A couple of weeks ago, there was a huge breastfeeding issue with Pine Centre Mall, the mall in Prince George, BC. They told a breastfeeding mother that she was not allowed to nurse in the play area. Of course, this meant rallying the troops: breastfeeding women and non-breastfeeding women joined together. Instead of this becoming a nasty mommy war, we all stood together, unified, regardless of feeding method. Pine Centre Mall changed its policy the same morning we had a nurse-in.
You would think that since breastfeeding is specifically protected under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, once the powers that be at the mall realized that they were breaking the law and could be slapped with a huge fine, it would be over. In terms of the mall policy, it is… But in terms of community stupidity, it is not.
I set up a Facebook event page for the planned nurse-in. We’ve had a man show up and troll. (He swears up and down that he’s not trolling… but, yeah. He’s a troll.) This guy has tried to tell us that breastfeeding women are acting entitled… and that Pine Centre Mall is private property, so we’re not respecting it.
I’m going to state something very, very simple. Breastfeeding women are entitled. According to Merriam-Webster, “entitle” is defined as “to give a right to (someone).” Under the defined meaning of the word, “entitled” is completely accurate. They are entitled to breastfeed anywhere that their children are allowed to be. (Clearly, that means that they cannot breastfeed while shopping in the adult store… because their babies are not allowed to be in there in the first place.) It does not matter that Pine Centre Mall is private property. It is private property that is open to the public. The only way that breastfeeding women are not entitled to feed their children there, anywhere, is if they themselves do not have access to the mall.
This is not about us teaching our children to be entitled under the new definition “to demand things that they have no right to.” This is about the simple fact that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms does not cease to exist just because they are on private property. That’s like saying that slavery is okay, because it’s private property and they can do whatever they want. The law is the law. Period.
Have you ever had to push for the rights of breastfeeding women to be recognized and respected?