Breastfeeding Rant

Why isn’t she using a cover in front of all those other male Macaques?! And how dare she breastfeed her child at that advanced age!?

 

 

I am most stressed out breastfeeding in public when I’m at church. I rarely nurse in public now that Aram is getting older and self-weaning, but I still think about my past negative experiences.

It started when Aram was about 18 months old. I would enter the ‘mother’s nursing room’ (specifically designed for mothers to breastfeed) and every single mother is wearing a cover. I always thought the point of the room was so you didn’t have to wear a cover (not that I do when I’m not in the room, but I respect all mothers who feel wearing a cover is right for them). I was hoping to be given the same respect in return. Unfortunately, that is not the case. I have heard “Isn’t he a little old for that?” In a ridiculously condescending tone on more than one occasion. I would ask them more about why they thought this and almost always modesty and sexualization of breastfeeding came up.

Breasts are Mammary Glands

They are not designed to be an erogenous zone (technically the whole body is, but that is another conversation). Our repressed society is viewing breasts like this because we are told they should be hidden-  it is the power of our minds.

I’d also like to point out it wasn’t long ago that knees were considered a sexual part of a human body. In a cultural anthropology class, I read many bizarre sexually explicit snippets of literature, as it was the professor’s intent to educate the class on how sexuality is cultural. The literature and letters detailed explicit thoughts and ideas about knees/ankles/hair. At the time, I laughed along with the rest of the class, but seeing  how some people view breasts our society, it suddenly makes sense.

Knees can be seen uncovered in modern society and we don’t find that area as tantalizing or taboo any longer – intent has to be there. It is because the brain is the largest erogenous zone of the body. That is why humans are able to arouse others while fully clothed, and nude societies are not anymore sexually aroused in nude non-sexual social situations than clothed societies.

 

Beauty and Sexuality are Subjective

Logically, we should be looking at what is biologically normal for homo sapiens. Biological focus will help us sift out cultural norms and look more at what our bodies are designed to do.

I’ve heard people argue that women have full breasts and men do not, so clearly they will arouse men. There is slight truth to this statement.  Men don’t gestate human beings. Women need breasts to feed their children. Plain and simple. Biologically, men look for strong and fertile women.

Human breasts are different from every other animal’s in that they are large even when we are not breastfeeding. When we became bipedal, the primary area males were attracted to, the posterior/gluteus maximus/whatever you’d like to call it, became subsidiary. The breasts evolved to attract males. A large torso area on a woman was the ideal place to showcase fertility.

Also, the shape of the breasts often indicate the fertility of the woman. Progesterone causes the breasts to become rounded, and progesterone is something some infertile women lack.

The problem today is the failure to see that everything on the human body is functional. Breasts are sexual, but that doesn’t mean that breastfeeding is sexual. The penis is sexual, but that doesn’t mean urinating is. I hate to use this comparison because feeding your baby is such a different act than waste elimination, but it does prove that body parts/organs/glands are multifunctional.

Social Norms Can Be Scary

It really scares me when people in western society see sustained/extended breastfeeding as sexual molestation. It is ridiculous and very very sad.

I also find it odd that some people may have a problem viewing a photo of a child being breastfed by their mother. At my parents house, there is a very large photo hanging over my parents fireplace of my mother breastfeeding me when I was two years old. Company has always seen this picture, and photos and stories of breastfeeding did not just stay in the safety of our house, she made sure this was known. The way I was raised breastfeeding is no more intimate than cutting a child’s toenails or hugging or snuggling their mother. Would people find those pictures inappropriate? Of course not!

I definitely can get the argument about posting ANY photos of your child’s face anywhere public, that is a legitimate argument to me, but it’s a choice that is up to each family to make. However, saying specifically that breastfeeding photos are unacceptable? Goodness gracious, I thought we were slightly more enlightened than that.

Our children pick up on these things. If you are showing pictures of everything but breastfeeding (or if you practice breastfeeding in private) they soon will feel it is a secretive and dirty act. All that will do is create another generation full of ignorance and intolerance.

I’m not saying everyone should breastfeed their child for five years, or at all. I’m saying it should be up to the mother when and where she does it. If you don’t want to do it, fine…but let other mothers parent the way they know is right for their child(ren). We know what is right for our boys.  Even when I did feel like my body might be ready to wean, I realized that Aram wasn’t. This is not something  we’re doing for self gratification; it is something that we’re doing for our children.  I think every mother has a right to parent their child to the best of their ability. For some, that may be child-led weaning.

And that is my complaint about breasts/breastfeeding in our society.



Related Articles

Sudanese Hibiscus Tea Recipe

In celebration of our genealogist finding living contacts to relatives in Sudan, here is a Sudanese Hibiscus Tea (Karkade) recipe

Happy 4th! Weird Vintage Patriotic Posters

Today we would find some of these offensive or just plain odd. Let’s take a look at patriotic posters of

Milestones

This guest post was written by Kayla Dar. She is a mother of three (with one more on the way!).

17 comments

Write a comment
  1. Zoe 7 July, 2011, 20:41

    Breast are definitely sexualized in our culture and not primarily for nourishing children… I think that’s how we treat the entire human body, actually… hyper-sexualized or neglected and abused. Definitely the Puritan influence mixed with a disconnection from both nature and the sacred. Christians are often no different than everyone else in how they’re affected by the prevailing views in the culture. I also think women are hard on other women… judging each others’ decisions and parenting styles. Perhaps this comes from not being confident about your own choices so you have to do and think things about others to feel superior.

    Reply this comment
  2. Heather @ Mommypotamus 10 July, 2011, 21:02

    Well said, Jaime! And I’ve gotta say your mom is my hero. I’m homeschooling my daughter and many of the old classics I read to her show nothing but babies and their bottles. Breastfeeding was so OUT when we were young and it totally inspires me that she was willing to go against the grain and not just do it in secret but model it for others. And I had to smile about that photo . . . I’ll be posting an interview in the next few weeks with the photographer that’s doing an “In Mama’s Arms” breastfeeding shoot with my son and I. Love your blog!

    Reply this comment
  3. sophia 12 July, 2011, 11:07

    thanks for your post, very inspiring! is that pic of your son and his birth mother? just beautiful, what a great pic to have for him.
    i am an adoptive mom and a breastfeeding mother as well. my bio child ben is 4 months and my adopted son daniel is 18 months. i thought about bf daniel when my milk came in but it hurt so much in the beginning and he had/has so many teeth i changed my mind. now i give him somewhere b/t 4-6 oz of expressed milk/day. is it uncomfortable to nurse your older child? now you have me curious maybe i should try it… if you would, can you pls message me at [email protected].

    Reply this comment
  4. Emily in Wonderland 7 March, 2012, 08:46

    Hi! I cam over from SITS and have been going through all of your old posts! So fun to find a new blog!

    QUESTION: I am super confused. I read in another post you wrote about YOU breastfeeding your mom and I figured it was a typo. But you just wrote it again here. Did you as an adult breastfeed your mother? I’m so confused. I would have thought it was a typo except this is the second post where you wrote that. I’ve never heard of anyone doing that before (child feeding parent)? I’m not being judgmental, I am just truly confused! Can you tell me more about that if you are writing it correctly?
    For reference:
    “At my parents house there is a very large photo hanging over my parents fireplace of ME breastfeeding my mother.”

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 7 March, 2012, 08:56

      Hey Emily! Thanks for stopping by. Wow, thank you for pointing out that confused you. I never realized that might confuse other people.

      No, not as an adult! (adult breastfeeding is not biologically normal, and actually considered a fetish/perversion…not something “norma!”)
      I breastfed until I was six years old when I self-weaned.

      Reply this comment
  5. Emily 14 May, 2012, 15:02

    I am so glad you mentioned the nursing rooms at church. When my daughter was a newborn, I used a cover in the nursing room at church, mainly because I saw others doing it and thought it was what you’re supposed to do. Then I realized it was not necessary at all so I stopped. I try to be discreet, but I’m surprised at the looks I get sometimes…and my baby is only 9 months old.

    Great post on breastfeeding. I think how long someone breastfeeds in a personal/family choice, but it’s a shame that it’s looked at as sometime “dirty” or “wrong” just because breasts are considered to be sexual. I actually read an article one time from a woman that refused to breastfeed because her breasts were “her husbands.” This attitude has to change.

    Reply this comment
  6. Amy 14 June, 2012, 05:55

    The oldest I breastfed one of my children in public was at 6-3/4 years. At school pickup – lots of people saw, no one said anything. Admittedly this was at an international school in Denmark, and not the USA.

    Reply this comment
    • Jamie Lynne Author 16 June, 2012, 09:54

      Amy! I love to hear that! I was just hearing from a women in Indonesia that the kids would run home from school and find their mother to nurse, first thing. If their mother wasn’t home they would go run to a neighbor and nurse! Breastfeeding at that age and cross-nursing are so common in other cultures! If we could just get to the point of normalizing nursing past infancy I would be happy.

      Reply this comment
  7. Rach 7 March, 2013, 16:42

    I loved this — though I disagree on one part. Breastfeeding IS more intimate than cutting a child’s toenails, it’s the most intimate moment there is between mother and child. I know you meant “no more sexual” or “no more sexually intimate”, but I think it’s important not to unintentionally contradict the fundamental truth that breastfeeding’s significance isn’t limited to breastMILK’s importance.

    Reply this comment
  8. kris 20 June, 2013, 06:39

    What is it about nursing at church that makes us feel awkward? That is one of the few places I end up feeling like I’m doing something wrong. There is a rocking chair and boppy in our nursery at church…placed BEHIND a giant cabinet so no one can see, especially any men that may be coming in to pick up their baby. And then said rocking chair is turned so it’s facing the wall. I’ve fed there a few times but feel like I’m in “time-out” lol. Mostly, I choose to discreetly nurse during the service, afterall, I am there for the sermon and fellowship, not to hide in the nursery. No one has ever commented on it, and I’m not sure anyone has ever even noticed even though I have never used a cover. Still, I always feel self conscious, as though there is a neon sign above my head announcing that I’m nursing my child. I can only imagine how it would be if I were to nurse one of my older nurslings at church…thankfully they are past the point of needing to NIP because I’m sure that would cause a stir.
    Mostly I remind myself that I am there to worship the Lord. Jesus was fed at the breast, and all I’m doing is feeding my child. Somehow I doubt that if God was physically sitting next to me in the service, that He would condemn me for feeding one of His children. If He would not ask me to leave, why should anyone else?

    Reply this comment
  9. josie 20 June, 2013, 08:06

    wow, yes. yes. i hate comparing breastfeeding to urinating but i get what you mean here. I usually just say people use their hands and lips for some pretty sexual things, but you dont see those covered up because they have other, nonsexual, purposes… usually gets my point across lol

    Reply this comment

Write a Comment

Your e-mail address will not be published.
Required fields are marked*