Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

A Clarification

I nursed Soren for thirteen months and there were occasions when, in public places, I'd have to bring out my boobs and my nursing blanket and and let him have a nip. And no one ever said anything unkind. And during my four long weeks of breastfeeding Liam, I have also yet to encounter any overt negativity about my breastfeeding him either.

I'm paranoid, however, because of a big public controversy from my BYU days that centered around breastfeeding in public. I think it was triggered by an incident that occurred at an Orem Burger King, where an employee approached a fully covered breastfeeding mom and asked her to take her business to the bathroom, because she was making people uncomfortable. The woman was understandably outraged and the story made it into all the local papers. There was then a flurry of activity in the Letters to the Editor section of The Daily Universe, BYU's campus newspaper. There were some individuals who wrote in defense of public breastfeeding, but many others who wrote in to express their discomfort with the idea. I tried to dig through the editorial archives to provide a link for you all to peruse at your leisure, but the archives apparently don't go back that far. It's a shame, really, because there were some real gems. Men and women alike wrote in to say things like, "men are not permitted to look at or touch that exceptionally sacred part of a woman's body until we are married to her in the temple. That is why a woman should not expose that part of her even if it is just to feed her child unless absolutely necessary, unless there truly is no other option"* and "why do women want to breastfeed in public in the first place?"**

And there was another similar controversy that occurred in the Woodville 1st Ward during my formative years. Some uptight (female) member of the congregation complained to the bishop about a woman who breastfed her baby during sacrament meeting, spurring a debate about the appropriateness of such behavior. Even though my mother fought bravely and vocally on the side of the breastfeeding mom, and I knew that she was right, as an adult I've never been able to shake the image of someone frowning at me for reminding the world that I have breasts and know how to use them. And so, even though I would occasionally like to stay and listen to my church meetings, I scuttle off to the mother's lounge to sit in seclusion and shamefully provide my child with the best possible nutrition available.

- - - - -

*"Secret addiction to porn," diagnosed my friend Loriann

**The answer to that question was delightfully provided again by Loriann, who later wrote me in an e-mail: "Yes, women love breast feeding in public. They prefer it actually. Instead of the comfort and privacy of their own homes, when little junior pipes up with a hungry cry, they hop into the old minivan and drive to the busiest place in town, rip their shirts off and let him suck away at their sacred boobies. Its just something that happens to a woman's brain after she has given birth... they become mad with indecency. You silly twit! A woman still has a life to tend to, she has to go grocery shopping, and clothes shopping for her other children that she might have... especially if she's a mormon since we seem to be fond of having 10 kids. When you have 10 bloody children you are busy taking them places like soccer practice and piano recitals, and tae freaking kwon doe. So in between all that junior needs to eat EVERY TWO HOURS. Chances are Mom is gonna have to feed him IN PUBLIC at some point."


Nick said...

Love it.

heidi said...

I second that "love it"! And both breasts wholeheartedly agree. (And: isn't it weird that torture and murder aren't considered obscene by our society... but BREASTS are??)

Thora said...

I nurse my daughter everywhere and anywhere. Sacrament Meeting. In Ikea. At the playground. I just try to be very confident about it - I've never had anyone look at me weird, that I know of. But I have heard of situations like the Orem Burger King. It makes me laugh in disbelief - Nursing your kid isn't weird, it's not some sort of perversion with your breasts, for heaven's sakes, and it's definitely not indecent. It's food. For a baby. But of course I'm preaching to the choir, here.

Miss Brecken said...

The ward I was in when I had Reuben was overflowing with babies. All the mothers would go to the mothers room to nurse, there were rarely enough chairs. And most of the time they would use blankets to cover up while in the mothers room. I refused. We were all doing the same thing with the same equipment, and if I wanted to use a blanket I would have stayed in Relief Society instead of sequestered in a small boring room.

I'm in a ward now where nursing is just part of having a baby. Mothers slip on their hooter hider and nurse away without having to get up and hide. I am excited to have a baby in this ward because that is the way it should be.

Also, living where I do, it is not strange to see breasts, it is strange to see babies. So, while public nursing hasn't been on my mind, I'm going to use my breast for what they were made for where ever I need to do that. Because its not like New Yorkers don't know what breasts look like.

Karen said...

Hee hee wow I was laughing so hard at Loriann's comment. That's priceless!

Kate said...

I wrote a long post defending NIP on one of my old blogs. I think it was right around the time of the BK incident (I was still in Provo at that time too). I love your friend's email!

I am kind of afraid to nurse in my current ward. It is so weird. There are babies GALORE but until yesterday when I went in the mother's lounge, I had NEVER seen one being nursed. I don't want to go off to the mother's lounge every time, but there seems to be a very clear unwritten rule about it here. Ugh.

I'm already weird enough--everybody asked me yesterday, "What hospital did you deliver at?" and when I told them we did it at home they get all worried and ask, "Ohh, what happened??" Right. And then with the cloth diapers and the constant slinging, I don't know, do I really want to draw MORE attention to myself by having the audacity to stay in my meetings when my baby needs to eat?

Ginger said...

I'd consider staying in Sacrament meeting to nurse except I'm too excited to get some time away from my other kids. ;)


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