Monday, August 9, 2010

Thanks for the Mammaries

I was sitting in Biscuitville (a breakfast restaurant that hasn't yet made inroads in the great Bluegrass State) in Furniture City, North Carolina, with my best friend and another friend of ours when a story came through on the TV news about a nursing mother being asked by a bailiff to leave a courtroom in Arkansas for breastfeeding in public (this is quite legal in Arkansas).

This sparked a conversation on the subject of breastfeeding, public or otherwise. My point, as always, is, well, that's why female mammals have breasts- they're not strictly ornamental (sorry, guys). The biological function is to provide sustenance for the young of the species- so, why do we have such a huge hangup about it?

Now, I'm from the South; I'm also old enough to think that there is a certain etiquette to breastfeeding in public, which was another aspect of the conversation. However, I don't think it's appropriate for anyone to march up to a mother who is in the process of feeding her infant and start throwing a fit at her. This will call far more attention to it, especially if the mother was being discreet, and also upset the baby. If you've never been around a hungry, angry baby- well, you just haven't been to WalMart on Saturday, have you? Yelling in the immediate vicinity of a baby in said state is a BAD IDEA and will lead to high-pitched, sustained screaming and a mass of dirty looks from everyone within a three block radius.

We set a precedent in Kentucky just a few years ago when two cases of a similar nature popped up within a very short period of time. One was in a fast-food place, and the other was in a moderately-priced sit-down restaurant; in both cases, the mothers had covered themselves and the babies with blankets, and the respective managers asked them to cease, move to the bathroom, or leave. I'm not a mother, but the idea of feeding my child where other people have relieved themselves is repugnant, plus, here again, breastfeeding in public is NOT against the law. Lawsuits were filed. The La Leche League got involved. Public apologies were issued. Then it all died down and will probably remain largely ignored until it happens again...

As someone who has to wear a bra the engineering of which is slightly less complicated than the Large Hadron Supercollider, I can tell you that breasts were not evolutionarily intended as fun for those of us who have to haul them around on a daily basis. Let's not lose our religion over their true purpose, okay?

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