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Public Breast Feeding

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By 2013downsk
Words 1421
Pages 6
Present the Argument
Let me propose a situation. You are the mother of a beautiful 6 month old baby girl. You’re sitting at a relatively busy restaurant and have just ordered your food. Shortly after your baby begins fussing and crying because she is ready to eat. What do you do? I believe the natural thing to do is to begin to nurse your baby. Then the manager comes up to you and asks you to stop breastfeeding your baby or go somewhere else because it is making other customers uncomfortable. (Haelle) Again, what do you do? Most people support breastfeeding, saying that it is “natural and good.” However, breastfeeding in public is a completely different situation. Some are 100% on board, others are 100% opposed to the act. (McKinney) I completely support public breast feeding.
It is completely within your legal rights to breastfeed in public, without covering yourself, within the United States. In fact, state laws explicitly say “a woman has a right to breastfeed in public” and “(specify) that the act of breastfeeding is not indecent exposure” (CDC). Even though breastfeeding in public is legal, for some, there is still a negative stigma around it.
Some consider breast feeding in public to be indecent exposure. This is because of the double standard involving the female breast (Donovan). We live in a society in which women’s breast have been extremely sexualized through movies, television shows, and advertisements. For example, within a mall one will probably see posters of Victoria’s Secret models in just their bras, watching TV a Hardee’s or Hooters commercial may play, and walking down the street one might see a woman in a low cut top. I have no problem with this. If this is how Victoria’s Secret, Hardees, Hooters, and the woman walking down the street want to present women and more specifically breasts, I’m fine with that. My issue is with the double standard. My issue is that within our society, to some level, it is okay for a woman’s chest to be exposed in a sexual manner, but not for its intended purpose, to feed. (Donovan)
Many suggest that the mother should “Just go in another room” (McKinney), other less extremist suggest “covering up” (McKinney). My question to these people is: Why? Why should a mother go to another room? Why does a mother need to hide this natural act? Suggesting that we hide breastfeeding is implying the act of breastfeeding is something to be “embarrassed and ashamed” of (Haelle). It implies that breastfeeding is a “sexual or dirty act” (McKinney). This is because of the double standard surrounding the female breast. Society has turned the breast into a sexualized symbol. (Donovan) Many women find it difficult to “cover up” (McKinney) and breastfeed with a blanket. The baby will often be hot and annoyed and will “scream, squall and push the blanket aside” anyways (McKinney). Also, often times the “other room” being discussed either doesn’t exist or is a public restroom. In the case of the public restroom, I invite the individuals proposing this idea to eat their meals in the public restroom (Reneau). We don’t eat our foods under a blanket, we don’t eat our foods in the bathroom. In “no other context but breastfeeding is eating considered something that cannot be viewed.” (McKinney) If the “other room” doesn’t exist, what should be done? Those who oppose breastfeeding in public suggest formula. If these women wanted to feed their children formula, they would. They have chosen to breastfeed. Others suggest using breast pumps. Breast pumps were created for working mothers, who are separated from their children and can’t breast feed when the child is hungry. Breast pumps weren’t designed to eliminate breast feeding. They aren’t to “(protect) society from the sight of a nursing woman.” (McKinney) Many have very strong opinions about breastfeeding in public. Though there are no laws against it, there are still ethical concerns surrounding public breast feeding. Many say the breast it a sex symbol and it is indecent to show it in public even when breast feeding. However, the breast is only a sex symbol because of our society. Our society has twisted it from its true purpose, to feed babies. Most would agree that when hungry, a baby deserves to be feed. It is impractical to expect a woman to go to another room every time she needs to feed her baby. Sometimes there isn’t another room, sometimes the only other room available is a restroom. We don’t eat our food in the bathroom, babies shouldn’t have to either. Covering up is a completely unnecessary hassle. The only form of eating that society expects to be hidden is breastfeeding. That concept is complete ridiculous. Breast pumps are yet another unnecessary hassle. These women can’t be expected to put their lives on hold just because they’ve chosen to breastfeed instead of feed their baby formula. To put all these regulations on when, where, and how a nursing woman can feed her hungry child and not on mothers who bottle feed is discriminatory (McKinney). With all of these regulations almost no one could breastfeed their child. (Hinds)
The next time you’re in a restaurant and a 6 month old baby girl starts fussing and her mom begins to feed her don’t feel uncomfortable, don’t judge her. If you do, you may make a new mom who isn’t yet a fully “confident nursing mother (Hinds)” stop breast feeding her baby, which most will agree is a perfectly “natural and good (McKinney)” act. The only reason you feel awkward is because society has conditioned you to feel awkward.

Evaluate the Argument
Within your arguments you list that it is completely within your “legal rights to breastfeed in public, without covering yourself, within the United States”. However, legal and ethical are not the same thing. Just because the act is legal doesn’t make it ethical. We are discussing the ethicalness of breastfeeding in public not the legality of it.
You also discuss the double standard surrounding the female breast. The breast has been twisted from its original purpose (to give milk). Within our society women’s breast HAVE been extremely sexualized. There IS a stigma around that woman walking in the low cut top, just like there is a stigma around breastfeeding. Though that stigma may not be far, it still tells us that breastfeeding in public is inappropriate.
When talking about those who suggest going to another room you ask us “Why”. Why they should go to another room is because the breast is considered a sex symbol. And though this isn’t its intended purpose, it is what society says. Breastfeeding isn’t a “sexual or dirty act” but, the breast is. In “no other context but breastfeeding is eating considered something that cannot be viewed”, but in no other context but breastfeeding are we eating from a sexualized symbol.
It is inappropriate within our culture to show your breasts in public under in any circumstances.

My Opinion I support public breast feeding for reasons listed about. Though I understand there is a stigma around the act and have accepted it.
CDC. Public Health Law Program. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. CDC 24/7: Saving Lives. Protecting People. Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/phlp/winnable/breastfeeding.html
Donovan, L. (09/10/2015). The Problem with the Way We Talk About Breastfeeding. ATTN. Retrieved from http://www.attn.com/stories/3114/breastfeeding-vs-marketing-with-breasts?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=viralvideocomment&utm_campaign=videos
Haelle, T. (05/07/2015). Breastfeeding In Public: Illinois Restaurant Shows How To Right A Wrong. Forbes. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/tarahaelle/2015/05/07/breastfeeding-in-public-illinois-restaurant-shows-how-to-right-a-wrong/
Hinds, A. (04/17/2013). Why I'm Glad Someone Told Me to Stop Breastfeeding in Public. Huff Post Parents. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/amber-hinds/breastfeeding-in-public_b_3095644.html
McKinney, K. (04/01/2013). If You Don’t Support Breastfeeding in Public, You Don’t Support Breastfeeding. Huff Post Parents. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/katharine-mckinney/breastfeeding-in-public_b_2814004.html
Reneau, A. (2015). How to Respond to Breastfeeding in Public Criticisms. What’s so Hard About Covering up to Breastfeed in Public?. Motherhood and More. Retrieved from http://www.motherhoodandmore.com/2013/08/whats-so-hard-about-covering-up-to-html.html
25 Historical Images That Normalize Breastfeeding. (02/02/2014). Buzzfeed. Retrieved from http://www.buzzfeed.com/southerndisposition/25-historical-images-that-normalize-breastfeeding-jlw6#.uy4918x02…...

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