Chris McEvoy can't understand how people can see breastfeeding as creepy.
A few years ago I was at a house party hosted by a couple who were celebrating the fact that they’d recently made their first person. The débutante didn’t say a single witty thing the entire evening – in fact, she was asleep at least 90% of the time, but as you might have guessed, she was the focal point of the evening.
Guests crowded round her, me included, to catch a glimpse of the pink little drooling prune
who was of course as adorable as all pink drooling prunes are. Naturally, everyone made all the right noises like, “Awww!” and “Isn’t she gorgeous?”, and inexplicably, “She looks just like her dad,” nodding their congratulations to the not at all pink or prune-like, non-drooling proud father.
So everything was going swimmingly at this happy occasion – until the new mother committed a social faux pas that I didn’t even know existed before that evening. I was sitting next to her on the couch, when in mid-conversation the infant woke up and made a little mewling sound. Knowing immediately what to do (apparently mothers are fluent in Mewl), without even pausing our chat, she whipped out a boob and shoved it in the baby’s face.
I’ll confess I did raise an eyebrow, because, well, I’m a man and I’d just seen a boob. I’d never seen my friend’s boob before. But did this even count? Could I brag to my friends the next day that I was face-to-nipple with boob that night? Technically it would be true, but on the other hand I only saw the one, and that boob was definitely not in man-fun-mode. It was strictly in baby-food-mode. So I count that experience as the first time I saw a tit without the titillation.
But what surprised and confused me most was the reaction from some of the other guests. Everyone had seen their host breastfeeding
, and everyone had an opinion about it. I later heard the incident (if I can even call it that) described as “gross”; “creepy”; “awkward” and “inappropriate”.
“She should have waited until we’ve all left,” said one acquaintance. “Or gone into another room. Nobody wants to see that.”
But why? The mother and I were in the middle of a conversation, and the baby needed to be fed right then. Sure, if she had changed the baby’s crappy stinky nappy, I would have thought, yes, that’s pretty gross. But this is a BOOB we’re talking about. A boob and an infant. But apparently for some people, putting these two wonderful things together results in “creepy” and “inappropriate”. I don’t get it.
In a sane world, public breastfeeding would be a non-issue. It’s neither noisy nor smelly, usually done extremely discreetly, and most importantly, it’s perfectly legal (in South Africa as well as many other countries). Which means that anyone who tries to prevent a woman from breastfeeding her infant in public is infringing on her rights. And I should add, a total asshat.
We’ve come a long way with tolerance
in the last few decades, as we’ve slowly begun to realise that we don’t have to agree with everything we see for it to have a right to exist. And of all the things to get offended about, the sight of a mother feeding her child should be pretty low on anyone’s list.Do you get offended by public breastfeeding?
Disclaimer: The views of columnists published on Parent24 are their own and therefore do not necessarily represent the views of Parent24.