US: Lib Breastfeeding Legalization Fight Continues
http://yourlife.usatoday.com/health/healthyperspective/post/2011/12/Public-Nursing-Whats-the-Big-Deal-Really/594454/1 Against laws against public or private breastfeeding, which some authorities believe raises IQ considerably and promotes health, long life…Now legal in 45 states, but right-wing extremists continue harrassment or claim a pseudo-libertarian argument to ban being yourself, bodily freedom, or even claim it is sexual child abuse…One Mom’s experience:
…So when Michelle Hickman sat on the floor in a remote area of a Webster, Texas, Target store last month to breastfeed her hungry infant, she was doing exactly what she was supposed to be doing — feeding her kid. Then Target employees, Hickman said, asked her to relocate to a dressing room and “harassed and humiliated her,” even after she pointed out her legal right to nurse in public.
Hickman’s experience fueled her to stage a nationwide nurse-in at Target stores on Wednesday, and as of Friday, more than 7,500 supporters had joined the event’s Facebook page. While Target has a corporate policy in favor of public nursing, including “discreetly in public,” as Hickman was doing, it isn’t followed consistently.
Add NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne to the equation, who Tweeted on Tuesday that seeing a woman breastfeed her child in a supermarket was “#nasty” and that he didn’t “feel like shopping anymore or eating.” Kahne later apologized on his Facebook page.
Big-box stores and NASCAR drivers aren’t the only ones with strong feelings about breastfeeding. From the discreet to the irate, online readers take both sides.
“Mothers have the right to breastfeed their babies, but surely there are places more private than the center of a superstore,” commented online reader Jancie El Jones. “I am a mother and that is not something I wish to witness when shopping with kids or husband. What’s next?”
“As a breastfeeding mom and a Target shopper, I can say that this has happened to me twice,” wrote online reader Phil Stacy Conrad. “I wasn’t asked to leave but made to feel very uncomfortable and refused a fitting room. Twice in 2 months. I tried to discreetly feed my baby. Target made that impossible.”
Laws in 45 states support public breastfeeding. Hickman hopes that the Target nurse-in will bring on nationwide laws that support it. Public discussion about nursing only helps to raise awareness, and while it may take some time, it’s likely that public nursing will eventually become commonplace. If this generation can learn to embrace recycling and consider smoking distasteful, thanks to efforts to change public opinion, the same can be done for public nursing.
It wasn’t changing public opinion that fueled my personal brush with public nursing notoriety earlier this year. It was my then-two-month-old daughter’s hunger. I sat in the café at a Massachusetts Whole Foods Market, discreetly nursing under a blanket. I was happy and excited that it was actually possible to do so, as I couldn’t with my older child.
That’s when an older woman walked by the booth, glanced sideways at me and grunted “Breastfeeding!” Really? In a Whole Foods? “Get over yourself,” I called to her. She never turned around or responded, but I was glad I was quick enough to respond. After having a challenging time trying to nurse my older child, in private and at home, I was secretly thrilled that I was being called out for nursing my younger one in public. “Check it out — I’m actually successful enough at breastfeeding to get harassed for it,” I reasoned.
For many women, nursing is tough enough but we persevere because of breast milk’s health benefits. Let’s not make it tougher on those women who aren’t up for dealing with a disapproving public. Let’s end the public harassment of mothers who discreetly breastfeed their babies in stores, in cafes, and frankly, anywhere where someone might be afraid to see a flash of skin. You don’t like it? Don’t look at it.