Whenever I lose my way, wondering if I am expecting too much of workplaces or the community or legislation or public places, I think about this photo. This breastfeeding mother should be our benchmark. Until mothers everywhere can incorporate breastfeeding seamlessly into their lives, until mothers can breastfeed and be whole members of our society, until mothers can breastfeed and talk to the leaders of their country at the same time.. we will not have gone far enough.
Harassing women for their choices about feeding their babies? Inexcusable. Mothers who bottle-feed should never be the targets of judgementalism and crusading. Individualism lets institutional reform and collective responsibility off the hook while hanging some poor exhausted mother out to dry. But when we think the breastfeeding campaign has gone too far bear this in mind..
Show me the women who are losing their jobs for formula feeding.
Show me the women who are being kicked out of restaurants, swimming pools, gyms, childcare centres, and airplanes for formula feeding.
Show me the immigrant women whose babies are removed because, among other things, they planned to formula feed.
Show me the women who have been ordered to cease or interrupt formula feeding by family courts.
Show me the people who, on seeing a bottle pulled out in a public place, will wrinkle their nose and say in disgust, “Are you going to do that here?”
Show me the people who won’t allow infant formula in an office fridge because it could be carrying disease.
Show me the people who insist that bottles of infant formula should be covered with a brown paper bag so as not to gross bystanders out.
Show me the people who insist that all bottle feeding should be covered with a blanket, you filthy sluts.
The feminist campaign to allow women the full freedom to breastfeed is about all of us. It is not really about the choices of individual mothers and their babies. It is about women being considered as important.. as fucking normal as men. We are all made stronger when a woman can breastfeed, in public, as a member of her community, while getting shit done. Because when that happens it says that women belong, it says that women’s bodies belong, it says that women are here.
Breastfeeding being seen as disgusting and inappropriate is part of a much wider sickness in our culture. You do not have to be a breastfeeder – you do not have to have the desire to ever breastfeed nor even the breasts to do it with – to benefit from a collective voice against the ‘othering’, shaming, objectifying and dehumanising of our bodies. Because exclusion is exclusion.
(Also, the term ‘nazi’ is really pretty offensive – regardless of who you’re getting riled up with I don’t think you should attach it to anybody except actual Nazis, and I’d extend that caution to a few other words that are used in describing breastfeeding activists, too. If in doubt, stick with the adjectives ‘fucking annoying’ instead).