Sunday, August 3, 2014

Breastfeeding in public...

Breastfeeding in public...  This caught my eye because the incident described happened in Logan, Utah (just a few miles north of our new home in Paradise, Utah).  The comment thread is quite entertaining if you can keep yourself from getting emotionally invested in it.

This is one of those issues that cause many foreigners (i.e., non-Americans) to look at us and wonder whether we're part of the same species as they.  I've traveled a bit more than most Americans have, and I know from experience that in much of the world breastfeeding in public is absolutely the norm.  In most of Asia (especially southeast Asia) and Africa, much of Europe, and in many other places, any mom who needs to feed her baby will simply do so.  Usually there's no attempt at being “discreet” (whatever that is!), and clearly they're not uncomfortable about the public exposure of their breast while feeding their baby.  I've never witnessed anyone in the vicinity of a breastfeeding mom exhibiting any sort of discomfort or embarrassment about seeing a baby being breastfed.  In fact, quite the opposite – usually the people around are smiling, making conversation with the mom, and otherwise displaying the behaviors of people who are comfortable and in the presence of something attractive and pleasant.  I've also never witnessed any male acting as though the spectacle of a breastfeeding woman was sexually provocative.  Speaking as a member of the male community, I personally find the sight of a breastfeeding woman to be something quite beautiful to behold, and not sexually provocative at all.

So why is it so different in America?  Reading that comment thread, it's quite clear that some number of Americans – both male and female – are quite disturbed at the sight of a breastfeeding woman.  Some think its sexually provocative.  Some think it will somehow be bad for their kids.  Most Europeans I know would attribute this to our cultural prudishness, which they'll in turn attribute to our primitive religious beliefs.  Maybe they're right.

We're quite a bunch of weirdos, we Americans...

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