Keeping A-Breast of the Situation…

Recently, I was scanning through Facebook to see how everyone was doing. Mixed in with the pictures of kids and winter scenes and hunting scores was a video a well known actor (George Takei) had created about a female government official in Europe breastfeeding her child while arguing an important piece of legislation. I found a related article for the non-Facebook crowd here.

Although I could not breastfeed for numerous reasons including the uptight fear I would drop the baby, two infants at once, and a younger child so voracious I was left looking like hamburger, I fully support breastfeeding for a number of reasons, including the many immune benefits for the baby and the psychological benefits of intimacy and bonding for both mom and baby.

And if you are discreet and modest, I don’t care where you do it. I might blush and look away, but it’s my issue and comfort level; the older I get, the more comfortable I get in my own skin, the more natural the situation becomes.

But I digress. The piece I’d seen on Facebook, while supporting open breastfeeding, wasn’t as detailed as the Internet article in discussing some of the surrounding issues. In fact, the article strongly advised men that breasts are for feeding infants. This was surprising because I’d always perceived Europe as more open about the human form and more relaxed about issues surrounding sexuality, gender, and reproduction.

From there, I began to wonder and think about culture and subcultures. Why do people scream about public breastfeeding? Where there are issues with public breastfeeding, are there skewed attitudes surrounding sexuality and sexual expression? Is there a constant clash between complete repression and silence versus complete openness and no privacy bordering on exhibitionism? Do those who scream the loudest have a secret shame because on some level they find something about breastfeeding titillating and tantalizing?

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I only know what I’ve learned as a parent — the more you make something not dangerous forbidden or secret, the more likely a child is to try it and the more likely it is you will clash over the rules surrounding it. And maybe that’s a pattern that is in motion in this scenario too.