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Thursday, November 30, 2006I've been thinking about this for a few weeks...starting just before our nurse-in here at the Port Columbus airport. I wondered what I might say to the press or to folks that stopped to ask us what was going on.
Now I realize that I'm probably not the first one to think or say this, but I think it really needs to be reiterated.
It's not about a mother's right to breastfeed. (stick with me here...) I think that by putting so much focus on the woman and her rights, we end up losing the battle with those who have puritanical values. It's easy enough for people to tell a woman that they should "respect" other people (ironic, eh?) or that they should "plan ahead" (always said by people that have never breastfed).
So if it's not about a mothers' right to breastfeed, what is it about?
It's about a baby's right to eat.
Seriously. I've found that when you change the perspective from mothers' rights to babies' rights, you tend to win people over more quickly and more easily. After all, while people wouldn't think twice about asking a grown woman to inconvenience herself, most people understand the ridiculousness of expecting a baby or toddler to do the same. While we've made this a battle for the women's movement, we need to be making it a battle for children's rights.
It's not that a mother has the right to breastfeed wherever she might be, it's that the baby has the right to EAT wherever that baby might be.
It's not that mom shouldn't have to cover herself up, it's that the baby has the right to eat without a blanket over their head.
It's not about mom not having to skulk away and hide, it's about baby being able to enjoy the world while enjoying a meal.
I know it's simply semantics, but I can't help but wonder if we might see more progress if we changed our focus as Lactivists. The mothers' rights and needs that we should be campaigning for are the right to good information from health care providers, the right to access lactation consultants and peer counselors and the right to express milk during the work day. The fight to breastfeed in public without being harrassed needs to morph into the simple "fight" to allow a child to eat in public without being harrassed.
Again, when we make it about the woman, it's very easy for other adults to write that woman off. After all, adults are inconvenienced on a daily basis by this or that. It's easy to say "well it's not too much to ask" (even if it is.) But when we're talking about children...well it's a lot harder for an adult to write off a child's need to eat without REALLY looking like a colossal jerk. ;)
What do you think? It it pure semantics, or is this a shift in focus that we need to see in the Lactivist community? Do we stand to make more progress by focusing on the rights and needs of the child rather than on the rights and needs of the mother?