Thursday, March 1, 2012

Why Breastfeeding Should Be Seen

Being a proponent of the idea that boobs should not be R-rated and that breastfeeding is an obviously beneficial choice for both woman and child, I greatly enjoyed a recent guest post on Ph.D. in Parenting, "Why SEEING breastfeeding on Facebook, and in real life, is important." The socially-accepted sexualization of women and their bodies is perpetuated by the patriarchal rape culture in which we live, and creates many unintended problems, such as the stigmatization of breast feeding.

Breastfeeding advocate Emma Kwasnica addresses the stigmatization of breastfeeding women specifically in regards to the continuing censorship of breastfeeding images on Facebook:

I'd just like to talk a bit about the bigger picture here. When Facebook takes this stance against breastfeeding images, it stigmatizes breastfeeding women, and shames women into thinking that their breasts are much, much less than the amazing life-giving source they are. Nipplephobia has reached epic proportions here in North America, and this is to the supreme detriment of babies everywhere.

...I've said this before, and I'll say it again: as a childbirth professional, but also as a woman, in general, it is absolutely crucial that one support ALL women to breastfeed their young.

Quite simply, this is about re-normalizing breastfeeding.

The more we hide it away, classify it as obscene, shame mothers into covering up while feeding, and encourage women to retire to "private" rooms in order to breastfeed the baby, the less we see of it in public, and the less and less people are comfortable with the very idea of nursing in public. This is the sad reality of this pathologically hyper-sexualized (yet sexually repressed…) North American culture of ours.

The solution seems quite simple to me; breastfeeding (and/or images of breastfeeding) need to be seen every day. I am convinced that SEEING more breastfeeding, wherever possible, is what will change our breastfeeding culture. Re-normalize it. There is no law prohibiting women from breastfeeding in public. And so women should do it. And they should feel completely free to do it. Lots of it. As much as possible.
Read the rest, including Emma's call for action on the original post.

And if you're still unconvinced that this sort of thing doesn't affect women's perceptions of breastfeeding, keep in mind that 50% of women choose not to breastfeed for no other reason than that they have a bad impression of it and don't want to do it (according to the many health professionals & doctors I've seen over the past several months).

You can read about the benefits of breastfeeding as outlined by the US Department of Health for yourself and see why this is a practice that should be encouraged, not stigmatized.

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Super Dave said...

Women should be free to breast feed their children in public.

I have seen women do it very tastefully in public. It’s the feeding of a child which is very important and nothing more.

People need to stop being so anal

Teaismgirl said...

So true. It's interesting that in the US (first baby) I was very timid about nursing in public and in Germany (second baby) I thought nothing of it (on the train, in a restaurant, in an art gallery, park bench, etc). I may have changed, but being in an accepting culture also helped. I also don't like putting a towel over the baby's head. Do we want to eat with a blanket on our heads? I do hope nursing in public becomes more of the norm or is at least accepted.