“Look at her! Shameless bitch,” he said to his colleague as they lowered their heads in embarrassment and carried on walking. She looked at them her eyes filled with a mix of shame and passive defiance. She wasn’t sure whether to be angry, upset, humiliated, stunned or bit of each.
I was 16 years old when a man said that to his work colleague as they walked past me in a department store. It was a relatively hot day and there was a woman sitting on a sofa with a cardigan draped across her chest. If you stared long enough at her, it was pretty obvious. But if you were walking and glanced at her, it wasn’t. The woman was breastfeeding her child in public. Over the years in the UK, the subject of women breastfeeding in public is a thought-provoking discussion. There are those who abhor it and demand for it to be shunned. And those who see nothing wrong with it at all.
Breasts. Boobs. Tits. Titties. Juicy, juicy mangoes. Mosquito bites. Whatever you call them, breasts are there and there’s not much people can do about them. We seem to have a bit of an obsession for them as well. Whether it’s seeing them in various TV adverts, magazines, websites or in our daily lives, an obsession for breasts and what they should/shouldn’t do exists in our minds and general society. It is interesting to note the way that we view and refer to breasts in the English language. When we see things like page 3, hear drunken slurs of “Get your tits out for the lads” breasts are sexualised and turned into a meaningless object to be gawped at and groped. Their original purpose is momentarily forgotten. But note the change when adverts for Cancer Research come on the TV; it goes from sexualised imagery to clinical, scientific language. It’s called “breast cancer” not “tittie cancer.” Breasts are taken more seriously when they are referred to as “breasts” instead of “titties.”
I find it bizarre that it’s acceptable for images of topless women to be splashed across society in a series of lad mags, adverts, porn videos and billboards but unacceptable for them to be used for their original purpose; to nurse a child. If a topless woman grinning from a magazine cover is deemed “normal” then so should breastfeeding in public. For some reason, people become flustered when they see a woman breastfeeding her child. Is it really that awkward? Does the image of a child sucking at its mother’s breast look like cannibalism? Or does it remind people of a horny overly oiled up person sucking upon the nipples of a fellow horny being which is why they feel uncomfortable? Most people would have probably been breast-fed as a baby, unless they went straight to the formula stuff. There are countless works of art depicting blissfully content mothers looking upon a child peacefully suckling their breast. Hell, this YouTube video about breastfeeding went viral because it is so controversial. It was deemed to be the most natural and sacred act that a mother could do for her child because breast feeding was/and is viewed as an emotional bond between a mother and the child. As time went by, scientists discovered that breast was indeed best as it supports a baby’s immune system. I genuinely have no problem with a woman breastfeeding in public. Where else are they supposed to go if they are in public? The public loos in Britain aren’t that pleasant nor are pub toilets.
So what’s your opinion on women breastfeeding in public? If you have Google+ leave a comment, if not tweet me @c_syal with your response.