Editor’s Note: This week, Youth Ki Awaaz has launched the campaign #FeedLoveNotStigma to fight off stigma against breastfeeding in public. It’s time to question the status quo, share our stories out loud, and demand safe, clean public spaces for breastfeeding! Scroll till the end to find out how you can join in.
When was the last time you saw a mother breastfeeding her baby in public? Maybe somewhere on a mode of public transport, maybe in a park, a restaurant. Did you notice the way people around her reacted? Some of them may have averted their gaze, some may have covered their kids’ eyes, or their own eyes! Some may have even approached the woman and asked her to leave. This is the reality that so many nursing moms all over the word face, and we just can’t let this fly. Society needs to create safe spaces for women breastfeeding in public, and here are 10 reasons why:
No. You will not make a baby wait until the mother can ‘escape’ to a secluded place. What is so awkward, uncomfortable, or improper about a mother taking care of her child’s needs?
In her powerful spoken word poem, Hollie McNish talks of how mums have even been forced to go to restroom to feed. Can you imagine eating in such an unsanitary place? YKA users have also shared similar experiences. For instance, young mom Pooja Kochar says she is still expected to ‘hide in a toilet’ to feed her baby.
If you still hold the idea that ‘the public’ is a males-only zone, it’s time to join the 21st century. Women are out there, in male-dominated arenas, smoothening them into gender-equal spaces. We all have a right to occupy public spaces, and moms should be able to feed their babies without fear or discrimination.
You know, in the 21st century, people have learnt to stop objectifying women’s bodies. That means that a woman in public is not an object for you to own and control, so mind your own business!
We live in a country where goddesses are referred to as mothers, which in turn puts mothers on a pedestal. Hell, this also perpetuates the problematic belief that a woman’s life goal is to have a child. Yet, we wrinkle our noses at the mothers who are, you know, doing what mothers do for their kids.
All of us have been fed the glossy, photoshopped, billboard-sized lie that women’s bodies exist to be looked at, to be enjoyed, to possess. It’s time to break that now. We need to stop sexualising breasts first, if breastfeeding has to be completely normalised.
Let’s not kid ourselves. Breastfeeding is a mammalian characteristic. Across species, this is how mothers get their kids healthy and kickin’. It’s something that bodies do. Why single it out and stigmatise it?
I mean, maybe puberty-ridden kids reading about reproduction for the first time might be caught off guard. But if you’ve moved far ahead from your adolescent years and still think breastfeeding is weird or shameful, then you still have some maturing left to do.
For so many moms, feeding their child is a beautiful, caring, bonding process. There is nothing to be ashamed or afraid of. The person who should be ashamed is the one try to humiliate a nursing mother.
Women’s bodies aren’t for men (and other prying eyes) to look at, assess, judge, and discard or censor at their convenience! That attitude comes from a magical place called ‘male entitlement’, and it’s about time we destroyed it.