding Inappropriate?”

  1. jim Says:

    its still tacky

  2. WendySkeleton Says:

    I personally wouldn’t care. I’d be like, “Whoa,” but then I’d initially get over it after a second.

    And is that the baby with the purple hair as well?

    You’re right, that fucker with the “if it was Beckham” shit should be slapped. Sexual harassment is wrong no matter who it comes from. What the sexual harasser looks like doesn’t justify that crap. I can’t believe he would say that. It obviously shows he hasn’t been sexually harassed before. Plus that’s not even an argument anyway – just a stupid insult (that’s what I make of it).

  3. LuLi Says:

    Jim – I disagree, how is feeding your baby tacky? What I would find tacky about it, is men watching to cop a free perv, not the woman nourishing her crying baby.

    Wendy – This baby has golden hair, going with the golden colored theme of the post. I don’t find it confronting when I see it, but that might be because I’ve watched my mother and aunts and friends all do it, growing up.

    Its so not a point, is it? He was just trying to offend me with the Beckham comment. Prick.

  4. This Devil's Workday Says:

    I think that guy was just trying to be funny, either that or he had nothing valid to say and just wanted to get a word in. I don’t think he thinks you’re a slut or even thinks you genuinely would find it OK.

    I don’t know about the breast feeding thing. I don’t find it offensive. My sister-in-law was around the other day with my new nephew and started breast-feeding in the lounge room and it kind of startled me, but only because I’m not used to it (being the youngest in the family, and my nephew being the first of the next generation).

    I think it’s fine, but if a woman can help it she should do it somewhere more private (lounge room like that is fine, I’m talking about a train for example). But like I said, the baby’s health is more important than someone having to avert their gaze.

  5. LuLi Says:

    Nah, he was really aggressive when he said it, and patronising. If he was having a joke i woulda laughed, I have a good sense of humour, but he was being rude and thats why me and the other chick both gave him dirty looks. I don’t care, the most I would do is say to him that I thought he was out of line.

  6. This Devil's Workday Says:

    You should’ve accused him of having a crush on Beckham. It’s likely…

  7. Den Says:

    Here in the Philippines, public breastfeeding is such a common practice among mothers. Personally, I don’t find it unethical. I could still barely recall my mother when she was breastfeeding my younger sister in public. Nobody cared. I guess much of the perspective regarding public breastfeeding largely depends on one’s cultural orientation.

  8. LuLi Says:

    TDW – lol, I keep thinking of all the things I could have said and mentally kicking myself. I really wish I had of held a hand up to the teacher to silence her, and turned to him and said “If it was Beckham sure, if it was you I’d throw up!” or something equally as bitchy.

    Den – Thats interesting, it really is a very cultural issue. I personally thought Australians were more liberal with nudity, but I suppose I was quite wrong. Perhaps its the American influence on us. I don’t find it unethical either.

  9. raydixon Says:

    I know I’d probably feel embarrassed to do it in public

    That’s a great summary in itself, LuLi. Why do some women not feel embarrassed? Is there an element of shock value to it? For a small minority there might be. There’s also, in my opinion, an element among some people of ‘making a statememt’, like, “I’m such a great and caring mum and I’m going to prove that by flopping my breasts out right in your face”.

    And then I’m sure some people do it to draw attention to either themselves or the baby, or both. You know how ‘precious’ (and obnoxious) some people can be about their kids. It’s like “my kid is THE BEST IN THE WORLD and so you are going to take some notice of him(her) … and me!” I think that State politician Kirsty whatshername (the skier) was one of those when she did it in Parliament. It was a PR thing for sure.

    Dunno, but from a guy’s perspective, you just don’t know where to look and it actually makes US feel embarrased. Maybe that’s another reason some do it.

    Btw, you gotta get quicker on the comebacks, LuLi. You missed a golden opportunity there with that guy who made the ‘Beckham remark’. Here’s what you should have said:

    “At least he’s got something worth flashing.”

  10. LuLi Says:

    Ahh, so you see it as kind of an exhibitionist thing. I’ve never thought about it like that, but you may be right in the cases of some. Doing it in Parliament is a bit over the top, that was definitely PR.. But I suppose someone had to make a stand and do it sometime!

    It would be a bit of an awkward situation for men, I agree. You don’t want to not look at her and offend her, but then you wouldn’t want to feel like a pervert.

    How sad am I with quick comebacks! That would have been great to say if I thought of it, there must be some kind of tutorial I can do to fix me up at it..

  11. kaboose84 Says:

    I wouldn’t care, there’d be some sort of shock at first but it’s not like its wrong. And anyway it’s not like she’s just flashing it, the baby is covering most if it anyway! Wearing a bikini reveals more skin than breastfeeding does!

    This question is like the “is drinking someone’s breastmilk weird or not?”…it’s always highly debatable…but fun to argue about.

    and that guy sounds like an asshole…

  12. Andy Says:

    Eh- I have no issue with women wanting to breastfeed in public. But then again, I’m not the most easily shocked fella walking the streets, so such things wouldn’t tend to phase me.

    By the same token, a woman choosing to whip out a tit in a public place shouldn’t get too precious if someone has a quick look. Sure, if he starts leering and drooling, she has a reason to be put out. But by its very nature, public breastfeeding is a bit of a curiosity, and curious types are going to look.

    I really don’t see what the big deal is. Our society has bigger fish to fry.

  13. gullybogan Says:

    The Australian breastfeeding support society was originally called “Nursing Mothers Australia” because the Post Master General refused to expose his postal workers to the indignity of having to handle material marked “Breastfeeding Australia” sent through the post.

    That’s how stigmatised the female breast is (or was) in this country.

    Thing is, it’s a boob. That’s what it’s for: feeding a baby. If some folks get all sexually hung up on certain parts of the body, and make them taboo, then that’s sad for them, huh. Me, i don’t like feet, but you don’t see me haranguing women in the street with sandals on, as if it were some affront to my sensibilities.

    If i were a woman, i’d breastfeed in public. I’d also change my baby’s nappy in public, but maybe i’d find somewhere out of ppl’s way?

    I have never had a woman ‘flop her breast out’ in my face to feed a baby. Not since i *was* the baby, anyway. I don’t believe that women who breastfeed would ever be motivated by exhibitionism. But i’m not every woman who’s ever breastfed, so i can’t really say.

    And the Beckham comment guy? Kick him in the sack. He deserves it.

  14. LuLi Says:

    Domino – Thats the way I saw it too, I mean most of the boob is covered and usually they leave their shirt hanging over it too. I probably wouldn’t drink breast milk now, that is a bit weird. Thanks for the imagery though 😛

    Andy – You know, I felt the same way before the in-class debate. It just never seemed newsworthy to me until I saw all the strong reactions it got amongst people. Hearing that bitchy chick go off about mothers, swearing about them daring to be in her restaurant really shocked me. It seems like we’re still very divided on this.

    Gully – I hate how conservative Australia can be sometimes, that Post Master was a dick. What kind of retard can’t handle looking at the word breastfeeding? And changing it to please himself, as if the word breast was something to be ashamed of, something people without them shouldn’t be forced to think about!

    You’re making such a good point there, its a boob, they’re made to feed babies! Why should we be made to feel ashamed for that? Thanks for the kicking advice, at the very least he will be receiving a potent stink-eye.

  15. rayedish Says:

    Writing as someone who has b/f in public I am naturally all for it. Most mums I know try to be discrete about it and cover up while its happening. It is very easy to b/f a newborn and most people aren’t offended, but it is when the baby gets little older that it gets tricky. The bub can pull away repeatedly making it hard to cover up and the bigger/older the baby the more likely people are to get upset. Almost nobody is upset by someone b/f’ing a week old baby, but once the bub gets to six months or 12 months or beyond people start to freak.

    Anyone who tells a b/f’ing mother to feed their baby in a toilet should go eat their lunch in one and see how they like it! It surprises me how neurotic people are about this issue, as you say Luli boobs are for feeding babies why should ppl get worked up about it? Why do we as a society get weird about it but have little problems looking at sexualised pics of women? There is one twisted values system operating out there and most ppl don’t even realise it.

  16. LuLi Says:

    Good on you for being strong enough to do it in public without fear, Rayedish. You’re right about the hypocrisy of being able to look at sexualised pictures, but yet someone nourishing their child is shunned and looked down upon. I really don’t see anything wrong with it and its never crossed my mind to be offended by it, but perhaps thats because I’ve seen my mother raise my 3 younger siblings and b/f them in front of me. She made it seem as natural as holding her hand to cross the road, and why shouldn’t it be?

  17. Ian Says:

    Oddly enough, I was more comfortable with my wife breastfeeding in public than she was. She has since become less shy as our son has been with us for 10 months. She doesn’t go out of her way to flaunt the issue, but if privacy isn’t available or convenient, she doesn’t think twice about feeding him.

  18. LuLi Says:

    Your support probably helped her to feel more comfortable with it. Sometimes there isn’t a way around doing it in public and people should be accepting of that.

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