Monday, January 5, 2009

breasts--they are not just for oogling

By now, you've probably heard about the breastfeeding controversy on Facebook. Apparently, a woman in California (it's always Cali, isn't it?) posted a photo of herself breastfeeding her baby on her Facebook page and it was consequently removed by Facebook because boob exposure is apparently against the rules--the 'rule' being that people are barred from "uploading anything obscene, pornographic or sexually explicit".

Since when did breastfeeding become pornographic? Wait a sec. Some people might be in to that.

Since when did breastfeeding become sexually explicit?

In fact, if I recall correctly, every time I've run into a breastfeeding mom in public while with a boy, that boy's reaction tends to be more on the "EWWW, YUCK!" side than the "SO HOT!" side.

Take for example my ex-coworker Jason.

Jason was a manager at The Crap when I had just been promoted to supervisor. After I went through training (which consisted of me reading through the entire Policy and Procedures manual--trust me, the Crap didn't provide me with any managerial skill I didn't already possess), I was thrown to the wolves by supervising a CrapKids store. At the time, I really disliked children and compared supervising the CrapKids store to being an overpaid babysitter. However, being a supervisor-in-training meant that I couldn't supervise the store alone. I needed a manager. On on this particular day, Jason was it.

It was kinda slow that day until a woman and her family came in. She was wearing a sari and was carrying a baby across her body. Her children proceeded to run around the store. Jason approached her and offered her some assistance. However, the woman didn't speak English very well, so Jason just moved on to folding some shirts at a nearby table.

And then the woman proceeded to remove the clothing from a low bench that was not made for sitting but for displaying merchandise. After she cleared the bench, she sat down. And before I could kindly ask her to sit somewhere else as the benches were not made to carry any significant weight, the woman removed a breast from her sari and started to breastfeed. While I remained somewhat unfazed (at that point, I had seen my own boobs many times), Jason ran into the stockroom and started to freak out.

When I walked back there to see if Jason was ok, I saw that he was breathing fast and heavy as he was telling the stockperson just what had happened. He turned to me and said, "You're a woman. Go tell her to stop! She can't be doing that in public!!!"

Just then I recalled what I had read in The Crap Policy and Procedure manual--you can't stop a breastfeeding woman. However, if she would like some privacy, a manager can direct her to a fitting room or restroom. I told Jason that I wasn't going to tell her to stop because it was against policy. Besides, she and her family were the only ones in the store so it's not like innocent little children were going to be scarred for life (and really?  over something as natural as breastfeeding?).

Jason said, "Well, I'm going to stay back here until she leaves. Or at least until she puts her boob away."

Jason was clearly scarred for life. Boobs scared him. It was all rather funny to me since I had some of my own and didn't find them the least bit intimidating.

Several years later, I found out that Jason came out of the closet. I'm not sure if the two events are related.

However, I will never forget his reaction to the breastfeeding woman. In fact, when it's my turn, I think I'm going to be as ballsy as the woman and do it in public. On purpose.

The story in this post was brought out of the depths of my memory by this post from Bilbo.


Bilbo said...

Thanks for the plug...and happy new year!

Daniel said...

I really don't know why so many men are freaked out by this. Because that is what they are for, and in fact, are the best way to feed a child.

Maybe it is a territorial thing... not wanting to see something that we so sexualize be used in such a basic, biological manner..

Juliet said...

I breastfeed in public all the time. I try to be discreet about it, mostly for my own comfort, but that's how I feed my kid (well, that and Cheerios, now that she's older). What bothers me most is when women get offended by breastfeeding in public, which they sometimes do--if you're a breastfeeding mom and you want get out for more than an hour or two, public breastfeeding becomes a necessity (at least if you don't want to pump--I hate pumping and some babies never get good at taking bottles), so the fact that some women essentially impose on others the idea that we shouldn't leave the house until our babies are weaned is pretty depressing. And then sometimes people suggest we should nurse in public restrooms! Some restrooms have nice setups for nursing moms, but in general, yuck. All that in addition to men's weird hangups about boobs, which society does so little to counteract. So, in short, yay for public breastfeeding!

Anonymous said...

Boobs are, for some reason, only viewed as sexual objects and not as magnificently utilitarian (food/paci/pillow all in one!).

I don't go out of my way to make people uncomfortable when I breastfeed, but let's just put it this way: the kid's needs come before anyone's prudishness.

anOCgirl said...

bilbo: no probs, dude

daniel: in discussing this story with jesse, i found out that he's freaked out about public breastfeeding too. something tells me this might change when i start having his children.

juliet: not to open a can of worms here, but women who shame women who breastfeed are not feminists. i really don't understand what the big deal is. a kid's gotta eat!

madame: i agree. you gotta put your kid's needs first. everyone else should just get over themselves.