So … apparently some aging, balding man expresses his opinion on some significantly rating morning television show.
I don’t know. I didn’t watch it and haven’t gone back to search for it. I don’t watch these shows for a reason; essentially because they are designed to produce content that instigates discussion and debate to increase rating to ensure their advertisers receive exposure. You’re kidding yourself if you think differently.
What has intrigued me is the “discussion” and “debate” and “conversation” around his opinion- which some will tell you he is entitled to (he is, aren’t we all?), and is, ultimately, his job in order to reach the goal of securing advertisers for the show. Oh yeah, ok, and the perception of social debate for important issues.
Inevitably, the conversation has been reduced to “I breastfeed/didn’t breastfeed and …” with the unintended implication of “Therefore, this is how everyone should do it.”
This is not discussion, debate or even remotely useful. This is passing an experience off as opinion and, in some cases (not all – to be fair, a minority) forcing it onto others. I did it, therefore everyone should.
(I once ate an entire Chinese meal using chopsticks with my non-dominant hand, whilst breastfeeding a two month old, without making a mess … I don’t understand why breastfeeding women complain about not being able to eat! Stupid, huh? It’s true, I did do that. I can also tell you that prior to that, and since, I haven’t been able to eat a Chinese meal with my dominant hand without making a mess.)
Kochie’s opinion, as are most formed opinions, based on his life experiences, messages he’s heard, his upbringing and various other factors. He’s formed this view on breastfeeding in public on these. Yay for him.
And getting into discussion with him about it, I feel, is dumb, futile and does nothing to encourage the “cause” of women breastfeeding in public, and making it more socially acceptable.
(That it is accepted by over two-thirds of our society already is conveniently overlooked. Admittedly, one-third of our society still has ‘issues’ with it, far too high, but it is in the minority.)
It is, however, extremely normal and natural to want to defend one’s own honour; to defend your beliefs, your values and your behaviours.
When someone, anyone, says something that goes against the grain of who you are, it is natural to want to defend it. To have the last word is innate.
You know what else is natural?
A baby crying when it is hungry. Very normal and natural.
As is a mother’s response to want to feed that baby as soon as possible (and not just because the crying is grating and she will lose her ‘nana if it doesn’t stop soon) … it is how the human species survives; a baby cries to communicate its hunger and the mother responds.
In many cases, it is “natural” for a mother’s body to react, chemically and hormonally, to produce feed for her offspring. In the case of mammals, this is via her breasts, voluptuous or otherwise.
Of course, this is not always the case; the body does not react like this for all mothers, and there are numerous factors that may impede upon yet other mother’s ability to respond in such a manner.
Given the breasts as a vessel for feeding, it is notwithstanding that a mother may “whip hers out” (as some suggest) to ensure her offspring is well fed, and continues in its ultimate role to ensure the survival of the species.
“Whip hers out” does not imply she rips her top off, attaches tassels to her nipples and performs some kind of breast-twirling dance of sorts, to feed her bubs. Just so we’re clear for those who feel that this is what a mother breastfeeding in public means. No, it means she makes her nipple – the bit where the milk comes out – available for her child to attach to so it may adequately feed.
Do you see the difference? Good.
Here’s what else is very, very natural, and normal and goes unsaid all the time! They are naturally occurring reactions to many things that happen in our lives generally, and can be heightened by the sight of a breastfeeding mother.
Warning: the following content may offend others because they are happy living in la la land and don’t want to know that this sort of thing goes on around us. They don’t like to know that these occurrences are natural reactions to things, and may have their views and beliefs challenged. Even just a teensy bit.
More stuff that is naturally occurring in humans – I’ll call it Human Nature (not the 80s band with bad hair).
A woman who is unable to, for whatever reason, breastfeed may feel anger, guilt, resentment or any number of other, not very nice feelings. Seeing another mother breastfeeding may make her sad, or want to take a revenge of sorts. It may cause her to ‘lodge a complaint’ about this woman. It may make her cry. It may make her give a dirty look, pass a judgemental comment, or ask the mother if she would like to feed elsewhere – she may ask this out of concern and comfort of the woman, or to get her out of her face.
Some mother’s are extremely worried that their loud mouth toddler will loudly point out that they can “see a booby!” even if only a teensy part of one. These mothers are left feeling embarrassed and mortified and not quite sure how to handle the situation. Sometimes, they feel embarrassed for the feeding mother (although they probably don’t need to be) and don’t know what to do. Essentially, they are unable to manage their own feelings and actions and can sometimes “transfer blame”.
Some other mums might also have some values around what their children see and are exposed to, and feel that any part of a breast is “wrong”.
Men, biologically and, again, all for the sake of ensuring the human species continues, are sexually attracted to breasts. In fact, scientifically speaking, breast size, along with body shape and proportions, are designed to attract men for the sole purpose of selecting a mate and procreating. Simple as.
Therefore, men are biologically programmed to find breasts alluring.
(The issue of sexualisation of breasts and women’s bodies is not being discounted here, and that is another topic entirely – the crux, however, is men are designed to like breasts. Simple as that.)
Some men, however, are unable to accept and cope with these very natural and normal feelings, and feel out of control of their own bodies when sexual thoughts occur upon seeing a breast. Particularly if that breast if being utilised for the purpose of nourishment. It is an amazing conflict of emotions and feelings, added to by social acceptance of certain behaviours.
And they say stupid shit, complain, give a look or make a comment.
Adolescents … ah, here’s a fun one. Adolescents are full of the same “find a mate and procreate” stuff, as designed by evolution. Again, you guessed it, aiming for survival of the species.
The male adolescents have that same thing with boobs, even in small, barely discernible amounts of breast, only the have even less control over their bodies and thoughts. Particularly because they are naturally at the height of their adolescent normality.
Some will even get erections at the site of a breastfeeding woman!
It is not perverted. It is merely the body’s natural reaction; it’s not even necessarily sexual.
Let’s face it, teenage boys can get erections over just about anything … it is just what happens at this stage of their lives!
As for the girls, they’ll also be experiencing all kinds of sexual under-and overtones to their lives. Guess what? Breasts are also utilised for sexual pleasure, and some girls feel that boob-related-arousal and feel a little bit icky when they see a woman breastfeeding. It is, for them, kind of difficult to get their head around the fact that boobs can both sexual and nourishing for another human being.
(Not the same human being at the same time of course …)
If you think about it, a lot of adults can’t get their heads around this fact, either.
ALL of these things are naturally and normally occurring in your average human being. Even the ones who are below average, and those who are above average. Possibly not in the extremes at either end of the scale, but you never know.
I’m sure there are many, many other normal and natural reactions that I haven’t come close to touching on … I’m not suggesting this above list is complete!
Thus, it incenses me when alleged debate centres around the musings of an aging, balding, television presenter and “this was my experience so it should just be for all”. This is not “debate”. This is stupid.
Does any of the above mean that it is ok for women who breastfeed in public to be shamed, asked to leave or cover up, be judged, spoken to rudely or any of the other stuff that goes on?
I just feel, if discussion about it is going to happen, and real discussion is going to happen AND we are genuinely interested in encouraging society to be completely ok (not just two thirds of it) we need to understand – and in some cases, respect – why it may be an issue for some.
Whilst I’m here, because last time I suggested respect in relation to breastfeeding in public I was accused of having thoughts similar to Hitler and that by suggesting respect be involved was the same as what Hitler did to the Jews all those years back (I wish I was kidding you) … by respect I mean when you’re breastfeeding, as discreetly or not as you like, have compassion and understanding for those around you.
NOT “kowtow” to them (yes, this was also suggested-‘ respect’ means ‘to kowtow to others’, FFS!), not smother you and your bubs in a blanket, or hide in a toilet. Not at all. I mean respect their views and values … it makes it a hell of a lot easier NOT to take them personally when they go all red in the face and their pants go a little tent-like. Or when they give you a rude look, or make comment.
They’re quite possibly having a shitter time than you are; and if they’ve reduced themselves to that, I’m pretty sure it’s a guaranteed!
All I ask is, if you’re going to have an opinion about it – on either side of the fence – at least have an intellectual rationalisation for it.
And please don’t lower yourself to superficial “conversation” with a television host who cares more about viewer numbers than the actual issue of breastfeeding, public or otherwise.
Fight your natural urge to have the last word. It’s wasted (and sometimes you look like an idiot, yourself – stop it!)