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My Thoughts on the Lubbock Nurse-In

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.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

It's been awhile since I've had a chance to sit down and write a post on lactivism and what's been happening in that realm. I've been keeping an eye on what's been happening in Lubbock since I first got an email from a woman there last month.

If you hadn't heard, the city manager's office of Lubbock, Texas decided to censor an upcoming art display at the city owned Buddy Holly Center because it included pieces by Lahib Jaddo showing a breastfeeding mother and a nude pregnant woman.

Now first, I'd like to point out that in my humble opinion, it was probably the nude pregnant woman and not the fully clothed nursing mother that got the artist banned. Personally, I would have liked clarification on what actually prompted the uproar on the part of the city planners, but since they didn't share, I'll give lactivists the benefit of the doubt and look at this as if the breastfeeding was the (or even A) issue.

ETA - A Lubbock resident has pointed out in the comments that BOTH paintings were specifically banned. Thanks for the clarification. Disappointing, but not surprising.

When this first happened, I had an email from a woman who lives in Lubbock asking me about organizing a nurse in. Here's part of my response to her:

I'd actually suggest you shy away from a nurse-in. Nurse-ins are at risk of becoming yesterday's story. They were effective when they were used sparingly, but these days they're being called for any and every reason. That means if we, as breastfeeding activists want to continue to attract news coverage, we need to come up with more creative alternatives.

So, here's what I'd suggest. Have you considered approaching some local art galleries (even smaller, independent ones) about doing a "childbirth and breastfeeding" show? I've heard of one or two state breastfeeding coalitions doing this to raise money for charity. It might be an interesting approach. Especially if you can get the original artist on board as a headliner and find a charity (there's a milk bank in Austin) to partner with. You've already got great media leverage if you play this as a 'response' to the short sightedness of the city planners.

As you know, I tend to think nurse-ins should be reserved for the times when they are the most effective option...generally after quite a few other avenues have been explored first. Nurse-ins also need to take place with clear and concise goals. Otherwise you are simply protesting, you aren't seeking resolution.

There's a point to protesting of course, but it's the seeking of resolution that brings about real change.

The person I originally emailed with was interested in the idea of the art show, but by the time she'd responded to me, someone else was already planning a nurse in. I see now from an announcement on Mothering that the nurse-in is planned for tomorrow.

I see two problems with this on the strategy front.

1.) The nurse-in has no clear and stated goal. The announcement says "A clarification that breastfeeding pictures are not indecent or inappropriate, would be greatly appreciated," but that's closer to a "please sir, may I have some more" than an actual demand or goal.

2.) The city manager has already apologized to the artist and has invited her to exhibit at the Buddy Holly Center.

So...well...the problem has been solved. So why have a nurse-in and protest a decision they've already reversed and apologized for?

Isn't that called pouting?

Wouldn't it be far more productive to get the artist to return and to do a ton of positive press (and perhaps invite nursing mothers to the gallery event) around the reversal?

We have GOT to get past this "let's do a nurse-in" mentality if we want to push this movement forward. Nurse-ins have their place, but remember folks, they are NOT our first line of defense.

It's time to start thinking strategically and to start getting creative. It's time to remember that one tactic only works so many times before it gets boring. That means you can use it sparingly or you can start coming up with new tactics.

So tell me, if you were the queen of the lactivist universe (wouldn't that be a funny title on a business card?) what would you have done in response to the Lubbock situation?


  1. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 4:50 AM |  

    Jake Marcus, having read the press release issued by the Lubbock ACLU had this to say (and told me I could share it here.)

    "Where was the ACLU (and I write as a card carrying member) when this artist needed the legal help they could actually offer her? Censoring the artwork could have been challenged as a violation of her constitutional right to free expression prior to the art exhibit thus assuring that these sketches appeared. Instead the ACLU announced an apparently hastily prepared nurse-in by referencing a number of either inapplicable or non-existent laws. Assuming that breastfeeding law is relevant here at all (a stretch in my view since those laws refer to breastfeeding by a live person), federal law is inapplicable since this was not federal space and there simply is no law that "protect[s] the right of a mother to breastfeed sitting at her desk" at work. I have grave concerns that this nurse-in is just an attempt by the Lubbock Chapter of the ACLU to atone for failing to protect the artist's constitutional rights in the first place or perhaps an expression of frustration at the City of Lubbock having (if the news report I read is correct) made the artist legally whole again by offering her another show of the work. Whatever the ACLU's motivation, the extraordinary frequency with which the Texas public breastfeeding law is violated against actual breastfeeding women creates ample opportunity for meaningful breastfeeding advocacy in that state. This simply isn't one of those situations."

  2. Blogger Sarahbear | 6:23 AM |  

    I don't know that anything should be done. I don't really know a whole lot about the art world, but I'd assume that it would depend on what type of show was going on. I guess if the museum or whatever had stated that they would not be displaying artwork with nudity in it, they would be ok. It probably was the nude pregnant woman that got them to ban her though, I agree there.

    Seems like a really hasty decision to have a nurse in. It's also pretty stupid if the museum or whatever has already apologized and offered the woman another exhibit. It seems like IF there were going to be a nurse in, those would be the goals of having it.

    I guess that a lot of people really don't know what they can do, nor do they have the resources to help. They feel like protesting via nurse-in is something that they can do to make a difference.

  3. Blogger Natalie | 6:58 AM |  

    For a few years now I've been gathering my thoughts on nurse-ins. I can easily define myself as a lactivist, however, I couldn't see myself at a nurse-in. I couldn't really define or state how I felt about nurse-ins. I was at a loss for words when asked about them. Your post today nailed it on the head! I love your reasoning and approach you proposed! You're right. They should only be used as an absolute last resort.

    Honestly, I've never heard a postive thing said about nurse-ins when I've listened in on conversations. I would hear comments that would go something like this: "Nursing is the healthy thing to do. We all know that. But, these women are freaks with too much time on their hands." Or like this: "I support nursing, but, this isn't Europe. We're not comfortable with exposed breasts in this country. Just cover up. It's not that hard. I nursed each of my kids and found discreet, easy ways to nurse in public. These women at the nurse-in are setting a bad example and actually discouraging expectant mothers to nurse."

    So, thank you for your wonderful post today. It's helped me make sense out of my jumbled feelings about nurse-ins. I hope that nursing moms all over read your post and take a more conservative approach to nurse-ins!

  4. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 7:18 AM |  


    Don't mistake my post as me thinking we need to be more conservative than nurse-ins or that nurse-ins don't work.

    Nurse-ins (when used appropriately and sparingly) work to draw attention to an issue. The View nurse-in and the Delta nurse-in are two examples of very well planned and run events that sparked conversation and debate on a national level.

    There's inherent value to that type of action. I fully support nurse-ins when they are well organized and properly used.

    What I don't like is the automatic reaction of "let's have a nurse-in" every time someone does or says something negative about breastfeeding.

    When nurse-ins become our only, or even primary reaction, they lose their power. The national press will eventually get tired of covering nurse-ins. That means every nurse-in takes away the potential impact of a future nurse-in. It's one of those "know the power has limits, so stretch it out to make it most effective" lines of thinking.

    I come at this from a marketing strategy standpoint. Marketers have to continually change their strategies and messages because they know the public becomes tired of (and therefore immune to) them.

    This is what we need to do.

    We need new tactics and new techniques. We need creativity. We need rational thoughts and careful planning.

    Knee-jerk reactions and running to "the old standby" in terms of activism don't accomplish much in the grand scheme of things.

  5. Blogger Natalie | 7:45 AM |  

    Yes, I understood what you were saying. I got carried away using words such as "absolute last resort," and "conservative." I'm on the same track as you. Your marketing approach standpoint is dead-on.

  6. Blogger Rebecca | 8:12 AM |  

    Well, one thing that nurse-ins do accomplish, and which has not been mentioned here or in other criticisms I have read, is that it draws people into activism. Social movements are always challenged by the inertia and apathy of the general public. Individuals feel powerless to do anything. Participating in a protest can make those individuals feel energized, empowered, and connected to a broader community of concerned citizens.

    Think about how commonly -- and for what apparently trivial reasons -- student activists during the 1960s held sit-ins. Yes, they got mocked as being cliche and overused. But these frequent local actions were a key part of the build-up of a massive social movement that eventually stopped a war.

    So whether or not a given nurse-in is probably going to be effective in accomplishing a given short-term goal, I think frequent nurse-ins have a social function that is vital to the growth of our social movement -- mobilizing individual participation in public action.

  7. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:38 AM |  

    I can't say how much I agree with Jennifer. Just this last year we have had several poorly planned and fuzzy nurse-ins with ill-defined goals. Some done even before obvious attempts to work with management or corporate offices for change had been done. I am wholeheartedly for them when all other avenues have been exhausted, but if you just want to party with your nursing buddies --go to a LLL meeting!

  8. Blogger Mommy's Getaway | 10:34 AM |  

    My feeling on this...I lived in Lubbock for 7 years. They don't like breastfeeding moms. You have heard of the expression Bible Belt. Well, consider Lubbock to be the belt buckle, or perhaps, the backside of the belt. While nurse-ins should be used sparingly, the so-called apology from the Mayor (whom I met and really is a 'true' politician), I know for a FACT is crap - he didn't mean it and it was used for publicity and the fact that he REFUSES to comment on how breastfeeding moms are treated there, makes me think that he is just blowing smoke so he doesn't get a bad name - and the City Manager (whom is new since I left Lubbock) who DIDN'T even BOTHER to actually apologize to the artist (she just had an 'apology' typed in a news press release along with a bunch of other items); I really feel like this nurse-in might do some good.

    However Jake Marcus has a very good point - is the Lubbock Chapter of the ACLU just using this to further their own agenda?

    p.s. I am sorry for the super-run-on sentence there. I hope it makes sense.

  9. Anonymous Jake | 11:53 AM |  

    Mommy's Getaway, I am sure you are right about the insincerity of the official apology. And it is shocking that a municipal body in the U.S. in 2007 (when this happened) would think it is legal to ban art on the basis of nudity. The City of Lubbock didn't change its policy on the display of art because the city is run by good people - it changed its policy because it was informed that it was breaking the law. A nurse-in is not going to make the apology any more heartfelt. What then is the true goal of a nurse-in in this situation? What is the demand? Effective protest is not just yelling about wrong but about demanding change. What is the demand here (and let's remember one has to demand something that the offending party has the power to give)?

    If the ACLU had filed the appropriate legal action for this artist in the first place, the censorship could not have taken place (and please anyone feel free to educate me if there is something I don't know but the ACLU press release makes no mention of legal action). That legal action would have been about freedom of expression, not breastfeeding (please folks, hold your pumping jokes). So what has the ACLU done for this artist?

    People in Lubbock who care about breastfeeding need to focus their energies on the violations of the rights of breastfeeding women. Why not protest effectively when the Texas public breastfeeding law is actually violated? It certainly happens often enough.

    I understand that breastfeeding advocates in Lubbock could benefit as individuals from the experience of coming together and expressing their rage. But the view from outside Lubbock is that "those women" are at it again and this time they are complaining about a wrong that has already been made right. That makes us all less legitimate as political actors and the world less likely to pay attention when a women is truly wronged.

  10. Blogger Ali | 3:44 PM |  

    I respectfully disagree with Rebecca, who asserts that nurse-ins draw people into activism.

    My experience has been that the vast majority of those who attend nurse-ins never follow through with any other productive activity - like calling their representatives, or writing a letter to the editor, or joining their local breastfeeding coalition.

    I agree with Jennifer- nurse-ins are appropriate as a carefully considered and deliberate response under certain conditions. They've devolved into a joke at this point.

  11. Anonymous Natural-Birther of 3 | 7:56 PM |  

    Mommy's Getaway: As a curernt Lubbock resident, I could not agree with you more! I was invited to the nurse-in by several people, including a former doula-client. They know that I teach CBE and am a doula and lactation consultant as well as breastfeeding mother and "lactivist." In fact, I had some of my own lactivist shirts and onesies made up to sell at a local consignment event...lemme tell ya that only a couple of people whom I do not know personally have actually bought any shirts in Lubbock. On-line has been my best success for these items, and I think that it is for the reasons you stated. It is sad to me that because we do live in the "buckle" of the "bible belt" that so many people view breastfeeding in such a skewed and perverted way. My hopes would be that bible-belt-church-goers would recogonize breastfeeding as one of the most natural and important things a mother could do for her child and would support that God-given bond and nourishment. How do I show my lactivism? I nurse my 5mo old right smack dab in the middle of church every Sunday!:)

    I think that the original article here and Jennifer and Mommy's Getaway are dead-on. Thanks, y'all!
    (sorry for typos...having my own personal livingroom nurse-in! ha!)

  12. Blogger Chris | 8:40 PM |  

    Uh, I'm trying to think of something better to say than, "DITTO!"

    Even the well organized nurse-ins accomplished little beyond creating a brief news buzz. The View Vultures still spew their anti-breastfeeding nonsense and a year-and-a-half later, the Delta thing still hasn't been satisfactorily resolved, has it? I've lost track of that one.

    I so wish every single mom who attended a nurse-in would take the same time to write, call, and/or meet her state and federal lawmakers and seek support for better breastfeeding protection--really that would be so much more effective than spending the afternoon nursing at the mall, airport, or whatever.

  13. Anonymous breastfeedingmominlubbock | 6:39 AM |  

    Yes, it might be hard to imagine, but the city council person actually did try to ban two specific works of art by the same artist - the nude AND the breastfeeding woman as individual paintings were deemed "inappropriate".

    I'm a little surprised by your harsh criticism to be honest. Some of the other options you mentioned sounded like great ideas, but to call nursing mothers "pouting" because an "apology" was given does not make sense to me, and is offensive. If we are living in a town where one of our representatives thinks it is OK to ban a work of art beautifully portraying a mother nursing her baby, then we obviously have a ways to go before public breastfeeding is as accepted as it should be here.

    By the way, the nurse-in went off smoothly, with the Buddy Holly Center even providing extra chairs and snacks. From the news coverage I saw the community seemed very supportive, and it was a way for breastfeeding in public to get a little attention and support instead of being brushed under the rug.

    Again, I appreciate the suggestions for other actions. I just don't feel it's appropriate to call names when people in Lubbock are finally standing up for something as important as the right to breastfeed in public. Let's help each other out with suggestions, not call each other names!

    Also, what were the "number of non-existent laws" that the ACLU referred to? I'm pretty sure the only mistake was in reference to nursing at work. I saw some mistakes in your blog as well - you said you were pretty sure the breastfeeding work of art was not individually banned, well it was.

    Again, there might have been options to the nurse-in, but I'm just glad that a stand was taken in support of breastfeeding.

  14. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 7:09 AM |  

    breastfeedingmominlubbock, my response to you got too long, so I simply made it a new post.

    You'll find it here.

    As for the legal comments. I think you are mistaking Jake Marcus's posts for my own. She'll have to respond to your question on her points. I've dropped her an email and pointed her here.

  15. Anonymous Vince Gonzales | 9:21 AM |  

    I am the President of the Lubbock Chapter of the Lubbock ACLU. The ACLU did intervene on behalf of the artist and the banned art and wom on that issue. The issue of censorship gave rise to the voices of nursing mothers to unite and try to effect some change in the pervasive discriminatory attitude these women fell while nursing in Lubbock. These women united last night, the City turned the Buddy Holly Center into a nursing friendly environment and there has begun dialogue concerning the possiblity of a City ordinance related to penalizing businesses for discriminating against nursing mothers. We are on the way to doing that. This really began in September 2007 when the Woman to Woman blog started posting entries related to nursing discrimination...the art ban only broke the dam of these mothers' anger and frustration. The ACLU, because of its stance on the art censorship, felt it was appropriate to help organize this group of women into a cohesive group that could go out and do what they wanted to do...a nurse-in. These were not lactivists...they were mothers that want to do what is best for their children. They are not parts of your coalitions, they found their own voice and used it. We were not seeking to meet anyone's agenda but their own...and they have been successful so far. Perhaps removing the politics from the issue was a good thing.

  16. Anonymous Jake | 9:35 AM |  

    breastfeedingmominlubbock, what I wrote was "referencing a number of either inapplicable or non-existent laws" so "number" refers to both inapplicable and non-existent laws. The "number" is:

    (1) federal breastfeeding law (inapplicable because this was not federal space and because the law applies to breastfeeding people, not breastfeeding art)

    (2) Texas breastfeeding law (inapplicable because it applies to breastfeeding people, not breastfeeding art)

    (3) law protecting a right to breastfeed in the workplace (non-existent)

    The press release also refers to "numerous Supreme Court opinions" in a sentence that is a bit unclear. If the author means that there are U.S. Supreme Court decisions concerning censorship of art by state officials, then he is correct. If he is saying that there are federal Supreme Court decisions concerning breastfeeding, than that would count as another reference to non-existent law.

    Now all of this goes more to the embarrassing sloppiness of the press release than anything else (and I fully support Jennifer's newer entry on the press release itself). I don't think the ACLU was saying that the censorship actually broke breastfeeding law. From what I can figure reading the press release, the author is using law as a metaphor. Perhaps I am wrong. It is very unclear. He seems also to be saying that the law sets a standard of some sort even when it is not binding. Hmmm. Regardless, a representative of the ACLU should have gotten the law right. And, as I have written before, I do not understand why the ACLU, for many years the preeminent guardian of freedom of expression, would organize a protest around unlawful state censorship of art without talking about unlawful state censorship of art. As a lawyer, that is what angers me. As a breastfeeding advocate, I am angered by the aspects of this nurse-in that Jennifer (and I to some extent) have already discussed above.

    I want to be clear that I am not criticising the local breastfeeding women of Lubbock who were justifiably hurt and angry about the breastfeeding discrimination there. They don't necessarily have the ability to know the national context into which this kind of political activity fits. However organizations based outside of Lubbock made this nurse-in part of the national context by publicising it nationwide. Those organizations have an obligation to be more politically sophisticated. Even when the City of Lubbock was offering to work with the local protesters, someone made the decision to go ahead as if nothing had changed. This was an opportunity to make realistic demands (a city pro-breastfeeding ordinance, for example) which could have made the breastfeeding political issues concrete and set the stage for a longer, more meaningful political movement in Lubbock. What was needed was the involvement of someone with both breastfeeding political experience and a desire to help the women and children of Lubbock rather than simply grandstand for the press and go home. I fear that the women of Lubbock, justifiably upset by an act of censorship that symbolized a much larger problem in their lives, were used. I hope my fears are unfounded.

  17. Blogger Ethel | 11:17 AM |  

    I definitely would like to see fewer nurse-ins as protests. Nursing is not an act of revenge. It is an act of nurture. By using it as revenge, we cheapen the act of nurturing our children and enforce negative stereotypes that say that there is something wrong with nursing in public. Otherwise, how could nursing en masse be a threat? We need to quit saying that a group of nursing mothers is a threat, and start saying that a group of nursing mothers is beautiful.

    Wouldn't it be nice to, say, have a nurse-in done as a gathering of nursing mothers to say "Thank you" to all the people who have supported their right? How better to thank someone for defending your right than by exercising it? Wouldn't a world where a nurse-in was a positive, grateful action be much more beautiful than one where a nurse-in was a form of punishment against those who do not support nursing?

    A pro-breastfeeding charity art show would have been great. I think a revenge-style nurse-in does more to damage breastfeeding's image than the discrimination they are protesting - considering that the discrimination situation has already been resolved.

  18. Anonymous Jake | 1:30 PM |  

    It seems Mr. Gonzales and I were typing at the same time. :)

    I am very glad to read that discussions have begun concerning a city ordinance. That is very good news. I have been happy to read, both here and in e-mail I have received privately, that the Lubbock moms who attended the nurse-in are happy with how it went. I am also glad if the ACLU did file a legal action to protect this artist's rights, though from Mr. Gonzales' post above I can't tell whether he is referring to the nurse-in or some other act when he writes that "[t]he ACLU did intervene on behalf of the artist and the banned art and wom on that issue." [sic] What the ACLU did regarding the censorship is still unclear to me.

    I find it distressing that Mr. Gonzales draws a distinction between "lactivists" and "mothers that want to do what is best for their children." I certainly hope he is not implying that somehow these descriptions are mutually exclusive. And I don't know to what "coalitions" he is referring. The only political organization I have acknowledged membership in is the ACLU.

    With all due respect, Mr. Gonzales did not "remov[e] the politics from the issue." A nurse-in is a political action. When his press release explicitly tied the event it announced to breastfeeding discrimination in other parts of the country and the release was sent to national press, this nurse-in became a national political act. It is not reasonable to expect then that people nationwide who have an interest in this issue will not express their concerns with the way it was handled.

  19. Anonymous lovin'Lubbock | 4:00 PM |  

    I was struck by Ethel's post because the Lubbock evening news described the BHC nurse-in as just that.
    A chance for nursing mothers to thank the city for revisiting their selection of artwork for the museum and a chance to respectfully ask for more respect as breast feeding mother.

    I attended the Lubbock event and I can tell you it was BEAUTIFUL. Smiling nursing mothers mingling with supportive art patrons. It felt like the nursing mothers and their supporters were treated to a catered reception in our city art museum.
    I saw it as a chance for a "conversation" between Lubbock families and their community.

    I find it interesting that the only negative comments on this event are right here on this blog. The semantics of a nurse-in vs. a nursing rally may be discussed here endlessly but will have little relevance on the experience a nursing mother has in our community. The event last night (whatever you chose to call it) has already had a positive impact on these women. So keep debating the broader context of THE CAUSE but know that in little 'ol Lubbock nursing mothers and their children are in a better place today.

    As far as questioning the motives of the local ACLU you might want to visit the Mother to Mother blog on Lubbock online
    This is the blog of Shelly Gonzales wife to Vince. Yes its homespun small town complete with pictures of their darling children. It will give you some history of the issue in Lubbock but it will also make the case that the ACLU's involvement was completely above board.

    No doubt the cliche of nurse-ins will still be debated but I agree with Rebecca. This event made a difference! The organizers of the Lubbock event accomplished for this community what many activists dream of: An improved perception of breast feeding. They did it with out PR people, without lawyers and without big money. Pretty unsophisticated but very successful.

  20. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 5:41 PM |  


    VERY interesting perspective. While I'm not entirely sure a nurse-in does damage in terms of making breastfeeding a negative, your perspective is one that certainly needs to be considered.

    In fact, I read your post out loud at a meeting of the Ohio Breastfeeding Coalition today because it came in while we were on break. They all agreed it was a way they'd never looked at it before.

    I'm going to be thinking on this one now...

  21. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 10:20 AM |  


    I've now heard from several folks who attended that the atmosphere was cooperative and celebratory and very positive. It *does* sound like you all ended up with a nursing rally rather than a nurse-in.

    I think that's wonderful to hear. :) It's exactly what I would have preferred to have seen happen.

    I do wish, however, that a new press release had been issued so the outside world saw it as a nursing celebration rather than a nurse-in/protest.

    Within your Lubbock community, it came off and happened (and appears to have been represented) exactly as it should have been.

    However for those of us in the rest of the country with only things like the press release and what little news coverage we've found to shape our opinions of what happened, it very much looked like a nurse-in/protest was planned.

    I think that's one of the things I'm really trying to get across here. Again, I KNOW that nurse-ins are very positive experiences for those who attend. I've attended one myself.

    But we have to start looking beyond the immediate and think in terms of the flock as a whole. Thus, it DOES matter how things are portrayed to the rest of the world and it DOES matter how we word things and how we present things.

    When nurse-ins are the only action that gets the word spread around, people assume that's the ONLY option they have if they want to "retaliate" or otherwise fight to change the culture.

    How wonderful would it have been for moms to have the example of a group of activists who accepted the apology and came together with the city to celebrate a positive change? From the sounds of what you're telling me, that's what happened.

    From the sounds of the press release, people would get an entirely different story.

    Does that make more sense?

  22. Anonymous Vince | 1:33 PM |  

    Thanks lovin lubbock, I think you hit the nail on the head. Trust me, I caught lots of grief over this event from folks not in Lubbock, but, think the attitude in Lubbock is best reflected by your comments. Last night, when I arrived in Lubbock from a quick trip to Austin, a cab driver came up to me and thanked me for giving the City a wake up call. Additionally, on my flight out to Austin yesterday morning, Mayor David Miller of Lubbock stood in line behind me in the TSA line. I took the opportunity to thank the City for all that they had done and he was very gracious. A good thing happened in Lubbock this week, even if we didn;t follow a PR recipe for success. Those of us in Lubbock won't forget the empowerment we felt, nor will we fail to recognize the positive criticism we have received by some of these other blog entries. Some of the personal attacks, although unnecessary, only strengthen our resolve.

  23. Anonymous Ultrarunner | 9:48 PM |  

    Jennifer and Jake,

    I would like to know what media outlet used the terms 'freaks' or 'those women' in describing the Lubbock nurse-in. Nowhere in the local paper or television stations was there mention of radical or otherwise behavior. Was there some national news that indicated such?

    An alternative interpretation of the Lubbock nurse in is that it was an extremely positive, mutually productive communication between two groups with possibly diverse but vested interests.

    Jennifer, you suggest that we need 'new techniques and new tactics' and 'rationale thought'. I'm inclined to think that the Lubbock event epitomizes a new model for breastfeeding awareness that doesn't depend on demands. I emphatically disagree with your business-oriented model of activism.

    There are at least two approaches to improving the current breastfeeding situation in this country. One might include developing a national bureaucracy of activism involving the web (i.e., blogs), carefully worded press releases, media manipulation, and national fronts. Another approach might be, to borrow an environmental cliche, 'think globally, act locally'. The Lubbock nurse-in did just this: It raised consciousness and opened communication. I might sound like a Pollyana; except, there's no evidence to indicate any other outcome except a willingness by the City of Lubbock to make nursing mothers feel welcome in a public museum. Whether the apology was insincere or not is irrelevant. Nursing in public was validated in Lubbock, TX, in a positive way.

    I will jump into the semantic pit only to demonstrate that you might already be there. The term lactivist seems counter productive; it requires antagonism and conflict. You state your rationale for 'action' in another blog and talk about making 'demands' to further one's cause. Using the term, Jake says in one post to Vince that she finds it 'distressing' that he (Vince) sees a difference between 'lactivist' and 'mothers that want to do what is best for their children'. But, don't you worry - especially given your apparent public relations training - that such an antagonistic approach is not going to generate the positive outcomes that we would prefer?

    Lastly, I fail to see how the Lubbock nurse-in was in anyway detrimental to the national dialogue on breastfeeding in public. In fact, I would argue - preferably in person - that the Lubbock nurse-in provides us a new way to effect positive changes for public breastfeeding throughout the country.

    Sincerely Yours,
    Ultrarunner in Lubbock, TX

  24. Anonymous Anonymous | 10:26 PM |  

    To "Jake"

    You're certainly on a high horse. Good thing you never have been faced with feeding your baby in public (I'm judging by your name, because I've never known a nursing mom to be named "Jake!')

    You are missing the point here. The ACLU did NOT back the nurse-in because of some violation of laws in regard to the artwork. It was backing the hundreds or thousands or perhaps millions of families who have had to cover up with heavy blankets, go sit in the car or excuse themselves to a damn public bathroom just to feed their chidlren and escape the discrimintation because they wanted to take care of those children (by breastfeeding them) as they knew best.

    Leave the law books on the shelf if you can't understand this.

  25. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 5:05 AM |  

    Ultrarunner, you'll need to read through the comments of both posts I made on this issue to get the full scope of my thoughts.

    I've already addressed many of the points you've made in the comments of my second post on the subject.

    I'm glad you had a great and positive experience at the Lubbock nurse-in. (I say that in sincerity, not sarcasm.)

  26. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 5:09 AM |  

    LOL at Anonymous #24. Ahh...you should never assume. Did you miss that English lesson? ;)

    I'll drop Jake an email so SHE can come and reply to your points. :)

  27. Anonymous Ultrarunner | 7:19 AM |  

    Thank you, Jennifer, for your quick response. But, you did not address my points at all. I re-read your reply posts. I asked (both you and Jake) at the beginning of my post for web links, quotes, or other types of reported information that demonstrated the negative impact of the Lubbock nurse-in on the local, regional, or national breast-feeding movement.

    I support your intentions, but I fear that the negative and aggressive elements of your blogs and your bias towards large-scale, national-regulated, PR-driven lactivism might further contribute to the perception that those who support nursing moms in public and private are some how radicals, 'freaks', or 'those women'.

    I note that virtually all of the people who have posted to your two blogs are nursing advocates. Yet, there is clearly discontent, petty jibes, and sarcasm bandied about in your and their replies. This type of 'activism' is not healthy nor consensus-building.

    You dismissed my suggestion that the Lubbock nurse-in provided an alternative model for nurse-ins. But, isn't it possible that there is more than one way to promote a breast feeding culture? And, that the Lubbock nurse-in more than met those goals? Perhaps you could follow suit and orchestrate a new type of nurse-in in your local area that wasn't a reaction, but rather a celebration of the breast-feeding culture.

    Yours respectfully,
    (Ultrarunner in Lubbock, TX)

  28. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 7:37 AM |  


    Actually, I did address nearly all of your points.

    I didn't address the one stating people would call you freaks because I never called, or implied that others would call you freaks.

    But since you want a specific response here, let me break it down for you.

    1.) I have not seen any press reports calling the nursing moms of Lubbock, Texas freaks, nor do I expect to. In fact, I've almost never seen a legitimate news outlet resort to such name-calling. I'd be shocked if they did.

    That said, having been activist in the breastfeeding movement for several years now, I AM well acquainted with the disdain and scorn that is lobbed at nursing mothers during and after these events. From editorials to letters to the editor to discussion boards, I've read hundreds of posts and comments from people charging our movement with being nothing more than a bunch of shrieking harpies with nothing better to spend our time on.

    I never claimed that was the reaction to THIS incident. I explained that this was the type of approach that often leads to those claims by those I've mentioned above.

    2.) I have fully acknowleded in multiple comments that what appears to have actually taken place in Lubbock sounds like a wonderful celebration of breastfeeding. The readers who have commented and emailed me about what took place have made it quite clear that this was not a protest, but a positively-focused rally.

    If you'll read things more closely, you'll note that my beef is NOT with what actually happened, but with how it was presented to the outside world.

    If the event became a rally of celebration and support, then a NEW press release letting the outside world know that should have been issued.

    To those who are not in Lubbock, or who are not following the conversation on this blog, it very much looks like a bunch of women gathered together to protest something that had already been resolved. THAT does damage the overall movement for the many reasons I mentioned above.

    That's why I pointed out the nurse-in turned nursing rally in New England last year as an example of what I would have liked to have seen happen. By issuing a press release and framing all statements around the idea that "this has been resolved so we want to celebrate and support this business" they turned it into a positive event not only for those attending, but also for those in other areas who got a great example of how to celebrate and reinforce the good decisions of a company.

    So again, if you'd read what I've written closely, you'll see that at this point, my only beef is with the fact that after making a big fuss about protesting the wrongs, there was no EXTERNAL effort to tell the world "hey, they did the right thing."

    One of my biggest frustrations as a breastfeeding advocate is that women yell quite loudly when people do the wrong thing, but often fail to talk at all when they do the right thing. Just as we need to practice positive reinforcement in conjunction with discipline for our children, we need to do it for the corporate world as well.

    Finally, can I ask if you are a long-time or new reader? If you are a new reader, I'd ask that you consider how your perspective may be skewed in reading and interpreting my intentions. It's hard to show up at a blog you've never read before, have your first impression be "she's criticizing me" and still be open to understanding the intent behind the post.

    When you (understandably) find yourself reading everything from a defensive standpoint, you often spend more time defending yourself than really seeing what is being said.

    That's exactly what I've seen happen with the posts by yourself and by Mr. Gonzalas.

    On the other hand, the regular readers who have posted took my comments for what they were. Insight into how the movement as a whole needs to continue moving forward and how the actions of any one small group can impact the way in which future actions are received.

    Don't mistake my postings as saying there should be one central clearing house that all lactivist movements are cleared through. I in no way believe that.

    What this blog is about is helping to equip women (and men) so that they understand what their rights are, how to stand up for them and how to be MOST effective in promoting change.

    I hope you'll consider either sticking around for awhile or reading through the archives to get a better understanding of where I'm coming from and to realize that this isn't a "pick on those people in Lubbock" thing.

  29. Anonymous lovin'Lubbock | 8:25 AM |  

    This has been a fascinating blog to watch. As more criticism of Jennifer’s’ views emerge the more she becomes entrenched and defensive. I had assumed this blog would be a dialogue where ideas and views are shared to better understand the issue of lactivism. You are right, Jennifer, one should never assume. This blog has been exposed for what it is: A soapbox for you and your followers. You present your position with faulty logic, zero hard evidence, and insults. There is nothing persuasive here.

    I’m off to search for a more constructive conversation about breastfeeding issues. I’d like to leave the readers of this blog with a parting thought. Jennifer Laycock has been quick to sell us on her PR expertise. I wonder if we have all just been manipulated by the expert? Note the flashy advertising in the margin of this blog. Go ahead and click on the one that states, “Sell to Mom’s advertise here”. Notice how Jennifer directly benefits from the advertising? Maybe I am cynical but is it possible that she promotes controversy because it generates more blog hits and more blog hits mean more advertisers and more money? Maybe these aren’t her views at all and we are just a market?

    Today I am choosing where to NOT click my mouse (Lactivist Breastfeeding Blog) and where to NOT spend my money (every advertiser on this site). This may seem insignificant, but if many people make this choice then it is powerful!

  30. Blogger Jennifer Laycock | 8:28 AM |  

    Oh no! I've been exposed!

    All this blogging, all this time, all those emails, all that milk bank money. It's all a big ruse. :)

    Funny how me saying "that's fantastic that what I thought was going on isn't going on!" and "my only beef now is that you didn't tell the world the event had become a celebration instead of protest" has been defined as me becoming entrenched and defensive.

    Can't win 'em all folks.

    I wish you the best in your search for a breastfeeding blog or community that better serves your needs. (and as always, I mean that sincerely.)

  31. Anonymous Jake | 11:31 AM |  

    I'll respond to "Anonymous" in post #24 because Jennifer asked me to but then I think all that needs to be said about Lubbock has been said.

    Unlike you, I have from the beginning of this identified myself. Since you didn't take the time to check any further, I'll help you. You can read more about who I am at my website, http://www.jakemarcus.com. As Jennifer pointed out, I am female. I am also the mother of three sons who I breastfed anytime and anywhere for a total of 8 1/2 years. I have breastfed babies in public, toddlers in public, and a baby and a toddler at the same time in public. I may tie Janet Jackson for the number of strangers who have seen my nipples.

    I am also the author of the July/August 2007 cover story in Mothering magazine concerning public breastfeeding law and the lack of protection for public breastfeeding rights. I have organized nurse-ins and spent the better part of a year as one of the chief lobbyists for a public breastfeeding law in my state. I have been a breastfeeding activist for over thirteen years and, yes, I have also been a lawyer for twenty years.

    I hope you consider that sufficient breastfeeding "street cred" for me to analyze the issues presented in this case. I maintain my position that specific breastfeeding protests should be responses to specific anti-breastfeeding discrimination. While you write that this nurse-in was not in response to the censorship of art, the press release that brought national attention to this event said the opposite.

    I think our time is far better spent now talking about the ways to best address all forms of breastfeeding discrimination as it has an impact on all breastfeeding women. Breastfeeding supporters need to stop being our own worst enemies.

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