Public Breastfeeding: Natural or Indecent?
Celebrity Mothers Share Breastfeeding Pictures
Apparently, being open and public about breastfeeding is now becoming a trend in Hollywood. Celeb moms share their own breastfeeding photos, relaying to fellow nursing mothers that there should not be shame or stigma behind it.
See the photos from Us Magazine:
State Laws on Public Breastfeeding
- 47 States including Washington D.C. and the Virgin Islands all have laws that allow mothers to breastfeed in any public or private place.
- South Dakota and Virginia have laws that exempt breastfeeding in public on the grounds of indecency and nudity laws.
- Idaho offers no protection or laws on the issue.
Today, public nursing has become the center of a heated controversy within the past couple of years. With more women trying to find the balance while being working mothers (as well as the modern feminist movement), there are arguments that anti-public nursing is a human rights issue.
From an anthropological viewpoint, nursing is the first and most natural way to feed and nurture one's child. From a societal standpoint, it comes down to cultural norms, public indecency, and the overall "taboo" that breastfeeding has become. The push and pull comes down to breastfeeding mothers believing that they have the right to feed their child whenever they need to be fed while battling social norms and customs. With many lawsuits filed from women who were told to "cover up," many women today are trying to destroy the stigma that is associated with public nursing.
I am not a mother, and these opinions are not necessarily my own. I hope to prevent an unbiased look at the debate from both points of view: those for and against breastfeeding in public.
Articles in Support of Public Breastfeeding
Pro: Women Feel that Public Nursing Is Natural and Their Right
Prohibiting public breastfeeding is discrimination based on sex.
Prohibiting public breastfeeding is seen as another attempt to marginalize women or control women.
Children have the right to nourishment whenever they want/need; children have the right to do so without having a blanket over their heads.
Convenience---- not having to worry about forgetting or not bringing enough milk/bottles.
Confining a woman to her own home is sexist.
Breastfeeding is natural, and people who become offended are the people that sexualize the act.
Publicly Breastfeeding Does Not Give You the Right to be Inappropriate
Arguments Against Breastfeeding in Public
I think the majority of those that are in opposition of public breastfeeding are not necessarily against breastfeeding in public, but the way that a mother chooses to go about it.
Public Nursing is Indecent- Individuals and companies that oppose public breastfeeding are most likely only concerned about decency. Yes, our culture has scandalized the female breast more as a sexual organ than just a part of the female anatomy. Regardless of the sexual culture in our country, modern opinions of the breasts are that they are just as private as the male and female genitalia. It is a parent's right to raise their child the way they want, and exposing your breasts to other people's children is infringing on that right. Just because breastfeeding is natural does not mean that it is appropriate in all settings and situations. Use discretion and respect other people's rights as well.
Breastfeeding is an Intimate Act- One of the primary purposes of breastfeeding is the attachment between a mother and her baby. Some people may become uncomfortable by witnessing a mother breastfeeding in public because it is seen as an intimate and private moment (PDA arguments anyone?). Some mothers claim that they have the right to bond with their child whenever they want, but that does not mean that other people want to bear witness to it.