Saturday, September 29, 2007

Mothering in public.

Can I just give a generalised WTF?! to almost everything that is going on in the media lately with all this nursing "in public" stuff? Even articles that I am just now finding the time to stumble across are saying some real asinine stuff: Take this vaguely supportive article I got off of Rixa's blog tonight--what is this weird quote all about?

"Every time the breastfeeding lactivists whip up their shirts to nurse in protest, legions of the less militant roll their eyes, wondering why they can't just let it go, cover up and make nice."

What is the deal, seriously, with all this language? Whip? Protest? Militant?

This just isn't the language of my reality as a breastfeeding woman, a mother, a person. Even in a seemingly neutral and just-the-facts article, there is still this activity--the whipping up of the shirt in militant protest that sounds more like something you'd see at a heavy metal concert in 1984 or perhaps a nudist colony than anything me and my babies ever do or did when we nurse.

So, I am just trying to piece together what is still happening in the media:

The sexual wording.
The aggressive wording.
The utter ignorance of day to day mothering.

If I may take such liberty (since when do I ask, right?) to go off on THEY for a moment;

THEY remove the mother from the baby and the baby from the mother when THEY speak and write this way. This is the same shit that happens with birth and media coverage of birth and popular television imagery of birth. There is no acknowledgment of the mother-baby diad, no understanding what a nursing relationship entails, (just like there is no clue about the song that a mother and baby share during a normal birth).

I wouldn't randomly "whip up my shirt", in "protest" or in anything else. Lactivism isn't about a woman's rights to flash some titty, this isn't about censoring nudity, it is about if your baby becomes in need of some milk, some num-num's, some nursie, some Mee-Mee's, some love, some MAMA--just going on ahead and doing whatever it is that you would do if you weren't at Applebees or wherever. And NOT because you are just trying to prove anything, but just because babies are people and citizens and humans, and of all places to eat, for gawd's sake why not a restaurant???

Lactivism inherently involves a mama and a baby. A baby who wants to nurse. NOW. Not just some chick who is whipping up (up? really? ridiculous...) her shirt at random, or shoving a breast into her baby's face--(if they don't wanna nurse, they wont, trust me, how many new moms especially have tried in vain to get their little one to latch onto an overly engogrged breast only to have them buck away in protest?)---so this whole phraseology is just ignorant.

Its all ignorant.

I don't think is a "man" thing either, because I doubt if there is father or close friend of a nursing mama+baby on this planet who would ever think such weird stuff about breastfeeding. These people just do not get what it is that they are discussing. Clearly.

Every single person involved in these online dramas and this media hype and all the comedians and all the sassy late night show hosts, they just haven't spent one day in the company of a nursing mother and baby. (If they did, they would realize I hope) how off base all of this line of thought really is.

Mamababies are a team. They belong together, and that baby belongs, physically, psychologically, species-appropriately, B-E-L-O-N-G-S attached by the mouth-to-the-breast for much of its day. Its as simple as that. It isn't secret, it isn't shameful, it isn't scintillating or aggressive or a wild protest anymore than falling rain, or setting sun, or melting snow or blinking eyes or breathing in and breathing out is.

Breastfeeding just is.
Nursing babies are just being.
Nursing mamas are just doing what they do.
I wonder what will be newsworthy next: Sweeping our children's hair out of their eyes in public? (too intimate) Applying band aids to little boo-boo's in public?(health risk) Waving to them in public? (distracting to others)
I leave you tonight with a little list of things I have seen in public recently that may be of note:
*Two people on a blanket making out big time about 100 feet away from a citywide children's athletic field-day event.
People in extremely scanty or see through clothing, men and women
People picking their nose and eating it
People not washing their hands after lavatory
People scratching their bums repeatedly (inside the undies, unfortunately) and then touching merchandise/produce/shopping cart handles
Billboard ads that I would rate at least PG-13, for both language and photography
People sitting on each other's laps--facing each other-- and remaining in that position for the duration of an event.
Swear word t shirts, bumper stickers, pins, buttons, accessories.
Porno mags at every 7-11 we stop at for a slurpee, sometimes partially covered up, sometimes not.
Are thse things not sexual? Vulgar? Private? Innapropriate? But they would all fall under the catagory of "hey dont stare at me, Im just a free citizen, man"--am I correct?
Look, if you didn't already know this about me, I am completely and totally against censorship. I am liberal as all get-out, progressive and open and chill about many, many things, even things that I might wince at my young children being "exposed to", I would still be completely against censorship of.
But mothering in public seems to be something even worthy of discussion????
Astonishingly off track. So disturbing is the yuckiness of it all, I just do not know what to do or say. Its as though I live on a an alien planet, really.


Kelley said...

I love your writing, Joy. You take the very essence of the situation, and put it into words. That is a wonderful talent.

Housefairy said...

Thanks, Kelley. I never know if anyone will get me because I get so manic and scattered and a thousand things hit me as I type and I want to say so much and---
I am just so glad that somehow my mania is coming through coherently. For me, only when I write in the EXACT way that I speak, does any essence come through. I heard today on the radio about someone who writes "Conversational Essays". I felt like perhaps that what I do.

Rixa said...

I second Kelley's remarks. I do a lot of "self-editing" while I write. It's a trade-off, I guess, and sometimes my writing is less spontaneous than I'd like it to be. Years of being in school and writing draft after draft, analyzing the nuances of each word, have that effect. But it's good, too, because it really makes me think about how to phrase things, how to not alienate my audience while not compromising the integrity of my message. I'm thinking, for example, of the gazillions of comments that the Marie Claire article has spawned. My instinct is to hit back and argue with all of the "idiotic" responses. I had to think for a while how to phrase my responses so I wouldn't come across as reactionary and inflammatory as most of the commenters.

Anyway, just me being long-winded. I really like your writing.

Trish said...

I've been thinking about this since I read this post the other day.

"So disturbing is the yuckiness of it all, I just do not know what to do or say. Its as though I live on an alien planet, really."

I feel like that often! People have become so accustomed to the "unnatural" that the natural seems weird to them -- it is like being on an alien planet!

I never felt militant or protestant when I fed my babies while we were out. I really didn't think about it much at all. I was usually more concerned with my own modesty - not wanting my stretch-marked belly hanging out - MOST concerned with my crying or fussing baby wanting to eat RIGHT NOW. It didn't matter if we were at home, at a friend's house, or at the mall.

kris said...

you did do a great job with this joy. i have been keeping up on this whole thing. it's sad that it even is a "thing" isn't it? it's insanity to me to think that people would get so upset about nursing a baby in public. it's a beautiful, natural, age old process. and you know, why is it that we are supposed to be such a progressive country, but we're one of the only places i've heard of that have this issue?

Corin said...

Thankyou for bringing up the fact that HELLOOOOOO! How many magazine covers do I have to see that are borderline pornographic on shelves low enough for a two year old to view, and yet everyone gets all antsy in pantsy when they see an inch of "real" breast with a baby attched to it actually doing something productive. I can't stand how hypocritical our media has become.