Breastfeeding in Public - Another Weird Body Taboo

• Is breastfeeding in public a good idea?
• Read what Soren, the Personal Development Guy, thinks.
• Also included are some inspirational sayings ...
• ... and a handful of questions that make you think.

• This page is an entry in "Soren's Blog: Inspirational Thoughts" - a blog aimed at your personal development & spiritual growth. This blog incorporates inspirational motivational quotes, empowerment theory, random funny facts, motivational phrases, short funny jokes, funny questions that make you think and more! 

Breastfeeding in Public?


As a sort of continuation of my previous blog entry (about bare bodies), I have to share my sense of wonder regarding something else to do with the human body: breastfeeding, particularly public breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding is a mother's gift to herself, her baby and the Earth.

~ Pamela K. Wiggins ~

Breastfeeding is nature's health plan.
~ Inspirational saying ~

Breast milk is better than any udder milk!
~ Inspirational saying ~

Just the other day I took part in a social event in a restaurant. We were about 20 people who met to celebrate something, and one of the couples present has just had their first child. This created the interesting conundrum: Can you breastfeed babies in a restaurant?

My own immediate response is 'Why on Earth not? A restaurant is a place where you eat, isn't it'?'

But as it turns out not everyone shares this view. Apparently it was a problem. The couple in question handled it beautifully, but the situation made me think, ask questions and check things out on the Internet (I have no children myself - a conscious decision on my part). This blog entry is a 'daring exposition' (ha, ha, ha) of what I found.

Cultural Taboos about Breastfeeding in Public

In some cultures breastfeeding in public is a no-no - there's some sort of 'breast taboo' or 'food taboo' or 'mother taboo' or 'nudity taboo' or something. I'm actually not sure which, even after talking to people who have an opinion on the matter - and that includes people who have both children and breasts. :-)

Legislation is most countries is generally on the side of the hungry children: Mothers are allowed to breastfeed where ever they like. Public opinion, however, sometimes differs from that.

Many native cultures in Africa, the Amazon and elsewhere around the world have absolutely no taboo when it comes to breastfeeding in public.

North American culture and some other cultures, on the other hand, seem to have a big taboo regarding breastfeeding in public.

My own (Danish) culture seems to stand divided.

Breastfeeding in Public in Denmark

The consensus in Danish culture seems to be that breastfeeding children is natural and beneficial (which is very true from pretty much every possible standpoint, including a scientific and medical standpoint) - and therefore something you should do.

While breastfeeding may not seem the right choice for every parent, it is the best choice for every baby.

~ Amy Spangler ~

Or, as Chief Justice Holmes put it in the eighteen hundreds:

A pair of substantial mammary glands have the advantage over the two hemispheres of the most learned professor's brain in the art of compounding a nutritive fluid for infants.

~ Oliver Wendell Holmes ~

On the other hand some women are shy about exposing a (partially) bare breast and other people condemn it when they see it. Strangely, women appear more judgemental than men in that area, and younger women seem more prone to condemn breastfeeding in public than older women. (I have no data regarding this, it's just an impression).

I do know a couple of women in their twenties and thirties, however, who were very judgemental about breastfeeding in public ... until they got children of their own. That made them change their mind! They now do it themselves ... :-)

Breastfeeding in Public: Mixed Up Signals


Even though I haven't been able to get a straight answer to the pivotal question in all this ('Why ever would some people consider breastfeeding in public inappropriate?') I'm going to go out on a limb and answer: They're confused.

First of all they're confusing the natural, joyful act of sex with something inappropriate; and secondly they're confusing the natural and necessary act of breastfeeding with sex.

No wonder their reactions can sometimes seem strange and 'over the top'.

In some cultures, including North American, Australian and most European cultures the bare breasts of a female are definitely a sex symbol. In other cultures around the world, however, a woman's bare breasts are NOT seen as sexually arousing. They are seen as food depots for children.

Here's a great quote by Carolyn Latteier, the author of the book "Breasts, The Women's Perspective on an American Obsession":

"Well, we do have a peculiar obsession with breasts in this culture. A lot of people think it's just the human nature to be fascinated with breasts but in many cultures, breasts aren't sexual at all. I interviewed a young anthropologist working with women in Mali, in a country in Africa where women go around with bare breasts. They're always feeding their babies. And when she told them that in our culture men are fascinated with breasts there was an instant of shock. The women burst out laughing. They laughed so hard, they fell on the floor. They said, "You mean, men act like babies?"
~ Carolyn Latteier ~ (she said this on a TV program called "All about breasts")

Questions that Make You Think

For your amusement here are a few stupid questions to ask people, or perhaps they're questions to ask a girl. Or, perhaps, intimacy questions. Or maybe they just might be questions that make you think:

- If restaurants are places to eat, why shouldn't babies allowed to do so, too (in the form of breastfeeding)?

- Since there are more than three billion female human beings on the Earth today, and those women possess approximately six billion tits - how on Earth can tits be 'bad', 'wrong', 'ugly' or 'taboo'?

- Are European, Australian and American men so hooked on female breasts because they were all weaned too early? And if so ...

- Do big breasts hold such fascination for men because they subconsciously conclude that big jugs must contain more milk?

- If children sustain damage from watching bare breasts or breastfeeding in public shouldn't almost every child on earth be permanently damaged?

Add This to the Pile of Funny Questions about Breastfeeding

Do you know why it is women and not men who can breastfeed? No?

The Personal Development Guy comes to the rescue with a truthful answer!

The answer is simple. If we men could squeeze a nipple and have a delicious beverage come out, we'd ever get around to feeding our baby. We'd be much too busy playing with it: Squirting each other with it, seeing who could squirt the longest, mixing it with other beverages and drinking it ourselves!

(Additional question: Sooo ... How come women never do that?)

Breastfeeding Joke

Oh, and I think there's just enough time for a breastfeeding joke:

A woman and a baby were in the doctor's examining room, waiting for the doctor to come in for the baby's first exam. The doctor arrived, examined the baby, checked his weight, and being a little concerned, asked if the baby was breast-fed or bottle-fed.

"Breast-fed" she replied.

"Well, strip down to your waist," the doctor ordered.

She did. He pinched her nipples, then pressed, kneaded, and rubbed both breasts for a while in a detailed examination.

Finally he sighed. Motioning to her to get dressed, he said, "No wonder this baby is underweight. You don't have any milk."

"I know," she said, "I'm his Grandma, but I'm glad I came."

Breastfeeding in Public: My Personal Conclusion

My conclusion? Just like the rest of us babies need food. They get their food from their mother's breasts, and if they don't get it right here and now - no matter if they are in a public place or not - they're likely to scream their heads off. As well they should, since it's their primary means of communication their needs.

The idea that there's anything wrong with breastfeeding in public is ridiculous.

Our bodies are shaped to bear children, and our lives are a working out of the processes of creation. All our ambitions and intelligence are beside that great elemental point.

~ Phyllis Mcginley ~

My opinion is that anybody offended by breastfeeding is staring too hard.

~ David Allen ~

Okay, we men in America, Australia and Europe who have breast fixation might get our attentions piqued or even, in extreme cases, get a tiny jolt from watching a mother pull out her tit, but hey, so what? It's not like it's unpleasant.

If we were to ban breastfeeding in public, we might just as well ban any other kind of public food consumption. Just imagine: "Oh my god, look at that! That man is eating an apple! And in front of the children, too. How awful! How disgusting! Somebody call the police!" :-)

Tags/keywords for this blog entry include: breastfeeding in public, bare bodies, restaurant, nakedness, breast taboo, public breastfeeding, questions that make you think, Denmark, intimacy questions, food taboo, stupid questions to ask people, mother taboo, questions to ask a girl, nudity taboo, breastfeeding quotes, breasts, tits, breastfeeding joke, funny questions, inspirational quotations, inspirational thoughts and inspirational sayings. 



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