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Misdirected Disgust

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Last Friday I had the opportunity to be a guest on the Dave Ross show on 710 KIRO talk radio in Seattle. Dave wanted to talk about the recent MySpace brouhaha over a picture of a nursing child on a mother's profile. We also had some general conversation about nursing in public and why people take issue with the use of breasts for nourishment.

While I was sitting here brainstorming some points to make on the show, one thought popped into my mind that I really hadn't addressed before.

Why all the misdirected disgust?

Here's what I mean by that. In general, when the whole breastfeeding in public debate comes up, we hear a lot of detractors talking about how "gross" and "inappropriate" it is to nurse in public. We also hear lots of accusations about moms "whipping it out" and claims that nursing mothers are simply exhibitionists trying to get their kicks by flashing their nipples in public. Us moms tend to do a lot of defending by making points about it being a natural way to feed our child, by making claims that nearly all moms go out of their way to be discreet and by claiming that children have the right to eat when and where they're hungry.

Those are all good points...but I can't help but wonder what the reaction might be if we turned it around a little.

What if WE started acting appalled and disgusted by the people that equate breastfeeding with sex. What if instead of defending ourselves, we made comments like

"Well I'm quite concerned that the sight of a child eating turned that man on...I just don't know how to react to that."


"Why is this woman staring at my breasts? I don't understand what the attraction is...I mean I understand the attraction for my child, but why is she so fascinated by them?"

What kind of world do we live in where we demonize the moms that feed their children and give free pass to the people that equate eating time with "dirty sex"? I have a feeling that if we responded that way, more people might start shifting their tactics away from the "ooohhh!!! naked breast = sex = baaaaaaaaaad" line of thinking and and back toward "well, I'm just uncomfortable" with it which makes it more clearly THEIR issue and to which the perfect response is "well, there are lots of other directions to look."


  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:27 PM |  

    I totally agree with maybe turning the tables a little bit. Why are they looking at us nurse if it bothers them so much? They do have other places they could be looking. I have 2 kids who were both breastfed full time ,anytime and anywhere and I remember getting some dirty looks, usually from women who didnt HAVE kids, and Ive even been asked to go nurse somewhere else. But Ive never gotten up and moved and my kids dont like having there faces covered while they were nursing, but I never had my breasts hanging out or nipples exposed to the world. So, if it really bothers someone, its more conveniant for them to get up and move than the woman with a baby trying to eat. So, let them stare if they want to stare. And if it bothers them, they can simply look away. It doesnt bother me any. When my kids are hungry, they get to eat.

  2. Blogger Hanmee | 6:43 AM |  

    Are you kidding me? Someone actually had a problem with a nursing pic on MySpace of all places??!

    When I started one of my blogs a few years ago, I looked at a few sites. One of them was MySpace. I didn't know anything about them at the time, but when I was searching the site, I didn't get the greatest impression of them because all I saw were people who posted pictures of themselves in seductive poses and obviously looking to put themselves out there sexually. So I find the idea that a nursing picture is a offensive absolutely ridiculous.

    I'm conservative, but I'm not a prude. It just reeks of disperation when all these people (mostly young women) post half nake pictures of themselves on the Internet just to get what they deem positive feedback from random people.

  3. Anonymous amygeekgrl | 7:57 AM |  

    i couldn't agree more. maybe if we all start reframing the way we react, we could make THEM feel uncomfortable. they are obviously the ones w/ the problem. the tables need to be turned.

  4. Blogger Ashley C aka Kitten | 9:26 AM |  

    Well said!!

  5. Blogger sajmom | 10:37 AM |  

    Yeah, I always felt that (considering how discreet I was feeding in public) if someone was staring hard enough to catch a flash of nipple, it was ME who should be offended, not them!!

  6. Anonymous Towanda, Amazonian Jungle Temptress | 2:53 PM |  

    One of my girlfriends said something about how you can't post pictures of you breastfeeding your kids, but there are plenty of pictures of teenaged girls in their underwear on Myspace. Her closing comment: "Fascism is fun!" Oh, I have seem some extremely offensive stuff on Myspace ... comments disparaging other cultures and skin colors, extremely graphic sexual stuff, and let's not forget how annoying the spammy stuff is. But show a picture of a woman feeding her child naturally? SCANDAL!

    I belong to a slightly crunchy mom group, and it has come up more than once that it's not that people are uncomfortable with breasts being sexual, they're uncomfortable with them being nonsexual.

  7. Blogger Idun | 9:41 AM |  

    I think you're so right. What's been bopping around in my head (and to friends, who are shocked to hear me using this language) is this: if breasts are sexual, then bottles and pacifiers are dildos. People should be up in arms about innocent young children going around using dildos in public!

    - Katy

  8. Blogger analisa_roche | 3:50 PM |  

    I'm on it! Great thinking!

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