While I’m not what you’d call a lactivist, I’m very much in favour of protecting the rights of others. A breastfeeding mom has a right to public breastfeeding that I don’t think anyone should attempt to infringe upon, regardless of someone else’s personal discomfort. Fortunately, the government of Canada has made it illegal to even suggest to a breastfeeding mom that public breastfeeding is not allowed in a public establishment. It falls under the category of “sex discrimination.” Similar laws exist in various states in the U.S.
Last month, a BBC radio host compared public breastfeeding with having sex with his wife in public.
This was this guy’s counter to how natural breastfeeding is. His argument was that if breastfeeding is natural and can be done in public, and sex is also natural, then sex in public should be fine, too.
It took me a while to be able to form a rational argument beyond “this guy is stupid.”
Since some people don’t seem to understand the difference between public breastfeeding and public fornication, I guess it’s time to explain it.
Everyone needs to eat. Everyone. Regardless of age, race, creed, or whatever other factor you can come up with. If you don’t eat, you will eventually die. The body simply cannot live without nourishment. Breastfeeding is one method of feeding an infant. (I’m not even touching the best/inferior debates. There are thousands of other places for that one, and it invariably leads to someone feeling or being judged or criticized, and I’m just not particularly in the mood for that right now.) The catch is, a breastfeeding mom may end up with a baby who will not eat any other way. And really, pumping for breast milk just isn’t all that fun or convenient… especially when it’s being done for the sole purpose of shielding some close minded person from the sight of a breastfeeding mom feeding her baby. If they don’t like it, there are plenty of other directions to look. (And I say this as a person who doesn’t always feel comfortable around it and does choose to look somewhere else rather than suggesting that my discomfort trumps someone else’s right to feed her baby.)
But sex? Well, the simple fact is, while sex may be positive, rewarding, enriching, fun, or whatever other adjective you choose to describe it, it is not necessary for life. Sure, it might be natural, but you will not die if you don’t get to have sex whenever, wherever. And if you’re adult enough to have sex, then you should be adult enough to be able to wait until you’re in an appropriate venue. A baby is not an adult, and therefore has not learned that patience can be necessary. That right there is one of the biggest differences between public breastfeeding and public fornication.
What do you think of the host’s views?
Originally posted on What to Expect on August 19, 2011. Image credit: Carin Araujo.