Answer: When the issue isn’t fucking breastfeeding in public at all!
As I was driving off yesterday morning, there was massive debate raging, yet again because it hasn’t been going on for yeeeaaars already, about whether breastfeeding in public was okay or not. This, inevitably, attracted a range of opinions which included those who had breastfed four children, thus clearly an expert on All Things Parenting, and those who had no freaking clue at all.
When I actually discovered what has caused this “outrage” and blah, blah, more of the same shit, the crux of the issue was that Kelly O’Dwyer, Liberal MP and mother (and no doubt a billionty other things, just like many of us) had been asked if she could express more breastmilk so she could increase her chances of attending more parliamentary votes sessions.
Cos I’m sure they’re loads of fun. But, then again, I’m not Kelly and it’s her choice to do what drives her. I can’t imagine it being fun at all, but I’m sure Kelly gets a shitload of satisfaction out of it and fucking, YAY, Kelly!
It was then that all everyone got their tits in a knot.
(You can read some of the standard response and other guff here).
First and foremost, we can all go “ooh, but it was asked by a man” and he is ignorant and all the rest of the man bashing.
Yes, indeed, it was an ignorant thing to say. But you know what? Most people offer the most inane and useless advice ALL THE TIME!
In fact, one of my bug bears as a blogger and writer, and having done it for 10 years is people think I still need to be advised to keep a notepad beside my bed. Obviously, I’m fucking stupid and need to know this because, well, I’m stupid and haven’t figured it out yet.
Yes, it is well meaning. I get that. But for fuck’s sake, give me some credit! Often, this advise isn’t even solicited.
All I see in this situation is the same; a man who can see that one of his colleagues is missing a few important sessions and I’m fairly sure he was just “trying to help”.
He may have overheard her say something, or she may have said something to him. He may, indeed have a wife with children and that is what worked for her, thus it may be “good” advise to impart to his colleague.
As well all know, mothers are EVERYTHING from nurses to terrorist negotiators. Just check out all the memes about it. Therefore, whatever experience any given mother had, then EVERYONE ELSE must have be able to have the same experience.
The issue is NOT breastfeeding in public.
The issue is people giving unwarranted, unsolicited, and frankly, stupid advice. But we all do it, and it simply pisses people off. A lot.
Yes, it was probably a stupid thing to say, and I have no idea of the intent, but I cannot, in all faith, dismiss the idea that it was perhaps well intentioned.
Mums, generally, are far too sensitive and there is so much CRAP around breastfeeding. I have seen threads 300 + comments long about who a woman was breastfeeding her daughter in a doctor’s waiting room, and the receptionist came out and asked her if she’d like to go into a consulting room.
Because … and the reason was ONLY to get her out of the public eye. Everyone else jumped on and recommended she right letters of complaint, or boycott that clinic and backed her up over how horrible it was. Etc etc blah blah.
All I could see was a receptionist, witnessing a woman sitting in one of those shitfull, non-ergonomic, hard chairs, in a room full of sick people. I saw compassion, and the offer for the woman NOT to be removed from the eyes of everyone else who were “looking at her in disgust”, but to provide her with a quiet, comfortable place, away from sick people!
Aside from missing the Non-requested Advice, or the several other things it might have been, which isn’t actually the issue of breastfeeding in public is the notion of Breastfeeding In The Workplace.
Some workplaces are evolving and providing safe, comfortable places for working mothers. Some are well suited to allowing the option of breastfeeding in the workplace.
Others, not so much. Some, merely because they haven’t got the physical structure, and some because the structure in management is old school and hasn’t evolved in his or her thoughts.
Others are just plain stupid places, or jobs if you like, to breastfeed.
I would suggest, and will likely be condemned for being anti-breastfeeding in public for saying this, but if you are, say, a bus driver or your work involves shifting things around using a forklift, that breastfeeding on the job might be, I dunno, a really fucking stupid thing to do? Maybe? Dangerous, perhaps? In opposition to all manner of workplace safety?
Just a thought …
Breastfeeding in the workplace, for so many reasons, is not always ideal … it may be for safety reasons, for you, your baby, or your co-workers. Your baby may suck at sucking when in certain environments. You may be distracted and cause all manner of issue, one way or another, even though your intents were good.
But let’s be really, really clear and honest about this. Neither of these is an issue of breastfeeding in public.
Because THAT is what it is.
(Of course, there is not much good debate that can be milked, pardon the pun, for a years on end with such sense and logic, I know. But, fuck me, get over yourselves and let’s discuss what is REALLY going on, and don’t turn every thing into a debate about frigging breastfeeding in public. You’ve missed the point. Also, un-knot your tits. It makes breastfeeding harder and is not natural)