Thursday, December 3, 2015

Brave or Botched?

I figure, I am a woman. I am a mother. I am a lover.
I have breast fed. I have formula fed. I have used my breasts for more than feeding my children and [gasp] enjoyed it!
I have something to say about this normalize breastfeeding campaign that is, in my face every week, on social media.

I get the nature of media to sensationalize stories and to push buttons for the most "hits", the most shares, the most comments. Yesterday, my buttons were pushed. I chose not to enter the arguments in the comments of the stories.

It was a story I saw from two different sources, in my Facebook newsfeed. You may or may not have seen it. It was the photo of a breastfeeding mother, in a restaurant, with her breast exposed by pulling it out over the neck hole of her shirt. Baby covered the nipple. If you read the "story", it was the mother whining because another woman was giving her dirty looks and she was staring the oppressor down, a true act of defiance. Ugh.

From what I could tell, and for as long as I read comments, before turning away because my blood pressure was rising - most were shocked to open the link and see the entire picture (darn near entire boob)- and they voiced it upset them.

Just a couple thoughts......
I have seen the argument over and again about how the breast is solely for nurturing and nourishing a baby. Huh. Interesting. Seems practical. How in the world do we strip males of their fascination with this part of the female anatomy then? Because this is also practical. Am I the only one who feels a  minority is ignoring the fact, just like women have breasts, that men like breasts? Does this minority also expect us to emasculate men for this because it is a frivolous and shallow instinct? I assure you it is not shallow. It is nature. Raising is amazing how quickly these age-old instincts kick in. Have you been around old guys? It never leaves. It's ok. It's normal. I did an experiment last Summer. We were on a road trip. I stayed in the car to nurse our daughter while the rest of the family went in to Arby's. For the record, I did not stay in the car, in a huff, because I "had" to be isolated from regular society since I breastfeed. I know she, our daughter, is easily distracted and wouldn't nurse well unless it was calm and quiet. Also I don't like exposing my breast to anyone than my husband. At the time, there was another HUGE hub-bub about "normalizing" breastfeeding online. Kathie Lee and Hoda's Facebook wall was inundated with brelfies or breastfeeding selfies. I decided to take one. When my husband returned, I showed it to him and asked, "What do you think when you see that?" His response? "That is HOT!" We laughed and I said, "Exactly."
Why are breastfeeding mothers shaming humans for looking at a breast when it is sticking out like in the picture that has "taken the internet by storm" as a sign of "bravery" for breastfeeding mothers everywhere? Breasts are sensual. They are beautiful. Some of us, like me, recognize the virility and drive of a man. When my husband is doing physical labor and comes in sweaty and a grungy mess, it turns me on. Just as I admire and respect my husband for providing and doing his utmost to keep us safe, I know many men who *greatly appreciate* women who cook their meals and take care of their children. It is how we are made. I am also raising 2 boys, 2 future men. I am not interested in a society that tries to strip down men's drive and nature in order to elevate women's rights.
There is no need to normalize breastfeeding. Breastfeeding has been normal since ....forever. It wasn't popular when my mom was raising kids, or maybe it was and she just didn't want to do that. I don't care. Honestly, how have humans nourished babies since the beginning of time? When I make a choice that may not be popular, I am not looking for everyone to validate me and coddle me and give me props. I do what I have to do. I follow my gut and act accordingly. If others don't like it, not my problem- it's theirs. Most of the time, I can even extend grace that they have no clue why I chose what I did and just smile through it. Even when I am criticized for my choices, I don't get in their face. I ignore them. Sometimes, it hurts when I get criticized for my choices, if they are people I love or thought I had a relationship with. But I don't attempt to intimidate strangers, people I could give two sh*ts about what they think of me. I carry on. That bothers me more than an entire boob staring at me in a restaurant. If you are going to make a decision, stop acting like everyone has to love it and/or like it. Make your decision, take your action and quit expecting others to recognize you and call you "brave". I know brave mothers. They are not the ones flopping their breast out in public. I could give you examples......for another post.
I encourage breastfeeding mothers everywhere- if you want to nurse, great! I encourage formula feeding mothers everywhere - if you want to not breastfeed and use formula - good for you, I applaud you!
I encourage all mothers that if you want to do what you are convicted to do, do it! If you feel it appropriate to expose yourself to a restaurant or store or football stadium, to feed your baby, do it! Be sure of yourself and do it graciously. Doing anything else only screams insecurity in your decision. If you feel it appropriate to cover yourself or excuse yourself from a public setting, to feed your baby - enjoy that! But then don't bellyache and blubber that you feel isolated, because maybe you should be showing your boobs to the world instead of being a victim.
As for me, I chose using a light cover or scarf, or nursing away from the public. I didn't see it as oppression - it was a phase, which came to an end quite quickly. I did and still do see my baby's feeds as an intimate time with my baby, whether I nursed or bottle fed. I only nurse now for morning and bedtime. Myself and generations of mothers before me didn't feel they were in need of a brigade to normalize exposed breasts.

I have said my piece.


  1. I didn't want this tied to work, but I couldn't help but comment. YES, YES, YES! I have been struggling to find a way to express how I feel about all the breastfeeding attacks (both pro and against) and the constant attention that is being put on something that really isn't a big deal! Feed your baby if you want! Own it! I don't even know what to say really, but reading this I was reading my own, unformed thoughts. I feel like I most times keep quiet about things that I want to comment on because I can't take the attacks some days. I love your take on life, Beth. You are inspirational. Thank you for this post- it really is fantastic!

    1. Ashley, thank you for reading and giving your feedback. "Own it"! That could go on a t-shirt for lots of decision making humans every day, huh? :D