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Wednesday, April 25, 2007Lactivist reader Cori sent me a late night email to point out the story about Massachusetts mom Melissa Tracy and a run in she had with management while nursing at an iParty store in Weymouth.
From the Boston Herald:
"He stood over me and said you can't do that here," Dr. Melissa Tracy recalled of the party-pooper manager. "I've never felt that badly before."
Tracy, 40, a cardiologist practicing in Brockton, was shopping on Friday for her daughter Isabell'’s 4th birthday party when she said 2-month-old Tristan got hungry and began to cry. "Rather than let him become hysterical, I sat down on the floor and breast-fed him," Tracy said.
The Enterprise reports:
Within five minutes, the store manager, identified only as Dave, came up to Tracy, a mother of two.
"He said, 'You have to stop doing that. You can't do that here in the store. I don't think it would be good for children to see you," Tracy said.
Oh yes, we wouldn't want children, who have no yet learned that breasts are only ok if they're being used to sell something, to see breasts being used for one of their natural purposes. Oh the emotional scarring that would produce! Besides, if children recognize breastfeeding as a natural function as breasts, how will marketers use them to entice purchases down the road?
The entire world as we know it would come to a screeching halt!
The story goes on to say:
Tracy later spoke to the regional manager and again to the store manager, who apologized for the incident, she said. The company offered her a $25 gift card, which she refused.
"We regret that this happened, really," Dorice Dionne, founder of iParty Corp., said Monday.
"It's not what we would have liked (the manager) to have said, and we're sorry, we're disappointed that he did," Dionne said.
Dionne said the company "will make our managers aware that women might need to have some private space and to see how that can be accommodated."
"This is something that we need to include in manager training, to have more sensitivity, how to handle this more courteously and sensitively," Dionne said.
Hmm...apparently the going rate for being publicly humiliated is $25. That sounds about right...
On the other hand, I am glad to see that iParty says it plans to educated managers about breastfeeding, though I'd am NOT pleased to see the line about how women need some "private space" as those types of things imply that the private space is the ONLY place to nurse. Additionally, there is no need to "handle this" in any way, courteous or not. How about just doing nothing, the same way you would if mom pulled out a bottle in the store?
Let's continue on with that "private space" issue for a moment though since the coverage from WHDH-TV includes comments from the mother on that topic:
After being asked to leave the store, Tracy called the corporate office, which apologized and offered her a gift certificate. Tracy refused however, saying that what they want is for companies to provide areas for breast-feeding if it is a problem.
I have to admit, I was reading along with all these stories nodding my head going "right, right..." and then I saw that line and went "aww crap!"
Now, I think there's a very good chance that Ms. Tracy was misquoted or at least her quote is misrepresented, but I don't know her from Adam, so maybe it's not. Add in the fact that the iParty corporate response seems to address this issue as well and I'm thinking that their statement might be in response to this phrase.
(ETA: Just heard from Tanya at the Motherwear blog. She's spoken with the mom and has clarified that this is NOT what she meant when she spoke to reporters. Tracy wants to fight for legal protection for breastfeeding mothers, not have businesses create a private space to banish them to.)
Ok, it's fine and dandy (and actually fantastic) if a company wants to provide a nursing mom's room that mothers CAN go to. The problem with these types of rooms is that store management and even nursing moms often end up assuming that mothers MUST go there.
Can't say that I think that's going to push this movement ahead. I mean sure, it's better than nursing in the bathroom, but we're still acting like it's something that HAS to be hidden. Like with nursing covers, I have no problem with a mother going someplace quiet and private to nurse, if they want to.
Motherwear's Tanya points out that this is why Massachusetts needs some positive breastfeeding legislation.