Writer explains distaste for public breastfeeding

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.

2 comments
tricksmyman
tricksmyman

This is obviously the writing of a very selfish and immature child. I don't have children myself and even I can see the ignorance in this article.

What exactly does the writer expect? The mother to be shunned away to a public bathroom every three hours when her baby needs to eat? Should she sit on the sink or the toliet in a public bathroom to feed her baby? Which would the writer prefer for the enjoyment of her cookie? What if the writer should choose to use the bathroom? Where would she like to shoo the mother off to then? The janitors closet perhaps? Better yet, maybe we should just ask her to stay at home and never go in public until the child is able to eat solids. Are liquid yams all over the child's face acceptable to the mother?

Did the woman ask her to continue watching her while she ate her cookie? Was there no way she could politely excuse herself and go somewhere else if it was so disgusting to her? Does the mother and child have less of a right to be there than the college student doing back to school shopping?

Who could seriously argue the mother should be shooed away on a plane?Where? Anyone who has ever had the experience of sitting in an airplane bathroom should be more understanding. How can we expect a person to sit in there for 30 minutes with a toddler in her lap. Would the writer prefer a screaming hungry baby on the flight?

This is far from "public nudity". Even the writer admits she did not see anything. The woman was using a blanket. I find that to be far less revealing than most of the clothes I see in the mall today.

I've never thought breastfeeding was a beautiful thing, but it's a necessary thing. A woman should not have to feel ashamed to breastfeed in public.

ocu.alumni2011
ocu.alumni2011

I am at lost on how to respond to this article. As a mother myself, I took comfort in the fact that I am allowed to breastfeed my child in public and with the availability of nursing covers, it covers the whole baby from view. Reading that the writer finds it repugnant to the act of a mother feeding her baby (modestly at that with the use of blanket) makes me wonder the actual cause of her discomfort and annoyance. Further more on her views about breastfeeding babies on flight, does she expect babies to be left unfed for the whole duration of the flight? what if it was an international flight of more than just a few hours, does she expect the baby to understand and peacefully hold him/herself from him/her meal?

She said that her opposing view is that there should not be nudity as in the exposed breast, but at her own accord she mentioned that the mother feeding her baby at the mall was covered in blanket, thus there was no nudity. Hence i believe that it is her that should learn to accord courtesy to mothers nursing their babies, and should the view is repugnant to her that much, simply find other areas that she could sit and have her cookie. After all, she does not have to worry about a hungry screaming baby wanting to be breastfed while doing so.

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