If you would have approached the subject of breastfeeding in public with me before today, I would have denied that there was an issue up for debate. I would have ignorantly stated that there is no debate because breastfeeding moms have won the battle and we have the right to nurse whenever and wherever we choose, with or without a cover. There are laws protecting breastfeeding mothers and I can proudly state that there are not many places I feel uncomfortable feeding my baby and I never feel the need to use a cover.
Today however, I stumbled upon a blog post on my Facebook newsfeed titled, “Please stop with the breastfeeding photos!” I clicked through, against my better judgment and what I read lit a fire in me. What I read was tasteless, judgmental and ignorant. I can respect differing opinions but some of the statements made in said post prompted me to speak out.
In it the author asks, “What is the motive behind posting these oftentimes incredibly graphic, borderline pornographic nursing photos?”
First of all, the fact that the word “pornographic” is being used to describe an image of a mother breastfeeding is absolutely appalling and as you so arbitrarily put we are not posting these images “to raise awareness” or “for bragging rights” we are posting these images because of people like you!
You are the problem because no matter how many times you say it, you do not support breastfeeding mothers. You can not in one sentence say that you support breastfeeding and in another compare it to using the bathroom or having sex with your husband. Yes my friends, these are two more of several tasteless comparisons that were made in said blog post.
I could go on and on and digest the blog post word for word because there are so many statements in it that I disagree with but I’m not going to. Instead I’m going to share these images of myself breastfeeding my infant, images that I had no intention of sharing until I read that incredibly subjective blog post.
The sad truth is that this debate is about so much more than fighting for the right to feed our babies. It’s about the fact that as women we still don’t have a right over our bodies. The arguments that were made when I tried to stick up for this beautiful bond predominantly revolved around two things; First being that it’s disrespectful to my husband that I share such an image followed by the argument that it’s disrespectful to other men who may stumble upon said image.
In regards to the first point, I own my body. It is mine, not my husbands, not anyone else’s but mine. I am not an object and my breasts (especially at this time in my life) are not a sex toy. The thought that I could be disrespecting my husband by posting images of my child breastfeeding implies that he owns me in some way and he does not. He is my partner, we are equal.
In regards to disrespecting other men that may stumble upon said photo. They are grown ass men, are they not? They have a choice to look away, do they not? These men are choosing to view this incredibly beautiful bond between mother and child as sexual, are they not? The fact that I am being blamed for the misconduct of your husband and other males is disgusting. The fact that we still see men as these out of control (sexually) human beings is not only disgusting but it’s harmful. Just look at issues like rape culture and victim blaming, the underlying issues in this debate run right alongside those.
The last point in the blog post that enrages me is the implication that we have no respect for our children, that we haven’t taken them into account because we post breastfeeding images... to that I say this;
My children will be raised to respect women and their bodies. They will be able to acknowledge the true beauty of a breastfeeding photo, they will thank me for nourishing their fragile little bodies and there is nothing “odd” about that. The only individual who will be embarrassed by seeing an image of themselves as a baby feeding from their mother’s breast are those who were raised to believe that the female body is a sexual object that it is sinful to look at, therefore objectifying the female body.
So to answer the question as to why I share breastfeeding photos? I share them because of people like the author of that blog post and those who are sure to troll this one, I share them because I am lucky to be surrounded by strong and like-minded women who appreciate the beauty of the image. Most importantly I share them because myself and all other breastfeeding mothers, we’ve already won this fight and it is within our rights to do so.
You can read more from Tawnya on her blog at All Of Life’s Little Adventures.