It’s funny. For someone who never breastfed and never wanted to, I’m a pretty fierce breastfeeding rights advocate. This week, though, has been a week where a breastfeeding rights advocate will have a lot to do.
It seems like there’s always someone out there willing to quash another person’s civil liberties. It doesn’t matter if it’s about racial equality, gender equality, marriage equality, or anything else. If it doesn’t apply to them, then no one else should have it because it’s different from (and therefore somehow offensive to) someone else.
Heather Bays of Toronto posted a selfie of her breastfeeding her 20 month old daughter. The photo was reported for nudity. She received a ridiculous amount of criticism for posting the photo. Then her Instagram account, which she had used to chronicle her pregnancy and her daughter’s life, was suspended.
Why? All because she had the audacity to ruin someone’s day with tits.
The good news is that Instagram did reinstate her account, less “any photos with nudity.” I’m not sure if that includes the controversial breastfeeding photo or not. It should. I see more boobs on a trip to the mall than I saw with her breastfeeding.
What I do love about living in Canada is that breastfeeding rights are part of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Denying someone the right to breastfeed anywhere that a mother is allowed is illegal. I don’t think it takes a great legal stretch of the imagination to expect that to pertain to photographs, too.
Breastfeeding Rights and the Peanut Gallery
The Fayetteville Observer has a section in their newspaper for “Cheers & Jeers.” The locals write in a little sentence about something that they saw that was awesome (cheers) or something that sucked (jeers).
A mom on the Cotton Babies Flash Mob group shared this little gem:
Jeers to a woman who was breast-feeding her baby in the South Post Exchange Sunday afternoon. You weren’t using a blanket, so you were very exposed, as you sat in the hall across from a very busy barbershop. – Linda O’Neil, Fayetteville
Linda, you’re in North Carolina. It’s the south. It gets hot. Even so, do you want to eat under a blanket? The lack of airflow sucks.
As for the woman you attempted to shame, she wasn’t doing anything wrong. I guarantee you that if she hadn’t fed her baby, you’d have been jeering her for the screaming racket her kid was making. The sight of someone breastfeeding is so, so much easier to avoid (just turn your head a little to the right) than the sound of a baby screaming in hunger. That’s a sound you can’t avoid, no matter where you look.
Regardless, she has rights. Her baby has rights. Breastfeeding rights are included. So get over yourself. I sincerely hope that the Fayetteville Observer posts some “jeers” to your idiocy next week.
Your Breastfeeding Rights Aren’t About Me
It’s pretty simple. A mother’s breastfeeding rights aren’t about me, the woman next door, or anyone else. As mothers, we have the responsibility to feed our children. (It falls under the category of the bare minimum of “keeping the kids alive.”) Some of us use bottles in the beginning, others use breasts. That choice is a personal one that may happen for whatever reason. However you slice it, though, no one has any right to try to prevent us from feeding our children.
Attempting to shame a person, whether for bottle feeding or exercising her breastfeeding rights, is just not cool. Yes, in the United States, one has the First Amendment right to freedom of speech, but one does not have the right to freedom of consequences for exercising that right. And in this case? Exercising that right makes you a jerk.
Anyone who objects to how a parent nourishes her child, breast milk or formula, needs to get over it.
Have you ever had your breastfeeding rights (or right to feed your child in general) infringed upon? How did you react?