While the Affordable Care Act of 2010 requires all employers in America to provide their employees that are nursing mothers with a decent amount of time to breastfeed, and while there is no law in the United States prohibiting women from breastfeeding in public, many people have recently taken it upon themselves to shame women for breastfeeding both in the workplace and in public. It seems as though every time you turn on the news or read a news website there is a horrifying story about a mother being berated for nursing her child in public. This is all very interesting coming from a society that is so obsessed with sex and the objectification of a woman’s body. Our society is making it so that it is okay for a woman’s breasts to be exposed only if it is for a sexual purpose. If a woman’s breasts are exposed because she is sustaining her child’s appetite, there is a problem. These protests speak volumes about our society’s ubiquitous double standards; always willing to accept what benefits us and only us, and to scorn what does not.
The number of mothers breastfeeding their children has continually been rising in the US, with 79% of children having been breastfed at least once according the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Due to this recent trend, there has been a huge need for support for mothers who choose to breastfeed. For example, in Arizona the CDC funded Early Care and Education Learning Collaborative has the goal of providing mothers and employees in early childhood care and education with safe, clean environments for breastfeeding or pumping milk. The Tempe Christian Preschool even created a lounge for mothers and employees complete with a couch, pillow and privacy screen. In New York City under the Nurse Family Partnership, first time mothers are provided with breastfeeding education throughout their pregnancy and afterwards with regular home visits. These two initiatives represent only a fraction of the steps being taken across the nation to educate women on breastfeeding and to encourage them to do it.
Yet with the encouragement of breastfeeding comes hungry babies. With hungry babies comes screaming and crying. And unfortunately, mothers cannot control their child’s hunger in any way but to feed them, which is where breastfeeding in public comes into play. Recently, celebrities such as Olivia Wilde have been posting pictures of themselves breastfeeding to show their support for the thousands of women who are constantly criticized for doing it in public. But we do not need celebrities to show their support via Instagram photos and tweets. We do not need them to validate a woman’s conscious decision about her child’s health.
We need to get over it.
A woman’s body is hers and hers alone. If she chooses to breastfeed her child, that responsibility is hers and hers alone. If she is in a situation where she can only feed her child in public, then the only person who needs to be concerned with that situation is her. In our sex-crazed society, males will spend hours talking about if they are an “ass or tits” type of guy, but will break down as soon as a mother starts to feed her child in public. It is quite interesting how obsessed our society is with sex but how disgusted people are by natural bodily functions.
Recently, an article was published that claimed a member of the NYPD killed a child whose mother was breastfeeding her while having an altercation with the mother in an attempt to stop her from breastfeeding in public. This story was a hoax, yet so many people believed it and the fact that they did should raise everyone’s concern about our society. People were outraged at the idea of the child being killed, yet they are not outraged when others make it so uncomfortable for a mother to feed her child in public that she sometimes cannot because of the pressure and the stressful, miserable atmosphere – therefore depriving her child.
The American government and modern society is highly involved with regulating women’s bodies and health care decisions; we have been able to deal with it so far but when will enough be enough? Our country is angered by the honor killings that occur halfway across the world due to shaming cultures yet we manifest the whole idea behind a shaming culture. We shame women publicly for their health care decisions every single day, yet that does not outrage our own people. Breastfeeding is healthy and highly recommended by doctors. If the naysayers believe that women want to be sitting in McDonald’s or at a park feeding their child, they could not be more wrong, especially with our spiteful, disgusted society. By breastfeeding in public, mothers are doing nothing more than succoring a child’s life. Our society needs to get over it’s double standards on the exposure of women’s bodies. There is nothing shameful about taking care of your child and there is no reason why a mother should ever have to feel uncomfortable doing so. Our society needs to stop over-sexualizing and objectifying women’s bodies in order to understand and accept what is only natural.
“Breastfeeding.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 13 Apr. 2012. Web. 16 Aug. 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/phlp/winnable/breastfeeding.html>.
“Breastfeeding Report Card.” National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Aug. 2014. <http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/pdf/2014breastfeedingreportcard.pdf>.
Gruber, Rebecca. “12 Celeb Moms Who’ve Shared Their Breastfeeding Selfies.” Pop Sugar. N.p., n.d. Web. 16 Aug. 2014. <http://moms.popsugar.com/Celebrity-Moms-Breastfeeding-Photos-34950890#photo-35410152>.
Varghese, Johnlee. “Why Did Everyone Fall for ‘NYPD Officer Kills Baby Following Breastfeeding Argument’ Hoax?.” International Business Times RSS. N.p., 10 Aug. 2014. Web. 16 Aug. 2014. <http://www.ibtimes.co.in/why-did-everyone-fall-nypd-officer-kills-baby-following-breastfeeding-argument-hoax-606525>.