Friday, July 28, 2006

Lactivists And Their Opposition

The latest issue of Babytalk magazine, a monthly periodical for expecting mothers and those with small children, did a feature about breastfeeding pros and cons... Pretty run of the mill stuff, really.

Except the cover shows a close up of a nursing baby and a *gasp* breast!

"I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine," one person wrote. "I immediately turned the magazine face down," wrote another. "Gross," said a third. These readers weren't complaining about a sexually explicit cover, but rather one of a baby nursing, on a wholesome parenting magazine -- yet another sign that Americans are squeamish over the sight of a nursing breast, even as breast-feeding itself gains more support from the government and medical community. Babytalk is a free magazine whose readership is overwhelmingly mothers of babies. Yet in a poll of more than 4,000 readers, a quarter of responses to the cover were negative, calling the photo -- a baby and part of a woman's breast, in profile -- inappropriate. One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it. "I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast -- it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that." It's the same reason that Ash, 41, who nursed all three of her children, is cautious about breast-feeding in public -- a subject of enormous debate among women, which has even spawned a new term: "lactivists," meaning those who advocate for a woman's right to nurse wherever she needs to. "I'm totally supportive of it -- I just don't like the flashing," she said. "I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."

C'mon. It's breastfeeding, not a strip show, for crying out loud! I personally fail to see the problem with breastfeeding, as long as it is done politely, like anything else.

I breastfed all three of my kids with varying degrees of success; the third one did not thrive, so I switched very quickly to formula. I was discreet about my nursing; I did it with a baby blanket over my shoulder. Never once was I confronted by someone who said what I was doing was inappropriate, or obscene... But I was forced to listen to the inane screeching of what I call a "Nipple Nazi," (lactivist) that felt the necessity to tell me about all the damage I was inflicting on my helpless infant by force-feeding her unnatural formula.

Whatever, I told them. The baby had failed to thrive on breastmilk, what was I supposed to do, let her nurse 24/7 and still starve? They usually huffed off, convinced of their own moral superiority.

What say you, dear readers? Is breastfeeding in public flashing or feeding?

Oh, yeah... The last time I did a breast milk post, I promised the ladies some male mammaries, so here they are:

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