Here is a fabulous article written by my wonderful and talented friend, Erika about the beauty of breasts and the anti-cultural truth.
Before I had children, I never could have imagined how many controversies abounded in the world of parenting. I especially never could have imagined how something as pure and natural and personal as breastfeeding could create such severe chasms and bitterness between friends, family, and absolute strangers.
I really don’t want to get into the whole breast vs. bottle thing here. That discussion is endless and I think most of those conversations often stray outside of the point: God made our breasts to lactate and so when it’s possible for a woman to use that God-given gift to provide for her baby, breastmilk is always going to be the preferred and most beneficial option. However, since I understand that every situation is unique and a mom’s decision is formed by so many factors, I can’t say that a mother who feeds her child formula is an awful parent. But, like Kristen Marie Toutges over at Mothering wrote, I readily admit that when a mother *chooses* formula when she *is able* to breastfeed, I am confused & concerned. But I try not to judge, although I do believe judgment is a natural side effect of care & concern.”
As I’ve grown in my motherhood and as a breastfeeding mother, I’ve realized there’s a lot of information and breastfeeding support out there that some may not know about. Unfortunately maybe because of this as Toutges points out, there exists a misplaced “rage directed toward breastfeeding mothers,” Mothers are told that “…breastfeeding is gross & lactating women shouldn’t leave their homes…that breastfeeding women who nurse in public are sexual exhibitionists…breastfeeding is ok– as long as you’re covered up!”
I think every woman has her own level of comfort and if a woman wants to cover up because it makes it more comfortable for her or her baby, that’s great. What razzles me up though is when women and men are offended when a woman chooses not to ‘cover up’ or hide in the bathroom. Now for me I personally wouldn’t take my whole shirt off or show off my whole boob in front of total strangers but I’m usually more concerned about feeding my baby and not showing off my leftover baby flab than I am about someone getting a peak at my nipple.
For some women, not breastfeeding in public stems from a misunderstood sense of modesty or decency. Breasts have always been a visual focal point in fashion and modern fashion tends to exhibit a woman’s breasts instead of complementing them. So if a woman or man doesn’t feel comfortable with public breastfeeding because they see breasts as a very special part of the female body, I think that has some merit. But there’s still a problem there because this perspective puts the image of an exposed breast that is being used to feed a baby in the same category as an exposed breast that is being used to lure people into the sin of lust or envy.
Genevieve S. Kineke’s Racks and Ruin, articulately presents the connection between our contraceptive culture and women’s and men’s aversion to breastfeeding.
“The sexual revolution has led us down a path of utilitarian nonsense into loneliness, disease and death. Instead of liberating “the fairer sex” as it promised, it enslaved them to men’s appetites and degraded motherhood and feminine dignity”
Danielle Bean’s post, Is Breastfeeding Creepy?: How Sterile Sex Leads to Sterile Bottles, also sums it up well:
“…Women have allowed their bodies to be 100% sexualized and objectified. Blundell’s piece speaks clearly for a generation of women who have been fed lies about their own bodies: That sex can be separated from procreation and that the female body’s primary function is for sexual pleasure. Here we have a perverse view of motherhood and femininity—one that is the unfortunate consequence of a contraceptive culture.
Along with contraception, I have another four-letter word theory for why people, especially men, get so weirded out with breastfeeding especially in public: P-O-R-N
More and more men are addicted to porn and soft porn that surrounds them through TV shows, internet ads, Victoria’s Secret magazines and their stores; all that crap out there tells men-“Breasts are for you and your sexual needs.” While these images affect women at a different level it has the same results.
It’s true; breasts are biologically a sexual part of the female body. Men are attracted to these because of how unique they are. But I believe deep down it’s also because they are fascinated with a woman’s super power to be a home and food for human life. But to a porn-addicted man, breasts have only one function. So it’s no wonder when they get a little squeamish when they see a nipple going into a baby’s mouth. Women may not be addicted to porn in the same way as men but because we live in a world saturated by sexual images, I could see how a woman might be led to think she’s being immodest by exposing a part of herself to nurse her baby. But a woman showing off her rack to the world on a magazine cover has different intentions than that of a woman who may show a little skin while nursing her baby.
So if a man ‘sins’ because he sees a woman breastfeeding her baby, as God obviously intended, then he’s got a major problem.
And if a woman is offended or feels uncomfortable seeing a mother nursing her baby, she also has some issues she needs to get worked out.
People have seen women’s bodies and their breasts as self-gratifying objects for so long they’ve forgotten what they’re really for. Breastfeeding anytime, anywhere, brings nourishment, comfort, and love to babies and their mothers and their families. There’s nothing shameful or disgusting about it and there’s no reason to hide it. A person who witnesses such a beautiful self-giving and life-giving act between a mother and her baby should consider themselves very blest.