Breastfeeding in Public: Are Women are to Blame for the Backlash?
When my friend sent me some photos from her breastfeeding shoot, I instantly thought “how beautiful!”
It was such a intimate moment of a mother bonding with her child and exemplified what it means to give life.
But then the shadows of doubt covered up my initial reaction because her friend in the photo wasn't 'covered up'. At all.
Due to the ongoing debate surrounding breast feeding I immediately thought "people probably won't approve of this photo."
That knee-jerk reaction angered me. You know why? Not only because it's natural and she should be able to do so without judgment, but also because of why we continue to face the type of judgment. It's us. Women.
It's because of the messages women, in general, send about our breasts, you know the rest of the time we aren't using them to feed our children.
Take a look around and see how many women sexualize themselves-and their breasts- for gain when it’s convenient. And when it’s not? We cry foul.
Now before we proceed, I want readers to know, I am all for breast feeding in public. Simply put. It's natural and healthy. But I'm against the double standards set by those who are 'outraged' by people who view breasts in the manner most women portray them: sexually.
Women have long used their breasts for gain. Whether for attention, or to snag a guy they're interested in. Some have used them to get out of speeding tickets or get a promotion. I'm not advocating it--I'm merely making observations.
Women buy push-up bras and contour their chests to suggest their breasts are larger than they are. Or--they buy larger ones. Why? If the argument is that our breasts are ONLY for feeding children, then why do we do these things?
Now, on this issue, I too have no problem nor do I judge those who display their breasts like in-season melons on sale. It's your body. Do what you want with it. But if these women also have a problem with women who breastfeed, that's when I have a problem.
But we cannot deny that breasts are shoved in our faces on a daily basis for selling of any kind. Whether its the promotion of oneself or the marketing of a burger. Yes, breasts apparently sell burgers.
Take a look at this ad for Carl’s Jr. Burgers. Do you think this woman isn't well aware advertisers are using her breasts to sell food? Do you think she got a healthy paycheck for her gifts?
How about the woman allowing the use of her breasts to sell perfume, or vodka for payment? Does it work? Clearly it does.
Do you think any of these women can claim breasts are not sexual? Or be offended if the same man that oogled her picture in an ad campaign also oogles her while she's breastfeeding openly in public? How can she when the message is burned into men's minds daily: breasts: sexual: good.
We women have always sexualized ourselves for personal gain. Did men create this strategy? No.
Do you think men didn’t want women sexually or have fantasies before we started exposing ourselves publicly? Of course they did. And we capitalize on it.
And that's okay!
What's not okay is suddenly judging anyone who was programmed to see breasts as sexual objects for seeing them as sexual objects simply because it's not convenient.
We Benefit From Our Breasts
We must start owning our own objectification. It’s 2016…no one is forcing women to strip down and sexualize themselves….we choose to.
It’s natural. Sex sells. Obviously it sells products, but women sell themselves too.
Just as men sell themselves.
Just as all animals do.
But we do it because we have something to gain from from our choices. And it's not all materialistic.
We display ourselves in this manner to attract partners and reproduce. Although we've made great strides in advancing as a species, our advances in technology have not changed our biology. We are still animals. And the way that women display themselves continues a cycle they claim to want to change….but it’s not changing.
Because we're not changing.
And we make sure our young girls are well aware of the benefits breasts offer. Sure, no parents are telling their children to parade around and benefit from their cleavage, but they learn it. From us.
It’s the most important thing, you know—‘being sexy’.
Young girls post revealing selfies and sexual poses on every social media platform because that’s what we do.
We perpetuate it. Until we decide to stop sexualizing ourselves, it will never stop.
But is that really what we want?
Is it so unnatural to sexualize ourselves? We are mammals. We are here to ‘reproduce’.
I know that sounds offensively provincial. It’s insulting to think of us as the animals we are. But we are.
And the draw to breasts is natural, and backed by experts.
Science Agrees: Sexual Attraction to Breasts is Natural
According to Medical Daily, “Dr. Young, who is one of the world's leading social neuroscientists, wrote in a column for the Huffington Post that "biologically speaking" the human male's obsession with breasts is ‘pretty weird’.
Men are the only male mammals fascinated by breasts in a sexual context," Young wrote. "And women are the only female mammals whose breasts become enlarged at puberty, independent of pregnancy. We are also the only species in which males caress, massage and even orally stimulate the female breasts during foreplay and sex.” (2012)
Dr Young stated "When a woman gives birth, her newborn will engage in some pretty elaborate manipulations of its mother's breasts," they wrote. "This stimulation sends signals along nerves and into the brain. There, the signals trigger the release of a neurochemical called oxytocin from the brain's hypothalamus."
"This oxytocin release eventually stimulates smooth muscles in a woman's breasts to eject milk, making it available to her nursing baby," they said. "But oxytocin release has other effects, too. When released at the baby's instigation, the attention of the mother focuses on her baby. The infant becomes the most important thing in the world."
"This bond is not only the most beautiful of all social bonds, it can also be the most enduring, lasting a lifetime.....when a lover touches, massages or nibbles a woman's breasts, it sparks the same process of brain events as nursing. They explain that humans are also among the very few animals that have sexual intercourse face-to-face, 'looking into each other's eyes.'
This "quirk" in human sexuality has evolved to "exploit the ancient mother-infant bonding brain circuitry as a way to help form bonds between lovers," they wrote.” (2012)
Men’s attraction to breasts is hardwired. It’s engrained in men and women to view breasts as a portal to pleasure, and to producing offspring. We have innate biological factors that drive physical actions.
We cannot rewire a brain. We just can't.
If you’re not in agreement with it, or aren't part of the majority, stop blaming those who view breasts sexually; blame women who are capitalizing on science. Really sit back and think about the root cause of why people are truly offended by those who breastfeed in public.
They said "it's not modest", "it's rude", "cover up". Those comments reference indecent exposure, and what is indecent exposure? It's usually sexually provocative exposure. So ask again, why are they viewing women's breasts as sexual?
In the end, I think women are pretty ingenious. We win 99% of the time with our breasts. Work, modeling, acting, gaining more followers, compliments, and procuring a future for ourselves; admit it, the majority of women do it.
If its alright to get these things with our breasts, it makes no sense to be offended when people look at our breasts in the manner we have portrayed them. Sexually.
Breast feeding mothers, I don't want you to cover up, and most places have rules about not telling you to cover up. Finally.
And we won’t be covering up with a modest swimsuit either. It’s what we do.
It doesn’t bother me one bit. I think breasts are beautiful whether you’re feeding your child or you’re displaying them on magazine ads.
I am evolved enough to say, this girl is beautiful, her bond with her baby is beautiful and I don’t care if she feeds her child in public. It’s as much of my business as her sex life.
But when I hear of others who do, I understand that too. We have sexualized ourselves to the point that breasts can’t be viewed in any other form than a sexual one.
If you don’t like the truth, change it. But I got 5 on it that we will continue to see boobs selling burgers, cars, alcohol, video games, and women for eternity. It’s what we do. Oh, and we also feed our kids with them.
What are your thoughts? Have you had an unpleasant public breastfeeding experience? Join in the conversation below.