Written by Rachel Extance

Voices

Get your tits out (for the babs)

This week’s seen a full-frontal assault on breastfeeding mothers – with Nigel Farage and Jeremy Clarkson throwing their weight behind the ‘cover-up’ campaign. Exactly what, asks Rachel Extance, is the problem?

breastfeeding poster (1)

My son stopped breastfeeding this week. It’s been 15 months, the last three of which I’ve spent willing him to stop waking up at 4am and insist on feeding for the next 90 minutes so I can FINALLY get some sleep.

Just as we put mummy milk behind us (and I realise I can no longer get away with eating cake and chocolate every day) my Facebook feed is filled with pictures of women with napkins over their head, renaissance paintings and “Breastfeeding mothers welcome” posters.

It’s the latest in a long line of attacks on women who are simply feeding their children (and trying to avoid a full-scale small person meltdown in the middle of a cafe/restaurant/shop).

A few months ago a friend posted his displeasure at a journalist on Radio 5Live referring to supporters of breastfeeding as “the breastapo”. Yep, you read that right. A few months before that, a mum was labelled a ‘tramp’ on social media for stopping to feed her baby while out shopping.

It’s a baffling reaction. Breastfeeding is eulogised to new mums by healthcare professionals. Those who find themselves unable to do it can feel an undeserved sense of failure. And yet society tells us to lock ourselves away while we do it, hide at home or in a toilet or, as Farage suggests, a corner. We don’t want to see you doing that!

Checking The Sun website I was greeted with a full page banner saying “Happy Nude Year – we look back at the celebs who stripped naked in 2014”. But, pop a nipple in a child’s mouth in public and you might embarrass other people. I’m sorry? Have you ever breastfed a child in public? Perhaps, when they reach the age where they get distracted and come off regularly, leaving you inadvertently flashing the room and then scream, loudly drawing attention to you, when you go to put it away because they aren’t using it? Now that’s being embarrassed by breastfeeding. You spectators please go back to your pint or cup of tea while I wrangle the small octopus on my lap.

So, what did The Sun have to say about Louise Burns being asked to cover up while feeding her child in Claridges? It published a column from Jeremy Clarkson comparing breastfeeding to urination (ewwww!). He said: “When we want to do that, we go to a little room and do it in private”. But the paper’s eager for you to look at Kim Kardashian’s arse, because that’s not revolting at all.

It’s not Clarkson’s first statement on the issue. He is reported to have clarified his views a couple of years ago, explaining: “Men do not see breasts as part of the reproductive process. We see them as a plaything, a toy.” Oh, I see. Presumably he doesn’t think items can be functional and sexy. No point wrapping up an iPhone and leaving it under the Christmas tree for him this year.

I’ve fed my child in pubs, cafes, church and the cinema and I’m pleased to say I’ve only ever had one negative reaction. I was sitting on a bench in a shopping centre and an elderly woman was briefly aghast as she walked past. I am quite lucky/bullishly confident. Many of my friends breastfed and if they could whip their tits out in public, so could I. My antenatal group also developed into a regular pram club and no one in their right mind is going to take on six mums breastfeeding in a cafe.

But for many, the negative reaction, perceived or otherwise, is a real barrier to breastfeeding. If The Sun put a breastfeeding baby on Page 3 maybe we’d change attitudes. Just watch it doesn’t squirt milk in your eye….

1472 Views
Share:
  • googleplus
  • linkedin
  • rss
  • pinterest

Written by Rachel Extance

Rachel Extance is a journalist and mother-of-two. Her main concern these days is making sure she doesn't walk out the house with yoghurt down her top.