a boob is to titillate

by marjorieingall on January 2, 2012

Whatever, sure, it can FEED A BABY, but that is secondary to its sexytime purpose. This is why women are constantly told to stop nursing in public, escorted out of stores and restaurants, informed that they “would really be more comfortable” giving their baby a meal in the bathroom or far-off Disney lounge or whatever. BECAUSE WE ARE TANTALISING TEMPTRESSES AND ALSO CHESTICLES ARE HAWT.

Of course, I live in the East Village, where tattooed and choppy-haircutted new moms whip out their breasts and PRAY for someone to give them the stink eye so they can get outraged. It tends not to happen. I nursed for almost 2 years (cumulative score) but the only time I was given a hard time was in a Friendly’s (HA) on I-95 on the way back from Newport. We were sitting in a booth and a mom at a nearby table saw me feeding Maxie and had a SHITFIT. She yelled “THAT’S DISGUSTING; WE’RE EATING!” (What a coincidence; so was the baby.) And “I HAVE A TEENAGE SON! HE SHOULD NOT HAVE TO SEE THIS!” (The son in question looked mortified, and not by me.) She bellowed at me, “GO TO THE BATHROOM TO DO THAT!” (Did I mention this was a Friendly’s at a highway rest stop? Have you seen the bathrooms?)

When I continued to nurse and ignore her, she called the waitress over to demand that I be kicked out of the restaurant. Instead, the waitress moved her to another table where she didn’t have to face me and my Pillar-of-Salt cleavage. Well, she didn’t have to, but she hadn’t kept turning around to glare.  The waitress gave me an apologetic look, but I think she should have given me a free sundae.

Anyway. There was recently a nurse-in at Target because a woman was told she’d be “more comfortable” if she nursed in a dressing room than on the shopping floor. My friend Amy showed up as part of the lactating flash mob, and wrote about it for Cafe Mom, and posted a photo of herself goofily and kickily nursing her daughter while pushing a shopping cart. And OMG the COMMENTS. People were horrified. And grossed out, and full of fascinating comparisons: Nursing in public is apparently akin to changing a tampon in public! Or taking a dump in public! Good to know!

Anyway, it is not a big news flash that we are puritanical panters with issues. But we women buy into it! We play into the boobs-are-male-playthings notion when we support wink-wink-nudge-nudge breast cancer campaigns ( ”Save 2nd Base,” “Feel Your Boobies,” “I [heart] Boobies”) and when we fail to examine the leering brand names of most nursing and maternity lingerie: “Nummies,” “HOTmilk,” “WhoaMamma,” “MommyLicious,” and “Passion Spice,” and no I am not linking). Of course it’s fab to feel sexy when we’re pregnant or nursing. But it’s not helping anyone when we turn our breasts into objects. That’s not sexuality; that’s sexualization. Eroticism ceases to be a part of who we are; it becomes the whole enchilada. Boobies are presented on a platter for male delectation. That feeds the culture that freaks out about nursing.

Come on, we should get to feed babies where and when we want. And 45 states and the District of Columbia protect that right, though of course it gets challenged by individual stores and nutball Friendly’s patrons every day.  So: Marketers, stop the infernal cutesy leering that ultimately damages women, babies and dignity. Cafe Mom readers, leave Amy alone. Crotchety types, let women feed their kids where and when they want. (And what they want — formula peeps deserve respect too.) Can’t we please stop having this fight?

{ 3 trackbacks }

Question of the Week: When, If Ever, Is Nursing in Public Too In-Your-Face? | Em & Lo: Sex. Love. And Everything in Between.
January 5, 2012 at 2:01 pm
Links 17 « High on Clichés
February 21, 2012 at 2:30 am
sexy hawt breastfeeding
August 15, 2012 at 9:55 am

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Zev January 3, 2012 at 12:11 pm

I heartily agree with your conclusion. That said, as a man and a father, I am utterly confused about the conflicted connection between titillation in one setting, but disgust in another. Personally, I have never heard a man (other than uptight clergy) say that breastfeeding should be a private activity. Is this primarily an argument among women?

Lynn January 3, 2012 at 2:16 pm

Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, and YES. Brava.
Also, “sneak a peak” (sic)? Sheesh.

Bible Belt Balabusta January 3, 2012 at 4:48 pm

I feel certain “the whole enchilada” is sexual slang my daughter hasn’t gotten around to teaching me, yet. I hope so, ’cause it would fit right in with the food/fantasy thing.
You’ve been fighting this fight for awhile, and I love the way you battle.
The “boobies on a platter” make me think of Saint Agatha, whose body was more than just objectified. She’s the patron saint of victims of sexual abuse and subject of many a curious painting.
Thanks for the alert about how women buy in to the boob-plaything notion, even when we support worthy causes. I’d been wondering about that….

Amy K January 4, 2012 at 10:52 am

yay yay yay! thanks for blogging about me and the crazy commenters who throw up in their mouths at me! I have to also add that I’ve gotten some wonderful feedback from supportive mamas, too. Which takes the sting out of things. Mostly.

Ken Y January 4, 2012 at 11:11 am

It bothers me how people are so quick to get between a baby and baby’s meal. Not to mention the mother-child bonding that is so important to the child’s development. Of all things to get upset about, feeding a baby? Really? Grr

Robin Aronson January 4, 2012 at 8:28 pm

Chesticles!

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