Thursday, March 15, 2007

Breast feeding

Every once in a while here in Pennsylvania, there erupts a controversy over breastfeeding. Someone breastfeeds someone else, oftentimes a baby, in a public establishment, and then gets ejected from said establishment for doing so. This is then followed by extensive media coverage of the incident which is entirely devoid of pictorial coverage, which in turn is then followed by a pro-breastfeeding rally by area women who try to force the public establishment to change its titular policy.

And so it happened again a couple of weeks ago. This time I was paying attention to the teevee and they said that the offending establishment was a mall and the rallying women had a statement to make. The statement said that people should not get offended by breastfeeding because of the asexual nature of the act due to the presence of the baby.

I disagree with this reasoning on multiple levels. But before I do so, I would like to clarify my position so that I don't have hordes of feminists descending upon me like libertarians upon feminists, or demonic fire-breathing asp-tongued locusts upon libertarians (just so we give those libertarians something to think about). In short, personally, I have no problems with women breastfeeding their babies in public either conceptually, visually or in principle (since I am not lactose intolerant).

But here's the thing. Anti-breast-display laws were created for people who get offended by the sight of breasts. And when these people see an uncovered breast, why should we expect its offensiveness to them to be mitigated by the presence of an attached baby? If you say that certain people should not be offended by breasts in certain circumstances, then shouldn't you actually be laying the onus of not being offended on all people in all circumstances without being selective about it? In other words, all aboard the naked train.

Secondly, isn't a baby like the very epitome of human sexuality? When you see a young couple with a baby, isn't your first thought "Hmm... goddamn, these people had sex".

Now for the solution. Instead of asking people to not be offended by breasts or asexual babies, how about we study the problem in purely legal terms. The only time a breast is considered to have crossed legal bounds of propriety is when it has let the areolus escape through heavy security and into the scorching glare of the public eye. In fact, if there's anything that repeated exposure to E! TV has taught us, it is that the legal system is actually pretty permissive in its view towards breast-display, even allowing women to lay it all out there as long as the critical area is covered by some form of opaque material. But when a woman is breastfeeding her baby, the area in question would always be covered by the baby's mouth, with the baby in most situations being opaque unless it was sired by the Invisible Man and thus, in legal terms, a breastfeeding woman would not be crossing the limits of decency.

I wish breastfeeding advocates would put forth their legal argument in support of public breastfeeding instead of trying to appeal to human emotions using the "inoffensive" and "asexual" arguments. After all, emotions can vary from person to person. But the application of the Law is universal.


Nandini said...

Hilarious, Goose Egg, dude - sired by the Invisible Man, indeed.

I think the asexuality argument is made not in the sense that "this exposure of breasts is not for sexual titillation", but in the sense that breastfeeding is an "essential activity" - a baby having lunch - on which sexual connotations should not be dumped, because, eww, what the hell are you trying to say about my baby?!

I personally attest that I do not find the sexualisation of my breasts (which are what, fatty lumps of flesh?) objectionable or anything, you are free to fantasise - in any situation OTHER than when the breast is exposed for feeding my baby. If you're getting 'offended', that means you are sexualising. THAT is insulting and so gross I am trying very hard not to follow that train of thought to its logical conclusion.

You see? The rallying cry is not, "make breastfeeding legal because it's asexual", but "make breastfeeding legal because my baby needs lunch" and "stop having perverted thoughts about me and my baby".

gawker said...

Wendelin : I agree, in a perfect world, people would only have clean baby-food related thoughts when confronted with a breastfeed. But again it takes us back to square one, because asking people to voluntarily have clean thoughts makes the entire matter very subjective and abstract with different people having the capacity to think different thoughts about the same thing. Instead, the problem should be tackled in strictly legal terms. If the breast is uncovered but the nipple hidden, the Law itself forbids the persecution of such a woman. Thus, the question of what people think or feel about breasts is eliminated from the equation. And ultimately, it is the Law that empowers women.

Vee Cee said...

Gawker for President.

gawker said...

Vee Cee : I wish. My wife won't even let me be Secretary of State.

sahasra said...

ai ai ai.... u dont stop talking do u......

RobRoy said...

Isn't Lil Kim serving time right now? I'd say she got hers!

Sunil said...

darn....I misread libertarian as librarian, and for a few moments was wondering wtf librarians had to do with any of this. Then realization struck me.

Sorta like the vegetarian in that ad. Jack in the box or something.

All clear now.

zambezi said...

i am tired of breast feeing. write something else mad man

gawker said...

dhanno : I stop talking when I sleep.

robroy : yes she is, but not for breast-displaying. Not that her breasts did a good job defending her in court.

sunil : I would probably invoke termites on librarians. Not a big fan of them. What with all the late fees and all.

zambezi : You should alternate. left, right then back to left.