Not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding in public. I understand people have varying degrees of exposure to the act and art of breastfeeding. I fully respect other viewpoints when they are made respectfully and thoughtfully.
However, I find myself bristling when I hear the following from people who are on the anti side of nursing in public:
~ Comparisons of breast milk to other bodily fluids or nursing to other bodily functions
~ Musings that breastfeeding is a private bonding moment too special/precious/sacred for the general public to witness
~ Directing mothers to “just pump” before they go out
~ Suggestions that the baby or toddler could eat in a bathroom or car
Recently at Twitter, I was happy to see @babysteph address one of my biggest pet-peeves about people who think nursing in public is shameful: The phrase whip boobs out.
I’m nursing for the eighth time around. Teddy is 11 months old. He gets 95% of his liquid nourishment directly from me. We are both happy.
I think he would have been scared off long ago if my breasts made a cracking noise when I unsnap the flap. You know, when I whip my boobs out. Imagine the possibilities! I could whip out the flames on cigarettes like in a sideshow circus act. I could swing across chasms, drive a team of oxen across the prairie pulling a schooner, tame a lion, pull people out of quicksand and snakepits.
See the scar on my chin? Wink wink.
There have been moms in big hurries to nurse because hungry babies scream. At that moment, the baby is her #1 concern. I promise you, her breast isn’t something she wields to make others uncomfortable, to shock, to flash around, or to cause scandal. It’s not like a man whipping it out to drunkenly pee on an alley wall or flash patrons of the library.
In fact, The Urban Dictionary has defined whipping it out as a distinctly rude, sexual, and aggressive. I contend it’s no accident that so many anti-breastfeeding folks like to use the phrase. The connotations are strong.
To chide nursing moms for whipping out their breasts is to equate them with exhibitionists. It suggests callous disregard and a lack of care.
It’s simply untrue.
I quickly gathered a sample of stupid (and graphic) comments that bemoan moms with mammary whips:
Drape yourself…period. I’ve been in public places and seen women casually drape themselves, and suckle their infants and for the most part, no one complains. It’s when you whip out an engorged tit in full view of the public that people get pissed off
Mombies: it might seem “completely natural” to you to feed your child in public, but many of us see it as your free-reign to whip out your boob in public.
(How charming to be called a Mombie. My Mombie impression, “I’m going to eat your Ar-cher Farms Tof-fee Scooonnnes! I’m going to eat your scooonnes!”)
Like someone else said, peeing is also natural, but people would FREAK if someone did that in public. And a man is perfectly capable of whipping it out and peeing without it being seen…
I think breast feeding babies is wonderful, but at the same time, I get disqusted when someone whips their breast out in a public place to feed their baby. I think breast feeding needs to be done privately with a coverlet so we are not all looking at the boobs. My daughter in law whipped her boob out at a public pool. For crying out loud, if she thinks its that wonderful, then why even wear a bikini top to the pool. Let it all hang out sister!! No point in any of us wearing a shirt or bra.
The arguement (sic) that’ it’s natural is no arguement (sic). Urinating is natural, sometimes you have to go NOW but we don’t urinate in public. I’ve had women sit at my desk in a public office and whip out their boob to start breastfeeding. I’m sure my face was horror stricken.
There are efforts to turn “whip it out” into a positive. It can be a rallying cry for some breastfeeding moms. An Alaska mom hopes to raise awareness of breastfeeding rights though her Whip it Out campaign. She collected photos of nursing moms and created an exhibit in memory of her son, who died at the age of 14 months. She hopes her collection of photos will encourage moms to be proud of nursing and will educate the public about what nursing looks like.
Some breastfeeding moms use the phrase as well, usually as they share stories of frantic babies and how they were calmed in 1.7 seconds thanks to skilled whippage. Here’s where I fully admit my hypocrisy: This is okay, but still not my favorite way to express how fast a mom got babe to breast. The context of the situation, the authority of the speaker as an actual breastfeeding mom, and the sometimes-comical scenarios we find ourselves in as nursing moms take the bite out of the phrase. A bit.
When breastfeeding moms use whip it out it isn’t wielded to shame, or describe horror, disgust, or exhibitionism. However, I think it’s best to avoid propagating the idea lactating women are thoughtlessly crude show-offs with zero regard for other people’s sensibilities. When Teddy is hungry, he’s my #1 concern. I’m not whipping anything out but my smile. Or my brain, if it’s in the middle of the night and I was just dreaming about toffee scones.
What do you think? Are you a whipper? I still puffy-heart my pals who admit to whip. I’m a popper, as in “I popped the baby on…”