Friday, October 12, 2007

At Which Point You Will All Hate Me

There has been so much buzz swarming around the internet this week, what with the virtual boob fest aimed at Facebook and Bill Maher.

While I have read, and fully support and are not offended in any way by breastfeeding, so many of your posts on the subject, I have to admit that there is no way that I would be able (hypothetically, since I am a few years past my breastfeeding days) to join in this virtual breast fest.

Admittedly, I have never even checked Facebook out, so while I don't support their new policies regarding nursing mothers, it really doesn't affect me. But any entity that tries to take away an individuals right does offend me, so I'm glad that they've been called out on their conservatism regarding this issue.

Bill Maher is a comedian. I've seen the show in which he offended all of you a few times and tried, really, really tried, to get all fired up. I even commented that he was a jerk on a few of your blogs before I'd seen the piece, a mistake that I am sorry for. But it is comedy people. It is meant to evoke strong feelings in us so that we will react. While I don't agree 100% with what he said, he did have some valid points and even though some (okay, a lot) may not agree with him, he is not campaigning to change the law to outlaw breastfeeding in public. He just prefers not to see full-on boobage while he's dining, and I don't blame him. If you don't agree with him, don't watch. I choose not to watch Rush Limbaugh (is he even still on?) or Bill O'Reiley for these very reasons. It's my choice.

Which brings me to the point I am trying (and I am not doing a very good job at this) to make. We have choices.

Every day, we have choices, and I am thankful that we live in a country that lets us have them, freely.

But we also must be aware of the people around us.

For the same reason that I try to teach my children not to say "God!" and "Jesus Christ!" in public (even though we, ourselves aren't religious) and I dont' swear like a sailor in front of my grandmother, I would not (unless I was at Mardi Gras) and did not whip my breast out without any care to those around me. I tried to be discreet and comfortable. Did it always work? Of course not, but the point is that I was trying. Did I feel frustrated? Yes. Did I accidentally offend someone? Probably. But it was not my intention.

If I travelled to another country, my breastfeeding may have been viewed in many other ways, by another completely different set of cultural "rules". And I would have tried to honor them. There are other socially acceptable behaviors that offend me much worse than breastfeeding (spitting, urinating in public) and in which case if I were travelling in a country where those were considered normal, I'd have to adjust, or look the other way. But I would not let it wreck my life.

Yes, feeding a baby is important. Yes, breastfeeding is natural. Yes, it is a woman's right and should not be governed. But choosing not to expose myself in an obvious manner had nothing to do with my own insecurities (although those were there too) and more to do with keeping in mind that I am a part of this bigger world, where people have all kinds of different views. And I respect that. I feel like I have a responsponsibility to respect that and I just feel like the other side of this issue is not being heard.

To each, their own.


Kellan Rhodes said...

Well said - all of it. I couldn't agree more!

Alexandra's World said...

I agree with you 100% on this. We cannot go around worrying about every single action we choose to perform, let alone worry about what others around us are doing. There isn't enough time or energy for that! Aren't there more important things to worry about these days than whether or not a woman can breastfeed in public? And like you said, we can always just look the other way. It's not a crime to breastfeed, so I don't get why so many are so offended by it! It IS a crime to pee in public... There's a difference.
Good post!

Mel said...

Carrie, could you come over to my blog and recap your sentiment in the comments of yesterday's post? I really want to see and show both sides of the issue in a calm and reasonable manner, and you are the first person I've heard dispassionately give a reasonable counterargument on the subject. Well-said!

However - I think that the fact that nursing mothers' bared breasts are offensive is silly, since the purpose to which a nursing mother is putting her breast is anything but obscene.

I don't understand how it became an issue in the first place. The two uses for boobs - attracting/keeping a mate or feeding the offspring - are pretty much polar opposites; it would seem to me that it would be smarter to place each activity in context rather than issuing a blanket statement that all displays of breasts are equal.

In other words, I don't want to see people having sex in public, or somebody groping their partner's boobs. That is a given, because the boobs, they are then being used for sexual purposes. But to see someone nursing? Well, it's another thing entirely.

Good thoughts, and great post!

pinks & blues girls said...

I actually haven't seen the Bill Maher bit yet, but I have obviously read the blogs where everyone is all up in arms about what he said. I have never had children, so I can't speak from breastfeeding experience, but yeah, I don't really want anyone's boobies to be all up in my face either. I obviously completely respect a woman's right to breastfeed in public, but that doesn't mean you can't be discreet. In our society, when you whip out a breast in public, you're going to get some kind of reaction from people. That reaction may be one of support, it may be one of disgust, it may be one of shock. But just as breastfeeding moms want to be respected for feeding their babies, the rest of the world should be respected for maybe not wanting to be all up in a mom's goods.

Jane, Pinks & Blues

Carrie said...

Good post! This is something I think about often these days. Sometimes I feel like I'm the minorityin Seattle- by NOT wanting to breastfeed in public. I actively go out of my way to avoid it- not going out until I've just fed the baby, bringing a bottle along, etc. Even though breastfeeding is natural and good, it's something I personally prefer to keep private and do only at home or in a private location. But, also, I dont have a problem with other people feeding their babies in public, if that's what they choose to do.

I think the baby sensed that I was discussing nursing- now he's crying for food!

Kyla said...

I think my issue is that Bill Maher sentiment maybe have been a joke, but the message behind it something that lots of breastfeeding mom's encounter everyday.

As for public exposure, I think most women do try and be fairly modest with it. I think I get more of an inappropriate eyeful watching evening television through the advertisements. The discrepancy is that while boobs are okay to be flashed on the TV, they aren't okay to feed babies in public. In a culture that says "Breast is best." we don't often behave that way.

For the record, I was always too self-conscious to BF in public. LOL.

Mrs. Chicken said...

I agree. And as someone who was unable to breastfeed, I find the ferocity of the movement to echo the pressure I felt from nurses and STRANGERS who judged me for not being able to accomplish this "natural" task. I was harshly judged for NOT breastfeeding. So I have a bit of a bitter taste in my mouth on this one.

painted maypole said...

a good point of view.

I never saw the Bill Maher piece, and don't do Facebook anyway, and so when I wrote tried to say things like "the craziness caused by B. Maher and facebook" etc, as opposed to ripping htem to shreds. It's become the hot topic among mommy bloggers, that's for sure! ;) I appreciate what you said in this a lot, and I think ultimately it's this reasoned approach that is behind most of all the virtual yelling that's been going on, but we've been worked into a fervor, I suppose. ;)

flutter said...


jen said...

i breastfed wherever i needed to. i didn't care. i don't care. i would do it again. i don't care what others do.

that's what i got, that's how i roll.

Jenny said...

I hate you.

No, actually I kind of agree. I never breastfed in public and I could care less about Bill Maher but I still respect the right of all women to chose what they want to do...whether that be not breastfeeding in public or breastfeeding in public.

Family Adventure said...

Hi there,
You are absolutely right about everything you said. However, I do think most women try to be discreet. Nursing mothers generally do not go around thinking they are the hottest thing ever - at least I didn't after months of sleep deprivation and those lovely extra poundage following pregnancy - so when they nurse, I don't think they are trying to attrack attention.

I think there are people out there who are LOOKING to be offended, and right now, breastfeeding is the 'in' thing to be offended about. That's what has mothers upset. Or at least this mother (who is way past nursing anyway, and was never able to get a hang of it properly anyway).

But other than that, I agree with everything you said. Bill Maher - he's just for fun. If you don't like him, change the channel :)

I applaud you speaking your mind.