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Breastfeeding Is NOT Creepy!

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Dr. Wendy Walsh: Our highly sexualized culture has gone too far when women (read: nature's nurturers) are claiming that breastfeeding is gross. When women begin talking like men in terms of sexuality -- and disparage their own bodies -- then you know that this third wave of feminism hasn't done much to truly liberate femininity. Instead, we have colluded with the boys' club in order to masquerade as equals. This is not equality. Sexualizing our breasts is fine. Breasts are beautiful. But confining breasts to all things sexual and sentencing them to a life without maternal power is sad servitude to all things male.

woman breastfeeding

But I'm getting ahead of myself. Here are the facts that have me ranting over my morning coffee today.

Recently, Kathryn Blundell, the editor of leading British parenting magazine Mother and Baby, wrote an editorial entitled, "I Formula-Fed. SO WHAT?" In it, she called breasts "fun bags" and said, "Seeing your teeny, tiny, innocent baby latching on where only a lover has been before feels, well, a little creepy."

Meanwhile, on this side of the pond, that wise sage Kim Kardashian -- whose own boobs are limited to working the night shift -- tweeted this to her fans a few weeks ago: "EWW Im at lunch, the woman at the table next 2 me is breast feeding her baby w no coverup."

I understand that eyebrows get raised by the public display of this natural beauty, for I once staged a research study for my psychology dissertation on breastfeeding and romantic attachment. While interviewing nursing mothers, I learned that one of the most common reasons that women quit breastfeeding is embarrassment about nursing in public. All over Europe, paintings and statues of the Madonna (the real one, not the one who vogues) depict her nursing, yet our American culture still can't get past the idea that breasts are more than sexual objects.

Even though breastfeeding is on the rise today (compared to the 1970s), it is in uncomfortable competition with racy messages. Sexy women are hot. MILFs are hot. Women who nurse are "creepy." Fortunately, these increasingly sexualized media messages are commingling with the powerful chant of a growing body of women who still think like women. Women who know that breastfeeding contributes to healthy attachments and good health all around. Women like Bettina Forbes, who cofounded "Best for Babes," a group that normalizes breastfeeding and shows that nursing moms can be powerful, sexy, glamorous and nurturing, all at the same time. Thousands of women follow Forbes on Facebook and are what I like to call the real feminists.

When women hate their own bodies' natural functions, they need to stop and think. Whose sentiments are being recycled? I'll tell you whose: Those of a dying patriarchal culture whose boys' club would prefer that you enslave your boobs to serve them.

And here's something to throw back in the face of anyone who thinks that breasts are only "fun bags": According to one of my all-time favorite studies, guess which kind of woman is most likely to choose to breastfeed? The woman who is most comfortable with sex, erotica and her body. Prudes don't breastfeed.

Kathryn and Kim, we hope you're listening!


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29 comments so far | Post a comment now
Allison June 29, 2010, 4:17 AM

That British writer is so stupid. She probably thinks she is being witty and funny and her baby’s health will suffer b/c she chooses not to breastfeed her child. I hope she can live with that guilt for the rest of her life.

Mrs. Collins June 29, 2010, 5:32 AM

I am breastfeeding and formula feeding my 7 month old daughter and there is absolutely nothing creepy or gross about it. To each its own, everyone can’t or won’t do it, but its very natural and there is nothing gross about it.

Emma June 29, 2010, 6:31 AM

oh wow we still talking about this? how many articles about this has momlogic done this year already? don’t you get tired of talking about the same thing over and over again? oh and BTW Alison, i breastfeed my 2nd child for 13 months (exclusively and while working full time) and he gets sicker than my formula feed son. my BF boy has gotten more ear infections and fevers in two years than my FF boy has had in 5.

michelle June 29, 2010, 8:39 AM

This article is so idiotic. Somehow there is an epidemic of women who think BFing is creepy, and somehow feminism is to blame, just because you heard about two (yes, two) women in the world who happen to not like breastfeeding? In the 19th century breastfeeding was also considered gross and impolite. Was that also because of feminism, Wendy? I know you have an agenda, which is usually to blame feminism in the most knee-jerk way possible, but this is really ridiculous. If you had a head for numbers (but you know us chicks — math is hard!) you would see that BFing is not a controversial subject, that it continues to gain popularity, and that formula feeding is just fine for babies too.

Anonymous June 29, 2010, 8:54 AM

Well said, but I still want to know why momlogic writers keep on NOT reporting the whole of what happened when Kim Kardashian was eating. The woman changed the baby’s nappy on the table - why not acknowledge that this was perhaps the event that Kardashian found disgusting?

Incidentally, breast-feeding in public in protected by law in Scotland. Scotland’s laws are different to the rest of the UK’s.

ss June 29, 2010, 4:51 PM

I agree that breast feeding is not gross. It’s natural. It’s what breasts were made for. The thing is, I constantly see articles suggesting that women are being pressured in to NOT breast feeding but I’ve experienced quite a bit of the opposite. When I was in the hospital after having my baby there was so much pressure to breast feed. Whether or not I breast feed shouldn’t be anyone else’s business. Not everyone can and not everyone wants to. I think women should be allowed to make their own choices in this way and be left alone.

Sophia June 30, 2010, 3:09 AM

I am only 17 and I don’t have any children yet thus have clearly never breast-fed, but nevertheless I find this view (the “creepy” view, that is) on breast-feeding totally ridiculous. I actually can’t think of anything more beautiful or natural, and maybe it’s weird but I’m so looking forward to it when I’m older and have children. Breast-feeding women should not have no hide it or answer to anyone’s disgust or criticism.

MJ June 30, 2010, 3:46 AM

anonymous, yes she was talking about that also, but she also clarified that she was talking about the uncovered breastfeeding, she even said ”at least my sister uses a cover” which actually, i seem to remember her sister saying those covers were ”dumb” in an interview ;)

mannequin June 30, 2010, 6:20 AM

Nothing new to talk about?
Then talk about nothing.

Courtney June 30, 2010, 10:37 AM

that’s so true not every mother that wants to breastfeed can and it’s not that big a deal major stars have done it back since when it could get your fired for doing it in your dressing room of a show or movie just ask Lynn Redgrave’s daughter Kelly as Lynn got fired for doing exactally this and successfully sued the producers of the show she was fired from

Tori July 6, 2010, 8:41 AM

I agree with SS. When I told the nurses I was not going to breastfeed my son they nearly called me a terrible mother! While I support other women’s right to choose to breastfeed, it is not something I would do. Also, I would like to comment that because breastfeeding does involve a private body part, it really is something that should be done in private. If a woman whipped out her breast for any other reason she’d be thrown in jail. Erroring on the side of modesty is always best.

Deborah P July 6, 2010, 9:02 AM

The woman in my family have nursed our babys for generations, we have rased very heathy children. And are husbens haven’t been turned off by the thought of or breast being used in the way they wore meant to be used. 9 years ago when my own 19 year old daughter chose to breastfeed her son she like the reast of the women in the family thought that for the baby it was the he right thing to do. I thank that the people that are looking at the breast in a sexual way need to fined out if they wore once breastfeed. And if not why ???

CC August 18, 2010, 8:59 AM

I also feel like there’s a lot of pressure to breastfeed even if the mother doesn’t want to. I think it’s wonderful that so many women choose to nurse and I support them 100% (and it doesn’t bother me if they do it in public, it’s a natural bodily function and there’s no reason to be squeamish). However, it seems like unless you’ve TRIED to breastfeed and are physically unable to, so many people think it’s unacceptable not to nurse. Some people simply don’t want to - and that’s OKAY! Can we just stop this stupid breastfeeding debate? It’s neither “creepy” nor absolutely necessary.

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