Breastfeeding Punks and Other Misnomers

Breastfeeding Punks, Nipple Nazis, Breastapo, Exhibitionists... I've been called worse!
At a rest stop on Interstate 95 recently, I made quite a scene. No, I didn't streak naked from the car to the Cinnabon line. I tried to feed my 5-month-old baby. Mind you, I picked the quietest spot facing the corner and slung my trusty nursing cover — a cloth designed to help mothers discreetly nurse in public — over my child. Despite being ravenously hungry, baby swatted angrily at the cover, tearing it off his head each time I tried to replace it, fists punching the air, grabbing at my shirt collar. It was like wrestling a wild bobcat in a mail sack. Mental note: Baby's not down with the cover anymore.

Seen from the highway not a mile away: a Hooters restaurant. One of the 455 franchise locations in the USA. This juxtaposition was not lost upon me. In a country where Hugh Hefner gets his own reality show and evening gowns require double-sided tape to hover just so, "breast is best."
Intolerance hurts society... Except when it comes to breastfeeding in public, that is. Just ask Natalie Hegedus, who said she was humiliated in a Michigan district court room last month for discreetly breastfeeding her sick infant at the back of the courtroom. Michigan is one of five states without laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in public. After Judge Robert Hentchel verbally reprimanded her, Hegedus left the courtroom in tears. Intolerant attitudes like this contribute to our relatively low breastfeeding rates, and it's not just women and babies who suffer. - America, get over breastfeeding hang-ups
Breastfeeding punks? Sort of, kind of, not really. a punk is a member of a rebellious counterculture group. In some sorts of the word, it could describe those of us who either support breastfeeding in public or currently are breastfeeding in public.

But the thing is, only in the U.S. is public breastfeeding considered 'counterculture'... and that is why we are doing it... to change that public perception of breastfeeding - and make public breastfeeding more commonplace and accepted.

Nipple Nazis? (aka Breastapo) Not even close. Even if you separate the fact that we are not focusing on our nipples, but the nourishment that our breasts provide. And even if you separate Nazism as a literal definition (a form of socialism featuring racism and expansionism and obedience to a strong leader.) to the more common implied definition (fascism, a political philosophy or movement that exalts nation and often race above the individual and that stands for a centralized autocratic government headed by a dictatorial leader, severe economic and social regimentation, and forcible suppression of opposition)... it still doesn't fit.

Exhibitionists? Hardly! I can tell you that the majority of breastfeeding women have no desire to display their bosoms to the public any more than is necessary to nourish their child. And there are very few times you will see more than the tops of the breasts (as you would see in a v-neck sweater), unless you are really trying to see more. To give you a few examples, let's take a look at some famous nursing moms:
Maggie Gyllenhaal
Angelina Jolie

Salma Hayek

Gwen Stefani

Miranda Kerr

Jerry Hall, via Annie Liebowitz

On the other hand, I can give you example after example of media, Hollywood, and marketing showing off the female breasts in much more detail and much more sexualized than breastfeeding ever does/is.Just for matter of fair comparison, let's use the same celebrities in marketing photoshoots:

Jerry Hall

Angelina Jolie

Salma Hayek

Miranda Kerr

Maggie Gyllenhaal

Gwen Stefani

So, call me a breastfeeding Punk, a Nipple Nazi, or an Exhibitionist, if you want, but I contend that I am just a normal-feeding advocate that fails to see how the public can get so worked up over breastfeeding but not bat an eye at our media and marketing attempts to over-sexualize the female body and desensitize the public to it. Consider this great quote:
"If breastfeeding is sexual, than a bottle is a dildo!"
And just for some fun...

And there you have it, breastfeeding is normal, it is natural, it is beautiful, and it is maternal. And that, my friends, is why women across the U.S. are fed up (no pun intended) with the prudish and contradictory behavior of our culture.

For Additional Reading on recent Nurse-Ins:
Houston Breastfeeding Flash Mob
National Demonstration
Did the Nurse In Change Perceptions of Public Breastfeeding?
Michigan Breastfeeding Flash Mob Dispersed
Women's Only Gym Asks Mother To Move


Colleen said...

I am originally from MI and it continues to sadden me to no end that MI is so far behind on this one. Not as much as it saddens me how far behind our ENTIRE culture is, though . . .

Anonymous said...

The next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesnt disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read, but I actually thought youd have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of whining about something that you could fix if you werent too busy looking for attention.

Nicole D said...

Haha! really Anon? You really should grow some and un-anon yourself :)

Your comment was, let's just say, not quite accurate. You know what they say about assumptions ;-)

Stephen said...

I am amazed at the difficulty our society has with breastfeeding. On the one hand it is sexed-crazed and objectifies women and on the other a woman can't discretely feed her baby?! Twisted!
I am a single man and I fight to stand firm against the corrupted mentality of this age. I hope one day to marry, have children, and support my wife in the rearing of our children to the best of our ability by the grace of God.


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