So. I just found out from my parenting board that the KC Star posted an article last Saturday about avoiding holiday faux pas. In it, this gal was the ‘expert’ on the subject, and had the following to say about nursing:

Don’t do things that might make others feel uncomfortable. For example, a woman who didn’t want to miss an event came with her new baby and nursed in sight of all the other guests.

“The men seemed to like it, but a lot of women did not,” Lee says. “Unless you are going to a party with all the La Leche women then this isn’t appropriate.”

Hm. Of course that immediately pisses me off all kinds of ways, but mostly I’m annoyed with the male sexism of the quote more than her discomfort of what really is, I dunno, NUTRITIONAL NORMALCY. It just seems superfluous and snarky, and aside from making me want to flick her on the forehead, leaves me to think she’s defensive. Whatever.

But then it REALLY got ridiculous when one of the moms on my board wrote a letter to the editor to complain, and got this as a reply:

Thank you for sharing your opinion. Lee’s point was strictly limited to “in full view of other guests.” I don’t think the story implied that the nursing mother or her child were inappropriate.

Huh. I gotta disagree with you there, Cindy. That pretty much was the entire point of its inclusion in the story as far as I can tell.  I mean it was about faux pas, right?  And nursing? With words like ‘isn’t appropriate’?  Obviously I’m biased, but COME ON. Maybe reading comprehension is not Cindy’s strong suit as an editor [insert joke about KC Star here] but my anger ain’t nuthin’ compared to others, trust me, so I suggest she at least learn the word retract.

Anyhoodle, this was Karen’s badass reply (used with permission, of course):

Breastfeeding women face enough challenges nursing in public, and the embarrassment factor is a huge reason that women choose not to breastfeed. That article has possibly contributed to some women’s trepidation. I would like to suggest that, to do some damage control, the Mom2Mom could run an article about breastfeeding in public including informing women that there are laws in almost every state (including MO and KS) protecting them and listings ways to feel more comfortable doing so. As I can’t find an email for the mom2mom section at the moment, I hope you will pass on my suggestion.

Now, in reference to “in full view of other guests”. Would it have been appropriate to give the child a bottle “in full view of other guests”? If so, then it is always appropriate to breastfeed. Why is it that we are completely desensitized to images of exposed breasts in everything from lingerie advertisements to NBA cheerleader uniforms, but to expose them actually engaged in their only biological function is uncomfortable?

Many people would say “She could have covered up with a blanket” or “She could have gone to another room,” to which I say, why does feeding one’s child have to be done in hiding? Why should the mother be made to feel like a second class citizen or embarrassed in any way? (And for practicality’s sake, many babies will not nurse while be covered by a blanket, and why even attend an event if you know you will just have to spend most of the time sequestered in another room. Some people even suggest nursing in the bathroom when no private space is available—which is truly just disgusting).

Furthermore, the inclusion of the quote that “the men seemed to like it” is really in poor taste, and, as I said in my original letter, insulting to the guests in attendance. Unless the event in question was the high school prom, I highly doubt the men were getting their kicks from it, as Lee implied.

Unfortunately, I am not surprised to hear sentiments like these regarding breastfeeding in public, but the fact that the writer chose to include them, *and* that they made it through your editorial staff, is extremely disappointing.


Or something like that.