Friday, January 7, 2011

Oh We Don't Believe Your Obscenity Excuse

Did you know some people actually try to claim that breastfeeding is offensive or sexual? Check out this post about breastfeeding and obscenity:

Have you ever taken a moment to sit down and think this claim through? If a child is suckling at your breast, can you describe exactly what is offensive, obscene, sexual or private about this? This isn't me being cheeky. I encourage everyone to stop and think about this for a moment.

So I thought I should share this little gem of a story.

I was browsing the magazine aisle at Target, looking for gardening magazines. Prominently placed on a wingstack in the middle of the aisle was the newest Sports Illustrated. From what I gather it was the annual swimsuit edition. I was standing next to it, grubbing about for Organic Gardening (irony here?) when DD (Dear Daughter) made her milk sign.

I quickly latched her on and went back to searching. It should be noted here that although I support NIP (Nursing in Public) in any form, I did happen to be nursing at this moment rather discreetly, since I was wearing my favorite nursing shirt.

Anyways, a passing customer decided to say that I was disgusting, obscene and "couldn't do that here!"

What a perfect moment! I pointed at the magazine and said, "If she can be here, I can be here."

The cover image of the magazine at Target
How I typically nurse

Upon further reflection, it's very distressing that when women use their breasts to feed their children, people make it sexual. It's really creepy, actually. Is this some expression of widespread pedophilia or infantile sexuality? Whenever someone tries to insinuate that my act of nursing my children is sexual, I wonder if they perhaps have an issue with sexual fetishes. One doth protest too much, yes?

Additional thought: how can female breasts be MORE sexual than male breasts? Female breasts have two functions: feeding an infant (non-sexual) and erogenous foreplay (sexual). But male breasts only have one function in our culture: erogenous foreplay. So therefore, logically we should demand that men cover their breasts and nipples at all times. And therefore we should be more lenient towards lactating mothers as they are fulfilling a non-sexual function when nursing.

Yet what do we have in our culture instead of the above common sense? Males can walk around topless while females attempting to feed their children are harassed, some even at risk of being wrongly arrested, kicked out of public areas and deleted on social networking sites.

I snapped a photo of this ad at my local mall.
But this photo is obscene, sexual or offensive?
If at one time you said nursing should be private, or that nursing offended you, or that nursing is an obscene/sexual act, take a moment to ask yourself why you sexualize an infant eating his dinner while normalizing the objectification of women for advertisement and male pleasure.

Selling beer is acceptable.
Nourishment and comfort is not?


  1. Got to love you! i have been in those shoes!! People need to learn that breasts were meant to feed and nurture our children..anything else is extra! I double football fed my twins in public and dared anyone to challenge that!

  2. I thought the same thing last year when I overheard old woman talking about how 'inappropriate' I was being nursing my daughter (half in a tent mind you) on the beach. There were boobs falling out all over the place! Why were mine such an issue?

  3. If_Walls_Could_Talk: that's awesome. I can imagine myself jumping up and down and pointing at string bikinis like a raving lunatic haha.

  4. Was that pic of your tandem nursing your LOs deleted from FB?!?! ARGH!

  5. that is the most brilliant argument I have ever heard

  6. I uploaded a couple of tasteful images of wife breastfeeding our baby son to Photobucket. They were soon deleted! Some members of modern Society are certainly screwed up.

  7. I am only offended by YOU breastfeeding because you are an ugly hate filled little bitch and I find you disgusting.

  8. I LOVE this post!!! I couldn't agree more :) Thank you.

  9. In my clinical studies, I came to realize that when people feel the need to say to say hurtful things, it is often times because they are projecting their inner feelings about themselves onto others.

    So I just wanted you to know that although you use the word ugly, you are not an ugly person. I'm sure you are quite beautiful.

    And although you use the term hate-filled, you are not hate-filled. You are lovable and you are capable of love.

    And although you use the term bitch, that is reserved for certain female dogs. You are a human being, not a dog.

    I find you to be a hurting person, but I'm sure deep inside you have kindness and love to share, too. I hope one day you are able to resolve whatever is causing your projection and insecurity so that you, too, can feel loved and love others.


  10. Love this post. So perfectly stated, and filled with such perfect sense. I love your point about topless men. So true! I just may print this out and keep it on hand for those moments when someone calls me "disgusting" or tells me that I'm harming my child by breastfeeding.

    I'm often baffled by that whole "breastfeeding is sexual/inappropriate" argument. I just want to say "I can separate babies and sex. If YOU can't, then aren't YOU the one with the problem?"

  11. I couldn't agree more! :) I never held back from NIP when I had to! Of course, I am discreet but I didn't use a blanket/cloth/etc to cover my child's head...
    I think its wonderful you're proudly breastfeeding and tandem as well! Esp. because you look so young! hehe I applaud you :D
    I breastfed continuously for a little over 10 yrs - 3 children; my last weaned about 1½ yrs old... he's 5 yrs old now... my oldest is 12. I don't regret a moment! :)

  12. I think people take offense because it isn't sexual at all. People aren't sexualizing breastfeeding--if it were sexy people wouldn't take pause with it. People take offense to it (me included, and I'm a woman) because people like you have to make it into an elaborate show. Why can't you excuse yourself to use the bathroom? Why can't you step aside to a private location to share this intimate moment with your child? Why do you need to do it in an open location and take pictures and post it? If it is truly such an intimate moment with your infant, why would you want to go out of your way to share it with the world? If it were sexy it would be accepted. If I saw someone eating a meal while watching the opera I would find it offensive too--that is not the time or place even though it is someone doing something as natural as nourishing themselves. What about sex? People doing something as natural and basic as creating life? Should people do this completely natural act in public? No. Use discretion. Same with breastfeeding. It's necessary, but it doesn't have to be done everywhere, in the way you do it. And no one is sexualizing it. Believe me, if people found it sexy they wouldn't complain about it. It just seems disrespectful to others, and to your infant who you should be sharing an intimate moment with.

  13. Anonymous, what a good point! I agree, I think when you eat food, it's not sexual at all. If you were sexy while eating food, people wouldn't find fault with it. People take offense to you eating in public, b/c people like you have to make it into an elaborate show. Why can't you excuse yourself to eat in the bathroom? Why can't you step aside to a private location to eat intimately? Why do you need to eat in an open location or take pictures of you and your friends eating and then post it onto your personal profile or blog?

    If it was sexy for you to eat, it would be accepted. If I saw someone eating in the foodcourt at the mall, I would be offended, too. That is not the time or the place, even though you are doing something as natural as nourishing yourself.

    What about sex? People doing something as natural and basic as creating life? Should people do this completely natural act in public? No. Use discretion. Same when you want to eat in public. It's necessary, but it doesn't have to be done everywhere, in the way you do it. And no one is sexualizing it. Believe me, if people found it sexy for your to eat, they wouldn't complain about it. It just seems disrespectful to others, and to your eating companions who you should be sharing an intimate moment with.

    Think feeding an infant is offensive? Feel free to eat YOUR meal in the bathroom.

  14. Guggie I love you. Haha! Seriously though great post. And I love how you handled that woman! It is really messed up too that women seem to have the most issue with breastfeeding! That signals there is something VERY wrong in this country.

    You know I honestly think too that sometimes it may be because women are insecure. Like women don't want their men looking at other naked females. So even though you are only feeding a baby their insecurites pop out and they think "OMG I wouldn't want my husband looking at that!"

    Obviously this plays right back into the sexualization of everything. But to me it would seem a woman who was comfortable with her own body wouldn't have as much of an issue with this.

    Of course there are the women who really do think it is disgusting. :/ Which just shows as usual how many messed up people there are in this world..

  15. You look so much more beautiful breast feeding your baby than any photo shopped tramp on the cover of a magazine. Good on you!

  16. wow Guggie, I am so sorry that people feel the need to come on your blog and treat you so bad. Nursing is not offensive. Babies get hungry fast and rarely are willing to wait till the "appropriate" time or place. by the time one is viewing an Opera, hopefully one is old enough to eat first and have a more complex digestive tract and cerebral cortex, so that they can wait, but, if a brittle diabetic were at the opera, would you begrudge them the sustenance hey need to make it through a show? People are getting weirder. way to go guggie!

  17. To be photographed in the scantiest of string bikinis, wearing a come hither face, helps sell ads in Sports Illustrated. The unspoken USA norm is that it is acceptable for a woman to reveal her charms, if her doing so helps ring some cash register and grease the wheels of commerce. Feeding her child fails this test, and so it is deemed indecent.

    Here in New Zealand, women nurse in public routinely, and no one remarks on it. Leering men, and women who have internalised the male leer, simply do not call the tune. When a woman feeds her child and I am within 50 feet, I look in another direction. If we are in conversation, I sit beside her, not in front of her. Life goes on.

  18. Loved this! Sharing on my facebook wall. :)

  19. I think Earth Mama hit a valid point, right on the head! My husband has a sister that is SO insecure that she has caused uproars over the simplest interactions between her husband and even the remotely pretty of girls. Like to the point where she's gone so far off the deep end that you wonder if she should be hospitalized! They can't live places or visit places where girls/women might even possibly show a little flesh. I couldn't imagine breastfeedding my 23 month old in front of her for fear of causing her to flip her sh!t and accuse of nafarious things. The 2 times I visited them I went out to my car rather than stay in their mother's house. It was more comfortable for me. Plus my inlaws have that 'its perverted' mindset and I don't want to deal with their drama and put a negative spin on what nourishes my child. Everywhere else its free reign. (And I do it modestly).

  20. I too found it odd that women are often the biggest protesters to NIP...I'd never thought about the insecurity part:) Unfortunately, our society has fostered this culture so that women are consistently told they're it sexually, careerwise, or maternally. I thank my stars for my amazing mother who preached self-worth from with-in. I'm so over apologizing for nursing when my baby is hungry. My new response when people make comments is to inform them of how disrespectful they're being to ME and my child, not the other way around. As mothers we have enough to worry about....I will not give up my precious time in public because people can't get over themselves. I'm done:) Thanks Guggie for your intelligent, kind, and well-framed thoughts!