Boobs, Chi-chis, Hooters, Jugs. There’s a million names for women’s breasts, there’s even websites about the many names. Most of the names describe women being in the world for men’s pleasure. But really, breasts were made to provide food to babies.
Women’s breasts have been so “all over the place” (in the media) that when women breastfeed, sometimes it’s hard for people to accept. They’re so used to sexualizing women’s breasts, that they think it’s inappropriate for women to breastfeed in public or that catching sight of a breast when a baby is eating from it is public indecency.
Fortunately the laws in 45 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location. This means, where women go, they have the right to breastfeed.
So, why am I still bringing it up?
Women are still getting flack for it. I live in Austin, Texas and a woman here was waiting for her son in the lobby of the neighborhood elementary school in Austin Independent School District (AISD), she was discretely nursing her baby when she was told to go to a private conference room. She knows that under Texas law, she has the right to breastfeed in public, but apparently the public schools don’t. Or they don’t care or just don’t think it’s appropriate in a space where children might see it and get the idea that it’s normal. They’ve apparently taken the law into their own hands.
The woman has started an awareness campaign to get AISD to change their rules and set up a website to raise awareness and get things changed. Check it out here: Keep Austin Nursing in Public and call AISD, even if you don’t live here or anywhere near Texas. This is the phone number: (512) 414- 1700.
I am sure she’s not alone in her experience, but she’s someone who is speaking out. As women we must keep fighting for the right to breastfeed our babies where we need to do that, but the even larger fight is taking our bodies back.
This sounds funny, but: How can we “take back our breasts?”
They’re mammary glands for feeding children. That said, we don’t want it to swing too far, not everyone can or wants to breastfeed. It can’t be mandatory mommy’ing, but we need to have the say so. We need to be able to say whether we breastfeed and where we do it. If a baby needs to eat, you can’t always look for a private place, nor do you want to. If you did, half the time you’d be in seclusion.
I remember when my son was a young baby. If we went out to eat, he would inevitably be asleep and wake up crying right when the food came. No joke, it happened every time. I don’t know if it was the smell of the food or if he knew I was hungry and psyched to eat and decided he wanted to also or what, but if I had to leave and go breastfeed somewhere else, it would have been really annoying, I would have missed out on the meal, and my food would have been cold. Essentially, I might as well have stayed home.
What I’m saying is this: it’s not only not practical for a mother to have to go somewhere else to feed her child, it also takes away a woman’s right to make decisions about her body. Those decisions include whether we breastfeed, where we breastfeed, how we breastfeed (like if we cover ourselves or not).
We must begin to look at women as whole, without objectifying us and our breasts, that way, we will be able to live our lives, feed our children, be fully human, without everyone but us having opinions about our bodies.