Is shaming moms who breastfeed in public a form of sexual harassment?
Sexualizing breastfeeding is the reason many moms are still shamed for simply feeding their babies in public.
I once boarded public transportation when a mom, who was sitting in the seat across from me, started breastfeeding her baby. It was one of the most natural things I had ever seen. Her baby suckled almost instantaneously and soon dozed off.
I couldn’t help but notice how my fellow passengers responded. One man started staring at the mom’s bare chest, while others seemed uncomfortable at the sight.
Though no one asked her to stop or “cover up,” I could feel the judgment in the air. But this incident was just one of many stories across the world of moms shamed for simply feeding their babies in public.
Most recently, a mom was even asked by a nurse to move to a private room in a hospital to keep from making other visitors “uncomfortable.”
Shaming stems from the viewpoint that breastfeeding is somehow ‘sexual’
In the past few months we have read heart-wrenching experiences of women as part of the #MeToo movement, which is exposing the alarming amount of sexual harassment and assault cases that go unreported.
One mom has shed light on another issue in line with this: breastfeeding shaming as a form of sexual harassment.
In an instagram post, Diana Channing points out similarities between breastfeeding shaming and catcalling, writing that both are offensive and unwanted verbal abuse.
“Speaking of sexual violence how is telling a woman and child to cover up not sexual violence? Stop sexualizing breastfeeding.”
“Speaking of sexual violence how is telling a woman and child to cover up not sexual violence? Stop sexualizing breastfeeding,” she writes. “Motherhood is so fierce. What could be more perverse than asking a woman to feel shame for nurturing an innocent life in the way she was biologically designed to do?”
Sadly, there are those who still view breastfeeding in public as a lewd act, simply because it involves a woman baring her breasts in public.
But people need to speak up more, to stand by nursing moms, in the hope that we can make our communities a more open and respectful one.
“When we speak up we make the world a safer place,” Channing writes in the post.
No matter where you stand on the issue, shaming a parent in any way for doing what any loving parent would do is not only inconsiderate, it is a violation of their rights.
Breastfeeding moms deserve to be proud of themselves, to feel safe and free to care for their little ones the best way they know how.