I recently wrote a post called Common Toddler Breastfeeding Problems. In the comment section a woman asked me to write more about breastfeeding toddlers “because it can get really lonely.” That comment really stayed with me. I breastfeed an almost 3-year-old and almost 6-year-old. I have many friends and an online community who do the same so I don’t feel lonely all the time, but I certainly feel that way when I am not within that community. And I remember what it felt like when I had no mothering community at all. I didn’t even know another mother when I had my first son, Jack. [Read more…]
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
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?
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.
My name is Paola and I’m 26. I’m a single mother to my two year old, Daenerys. We have been nursing since she was three days old and when I saw your post today on Instagram about nursing in public, I felt really excited about that. I do have a blog on Tumblr but I thought I’d write something new about it rather than send you a link to something old. My feelings about it are different now that we’ve done this so long.
Before I begin about our journey to nursing in public, I think it’s important to note how we started. Daenerys was born with the cord round her neck and they swiftly pried her away to the NICU. A nurse wrongfully recorded she had gone five minutes without breathing and I met my baby two hours after she was born. She had tubes everywhere and I couldn’t hold her.