From Leslie Jones. She writes about urban motherhood every two weeks in her column TWB Poo (There Will Be Poo). You can email her at leslie[AT]borderstan.com
To nurse or not to nurse in public. Last week I was flying with Baby and I nursed her during the flight. A mother across the aisle leaned over and told me that she thought it was fantastic that I was nursing.
I appreciated the compliment, though I am still sort of surprised that breastfeeding is such an ongoing issue in our society, that what I was doing seemed somehow unique and in need of reinforcement.
ABC reported that on July 8, a breastfeeding mom at a Colorado water park was asked to cover up. A group of 12 moms staged a nurse-in on July 13, and the park manager later apologized. It seems like these kinds of incidents keep popping up in the news every few months.
Moms staged a nurse-in at Target stores across the country last December, after one breastfeeding mother was asked to move to a dressing room. An article in Time magazine described how this mother was treated by Target’s corporate headquarters when she contacted them about the incident. She was told that “just because it’s a woman’s legal right to nurse a baby in public doesn’t mean she should walk around the store flaunting it.”
On August 4 between 9 am and 4 pm on the West Lawn of the National Mall, I plan on joining other moms for The Great Nurse-In, which was first reported by Janice D’Arcy at The Washington Post. If you’d like to join me, email me and we can meet up somewhere in Borderstan and walk down to the Mall together. Just another reason why where we live rocks.
Apparently, the mother had been nursing her child in the women’s department and was using a blanket to cover-up. Target’s official line on the issue is different, and they say they support breastfeeding in their stores. That seems to be a common response from these companies. So why don’t their employees know about it?
Breasts are for feeding children. If breasts are viewed as sexual, it is a construction of society and doesn’t have anything to do with the breasts themselves. One argument that really drives me crazy is that breastfeeding shouldn’t be done in front of children because it is somehow indecent. Um, if you don’t teach children that there is something wrong with breastfeeding, they aren’t going to just naturally come to the conclusion themselves. And maybe if society didn’t teach children that breasts are sexualized objects, we might have less trouble with the objectification of women.
Almost Every State Allows Public Breastfeeding
According to the National Conference of State Legislatures website:
- Forty-five states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands have laws that specifically allow women to breastfeed in any public or private location: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming.
It should be all 50 states. Come on Idaho, Michigan, South Dakota, Virginia, and West Virginia!
According to the website, Nursing Freedom, West Virginia is the only state that doesn’t have any laws related to breastfeeding (such as exemptions from public indecency laws). BreastfeedingLaw.com reports that most states’ laws are not enforceable, which “means that although you may have a ‘right’ to do anything not otherwise forbidden by law, if you do not also have a legal protection against someone interfering with that right, your ability to exercise it may be limited.”
So, on August 4 between 9 am and 4 pm on the West Lawn of the National Mall, I plan on joining other moms for The Great Nurse-In, which was first reported by Janice D’Arcy at The Washington Post. If you’d like to join me, email me and we can meet up somewhere in Borderstan and walk down to the Mall together. Just another reason why where we live rocks.