I have a real distaste for bad debate. It’s such a good and enjoyable pastime, debate, and an opponent who chooses to fall back on tired, flaccid arguments really tarnishes the joy of the sport.
Like the story of Natalie Hegedus, the woman who was dressed down in front of a courtroom for breastfeeding. There’s so much to talk about! Was the bailiff or the judge worse behaved? How much authority does a judge have over the running of his/her courtroom, and does it at any point overtake a woman’s right to breastfeed publicly? And shouldn’t a courtroom built for taxpayers using taxpayer funds be more taxpayer-friendly?
Alas, no. All we get are the same old arguments: Not in public! She should have pumped! She should have gone to the bathroom! Why did she have her kid there in the first place? Boobies are disruptive! Et cetera, ad infinitum. Come on, people! Where’s your spark? Where’s your creativity? Argue it like you mean it!
Feministas, you’re all reasonable and informed-like: What arguments could be made against public breastfeeding that haven’t been made a bazillion times before? Give the good people some new material to work with. Here are the tired, stretched-out, armpit-stained arguments that won’t fly:
1. Breastfeeding is comparable to pooping. One is food at the beginning, the other is food at the end. One has everything the body needs, the other is everything the body has decided it doesn’t need. Changing a diaper != breastfeeding. (Also, public sex != breastfeeding.)
2. Breasts are sexytime. For some people, necks and knees and earlobes are just as erogenous as breasts, and yet we’re allowed to walk around in shorts and boatneck tops. And unlike the aforementioned body parts, breasts can be used to feed people.
3. Breastfeeding is a private, intimate moment between mother and baby. And dinner is a private, intimate moment between me and my cheeseburger. Breastfeeding = hungry baby + accommodating, lactating woman. Which is not to say that breastfeeding isn’t intimate–and natural and beautiful, too–but it’s also functional.
4. Breastfeeding should take place in bathrooms. Generally, private, intimate moments in public restrooms are frowned upon (and that’s a mistake you only make once–sorry again, Georgia Dome!), but apparently it is appropriate to feed a helpless infant in a place where people are pooping.
5. Moms can always pump or use formula. Not every woman can pump, not every baby will take a bottle, and even then trying to schedule the pumping and the feeding and the toting of perishable bodily fluids can be a hassle.
6. Ew, I don’t want to see that. Yeah? Well, I don’t want to see your FACE.
It’s time to freshen up the debate! For instance:
- If women breastfeed in public, then women who can’t breastfeed might see them and get jealous and be sad.
- If small children see women breastfeeding in all areas of public life, they could start making subconscious associations and ultimately grow up believing that woman aren’t allowed to participate in public life unless they’re mothers. Think of the children!
- When a woman chooses to breastfeed in public instead of buying food for her baby, she’s really stealing from the local economy.
What other, innovative arguments can be made for keeping nursing mothers in the potty where they belong?