July 24, 2011

Women's Breasts Are Not Just or Always Sexual!

The Village Voice
In Canada, women are celebrating the 15th anniversary of their right to walk around topless in public. Next year, women in New York can also celebrate the 20th anniversary of their right to walk around topless in public based on the right not to be discriminated against based on their sex.

“Breasts like the entirety of women’s bodies may not always be sexual,” explains SlutWalk co-founder Heather Jarvis to the Toronto Sun.

Amazingly, they are in fact also capable of turning into enduring feeding machines. But with our culture's sexualizing of women's bodies and breasts (that even affects girls as young as toddlers who're asked to wear tops at the pool), many breastfeeding women still feel the need to hide beneath nursing tents. Though every state in the US but three (Nebraska, West Virginia and Idaho) have laws protecting the rights of breastfeeding women.

Recently, Prairie Mama in Texas was asked not to breastfeed at a YMCA pool where she was sitting on a step with her feet in the water, nursing her 11 week old baby, while making sure her 2 1/2 year old was safe in the pool. She was told she was "making other people uncomfortable and children were around and could see it." Affirming her right to breastfeed in public, Prairie Mama replied, "Well, I'm sorry they are uncomfortable, but that is their issue not mine. The law states that I have the right to breastfeed anywhere I have the right to be. So, I am going to nurse my baby."

Then she was told:
"Ma'am, you need to leave the pool because it is against pool policy to have bodily fluids in the pool. If you got milk in the pool we would have to clear everyone out and decontaminate the pool."
Seriously, milk?! When the OSHA guidelines reinforces the fact that breastmilk is not a hazardous bodily fluid. -- As Prairie Mama said to this specific pool's director: "I can assure you my breastmilk is a lot cleaner than the pee that hundreds of kids do in this pool everyday. It is also safer than the chlorine that is in the pool."
At heart here though is not milk or pee, or chlorine; or even nudity per se. For as Prairie Mama points out, her nursing breast was all covered up. -- Only some "side belly fat," as she puts it, was showing.

Instead, the issue at stake, I think, is that breastfeeding to some is just too bodily. No matter how covered up the nursing mama is. 

Prairie Mama stood up for herself at her pool (the pool director eventually "said it was fine to breastfeed in the pool"), and is writing letters to her local and national YMCA headquarters with her complaint. -- She is encouraging others to do so too (please read her post for her complete story and suggestions for letters of complaint).

At another public pool in equally prudish Great Britain, bestselling author of three parenting books Liz Fraser is taking her stance against warped, sexualized attitudes to women's bodies:
And so despite the fact that I appear to be in the distinct minority, I continue to fight hard against our very British culture of bizarre, unhelpful prudishness. I still change in the middle of the changing room at my local pool, without adopting body-shielding tactics. I know my children find this a little bit odd, and probably wish I didn’t. When nobody else is naked, why is Mummy?

Well, because Mummy happens to think that there’s nothing wrong with it and she’d rather teach her children that their bodies are beautiful and natural just as they are, and don’t need dressing up in sexy clothes or to be hidden from view to be acceptable.
I applaud these women's body positive efforts to stand up against sexualized body negative attitudes.


Post a Comment