Noriko Aita should have nudged in a little closer to a collection of nudes when she was nursing her daughter last month at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. Perhaps then a security guard wouldn’t have asked Aita to go sit on a toilet to finish up with the kid, what with art pieces’ actual exposed breasts and nipples, most not even in service of a hungry baby!
But she didn’t, and he did. And now D.C. area moms are going to remind the national museums and all the people who work for them that breastfeeding is neither an indecent act nor one of the half dozen good uses for a toilet.
Aita actually did look for a place to sit and nurse in the restroom, but found no place to sit. Except the toilet. So she went back to the bench and settled in with her girl. After the toilet-exchange with the security guard, she moved to another bench. Yet ANOTHER security guard asked her to stop.
Aita told the Washington Post that she didn’t know her rights so she and her family just left. When she got home, she consulted everyone’s favorite attorney, Google. She learned about the Right to Breastfeed Act, signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1999. The law protects nursing moms’ right to breastfeed wherever they want on federal property.
Word spread among parent groups in her area and a nurse-in was planned. In the meantime, administrators at the Hirshhorn apologized (on Facebook) and said they have reminded all security staff of lactating moms’ rights.
Though the apology was accepted, plans for a nurse-in are still going forward for 10 a.m. this Saturday at the museum. They site a lack of awareness and education as the reason.
I think it’s a good enough reason. I know some may have nurse-in fatigue but the organizers are right: Breastfeeding is a way bigger deal in theory than in practice. Yes, some women expose more than others but — again — those nudes! The paintings! The sculptures! The Joe’s Jeans ad near the Metro!
The irony is workers at an art museum think a breastfeeding mom is offensive or distracting to patrons of visual arts.
Ever work a nurse-in? Are you planning to go to this one? Do you think nurse-ins are effective anymore?