Breastfeeding is not Obscene

Mark Belling is a talk show host on a Milwaukee radio station. He recently caused an uproar with his segment concerning a local breastfeeding bill in which he referred to breastfeeding mothers as “sows”. The radio website has since removed the segment in which he made the statement, but here is a quote from the radio show posted on a blog discussing the issue:

“Without regard to what you think about women who get off by behaving like sows by pulling out their you-know-what in front of everybody else in the world and letting their babies start sucking, whatever you think about that, you don’t have the express it so crudely, well why not? It’s a crude practice, given how adamant some of these sows are, that’s an appropriate term, isn’t it? It’’s what a pig does and it does it in public, right? I mean, I don’t, I – hehehehe…”

I was shocked by this statement. Breastfeeding is natural, and most likely how everyone was fed at one point. But, with the patriarchal nature of our society, men don’t want to see a body part that they view as sexual being de-sexualized.

Locally, we are dealing with a similar issue- although it was not so crudely addressed. The Augustus Brown Swimming pool recently banned breastfeeding in their lobby. Juneau is now proposing a breastfeeding bill that would require local businesses to allow an unpaid break for women to breastfeed or express milk in a sanitary and non-bathroom area.

Although breastfeeding is recommended by doctors as the best form of infant nutrition, breastfeeding is fairly discouraged by society. Businesses don’t allow breaks for mothers to breastfeed, or proper areas to do so. As with our local swimming pool, businesses post signs that ban breastfeeding. But why? Is breastfeeding obscene? How could the natural and best form of infant nutrition be obscene? A group of mothers on recently created a group protesting the removal of breastfeeding photos from the website. The pictures were removed because facebook deemed the content inappropriate. A quote on the page reads:

“Facebook, we expect more from you, and we expect you to realize that nursing moms everywhere have a right to show pictures of their babies eating, just like bottle-fed babies have a right to be seen. In an effort to appease the closed-minded, you are only serving to be detrimental to babies, women, and society.”

My mother is currently a lactation consultant at Bartlett Regional Hospital, and previously worked primarily in the OB department. Consequently I have grown up hearing the overwhelming benefits of breastfeeding. It is by far the most superior form of nutrition available to newborns, and it is recommended that infants are exclusively breastfed until at least the first six months. Unfortunately this recommendation is rarely followed.

Breastfeeding infants decreases the risk of chronic illnesses such as asthma, diabetes, and allergies. It lowers the occurrence of respiratory infections, urinary tract infections, ear infections, diarrhea, and other common illnesses. It also increases cognitive functioning, boosts the immune system, and provides all the required nutrients for infants. For mothers, it helps in losing pregnancy weight, and it is free!


6 Responses

  1. Excellent post — I wasn’t aware of the swimming pool controversy…

  2. Isn’t it interesting that the intended use of breasts transforms them from a sexual attraction to loathsome foreign orbs that cause passers-by to flee? If women pranced around sans skivvies, the average male would not see a problem, but as soon as a baby is attached to the breast, they are repulsed. It is as if they never knew the purpose of the original design…

  3. So true, Rochelle! It’s ridiculous that this even needs to be a discussion – but it is truly needed. If there was ever any doubt that people are not always rational decisionmakers, this clinches it.

    I find it ironic that a SWIMMING POOL, of all places, would ban breastfeeding. This is the place where people strip down to minimal coverings and frolic in water. If we can’t agree that a mom breastfeeding at the pool is undoubtedly the least offensive scenario at any given moment in that pool area, we’re in trouble.

  4. Following up on aeandreson’s comment, I’ll suggest that until the folks at the pool figure out how to deal with the disgusting old dude who wears the saggy, near-transparent bathing suit every time I’m there with my daughter, they have no business prohibiting breastfeeding…

  5. If breastfeeding is an issue at a pool, why not have a more strict dress code. Many times I have seen more of males and females than I had wanted to, especially after diving! And what is the real anatomical issue? All a swimsuit must do is cover the nipple and the groin area. Butts are fine as long as they’re “covered” by what I like to call “butt floss”. Why is breastfeeding so bad then? The key to feeding is the nipple, which is covered by the baby. And most women I have seen doing this are rather modest, just trying to feed their children. I think we as a society should just be glad these children have caring mothers who are feeding them.

  6. Absolutely outrageous. I thought it was common knowlege that breast feeding was the best thing ever…not to mention the emotional detatchment between mothers and children who aren’t breastfed.
    There are some interesting discussions and information on regarding similar issues along with other health-benefit information.

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