It seems like every few months there is a story on the news or in my Facebook feed about a mother being asked to leave a restaurant, store or other public locations because she was breastfeeding. Most of the time the mother wasn’t walking around half naked or doing anything incendiary, but was instead, subtly feeding her child. I know, the horror. There seems to be a way too common feeling, primarily among men, that breastfeeding in public is gross or inherently sexual, and no matter how many times the evidence about breastfeeding is explained or how rationally we try to show that there’s nothing gross or sexual about it, minds refuse to change.
Well, Georgia is taking a stab at changing them. A new law in Georgia would fine people who restrict, harass, discriminate against or otherwise prevent breastfeeding in public up to $1,000 per incident.
48 of 50 states (West Virginia and Idaho being the outliers) have laws that allow breastfeeding in public already, but few go as far as Georgia’s new law. And according to the article where I learned about this new law, only approximately 10 states actually enforce their breastfeeding laws. Which I’m sorry, is just a crying shame.
Now, please understand, I am about as modest as they come. I am uncomfortable undressing in locker rooms where other women walk around stark naked. I want my husband, who is a doctor for crying out loud, to stay at the head of my bed for all lady part inspections, even though clearly (considering the whole pregnancy thing), he has seen those parts before. I’m a prude, it’s okay, you can call me that.
But breastfeeding in public is something that I whole-heartedly support. I’ll be honest, I prefer for mothers to be a bit more subtle than the mother I saw who laid her breast on a table for her older toddler to periodically breastfeed from while she ate her dinner, but I don’t think that nursing covers or blankets should be required, especially since often they make baby and mom too warm and interfere with feeding.
We have got to drop the mindset that breasts are inherently sexual, inherently bad. Feeding a child in public, whether by bottle or by breast should never be questioned. What would we have these mothers do, sit on a toilet in a public restroom and feed their child? Really, would you like to eat your dinner or feed your child in there? I think not, and yet that’s what you want mothers to do? Or should they be forced to sit in their cars and feed their kids? I’m sorry, that’s just ridiculous. If it bothers you, look away.
Breastfeeding is not going to sexualize a child who sees it, it’s not a slippery slope to some nudist dinner trend. It’s feeding a child. The vast majority of the time, unless you’re looking you won’t see anything and if you are looking, well, that seems a bit more like the problem to me.
I fully support Georgia’s new law and I hope that it reduces the number of women who are harassed for feeding their babies, because no mother should have to face harassment or discrimination of any kind just to feed her child.