On My Breasts & Why Men Should Stop Policing Them

breastfeeding lingerie store - Horsey cartoon - CENSORED VERSION

Cartoon by David Horsey

On My Breasts & Why Men Should Stop Policing Them

Ok, so this isn’t really about my breasts. It’s about Dawn Holland’s breasts. Well, I guess it is kind of about my breasts, and Holland’s and every other woman’s. Let me explain.

Holland was recently asked to leave an Applebee’s restaurant for breastfeeding her son

…discreetly…

…in the back of the restaurant.

You’ve probably heard of incidences like this before. I have. All over the country, women are being harassed and turned out of establishments for feeding their children in the most natural way possible. It makes me wonder why I’ve never gotten “the talk.” Between my two kids, I’ve gotten down to business in nearly every conceivable environment. Restaurants, airports, grocery stores, libraries, malls, you name it. To be fair, I’ll admit I always use a cover, so that may be why I can get away with it. I don’t do it out of shame, but because my breasts are a private matter that I wish not to share with cashier no. 5. Modesty, however, is so not the issue, not when it comes to breastfeeding.

Breasts are For Men’s Pleasure Only

The real issue is the context of the breasts and how they’re being used/shown. It is never a crime to go into a family-friendly restaurant LIKE THIS or THIS.

You know why? Because this says, “Hey there, fellas, feast your eyes on these babies. I brought them here just for you. I knew you’d like it, so I felt it was ok.” Men love to hear (and see) that. Women love to hear (and see) that too because so many of us have been brainwashed into thinking the same thing: a woman’s breasts (much like the rest of her body parts) are strictly for the pleasure of men. No substitutions.

Does that mean people think no woman should breastfeed ever, like ever, ever? Nope.  They know breastfeeding is a pretty good idea, but they want you to do it in your home…

behind a screen…

inside your closet…

facing the wall…

using a breastfeeding cover.

That way they don’t have to ever acknowledge it or even think about the fact that breasts could exist for something more than arousal.  All they have to think about is the sexual wonder of boobies. And that’s how it should always be, right?  “Right,” says the boobie-loving masses.

Now, contrast the previous image that I linked to above, with this:

Now, this is some inappropriate stuff right here. Boobs bursting out of a shirt, I can take, but this? This mess right here? Call the cops, please! Sure, you can’t really see much, but do you see what’s attached to it? A baby! WTF!  So, you’re just gonna sit there and use your breast in a motherly, non-sexual way? You’re just gonna make it obvious that your breasts have other, more important, functions than arousing a man?  You’re just gonna suggest that you’re NOT an object, put here specifically for the fun and folly of the male species?  The nerve!  How rude!

That’s what’s really going on. People are so used to thinking of breasts as men’s “fun bags” that the idea of using them from something else is just wrong…unthinkable…perverse. That’s why you have women who say things like, “I’m not going to breastfeed. That’s nasty. That’s for my man.”

Yes, that’s a real quote and yes, its uttered more often than you think.

If you choose not to breastfeed, that’s fine. But, please, I beg of thee, let your reason be something more substantial than “That’s nasty.”

Was it nasty a mere 70 years ago before commercial  formula brands began to gain popularity? Is it nasty to a woman who lives in a remote village where formula is literally unheard of? Is it nasty to a poor woman who can’t afford formula?

I’ll tell you what’s really nasty: refusing to open your mind to the idea fact that a woman’s body has immeasurable value, most of which has nothing to do with exciting a man.  That’s nasty.

Judging a woman based on her willingness and ability to cater to a man’s carnal desires.  That’s nasty.

Viewing yourself and others through a lens that completely ignores the beauty of your heart and mind.  That’s nasty.

Sending messages that teach young boys and girls that a woman’s looks are her greatest and only asset.  That’s nasty.

If I sound a little heated right now, its only because I am. I can’t stand to see a woman cut down to a mere sexual object. Is the Mona Lisa just a painting? Is Kilimanjaro just a mountain? Does Stevie just sing well? Value should always be recognized.

Women are no different.

 

Comments

  1. says

    Sad but true. I totally agree with all your points. A lot of people, including women, dismiss feminist discussions about things like body image and objectification…but it’s happening right before our eyes. The fact that breast are acceptable in society when sexualized, but seen as perverse when feeding children is just one outward example of the ways that women’s bodies are seen as objects and why that is so harmful to families and society.

    I’m so glad you brought up this topic, but it’s one that I get upset about often too. I was shamed a lot when I nursed my daughter…more so by family and friends than strangers. People made remarks all the time about how it was perverse. They asked questions like, “How will that affect your husband?” “It’s really useless after the first couple of weeks though, isn’t it?” “Doesn’t that gross you out?” “When are you going to stop?” (I’ve been asked this after only 3 weeks of nursing!) …and also more embarrassing questions.

    It’s just ridiculous. All of this over breastfeeding? It’s pretty evident the media has a HUGE hand in our perception of this topic, since it clearly doesn’t come from personal experience or knowledge.

    For me, I ended up breastfeeding my daughter until she was 3 years old…and I was lucky that I could do so for that long. It never felt dirty…never once. In fact, I felt like a super mom and I began to see for the first time what a woman’s body was really created for and my self-image and self-worth have grown so much since being a nursing mom.

    In a world that constantly forces onto us an image of what a woman “should be”…I feel honored to know who and what I truly am today. I want my daughter to have that early on. I don’t want her to be ashamed of her body, of standing up for herself or of making choices that others in her life don’t agree with. And I think that’s what feminism is really all about…a woman making choices for herself without succumbing to the gender roles and social baggage that society places on her shoulders.

    Ok, sorry for the rant, but I just had to let that out. Great post Nadirah! Thank you. ♥

  2. says

    Chantilly, I hate that you felt shame, but I’m so glad you did it ANYWAY. And I’m sure you child is healthier for it. This world is nuts, I tell you. NUTS!