The other day, I heard a statement that made me giggle a little inside, but the more I thought about it, the more irritated I became. This is nothing against the person who said it; in fact, this was said by a very pro-breastfeeding individual. But what was said was that breastfeeding moms should be discreet about nursing in public and they shouldn't just pop out their boobs where anyone could see them, because, after all, "You wouldn't want someone's eight year old son or a teenager seeing that."
At first, I laughed to myself. I have an eight year old son, and honestly, yeah, he sees me breastfeed every day. And it's no big deal. It's how a woman's breasts were meant to function.
But later that day, our family was in the checkout line at the grocery store, and right there on my eight-year old's eye level was the newest issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. And hey, look, there's Jessica Alba on the cover with her boobs nearly falling out of the top of her dress, surrounded by headlines like, "Untamed Va-jay-jays" and "Guy Sex Confessions: 37 Things He Doesn't Have the Balls to Tell You." Oh, did I mention that my eight year old son can read? Yep. He can.
And that's when I got angry. What a double standard! In our culture it's perfectly fine to put adult images and headlines like that right on a child's eye level in the store, but if a woman shows any boob while nursing her baby, people want to shield their eyes or get the woman to cover up or leave the room.
I would rather my son see women nursing their babies in public, breast showing and all, than to walk him through the grocery store and see sexy pictures and headlines about sex confessions and, um, female grooming.
It's no wonder so many people end up being uncomfortable or even grossed out by breastfeeding; what else should we expect when we make it clear from the time our kids are small that breasts in our culture are meant for nothing more than sexual arousal? Our society as a whole-- and this includes children!-- needs to be exposed to breastfeeding as natural and normal, and not something to hide or be ashamed of. For heaven's sake, women are just trying to nourish their babies the way God designed them to be fed. Why should they be expected to hide that? They shouldn't be.
Can breasts be sexual? Well, yeah, but so can mouths, and we don't ask people to hide them when they're eating. Think about it.