Sunday, July 30, 2006

Breastfeeding

So, I followed Quinn's link to CNN's article about the uproar over Babytalk Magazine's front cover of a baby nursing from her/his mom's breast. Before I get on my soapbox, I must be honest. I've always approached breastfeeding ambivalently--partly because I have issues about my breasts and partly because most of my friends and family of my generation just didn't/don't do it. When I had my son, there was no way I was breastfeeding; I honestly feel my breasts are just too big--my own mother just recently told me she didn't know they made bras in the letter size I wear. Suffice it to say, I'd practically have to lay the kid across my lap, football-hold method be damned.

But, it was a choice that caused me no small amount of guilt and defensiveness. I don't think it's much of a secret that a lot of moms think breastfeeding mothers love their babies more, are more tightly bonded, care more about their children's wellbeing, etc. I used to look at breastfeeding moms when my son was a baby and think (with much attitude), "I hope she doesn't think she's better than me." And did I mention, I'm so annoyed with the government's current guilt-inducing tactics to increase breastfeeding.

But nothing like a little objectification, a smidge of deference-to-the-all-powerful-male-gaze to whip that ambivalency out of your mind. I was appalled and then pissed off to read these responses in that article: "A breast is a breast -- it's a sexual thing;" "I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see;"and "Men are very visual. When they see a woman's breast, they see a breast -- regardless of what it's being used for." No one asked these women serious points like, why did breasts become, first and foremost, sexual things, or sarcastic ones like what breast doesn't your husband or son want to see?

For all the reasons people list why moms shouldn't feed their hungry kids in public, these are most disturbing to me. Because you're worried about what men think of breasts, if they'll be offended or unbearably aroused? Give me a fucking break.

2 comments:

Quinn said...

I love this, too! what breast doesn't your husband or son want to see. Love it.

Honestly, you ask some great questions. Which is why you are in the right profession, incidentally.

Anonymous said...

But nothing like a little objectification, a smidge of deference-to-the-all-powerful-male-gaze to whip that ambivalency out of your mind.

Yes. Grrrrrrrrrrr.

When I started breastfeeding, I varied my behaviors from full exposure (in emotionally safe places, like home, almost no matter who was visiting) to graceful blanket-coverage (to make other women less angstified, to be frank ... if men got all weirded out, that has always been "their problem" to me). As time and experience wore on, my shirt became enough coverage, and if anyone gets bothered by the small amounts of breast and even nipple they might catch glances of ... that's their problem.

Frankly, what seems to disturb people the most is the obviously ACTIVE (not a nice sanitary still-photo) nature of the activity, especially if a kid starts gesticulating ... then they can't politely ignore it all anymore (or "shred" it or "turn it over") ...

Statistically, these people almost universally drink milk. Hello? How is drinking the product of a cow (or other mammal) teat "not" disgusting, but human milk "is"?

It's NATURE. There is no need for weirdass neuroses.

Grrrrrrrrrrr.

Revelations and ruminations from one southern sistorian...