Thursday, August 15, 2013

Breastfeeding! And Feminism!

The other day, breastfeeding came up on the radio during my drive home from work. A conservative radio host was relating a story about a local pizzierrarist (pizzarite? pizza-slanger? pizza-shop-owner, anyway) who recently got in trouble because when a woman began breastfeeding in his shop, he asked if she would be more comfortable breastfeeding somewhere else.

Sounds reasonable, right? Moderately reasonable. After all, that can be a pretty vulnerable, intimate moment, so perhaps this young mother would want to go somewhere more private. The woman, mildly offended, mentioned it on Facebook, where it turned into a Major Thing, with women apparently sending this pizza guy boycott threats and all kinds of things. I guess what he did is crime here in Wisconsin. I did not know that, but here:
Right to Breast-Feed.
A mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breast-feeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breast-feed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breast-feeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breast-feeding her child as provided.
Now, the radio host himself wasn't against it. He was so emphatically equivocal, in fact, you'd think he was a groundskeeper, because he was hedging a champion. He had a rhetorical topiary. "It's not obscene." he'd say, "But it is a bodily function! Like, well, not like farting! But... I mean, I just think that decorum dictates that women should do it in private."

The first caller that I heard was a woman who emphatically agreed with him, except for the part where she ignored his hedging ridiculousness and came right out with it, saying that it was obscene and that it shouldn't be done. She didn't do it in public when she had a kid! Which is fine, lady, that's your choice. She then shared a story about how she was enjoying a meal with her teenage son, when a woman popped out her breast and began feeding her child, much to her son's discomfort. Now, having been a seventeen year old once, many years ago, and using forensic witchcraft, I think I can accurately figure out what this kid was thinking:
"Keep it together, now..."
"I want to look at those boobs, but I can't, because my mom is right there. It's fine, I'll just have to wait until I get home, or the bathroom, or the backseat of the minivan, then I can take out my pocket computer that can literally condense breasts out of the air like a mammary dehumidifier and look at boobs then. I just have to keep it together and wait."

Worrying that your nearly adult son might see another human being's breasts is dumb. Worrying that he might see them being used for their main, indeed only, biological purpose is so dumb, it's actually the death rattle of brain choked with unthought.

I exhaled, willing all the horrifying fury of my thoughts into the deepest recesses of my mind, where it can hang out on the jungle gym or something. I was still curious; I wanted to hear more about this story, even if it was communicated in between calls from yokels with jaws so slack you could fit an elephant between their mandibles. Man, that is a tortured simile. Still exhaling, I removed my hand from the radio dial and listened on.

"She shared this on Facebook." The host explained, "Which got the Breastfeeding Coalition of South Central Wisconsin involved. Heh heh heh. I want to sit in on that meeting.I temporarily went deaf with fury, and when I regained my senses, he had already fielded another call, from someone I can only imagine has, at some point, been wrist-deep inside a trout with his eyes closed and his pants down. Possibly not, and I might be poisoning a stupid well, but just let me have this. Character assassination is an excellent way to blow off steam.
He's sexually satisfied by fish, is what I'm saying.
 "It's not right." mansplained this man-caller, manfully. "When I was growing up, women knew that that stuff wasn't something you'd do in public. I mean, we have to keep these restaurants family friendly!" These are words, that he actually said. Out loud, on the radio. He said that a woman feeding her infant child was not "family friendly". The most elemental aspect of a nuclear family was not family-friendly. At this point, I was tempted to mercy-kill the English language. We could start over in Chinese, it doesn't matter. I reached for the dial again, but he wasn't done.

"It's just very uncomfortable for me. It's awkward for everybody, you know? I don't want to seem like I'm staring and that makes it very weird for me." "Yes, of course. I agree!"  These two presumably grown-up, fully adult men just made a woman and her baby responsible for their emotional well-being in a public restaurant. Beholden for causing them discomfiture. The comfort and convenience of a child no more than a few months old must be put on hold, so that these grown-up people don't have to worry about whether or not they are embarrassing themselves. If blood can curdle, my circulatory system was a cheese-press. And they still weren't done.

"Breastfeeding Coalition of South Central Wisconsin, huh? That's a thing. Boy, I'd like to sit in on that meeting!" chuckled the caller, apparently having enjoyed the joke and deciding that it bore repeating. "Yeah!" cackled the host, having forgotten that he'd made the exact same joke, word for word, literally minutes earlier. The plagiarist and his victim giggled together about the novelty of attending a meeting of medical professionals, so that they can watch a group of women breastfeed. That's what medical professionals do at those meetings, right? Show off their boobs, for breastfeeding or possibly for the sexual satisfaction of creepifying radio personalities and the orangutans that give them phone calls?

Breastfeeding--or having breasts out in public--is bad when it causes men discomfort. You'll notice that the lady caller earlier didn't say it made her uncomfortable, but her son. The same is true of the jackholes above. It is good, acceptable, or funny when it causes men sexual joy. Don't get me wrong; I like breasts, both as purveyors of nutrients and as aesthetically pleasing anatomical parts. I've even owned a shirt to that effect.
And a notarized certificate identifying me as a douchebag
Breasts are just more flesh. They possess no inherent magical powers, except for... you know, the milk. Stop trying to cover them up! Especially stop trying to cover them up when they are doing their job.

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