How to Not Act Like an Ass When Someone Around You is Breastfeeding

08/14/2012 11:30 AM |


MaryAnn Sahoury, a New Jersey mom, appeared in a breastfeeding instructional video that has now been posted, along with her name, to a bunch of porn sites. This is fucked up. We, culturally, have a lot of fucked up ideas about breastfeeding. These soldiers were reprimanded for doing it in public. This woman was kicked out of a waterpark. This business. People are so worked up over something that should really not be a big deal.

Like it or not, if you live in Brooklyn, you are probably going to be around breastfeeding. “But I hate babies!” “But I don’t have kids!” “Ugh, stroller people.” That’s fine. I don’t have kids either. You don’t have be in someone’s exact situation to treat them like a human being. Herein, I will teach you to act like you were raised right when someone around you is breastfeeding.

Why Is This Breast Different From All Other Breasts?

One of the arguments I hear people make is that it is unfair for breastfeeding women to get some kind of titty exceptionalism. Like, it’s inappropriate for other women to take off their tops in restaurants, so why do breastfeeding women get a pass? Or, when I see tits, I stare at them and imagine having sex with the owner of said tits. Why is it okay for me to leer at dancers at a strip club, but not at some lady feeding her baby? Well, because it turns out breasts have a non-decorative purpose. Something only they can do. And it is making and distributing breast milk. No disrespect to people who don’t breastfeed. But like, it’s pretty universally acknowledged to be good for the kid. So the reason breastfeeding boobs are treated differently than non-breastfeeding ones is because they’re busy.

Also, act like a fucking adult. Do you get all hotted up at a nude statue? At guys using their naked penises to pee? In an art class with a nude model? The concept of bodies as sometimes sexual and other times functional should be a very natural one to you, by now. And if it’s not, grow the fuck up.

Yeah, But Can’t They Go Do It in The Bathroom or Something?

Do you enjoy eating in a bathroom? Do you enjoy being in a public bathroom? Nobody’s changing a diaper at the table. The kid is eating, same as anyone. Though some people seem to want to treat women caring for children like they’re no longer actual people, and isolate them and only talk to them about their kids, that is shitty and if you consider yourself to be any kind of progressive or feminist, you’ll make an effort not to do it. Breastfeeding is one of those things that, because of biology, women get stuck doing, so when you isolate or shame breastfeeding women, you’re reinforcing the idea that mothers should be caregiving machines, rather than just regular people who happen to be taking care of a kid at the moment.

Where to Look

So okay, but all that said, if you’re not used to being around breastfeeding, you’ll almost certainly have an awkward “where do I look” moment. That’s okay! Follow the lead of the lady—different people have different comfort levels. Some people will swathe their entire thoracic region in a blanket and take care of their business beneath a little tent, other people will just pop that boob out and stick it in the kid’s mouth. Don’t stare, but also don’t freak out if your eyes drift downward. It’s a baby, it’s making little sucking noises, odds are you’re going to glance at it now and again. That’s okay. The most important thing is to just be cool about it. Don’t make the women feel like she’s doing something freakish, because she isn’t. Don’t make weird sex jokes or appreciative comments or anything. In fact, if the women doesn’t mention it, maybe don’t even bring it up. Just act natural, and eventually you’ll get used to it and it will all seem natural. Because it is. It is likely that at some point you’re going to remember that your friend is feeding a child from her breast and be like whoa! It’s pretty amazing, really. But just don’t make a big deal out of it.

Can You Believe That Lady is Breastfeeding and Drinking a Beer/Eating That/Taking Up Space With Her Dumb Stroller

When I was younger and jerkier, I wrote a whole essay about how awful people who bring kids to bars are, focused on a lady I saw drinking a beer while breastfeeding. I was such a dick! I retroactively apologize. It is none of my—or your—goddamn business what anyone is eating or drinking or doing, breastfeeding notwithstanding. And yeah, strollers are big and annoying. And some people who use strollers are assholes, just like how some childless people are assholes. But now that I am older and actually know some people who have to lug their kids’ shit around all day, I have to come realize that however much of a hassle a stroller is to you, it’s way more to the parent pushing it.

But People With Babies Should Move to the Suburbs and Overpopulation and Wahhhh

Ugh, stop talking. The only thing more annoying than an entitled parent is the entitled non-parent who complains about anyone who takes up more space or in some way requires accommodation. Everybody’s terrible.You’re probably gentrifying someone out of a home right now. Just hush up.

4 Comment

  • I love this so much I have to share with everyone.

  • awesome!!! so well written. coming from a b’f’ing mom x 3, who pushes a stroller around alot, because yes, it’s alot easier to lug all the stuff (sometimes the kid is not even *in* the stroller), and who has been that woman in the bar/restaurant with her kid, b’f’ing and drinking a cocktail – not getting smashed. yes, we’re people, and we don’t want to be isolated from the rest of life during our many many childrearing years (esp. if you have more than one kid! long time!)

  • So refreshing to hear an intelligent opinion regarding public breastfeeding. Thank you. I wish this could fly all over the Internet & educate all those mean-spirited folks who never seem to consider either the child’s needs or the fact that women’s breasts are not solely for the purpose of male titillation.