Thank you for all of your comments from the first post. I’ve LOVED this debate. I just wanted to clarify a few points that I think were getting a bit skewed in all of the comments. To catch anyone up who didn’t read the previous post, we are debating the appropriateness of open breastfeeding which is by my definition breastfeeding publicly uncovered exposing the breast for all to see.
I am pro breastfeeding. I have no problem seeing a woman’s breast or seeing a woman breastfeed. Rather, I wish women were less closed off from each other. I remember going to the lady’s locker room at the pools in Iceland where I would have to strip down to my birthday suit, walk to the showers, wash myself in an open shower room with a bunch of other nude women of all ages and small children, then put my swim suit on to go outside to the pools. I have to admit, coming from a very closed nudity background, it was a bit uncomfortable at first. But then, I came to almost enjoy it. It was liberating to see what other women actually looked like without clothes. Girls who looked super skinny and perfect in their clothes would undress and I’d look at them and say, “Wow, they don’t look as good naked as they did in those jeans. I guess its not just me.” Or I would see women who have had children and have stretch marks and saggy boobs and say, “Oh, so those are the changes I can expect when I have my own children.” I felt like it really relieved many of my insecurities.
My issues with open breastfeeding have nothing to do with my own discomforts as it does with other’s discomforts. Particularly with men who WERE NOT raised around breastfeeding AT ALL, but also with men who’s discomfort does NOT come from sexifying the breast during breastfeeding.
Here’s an example to illustrate the latter man. We’ll call the example man Billy Bob. Billy Bob is sitting in the library studying when he looks up and notices a woman with something written across her shirt. He stares at the writing for a bit contemplating the words. After a moment or two, he notices this woman staring back at him only she’s got a disgusted look on her face and only then does he realize that he’s been staring straight at her boobs for the past 5-10 seconds. A few days later, Billy Bob is out doing some shopping for his grandma’s birthday and sees his wife’s friend who had just had a baby a few feet away. He starts to approach to congratulate her when he notices that she is breastfeeding. Realizing that there is no way to look at the baby without looking at the breast, and not wanting his wife’s friend to think he is trying to stare at her breast, he quickly ducks into the nearest store hoping that this woman didn’t see him.
My point from that example is that avoiding open breastfeeding is NOT ALWAYS about sexifying the breast, which seems to be the main drive for pro-open breast feeders to feel the need to expose everyone to breastfeeding. Rather, women themselves have set up so many boundaries to avoid sexual harassment and to avoid being seen as an object that many men have decided to simply stay FAR AWAY from the line of any type of situation where they might be accused of sexually harassing or objectifying a woman.
Maybe it is because of my own background and my own father’s extreme discomfort around breastfeeding, but overall, I feel that there are so many religious, personal, cultural, and other reasons people may have against open breastfeeding that I feel there should be more respect given by open breast feeders to those around them. That is why I feel that those who wish to practice open breastfeeding should stick to their homes, friends, and family where they can ask and be more sensitive to those who may be against it. If one does feel like they want to take bolder steps, breastfeed in a park or other OPEN places where those who don’t want to be around it can avoid it if they wish. Whipping a breast out in the middle of a crowded grocery store can be very much like cornering a rat in a cage. It shows NO respect for the feelings of those around them. Using a blanket to cover the mother is a way to show respect. Even if the baby pulls it down and exposes the breast, I think people will feel more respected.
In the mean time, if you would like to open breast feed, you are more than welcome to use my house. Both Xan and I have no problem with it in our home. 🙂