By Mary Larsh, Columnist
Public displays of affection often create an uncomfortable scene for bystanders. Breastfeeding, a frequent and necessary form of feeding for a newborn, also may cause an awkward scene for those in the vicinity.
While I was doing some back-to-school shopping at Penn Square Mall, 1900 NW Expressway St., I bought a delicious chocolate chip cookie and sat down in a common area.
My jaw dropped when a woman was breastfeeding her son in the center of the area. Although she covered her breast with a blanket, I could clearly see the boy’s head movement underneath it.
It took the thought of milk and cookies to a repugnant level.
Needless to say, I lost my appetite for the cookie when I saw the small toddler reveal himself, smiling and licking his lips.
Breastfeeding is natural, but not in a public setting. Mothers should be courteous to others in their surroundings.
The Oklahoma Breastfeeding Law of 2004 states that “mothers have the right to breastfeed anywhere they have a right to be, and shall be excused from jury duty upon request.”
The state of Vermont enforces a law wherein women whose breastfeeding rights have been violated “may file a charge of discrimination with the human rights commission,” according to the Lactation and Law website.
Some state laws categorize any disagreement with breastfeeding as discrimination.
Those who are brave enough to confront breastfeeding mothers may face legal consequences.
“New Jersey law, for example, imposes possible fines not to exceed $25 for the first offense following initial notification, and not to exceed $100 for the second offense, and not to exceed $200 for each offense thereafter,” also according to Lactation and Law.
I view the enforcement of the freedom to breastfeed as a violation of my own freedom of speech. I should have the right to express my distaste and discomfort to a breastfeeding mother in public who is encroaching on my personal space.
Mothers can even breastfeed on flights. When I was 16, there was a mother aboard my international overseas flight breastfeeding an abnormally large boy, about 4 years old.
People should not be forced to accept nudity in public. State governments should not pass breastfeeding laws that are unacceptable to society as a whole.
Airlines risk being sued for damages if forcing a mother and child off a plane for breastfeeding, however, they should be forced into a private area to not infringe on other passengers’ privacy.
My opposing view of breastfeeding in public is not discrimination toward mothers and babies. I am against the public exposure of naked breasts with babies and small children attached as much as I am against public displays of affection. Not everyone is comfortable with public nudity. These types of displays can bother children as well as adults.
While some may argue that breastfeeding is merely a natural way to feed the young and should not be considered obscene, I would have to agree, but it should be done in private and out of my view.