"Do not go where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail."

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Breastfeeding in Public: Can we stop being stupid?


Fact: Breastfeeding in public is legal in all 50 states.

Fact: 45 states (including Texas) have specifically expressed, written laws further clarifying that a breastfeeding mother has the right to breastfeed her child anywhere and everywhere that she, the mother, has a legal right to be. (Check this link if you're interested in state-by-state laws)

Fact: When employees at the Pure Fitness for Women club in Spring, Texas, asked a breastfeeding mother to move to a more "private" area, they were in fact breaking the law.

Those are facts. This is my opinion: I think it is completely and utterly ridiculous that breastfeeding moms are still, in 2011, having to deal with such ignorance and discrimination. Mothers have only been feeding their babies in this way since THE BEGINNING OF TIME. Long before the modern advent of formula and bottles, long before uptight misguided fitness club employees declared it inappropriate (while fellow patrons looked on in their barely-there lycra and spandex), long before we as a society lost sight of what was good and healthy and normal and right.

We are mammals, and that is how mammals feed their young. That's a fact too. Your personal feelings of disagreement or discomfort can't and don't change biology. It bothers me - literally almost pains me - that people fail to recognize it for what it is: a mother feeding her baby in the way that her body was intended to feed a baby.

In an official statement following the incident, Pure Fitness made the following remarks:

"We have thousands of members' children that do not understand," the club stated. "At that age it is the discretion of the parent to determine if at a kids club age the child should learn about the benefits and reasons for breast feeding. We feel that children should not be exposed to these events without every parent being ok with their child being exposed to the action."

I don't mean to be disrespectful, but am I the only one who recognizes how ignorant - even stupid - these comments sound?

"We have thousands of members' children that do not understand".
Such a tough thing to understand... A mom feeding a child. It's a wonder my non-college educated brain could wrap itself around the concept soon enough to feed my own children. If a child asks, the answer is: "That's how she feeds her baby. It's how I fed you (or if you didn't breastfeed, how Aunt Suzy or Grandma or the neighbor or someone else your child knows fed their baby)" It's not rocket science, folks.

"At that age it is the discretion of the parent to determine if at a kids club age the child should learn about the benefits and reasons for breast feeding."
Benefits and reasons? Sure, a 5 year old doesn't necessarily need a detailed list of the physical and emotional benefits of breastfeeding for the mother and child, nor would he even understand it all. But the act of eating and getting nourishment is something even a baby can understand. It is, again, a biological necessity, and one that is appropriate for discussion with any and ALL ages. Is there honestly a mother out there who would not want her child to know about the "benefits and reasons" for breastfeeding?

"We feel that children should not be exposed to these events without every parent being ok with their child being exposed to the action." I feel like I'm just repeating myself now, but "these events", this "action" in question was a MOM FEEDING HER BABY. Can I say that again?

This was a mom feeding her baby.

She was exercising her right - both her human right and the right given to her by law - to feed her hungry child.

She wasn't doing anything wrong.
She wasn't doing anything indecent.
She wasn't doing anything inappropriate.
She wasn't doing anything illegal.

She was feeding a child. And she was asked to leave.

It's 2011. I'd like to think I live in the real world, most of the time, but I'm having a very hard time understanding why we haven't come further than this. We should be informed by now. We should be enlightened by now. Can we please, please, stop being so stupid?



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