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Thursday, January 03, 2008It'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?