Breastfeeding in public is not the same thing as sex

Have you ever been out in public -- at a park or a restaurant -- when one couple just starts inexplicably kissing and touching and feeling? It's gross, right? Sometimes it even makes you lose your appetite. But for BBC talk show host James Hazell, when women breastfeed in public, it's the same thing.

The host compares public breastfeeding to sex in public and said that the next time he sees a woman nursing in public, he will bring his wife in and have sex with her in public.

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And the fact that he even equates the two speaks volumes of what he thinks of breastfeeding.

For those who may be ignorant of this fact (or ignorant, period), here is a little factoid: Breastfeeding is not sexual. Oh I know. In our culture, breasts are oversexualized to the point of ridiculousness. But let's just agree they serve two purposes.

One purpose is to fill out sweaters, draw men in, and be part of sex, and the other is to feed our babies. As mammals, the latter purpose is actually the main one. If you have never had a baby, then perhaps you also don't know that moms don't choose when baby is hungry. Baby does.

In other words, if we make breastfeeding in public wrong, then we're basically dooming moms to a life at home for the indefinite future.

Just because Hazell can't control himself and not think sexually when he sees a woman feeding her child doesn't mean SHE should cover up or go home. Maybe that's HIS problem, not hers.

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As for sex in public, it's a completely different thing. Sex is something we have all culturally (and legally) agreed upon is something best left to the bedrooms and private spaces of the world. Eating (which is what breastfeeding is) is both public and private. If you can eat a hamburger at Fuddruckers with 110 random strangers, then my baby can eat his or her breakfast in the same space.

When are people going to stop equating sex and breastfeeding? I will say that during the 3+ years I breastfed, I did have a very hard time seeing my boobs as sexual anymore. For the period of time where I was lactating, they were merely functional. But I am glad to say, once I weaned, that changed back again.

The fact is, a baby needs to eat. Hazell doesn't need to have sex. He can wait until he gets home. Babies can't. Unless Hazell wants to make the argument that his maturity level is about on par with that of a 3-month-old. In that case, it's debatable.

Do you think this comment is out of line?


Image via chispita_666/Flickr


Written by Sasha Brown-Worsham for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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