Every so often celebrities bravely campaign to “normalize” breastfeeding by doing it in public. The idea: movie stars, models and whatever the hell Kardashians are can help remove the stigma around breastfeeding in public.
Despite breastfeeding being as normal and natural as it gets, this movement to remove the shame some women feel about feeding their children is actually necessary. Whole bunches of people can’t stomach the sight of a woman breastfeeding in public!
Who are these folks making women feel shame over feeding their kids? I guarantee you, most of them have behaved far worse in public. We all have.
First, context matters. Whether you’re a Bible Belt prude who thinks it’s indecent or a misogynistic man-child who only likes to see grown men sucking on boobs, take a step back and think about what’s actually happening. Even if you somehow think it’s gross on a visceral level (to which I say: GROW UP), the act itself – a parent nourishing their child in the most basic, biological way – is anything but. It’s pretty much a miracle that it’s even possible.
Second, each and every one of us witnesses acts far more objectionable than breastfeeding in public on a daily basis (as if breastfeeding were objectionable at all). And none of those have the benefit of keeping babies alive.
Common Public Activities Worse Than Breastfeeding in Public
- Nose-picking: Not only is it gross to see, the person caught doing it is ashamed to be caught in the act; as they should be! Whereas even if you think breastfeeding is gross (GROW UP), there is certainly no shame in it, but digging into your nose in public is childish behavior that should stop in the third grade.
BENEFIT: Convenience and comfort, I guess? Saving money on tissues? I suppose you could eat it, but holy shit please don’t!
- Crotch-adjusting/scratching – Keep it on the baseball field, guys. You know, where there are cameras everywhere and we can all leer.
BENEFIT: Comfort and … “comfort” ifyouknowwhatI’msaying.
- Fingernail clipping – This boggles my mind. It’s nasty. Just the sound of it is disturbing. And babies can’t even eat fingernails. They’ll probably try because babies are IDIOTS, but there’s just no protein!
BENEFIT: I can’t even think of an upside to doing this in full view of other people. Letting them know you’re not a vampire?
- Spitting – There aren’t many bodily fluids I want to see you expel in public, and even though spit is probably one of the least offensive (please, don’t make me list the rest), watching your saliva hit the ground is much worse than seeing a woman feed her child.
BENEFIT: Relief from phlegm? And it’s a handy way to communicate contempt when you can’t think of a clever comeback.
- Smoking – It smells. It kills you. It can kill those you expose to it. If you don’t like dealing with other people’s children, you certainly don’t want to deal with other people’s cancer.
BENEFIT: Lightheadedness. Eventually sounding like Vin Diesel. Looking super cool. I won’t be sarcastic and say lung cancer. I won’t. (Throat cancer.)
- Eating fast food – This is like the opposite of breastfeeding a child. Instead of keeping someone alive with natural, beneficial ingredients, you’re killing yourself with toxic ingredients. And it’s all over your face. Seriously. There’s special sauce in your chin-strap, bro. And on your shirt. And your pants. There’s just no elegant way to eat this stuff. We truly shouldn’t be allowed to do it out in the open.
BENEFIT: Convenience. Multitasking (it’s also a laxative). And you’ve actually motivated me to never go into another McDonald’s again. So, thanks?
- Urinating – Sure, most of us don’t whip it out or squat in the middle of a restaurant, but we men definitely line up at urinals and/or troughs (been to Fenway Park recently?) to do the deed. You’re telling me seeing someone breastfeed a tiny, helpless human being is more objectionable than rubbing shoulders with someone who’s spraying piss into a bucket?
BENEFIT: Convenience. Comfort. Writing in the snow.
- Twerking – Is this craze over yet? Seriously, stop shaking your ass in my face.
BENEFIT: I don’t have the slightest fucking clue. Exercise?
By way of contrast:
- Breastfeeding – This partial exposure of one of the most sought-after parts of the human body seems to infuriate and offend countless idiots. It’s neither indecent exposure nor something anyone flaunts. You can’t see much of anything unless you’re looking, either because most women cover with purposely with a blankie or incidentally with the child’s head/body. It’s a means to an end. Oh, and that end?
BENEFIT: Keeping a helpless human being alive.
Have a little perspective, people. The only thing that needs to be normalized is the behavior of anyone who feels the need to give a nursing mother grief.
A version of this first appeared on Dad and Buried.