Sunday, January 1, 2012

The Hypocrisy of Modesty, part 1

Today’s topic is again nursing in public.  If you read my blog you already know how I feel about it.  I don’t think nursing in public is an issue that deserves any attention at all.  It should be normal and boring, but for some reason it isn’t.
I was reading comments on various news stories related to the Hickman/Target incident and the ensuing Nurse ins.  Facebook, too, has been a hotbed of discussion on the matter.  I discovered an interesting trend to many “supporters” of breastfeeding.  It seems that many people say they don’t have a problem with nursing in public as long as the woman is modest. I find this statement to be fascinating, contradictory, and very telling.
I decided to look up the actual definition of modest so that I could articulate my own thoughts and be as concise as possible.
mod·est adj.1. Having or showing a moderate estimation of one's own talents, abilities, and value.
2. Having or proceeding from a disinclination to call attention to oneself; retiring or diffident. See Synonyms at shy1.
3. Observing conventional proprieties in speech, behavior, or dress.
4. Free from showiness or ostentation; unpretentious.
5. Moderate or limited in size, quantity, or range; not extreme: a modest price; a newspaper with a modest circulation.

 In reference to breastfeeding in public, modesty means not drawing attention to one’s self.  I have breastfed 4 children for a total of 45 months, so I have done quite a bit of public breastfeeding.   I use my own experience, as well as that of women I know, to draw my conclusion.  I had the Astronaut when I was 18 years old and breastfed him for 13 months.  I was nervous about breastfeeding in public so initially, I used a receiving blanket to cover him.  Let me tell you, covering your child’s face with blanket in the muggy Carolina summer is the opposite of modest.
  • ·        First of all, everyone knows what you are doing.  Why else would there be a blanket on your child?
  • ·        Second, in case anyone wasn’t looking, your baby will draw attention by thrashing around wildly and making distressful noises. Hell, the heat index is over 100 degrees down here every single year.  This draws everyone’s attention to you. They all know what you are doing. 

Yet for some reason, drawing massive amounts of attention to yourself is considered modest.  Compare that to simply putting baby to boob.  Chances are, you’re wearing a shirt. If you aren’t NIP is the least of your concerns. I digress, back to blanket-less nursing.
  • ·        There’s very little prep time. You put your hand under your shirt, pop a boob out, hold the edge of the shirt up, and VOILA! 
  • ·  Unless they are staring right at you, no one knows what you are doing.  I have had people hold entire conversations with me without realizing that I am nursing.  It just looks like you are holding your precious babe.

·      That is the very epitome of modest-you are not drawing attention to yourself.  This is how it works for the vast majority of mamas. There are a few that are less modest, lowering or unbuttoning their shirts. These women are generally not from the US.  Few people seem to realize that this whole breastfeeding brouhaha is a purely American situation.  In the rest of the world, no one bats an eye.  So when people visit or move to our country, which is supposedly so progressive and advanced, they assume that we have a normal view of breastfeeding and do it the way it’s done in their own countries.  Poor ladies, no one warns them.  I’ll pause here so this doesn’t get too ramble-y.

What are your views on nursing in public? Do you have a modesty clause?

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