Tuesday, 22 January 2013

The Great Boob Debate

For days all I have seen are discussions about boobs. 

So, I got on board the booby train and started by watching the Kochie segment from Sunrise where he says breastfeeding mums should be 'classy'. This segment has caused apparent outrage within mum communities Australia-wide.

It disturbed me. But, it would seem, not for the same opinion of majority.

WHAT is the big deal? He raised it as a topic of discussion with his own, not unreasonable, opinion and then listened and took on what the women on his panel had to say. Big deal. It didn't offend me AT ALL. It was controversial and on topic and a very clever ratings choice. Plus, he's an older, conservative bloke. Who cares what he thinks?

I breastfed both my boys until after their 1st birthdays. I did so on demand and I did so publicly. I did it in restaurants, in parks, at parties, walking around at kindergym. I never felt ashamed or unwelcome but I did consider where I was and who I was with. Is that an archaic thought? Or is that polite?

I loved the parent rooms at shopping centres. I would seek them out to breastfeed my babies in. Especially when I had a toddler in tow. Not because I felt the need to hide from the public eye. I found it relaxing to sit there in a comfy chair which usually had an arm rest to... wait for it... rest on. Where I could watch my other son safely playing nearby and where my baby could enjoy a full feed instead of being distracted by what was happening around us and coming on and off and on and off and on and off... you get the picture.

My father-in-law [JP] was in his 70's when my son Nathan, his first grand child, was born. He was extremely invested in him and not only fully supported my decision to breastfeed, but expected me to. "Why you feed from bottle when you have your own milk?" JP would often come and spend the day with me and Nathan while my husband was at work to keep me company, make me lunch and help out around the house. Pretty progressive for a 70 year old Ukrainian man. But, he felt uneasy being in the room with me when I breastfed. He would politely leave the room or hilariously talk to me from the doorway, looking at the ceiling or the floor or his hands. So I knew, if I needed to breastfeed around him wherever we were, that he would appreciate me being respectful of that. Did that make me feel dirty or ashamed or unsupported? Not at all. My 30 something brother was exactly the same. He would up and leave the room the minute he saw me reaching for my enormous maternity bra clip. He called my breastfeeding 'lactaaaaaaaaysions' [drawn out exactly like that] and would run out the room saying [sometimes screaming] "Oh my God, Tania's got her lactaaaaaaaaysions again". Did that offend me? Not at all. Did I laugh? Almost every time.

Yes, breastfeeding is natural. Yes, as mothers, we have the right to feed our babies wherever and whenever they need to be fed. No, it's not sexual or suggestive. Yes, many fashion choices today actually show more flesh than a breastfeeding mum. Unless the breastfeeding baby is like my youngest Stefan. A baby who was on the boob every two hours but would have no problem coming off and having a look around for, I don't know a minute that felt like an hour, while my entire breast and enormous, leaking nipple is in full view of what seemed like the whole world. 

Is being discreet or modest or respectful of others around us so wrong?

There's been a lot of talk about the boob and victim blaming and empowerment and destroying the joint. I get it. Women's rights weren't won by being polite. But is this about women's rights? This crazy reaction to a television personality's fairly moderate opinion seems a bit OTT. This, to me, seems VERY much like those 'first world problems' we keep joking about. There are worldwide protests and outrage over horrendous acts against women. Genital mutilation. Gang raping. Murder. Murder by gang raping. A woman at a local pool is asked to move because she is breastfeeding her 11 month old [who, by the way, is on solids and does not solely rely on mum's milk for her nourishment anymore... just saying] and the online communities light up. Some bloke, who is actually pro-breastfeeding says maybe mums should be 'classy' about it [whatever that means] and there's a PROTEST of mums breastfeeding outside the studio.


I am totally in support of breastfeeding in public. I am also in support of women doing so in whatever fashion they feel comfortable with

But... if you want to feed your baby in front of my brother or JP or Kochie - don't be offended if they look at their hands.

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