This past week I shared a photo of me nursing my girls on the Badass Breastfeeder, an attachment parenting and breastfeeding support page. When I first posted it I figured that very few of my actual Facebook friends would see it. I forget sometimes about that handy little bar on the right hand side that shows what everyone is doing every second. When people I actually know were liking it, I started to get a little worried.
Whose feathers is this going to ruffle?
Which brought me to another thought. Why am I more comfortable sharing this photo with a bunch of strangers than with people who are my "friends?"
Within minutes I had several friend requests and was surprised to see a lot of positive comments from my friends and a couple negative ones, too.
We live in a world where stars of pornography have Facebook fan pages full of pictures in suggestive poses with little or no clothing. I can see when my friends like these images, just like they can see when I share a photo of me feeding my children. Facebook rarely bans the pornographic images but is routinely banning images of mothers nursing their children from pages like the Badass Breastfeeder and others. Is this a Facebook issue? Maybe. Probably. But its also an issue of our culture. The culture we live in shows sexually suggestive scenes on television and in movies so often its impossible to count.
Just today this photo came across my newsfeed:
We see things of this nature ALL the time.
Facebook has deemed it appropriate for posting.
While banning photos of mothers feeding their children.
When is the last time you saw a mother breastfeeding her baby in prime time?
I never have.
Which is why the breastfeeding rates in this country are abysmally low. When women don't see other women breastfeeding, breastfeeding can't be seen as the norm. When I got pregnant with my first child I never would have even known about breastfeeding if I hadn't known that my youth minister at the time was pumping milk for her little guy. I'd never seen a mom nursing in public, covered or otherwise. I literally had no knowledge. We can't keep living in a culture like this and expect that babies will be breastfed. We can't keep shaming women for not breastfeeding their children when we work so hard to hide our own breastfeeding. Its not an issue of modesty. There is nothing to be modest about. I wouldn't cover myself while handing my child a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so why would I when I'm feeding my child from the breast? By the way, that's what they were put there for, in case you were wondering.
We're all mature enough to know that they are pretty dual purpose. But if you can't look at a woman breastfeeding her child without thinking about sex, its time to start thinking about what images you're filling your brain with.
There are a bunch of blogs and news articles about this right now. You may be really tired of hearing about it, actually. I think the poo has hit the fan so to speak. There is so much information out now about the benefits of breastfeeding. Studies show that most new moms initiate breastfeeding with their babies because they know of the health benefits. Unfortunately, that's where it stops. Lack of support causes moms to give up on nursing sooner than they planned. In part because our society tells us its something that needs to be hidden.
Maybe you don't think it belongs on Facebook. If not, then where? Until we see breastfeeding as a normal, everyday part of life, it won't become normal. We need it to become normal again so we can have healthier babies.
I won't hide the fact that I'm a mother who is making a great choice for her kids. Yes, my breasts are involved. Yes, they are being used for something other than the gratification (or not) of a man. These are good things, great things. We can teach our sons and daughters that our bodies were made for more than the gratification of others.