Recently, the Youtube sensation Adanna-David posted a photo of herself breastfeeding on Instagram. She wrote a caption chastising people who gave her an evil stare in an attempt to rebuke her actions; as with such public statements, some praised her while others disagreed with her sentiments. I recall sitting at the airport in Calabar (Nigeria) a few years ago as I observed a young mother was sat in the boarding area attempting to feed her baby. She had draped herself in an Ankara sheet as a show of modesty. As she struggled with a baby who did not enjoy the sheet, an elderly woman walked up to her and pulled the sheet off. She sat next to the new mother and encouraged her to sit up, and support her back, as she showed her a better position in which to feed her baby. The elderly woman did not seem to care what other people thought about breastfeeding in public. Apparently to her, if a man could eat a meat pie in public, a baby should feed on his mother’s breasts just as publicly.
We live in a hyper-sexualised world which makes this more of an issue than it is. I have heard many men (Nigerian) criticise their wives for feeding in public. I have heard many women (Caucasian) criticise other women for feeding in public. They say ‘nobody wants to see that’. I find that statement to be hypocritical. If Rhianna can walk down the street in next to nothing, we celebrate her. When women have their cleavage on show, it is not an issue, but when a baby needs to feed, we suddenly start raging. The primary function of the breasts is apparent; it appears that it was only made for feeding, as it does not operate in any other capacity. So ask yourself this, why does breastfeeding in public offend me?
Not a Feminist Statement
I am exasperated when I hear men and women blame breastfeeding in public on the modern feminism movement. Why must we blame all reasonable actions on feminism? Children must feed. Babies are best fed by breast milk from their lactating mothers. Babies get hungry at random times. Babies demand to eat in public like adults do. Mothers feed their hungry babies in public. How is that feminism?
I advocate modesty in all things, but that does not hinder breastfeeding in public. As a result, people who say breastfeeding in public places is not modest have no argument as that is a statement that covers a multitude of sins. It is like saying ‘all African men are polygamous’, it cannot hold up in court. The featured image in this article is of Blogger extraordinaire Sisi Yemmie breastfeeding her toddler Titobi in a public setting. I am confident that no one can accuse her of being immodest.
I think we need to evaluate our views on our views. Why do we think the way we do? Why do we act the way we do? Do we blindly emulate the rules set out by our parents and society? Or do we analyse these choices before we make them ours? Is breastfeeding in public truly a problem? Or is the outcry against it a symptom of a much bigger disease?
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Until next time.
Image Credit – Sisi Yemmie Instagram