“why can’t we at least try to help [men] out in an area that they are naturally weak in? Why can’t we go out of our way in such a simple thing to help them out just a little?”
“Men are very visual and wired to be that way. Maybe some men aren’t affected but I think most are very affected by seeing a woman’s boobs! No matter if its a nursing mom or a porn magazine. There [sic] brain can’t differentiate.”
“Pornography is a huge issue with many men and having your breasts out for all to see just adds fuel to fire in my opinion.”
The above are some comments that took place in a Hypnobirthing support group, a group that gravitates toward all things natural-living. Generally it is a group that is very friendly toward breastfeeding mothers, but even in a group created to support mothers you can still see some pretty harmful words tossed around about how public breastfeeding somehow hurts men.
Breastfeeding should never ever ever EVER be compared to pornography. Not ever. Please do not slut shame someone who is trying to feed a baby. Also, it doesn’t help men to say that they are sex crazed animals who can’t tell the difference between breastfeeding and playboy. So here’s three thoughts that can really help men (and women!) when it comes to breastfeeding.
1. Being a mother to a newborn is crazy hard. You know what makes it harder? If you choose to breastfeed AND still be a part of American society. Newborns are supposed to nurse somewhere between 8-12 times a day. If you choose to leave your home and have a newborn, odds are that newborn is going to need to eat in that time period. As for nursing covers? Great if the mom and baby like them. However in my experience they are a complete pain in the bum and draw a helluva lot more attention to yourself. For many moms who breastfeed, wearing a cover or finding a secluded area to nurse in is not always a ‘simple thing’ to do, and perhaps at times, not even a possible thing to do.
You know what isn’t that hard? Looking in another direction if you don’t want to see a partial breast and a mother is breastfeeding. Simple as that. But I said I’d give you three thoughts. So..
2. Bodies are awesome and multi-functional. Boobs can feed babies AND can be sexual. Mouths can eat food AND can be sexual. If we expected every body part that can be sexual to be covered, we should all be wearing a lot more fabric than we’re wearing now. Context matters in relation to pornography and nudity /= pornography. For that matter breastfeeding doesn’t even equal nudity. Chances are if you stare at a breastfeeding mother, you will probably see the same amount of breast as a woman who wears a v-neck.
3. ‘Men are more visual’ is crazy talk to me. Every time that someone says that, it seems to be for the purpose of separating men from their actions. ‘Men are more visual, thus they can’t help the way they react to a unclothed shoulder, breast, ankle, etc.’ Cough-bullcrap-cough. Furthermore, according to this study that observed brain responses to different images, some of them erotic, women are just as ‘visual’. “Anokhin says the fact that the women’s brains in this study exhibited such a quick response to erotic pictures suggests that, perhaps for evolutionary reasons, our brains are programmed to preferentially respond to erotic material [….] Women have responses as strong as those seen in men” (emphasis added). I can control myself at a public pool where men have exposed chests, I expect the same of any man who sees a woman breastfeeding. I can differentiate between a man in his swimsuit and a man having sex. I can differentiate between a woman breastfeeding and a woman having sex. I imagine that most (maybe all) humans can differentiate the same way I can. So please stop with the ‘men are more visual’ talk, as if a man who sees a woman breastfeeding is suddenly going to be in fornication nation and it’s the breastfeeding mother’s fault.
So there you have it, my three thoughts to help out the men and women who think that public breastfeeding hurts men. You’re welcome world.