In the circles I run with, I see a lot of breastfeeding cheerleading. People posting awesome breastfeeding photos on Facebook and Pinterest and what not is common, as are the comments about them, which have become predictable. Mostly positive, but interspersed are a few people expressing their distaste for the photos, probably family, old friends, or acquaintances of the poster who aren’t quite as crunchy as the rest of us.
Recently, I got in on a discussion of one such lovely breastfeeding photo in which one man stated, essentially “I support breastfeeding, but only under a blanket or behind closed doors. The sight of it offends me.”
The responses to this were also predictable. Babies shouldn’t have to eat under a blanket. You can’t say you support breastfeeding and at the same time want to cover it up. If you don’t like it, don’t look. Etc., etc. I was immediately struck by the sexism of the sentiment, but I tried to step back for a minute and really consider the statement.
Every day I am exposed to things that offend me. Some things I make a conscious effort to avoid, with mixed results. I generally avoid reading comments on online articles, for example, and when the anti abortion activists set up their two story dead fetus towers on my campus, I go out of my way not to walk through that part of the campus (thanks for the extra exercise, prolifers!). Other things I have no choice but to see, and I deal with it. I deal with it. I do not demand that people put a blanket over their Nobama bumper stickers. I do not insist that men who choose to walk around shirtless when not at the pool or working out cover up. And as much as I might like it if smokers were condemned to only indulge their habit behind a closed door, in a sealed room so their smell and sight does not offend me, I do not have the right to ask for that. I deal with the second hand smoke, and even though it does offend me, I try to do it politely with a freaking smile on my face. When I am offended, I deal with it.
Smoking is a great comparison, actually. If it were our goal to ask every potentially offensive thing to be hid under a blanket, it would be reasonable to ask smokers to do their business under a blanket as well. After all, not only is it offensive, but it’s physically harmful to surrounding people (a claim no one can make about breastfeeding). And I’m pretty sure that more people find smoking offensive than breastfeeding, seeing as how it’s been banned in all indoor public places in many places, where as breastfeeding in any public place is generally legally protected. So why not ask people to smoke under blankets? Sure, it would be uncomfortable and a pain in the ass for the smoker, but make the blanket flame retardant and I don’t think it’s too much to ask. We could even design fashionable smoking covers so that smokers could use the opportunity to express themselves creatively. It could become a cool thing for them! And what’s important is that other people around are comfortable, because we need to cover up everything that might offend someone, right? The smoker’s comfort and feelings of acceptance in society is a small price to pay to make sure that no one is offended.
See the parallels? I’m not saying you shouldn’t be offended, go right ahead and be offended. But just like I need to do when I’m offended at things I see other people doing in public places, you need to deal with that on your own. It is not your right to ask the mother and baby to inconvenience themselves to accommodate you and your feelings. I am genuinely sorry that your feelings are hurt, I am genuinely sorry that you are offended, but those are your issues, and if they are bothering you, I suggest you try putting a blanket over your issues. That you do have a right to do.
Guess my baby stats!
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