Originally published: 05.12.14
“I think that given that some people feel very embarrassed by it, it isn’t too difficult to breastfeed a baby in a way that’s not openly ostentatious,”
After swearing, I literally laughed when I saw that statement from Nigel Farage who was commenting on the story about a woman in Claridges being required to cover her baby with a large swathe of fabric, thus rendering her feeding of her child far more conspicuous than it would otherwise have been.
How nice it is to be a man who has never breastfed but nevertheless knows how easy it is to breastfeed a baby discreetly.
And how nice it is that even though you know nothing whatsoever about the subject of breastfeeding, you can pronounce on it and expect to be listened to. Indeed, your voice is much more welcomed and likely to be heard, than those who have actually done the stuff you know nothing about. How very agreeable it is to be a white man.
Should I mention how for many women, getting their baby to breastfeed at all, is not just “not too difficult”, it’s a herculean endeavor filled with physical and emotional anguish? I use the word anguish deliberately because that’s how it feels at 3 O’Clock in the morning when you’ve had 2 hours sleep in 24 hours and your baby hasn’t had a proper feed for 2 days and the health visitor is subtly pressuring you to give up and move to the bottle and you are in physical agony and you’re scared that your baby will get ill if s/he doesn’t have one good feed by tomorrow and you’re scared that you’ll have to move to formula even though you really, really don’t want to. When you are desperate to feed your baby and your baby is noisily desperate to feed, but you both can’t achieve that, anguish is not too strong a word to use.
So smug nincompoops like Nigel Farage opining that “it’s not too difficult” to do this impossible task in a way he and other nincompoops find acceptable, make me more than a little tetchy.
This is a feminist issue. Breastfeeding is one of the things which women do which men don’t, like getting pregnant and gestating babies, which gets some men all irrational and aerated and controlling about it. It offends some of them because it reminds them that the world doesn’t revolve around them and their boners. Using your breasts to nurture your young, instead of using them to titillate men, is perceived as “ostentatious” by men like Farage who have no problem whatsoever working with publications like The Sun which is famous for its daily picture of a woman using her breasts for their correct purpose in our culture – titillation of men. No problem with ostentatious use of breasts in those circumstances.
The demand for women to be “discreet” when feeding their babies, is akin to demanding that we be discreet when eating. Some men feel there’s something faintly disgusting about women doing something for themselves or their children, which isn’t focused on men. So FGS women, do it in private. Don’t eat in public, don’t breastfeed in public and in fact if you want to participate in public life at all, make sure you’re giving a man a boner while you’re doing so or at least look as if you’re trying to. Whatever you do, don’t do anything that reminds men that they’re not the bloody centre of the universe.
HerbsandHags: Meanderings of a Hag I have no fixed subject matter for my blog, it tends to be whatever grabs me, but for some reason lots that has grabbed me has been about rape or other male violence. It’s all with a feminist slant though. Twitter @Herbeatittude