A few of the comments on a recent reactionary post I wrote are getting… a little out-of-hand, I’d say.
I don’t censor any non-spamming comments on my posts because I find great value in upholding the right to free speech and sharing of ideas. I personally feel that disapproving certain comments that rub me the wrong way could be likened to demanding that a breastfeeding mother throw a cover over her torso and child when in public just because someone can’t handle it.
Now I must learn how to handle things I don’t agree with too, such as antagonistic comments. (A heavy bet that zero of the nay-saying commenters would dare peep a word directly to me if they actually saw me breastfeeding in public).
Here is one commenter’s example of the general attitude expressed by some (bold emphasis and reformatting are mine):
“The biggest problems I have with your reply to that article are,
A) You are being extremely disrespectful of her opinion instead of simply stating your own. She didn’t make fun of mothers who feel the need to breastfeed in public without a cover, you are poking fun at her opinion. Grow up.
B) Nothing against you personally, but why do mothers feel the need to turn a beautiful bonding moment with their babies into a public battle? Just a question I have.
And C) The comments you made about her husband and child. I don’t want my husband looking at anyone else’s boobs, regardless of what they’re being used for. I don’t want my child to either. It makes them both uncomfortable and I have no problem explaining to my children what breastfeeding is and how it’s beautiful, but I don’t have to go into an anatomy session with my 5 year old boy about a strangers breasts either. And bottom line, my marriage is none of your business and how I raise my children are none of your business.
I think a big problem with our society today is that women think being able to show parts of ourselves is freedom or equality, it’s just not. We as women have the freedom to be classy and respectful of other people’s opinions and feelings in public, but nobody wants to talk about that. No one wants to just shut up and take a second to understand that I have just as much a right to be comfortable as you do.
So why not compromise? The writer and myself are not asking you not to breastfeed in public all together, although if I were breastfeeding I would [not do it publicly] for the sake of bonding and I would pump when going out if possible, we are simply asking that you compromise.
Why is it that we can and you cannot? Is it really about feeding your baby at that point? Or more about feeding your ego?”
I assume the commenter expected or hoped for a direct response, so here it is:
A). No, the original author [of this article] didn’t make fun of mothers, she shamed them. Given my level of insult, I tried to remain respectful, and this was the best I could do. “Grow up” is also, incidentally, what I say to adults who can’t handle the sight of feeding children.
B). I and other breastfeeding mothers didn’t turn public nursing into a battle, it was the people who harassed and antagonized us for public nursing. We speak up for ourselves in defense, not offense. Who hit first?
C). That’s fair that you don’t want your husband looking at other women’s breasts. Perhaps you should trust him not to look at them then. (Note I’m only bringing up your marriage because YOU mentioned it first). Breastfeeding is not “showing ourselves,” and by law it’s not considered public nudity.
“For sake of bonding,” my child’s comfort is more important than yours. Covering is NOT simple, kids typically hate it and won’t allow it. Pumping is NOT easy, requires a lot of work, and many women cannot produce enough milk with a pump or respond to one at all. Bottle-feeding also can cause dental, oral and stomach problems for infants, so it’s not the best choice for all children.
A mother has the right to do what’s best for her child despite what strangers think is “best” for their own comfort.
If you truly believe a breastfeeding dyad covering up is a compromise, then what would YOU be doing to fulfill the terms of compromise? I see no amount of sacrifice on your end in this scenario.
Breastfeeding is always about a baby. Someone needing to project harmful “opinions” (at some point, accumulated ignorance renders one’s personal “opinion” into a trained oppression) upon a normal, harmless activity is attempting to feed his or her own ego. (In my OPINION).
I also see that my response to the writer was in defense of myself and child, whereas you have gone out of your way to visit my page to tear down and belittle my defense. Who exactly is the one seeking attention for sake of ego?
I will admit, I do post pictures and write about breastfeeding in hopes that people see/read, because it helps to normalize society and helps mothers learn how to breastfeed successfully, what to expect, and so on. This is a peaceful parenting blog that covers topics such as breastfeeding, so yes, I am reaching my gentle-mothering tentacles out to spotlight a huge part of the motherhood and childhood experience that has been lost on many Americans for too long.
I do NOT breastfeed in public for attention, however. Any and all attention given to me while doing so cannot be considered a result of coercion if I’m merely responding to my child’s needs. I make a point of sharing my breastfeeding experience — there is no point being made in my having a breastfeeding experience.
So thank you for your part in helping to raise more awareness of this issue and revealing the kind of discrimination and shaming that mothers face — the kind thinly veiled behind words like “right,” “opinion,” “compromise,” and “ego.”
I feel like I’ve said this what seems like a hundred times already, in various ways, but I’ll keep saying it.
For the commenters who bothered to come visit my page, I now encourage you to click around on the menu tabs to learn more about infant feeding. If you have any questions, feel welcome to ask.
NOTE TO BREASTFEEDING MOTHERS:
If you’re ever harassed or discriminated against while breastfeeding in public, don’t hesitate to use these resources for support and advice:
Breastfeeding Harassment Hotline is 855-NIP-FREE
…if you’re harassed for nursing in public
…if your employer fails to comply with workplace pumping laws
Visit FB! Stop Harrassing page & campaign for Facebook to change its breastfeeding photo guidelines. Includes many petitions, help, and action items on the topic of demonizing breastfeeding photos.