With a recent storm in the media about breastfeeding in public I really felt compelled to share this, because it’s not often that my husband and I disagree on breastfeeding.
If you didn’t know a BBC radio presenter recently opened a ‘debate’ on his how about breastfeeding in public where he made comments that he had to speak up on behalf of all men and let breastfeeders know it was ‘offensive and made men uncomfortable’ so should only be done in private or in a toilet whilst out and about, like other bodily functions. Now the day I agree that breastfeeding is a bodily function like defecating or urinating is the day that someone orders a shit sandwich with a pint of piss to wash it down. They are NOT the same, and that is something that my husband and I agree on. What surprised me was that he does agree it makes men uncomfortable when they see a woman breastfeeding.
Now before you, fellow breastfeeders, reach for your pitch fork and prepare to hunt down my relic of a husband, let me explain. When I asked him what he meant he said that he felt uncomfortable when he saw a woman breastfeeding in a cafe or out and about because he was worried that she would think he was staring at her breasts and would say something to that effect, he didn’t want to make her uncomfortable and in feeling that way, became uncomfortable himself. I said to him that there was always the option of, you know, not looking, and he said ‘I wouldn’t be, but you know when you catch someone’s eye, or you notice that someone is doing something so your eye is drawn. It’s just innocent and usually it would be a smile as someone adjusted their jeans or untucked a shirt, but if it were a woman putting away a nipple or unclamping her bra… Well, I just don’t want to be accused of doing something wrong and I’ve been given a dirty look before because I looked up at the wrong time in the wrong place’. I have to say, I have never really given that perspective much thought. My initial response was to say ‘get a grip, no woman cares if you look’, but then I started reading various posts about breastfeeding in public and if it wasn’t some stupid anti-feeding woman claiming women should ‘cover up’ because she didn’t want her husband to see someone else’s boobs, it was a pro-feeder responding to that with ‘can’t your pervert husband control himself’. Is a wonder my hubby (who is very supportive of feeding, in public and at home) has felt this fear of being accused of doing something wrong?
Breasts are so over sexualised in the media that quite often women over sexualise them too. What happens if a man looks at your breasts? Are you offended? Why? We spend a lot of time as breastfeeding mums making it apparent that we don’t want breasts to be sexualised, they are for feeding babies, so why would we be offended if we caught someone looking anymore than if they were looking at our hands? Anyone who stares overtly at any part of your anatomy would make you uncomfortable but why would someone get upset about a passing glance?
I asked my husband if he felt breastfeeding should only be done in the home and he said of course not, baby’s hungry, baby’s got to be fed. It’s that simple, he did add though that he wished there was less of a ‘don’t like it, don’t look’ culture because people are nosey by nature and if they look, it doesn’t mean they are judging or sexualising. They just happened to look up at the wrong time.
So, thoughts? Is he being silly to feel this way, or is it true that we need to remember our own stance on breasts not being sexual objects and remember not to get offended if someone happens to look, hey, maybe they are looking at a beautiful bond between mama and baby and thinking of their on families?