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Tits!!! That was the thing on everyone’s mind last night – and every night for that matter – but last night for a slightly more specific reason. Early this week, a young woman was asked by Claridge’s hotel not to breastfeed in their dining room. The woman was instead provided with the option to nip to the bathroom or to cover up with a napkin. Following a post on twitter, the incident soon went viral, with 25 angry mothers now breastfeeding in protest outside the hotel.
While my views normally fall fairly left of field when it comes to such matters, the desire to breastfeed in front of others leaves me positively baffled. To me, all the arguments in support of public breastfeeding, (that it’s perfectly natural, that it’s what breasts are for, that it’s our own cultural biases that make it “wrong”), can be equally applied to taking a dump in public.
In support of this logic, I myself will be starting a protest demanding the right to openly fill a colostomy bag in the middle of a Claridge’s dining room. If people are offended they should simply turn away, or get over our cultural obsession with faeces as something offensive and unnatural. I shouldn’t have to cover my transparent crap-bag in shame, or go hide in the bathroom. I should have the right to display my “perfectly natural” wastage while people are eating; any offense caused is their problem, not mine.
While this argument is clearly facetious, it does help to raise a slightly more serious point. With so many people using this incident to promote their own agendas – including everything from politics, to page 3 – it’s easy to forget what the actual debate should be about: Is it, or is it not ok to breastfeed in public?
“It doesn’t matter if it’s breast milk, blood, poop, piss, sweat, or even semen, it’s all perfectly natural, and it all grosses people out”
To my mind this doesn’t even have to be cast as a gender issue. The question shouldn’t be “is it ok for women to show their breasts in public”, so much as “is it ok for people to excrete bodily fluids in public”, and the answer is categorically no.
Nobody cares about seeing breasts in public. There are hundreds of high-end restaurants with naked women on the walls and bosom-filled murals across the ceilings. What we in the UK have a problem with is bodily excretions in public places. It doesn’t matter if it’s breast milk, blood, poop, piss, sweat, belching, farts or even semen, it’s all perfectly natural, and it all grosses people out when they’re trying to eat.
Personally I even feel uncomfortable around the excretion of tears in public. If a person started bawling their eyes out in the middle of Claridge’s, I’d still expect the staff to hand them a napkin and send them marching off to the nearest loos. But maybe that’s just me.
Still, somehow the mainstream media has succeeded in shrouding breastfeeding in the impenetrable cloud of a “gender issue”, immediately raising its status above any other pubic exchange of bodily fluids. Now, if you feel a little bit uncomfortable seeing a woman breastfeed on a train, you’re everything from a sexist Page 3 reader to a randy UKIP supporter.
As such, I personally think we need to find a happy medium. On the one hand, people should be encouraged to avert their eyes while others are breastfeeding. On the other, we should be discouraging anxiety surrounding bodily excretions by encouraging more of them in public.
As such, the next time that you see someone breastfeeding in a public place, I implore you, please, just politely turn your head away… and calmly shit yourself.
It’s the only sensible solution.