Breastfeeding harassment is not always “in your face.” Often, it takes place behind the anonymity of a computer screen shield in online forums and posts. Sometimes it comes in the form of a “well-meaning” but still uncomfortable comment from a relative or friend. It’s also apparent by complaints made by strangers behind a mother’s back.
Here’s an example of the extremely ANTI-BABY culture that some regions in our nation call normal. Last week, Play Date Place in South Hadley, Massachusetts, which bills itself as a nurturing place (rather, “nuturing,” because PDP’s representative isn’t so gifted wit da grammurr), posted this on its Facebook page:
Oh, hell no! Problems with this policy:
1). How about the comfort and consideration of our littlest guests — hungry babies? Not only is requiring breastfeeding mothers to use a cover discriminatory (the alternative method of feeding, bottle-feeding, is not asked to be hidden), it’s anti-baby behavior. Some babes will not nurse under a cover. So then, will they just have to continue to cry their eyes out until mom can squirrel them (and any other children she’s responsible for) away in a different, likely less comfortable location just for a quick sip of milk?
2). It’s also anti-mother. Some mothers need to see their babies in order to nurse successfully. When reports of public breastfeeding harassment like this frequent the media, mothers are discouraged from nursing their babies outside the home for fear of being confronted or complained about. They may instead bring bottles, which can cause problems with breastfeeding, or supplement with formula, which can imbalance milk supply and with regular use, decrease milk production.
3). Let’s also not forget that lactation (producing milk) is an instinct, a physical reflex of our wonderful feminine humanness; however, breastfeeding itself is learned. All higher primates including humans must see breastfeeding to know how to do it. As such, by censoring the actual act of feeding babies on the breast, PDP’s policy change is without a doubt anti-breastfeeding.
So is PDP really that concerned about considering the comfort and needs of all its guests?
Ten out of ten babies agree that eating from their mothers without shame is ideal. It’s zero out of ten people’s business why a mother and her baby are breastfeeding, when, or how.
4). Oh hey, and it’s anti-STATE LAW. Per Massachusetts law:
A portion of the law reads:
“A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present.”
After receiving some understandably heated push-back to the original policy change notice, PDP posted an update:
PDP’s owner Darlene Sattler said the new policy was instated in response to “complaints from quite a few parents” who didn’t know how to explain breastfeeding to their kids after “someone dropped their shirt completely,” reports Anne-Gerard Flynn of MassLive.
Really? We live in a culture with pockets of parents who cannot fathom how to explain breastfeeding to a child, and worse yet, feel uncomfortable enough to even try that they make a formal complaint instead? I imagine the thought process as such:
“How dare that mother take care of her child and force me to possibly explain that to my own child! How can I possibly be expected to discuss biology in a simple sentence?!”
To which I offer the following suggestion:
“The baby is drinking milk from his mother’s breast because he’s hungry. Many other animals feed their babies this way too.”
Did your mind explode? Yeah, I think a toddler can handle the topic perfectly fine. Sattler has since apologized and retracted the policy. Here’s her idea of an apology:
To assume that all dads and grandparents should or would find breastfeeding offensive is ludicrous. Apparently, women who are mothers themselves may also find breastfeeding offensive, as evidenced by Sattler herself who headed the policy change.
Fact is, some individuals will find anything offensive. Personally, I find talking with one’s mouth full of food to be disgusting, yet I don’t expect restaurant owners to mandate their patrons who engage in the habit to put a blanket over their face for my comfort as I can simply avert my eyes. It’s amazing what side-to-side neck movement allows us, no?
Breastfeeding will never itself be offensive (read “Every Argument for NIP Debunked” to find out why).
A nurse-in was set by about 26 families at Play Date Place over the weekend to raise awareness about breastfeeding laws and the necessary support and encouragement it takes for mothers to meet their breastfeeding goals.
Mothers discuss their frustration with PDP in this video:
What do you think about Play Date Place’s handling of the situation? Was simply rescinding the policy sufficient reparative action?