I have never been shamed for breastfeeding. But saying that I have never been shamed for breastfeeding is like saying that I have never been raped. It doesn’t really matter. I still live in fear of it. No, I don’t mean shuddering in fear and unable to live my life. I mean my behavior (and yours) is shaped by the experiences of other women. I don’t walk alone at night. I am always aware of my surroundings. I walk briskly through empty parking garages. I would never think of cutting down an alley at night. As a matter of fact, I won’t even do it during the day in my neighborhood. I have lived my whole life being shaped by a culture where women are brutally abused every single day, where the responsibility lies on me to not be victimized. [Read more…]
“Abby, why are you steady blowing up my newsfeed with feminist posts? This is a breastfeeding page, I don’t need to hear about all this. Stop trying to make breastfeeding a feminist issue!”
It’s happening. The exposure that women have given to their breastfeeding harassment is climaxing. Women have had enough of being verbally abused, called “disgusting,” and being kicked out of restaurants, doctors’ offices, court rooms, playrooms, public pools and stores. We are sick of being bullied by businesses, having photos deemed pornographic, being told that we should expect to be abused if we are going to do “that” in public/without a cover/near children/near husbands/past infancy/etc. Breastfeeders all over the world are shedding the cover and coming out of hiding. The world is feeling our power.
Photo by Ivette Ivens
The most revolting thing about being a woman is how we are constantly picked apart. We are evaluated, ranked and classified based on what we wear, say, think, feel, do. Yet this is so deeply ingrained in our culture that we rarely notice when it is happening and even do it to ourselves and each other. [Read more…]
How one person’s experiences with sexual assault and nursing-in-public harassment helped her to draw obvious parallels – and find healing
By Jill A. DeLorenzo
April can be both a tough and an empowering time. It is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and it is also the time of the Nationwide Nurse-In. Yet it is a time when I need to reflect on the many reasons why we need these events. [Read more…]
I recently thought I’d like to start watching a TV show. I don’t watch much, but thought it might be fun to get into something regularly (besides Seinfeld reruns). I tried a couple of those prime time dramas and every time I had to turn it off after 10 minutes and was left emotionally triggered the rest of the evening. It seems we’ve become completely desensitized to rape, murder, beating, blood, gore, etc. Some of the plot lines were so outrageous, so violent that my mouth literally hung open. It’s always the same cheesy lines, void of any human emotion and more excessive violence. Yet I regularly receive messages over social media that I’m, “gross,” “disgusting,” or “harming” my children in response to my breastfeeding or gentle parenting posts. Get a clue, people. What is harming our children? What is harming the world? Breastfeeding and co-sleeping? Or glamorized violence, violence in our neighborhoods, free-walking abusers, intolerance, hate and fear?
Breastfeeding isn’t private for me. At all. It’s no more private for me than eating, sipping water, holding my husband’s hand or hugging friends. It’s private for some people and that’s totally cool. That’s just not my personal story. No one would ever interrupt my husband and I holding hands while eating dinner to tell us we were being inappropriate. I don’t see any reason to do this to a breastfeeding mother. Ever. There is never a reason to treat a breastfeeding mother any different than anyone else on the street. Unless she is about to wander into traffic just let her be.
If a woman decides that her breasts are sexual then we have to accept that. If she decides that her breasts are purely for feeding her baby and that they lack any sexual meaning whatsoever, then that’s her truth. Breasts are whatever we want them to be. “We” as in the owners of them. Society has decided that we are not the owners of our breasts and that they are sexual because everyone else wants them to be. This is how a woman’s body becomes sexualized, and it’s not about sex, it’s about control. This way we remain sexual in the eyes of society and our primary purpose is to sell products and satisfy sexual fantasies. [Read more…]
You will most likely not have a negative breastfeeding incident in your life. But that means nothing really. You live in a world where this happens and we all suffer the consequences of misogyny. Breastfeeding incidents occur often. Most of them are not reported. (Sound familiar?) Women are left humiliated, frightened and broken. Something is taken from women when this occurs; a sense of safety and innocence. These are not isolated incidents. They are part of a pattern of hatred of women, violence against women, abuse of women, shaming of women. Where porn is a billion dollar industry, where we pay a ton of money to see women take their clothes off, but women are told to cover up and go to the bathroom when breastfeeding their babies. There is a sickness in our society. One rooted in misogyny and double standards. One that hurts women and children everyday. One that must be cured. Cured by speaking up, speaking out, speaking often, making waves, not shutting up, not waiting for it to get better, breastfeeding whenever and wherever, shouting for each other and not giving up ever, ever, ever.
This is Exley. He is 20 months old. He breastfeeds a lot. Like 7,582 times during the day and 10,498 times during the night. We share a bed so he wakes up, latches on and goes back to sleep. He nurses to sleep, to wake up, for comfort, before he eats, after he eats, when he’s resting and all other times too. He is loud. His voice booms in your chest and pierces your ears. He likes to follow his big brother around. Exley thinks he can do everything his big brother can do and falling on his head never holds him back. People often wonder if I get criticized for breastfeeding both Exley and his big brother, Jack (4.5 years old). I do online, but not in my real life. I wouldn’t keep critics in my life anyway. My close friends and family support my decision. Extended family and acquaintances seem to keep comments to themselves if they have any. I plan to breastfeed both of them as long as they want. It’s not always fun, but it works for us. It’s far more than food; it’s comfort, security, attachment, bonding and nurturance. I believe that allowing them to wean in their own time will lead to independence, high self-esteem, health and a sense of connection to their family and the world. I don’t think nursing Jack takes anything away from Exley. I think Exley gains a unique relationship with his brother along with all the other “perks” of breastfeeding.