Tuesday, 10 July 2012

I am not an Activist -- BUT.

A friend of mine is facing some breastfeeding discrimination at church, of all places.

A family friendly location, if ever there was one.

A place where we are taught that our bodies are God-given, and that children are gifts from above.

But breastfeeding is dirty and wrong? No.

She has my support, and the support of my children....

I don't want to get into a Formula vs Breastfeeding debate. Frankly, I'm not interested. I think that formula has its place and I'm glad it exists because I wouldn't be here today without it!

What upsets me is that our culture's mores have been so inculcated into LDS Church culture that the pornography of the breast is now making us feel like feeding our children is something to be hidden away and be embarrassed about.

I am a woman of contradictions; I have covered myself when feeding my children, and probably will end up covering up in the future. That doesn't mean I think it's right, or good, or normal - it's just that sometimes I end up bowing under the extreme pressure if being "modest", too. 

And what about the woman who dares breastfeed her child past a certain age (whatever that magic age happens to be)? My youngest is 25 months old, and still very much needs momma's milk. My older kids see it, recognise it, and allow her that right. 

Why does this have to be such a big deal? It saddens me. 

 Seagull Monument on Temple Square in Salt Lake City, Utah
No blanket here.

Illustration from Harper's Weekly of an 1871 Sacrament Meeting in the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Two women on the left side of the picture are breastfeeding - gasp! - without a covering.

Things have changed so much....


Mortons said...

Interesting. I feel the need to go in to a private room at church because I think I know exactly what would happen if I started feeding in front of people. I'm beginning to mature enough now to not care so much but my Husband really does. My young women leader taught us as girls that when a man sees too much cleavage or breast, he can't help himself, he is automatically aroused. I don't think that's true, but some people must believe it! It's so sad that so many think men have no self control, and if I'm honest, a lot of women believe that it is our responsibility to ensure that men have no need to practise self control, (I was once told in an RS lesson if we didn't keep ourselves made up, fit and attractive then we can't blame our husbands for looking to other women!) It's sad that the culture of pornography is/has crept in to the extent that breasts can't be used for the purpose they were created for without it being seen as immodest and wrong. A lot of young mothers see bf as "Disgusting" and refuse to try. So sad.

RaisinCookies said...

I am pretty horrified that those ideas are being taught in YW and RS. Put all the responsibility of chastity on the woman's shoulders? Completely absolve a man of being responsible for his thoughts and actions? Sounds uncomfortably close to "She was asking for it, in those clothes."

I am honestly baffled at general anti-breastfeeding sentiments. How do people think the earth's population has reached 7 billion? Argh!!!!

Emma-Jane said...

Interesting. I asked my husband about this, and he is totally pro breast feeding, but prefers women to coverup, not because he feels it is disgusting or wrong, but just he said because he feels embarrassed and he doesn't know where to look. I guess he wouldn't want to have been felt to have been checking out another woman's breasts for example, and by implication have others think that he might have been having raunchy thoughts either. I currently breast feed at church without covering up and no one says anything, but I would never feed anywhere in public in the what I call the 'whip out a boob' style where the breast appears over the top of the top, as in the statue, as I just wouldn't personally feel comfortable with any others, men or women, seeing parts of my anatomy that to me are quite intimate. When I feed I feed by lifting whatever top I have on up, and I always have a vest underneath, so there's no flesh available on view anywhere so it's never been an issue to me. It doesn't bother me at all if another woman nurses in the "whip out a boob" fashion, but it's not for me. I'm sorry your friend is having grief for it though.

RaisinCookies said...

I suppose I sometimes have a hard time with the relativity of it all -- in other cultures, a woman's breasts are entirely functional and are never covered. In our culture, clearly this is far from the case.

Which is right? Which is real?

I think what it boils down to, for me, is that 99.99% of women who are breastfeeding in public do it because they are feeding their baby. Not to be political, not to make a statement, and not to garner attention.

I have been ogled whilst breastfeeding, and it was completely unsettling. Here I was, feeding my child, and a man used his eyes to invade my space and thoughts. Thankfully, this was an isolated incident and the vast majority of the time people don't even NOTICE a woman breastfeeding.

I just wish this wasn't an issue at all. I wish breastfeeding was so utterly banal that we never even considered having these conversations. Someday, maybe.

notmolly said...

Total support for your friend. If I were still nursing, I'd travel to sit by her and nurse right there in church. (I've done it in every meeting, including while leading a discussion, and I don't tend to use a cover, just workable clothing.)

It is really, really backward for this ugly attitude to hold sway. The only response I think I would want to make is: This is how God intends me to feed my child. If you don't want to see it, don't look. I'm not stopping. Get over yourself.

It's ridiculous that it's even an issue. I have great sympathy for your friend!

RaisinCookies said...

Exactly. Total agreement, notmolly. Feel uncomfortable? There's the rest of the world, go look elsewhere.

PachaMama said...

I love those photos, they are awesome... and proof positive that people haven't always been so squeamish of breasts at church <3