Support This Website! Shop Here!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

On Breastfeeding

When it comes to public breastfeeding, you have to admit, there's a certain inconsistency on both sides of the aisle. One side says, "Exposing your breast to feed your child has sexual connotation! It is exhibitionism! Don't do it in public!" Meanwhile, these same opponents have zero problem with women in bikinis selling beer. That is, opponents of public breastfeeding seem to want to deny the utility of breasts in order to maximize their sexualization. Those who like their female breasts sexualized are outraged that anyone would remind us breasts actually have a function - feeding children.

On the other hand, supporters of public breastfeeding says, "Nonsense! Breasts are made for feeding children!" But then they insist that breastfeeding women have special rooms set aside just for that activity, they insist women cover up while breastfeeding AND they insist most strenuously that men not look at a breastfeeding baby or mother. This makes no real sense. If breastfeeding were merely the use of a tool, and a man can watch someone swing a hammer or change a tire, then why can't a man watch a woman breastfeed? You see, with those caveats, breastfeeding supporters seem to deny that breasts are primarily a tool to feed children. In fact, they actively agree with public breastfeeding opponents that such activity is, indeed, sexual in nature.

And if you disagree with me, then consider how comfortable you are with Marian images like this:

From the Madonna and Child project by Kate Hansen

How many people want this hanging in their living room, or on their child's wall?

The answer?

Virtually no one in our Protestant American culture.

I used to create a breastfeeding calendar - every month contained a different classical image of Mary with an exposed breast feeding the infant Jesus, a theme quite popular in the Middle Ages. There is even a famous image of the vision of St. Bernard, in which the Virgin (known as the Virgin Lactans) squirted an arc of milk several feet into the waiting mouth of the saint.

The Vision of Saint Bernard by Alonso Cano

Even though I left that particular subject out of every calendar, and stuck just to Mary feeding Jesus, almost no one bought the breastfeeding calendar because even the breastfeeding supporters didn't want it hanging in the kitchen where their kids could see it.

Go figure.

If you want to REALLY spin someone's head, look up Roman Caritas. How many daughters would feed their parents this way today? Yet the act was considered by Christians as the height of familial piety and love, a precursor and preparation for the virtues taught by Christ.

“A Roman Woman’s Love for Her Father” by Peter Paul Rubens


MDL said...

Respect for privacy is an important issue. The animals do all bodily functions publicly, (although even dogs seem to have a certain sense of privacy, since they prefer to go off to a secluded corner for some things). But there is a sacredness about the human body that should be more respected than it is. And there is a problem with scantily clad women being used to sell beer or anything else. Like a lot of modern women's fashions, it's extremely degrading to women. As for the unique bond between mother and child necessary for the function of breastfeeding, this ought to be treated as the unique and special thing that it is, a private time to be cherished.

Michael said...

It is a private time to be cherished, but some children can't wait until they are behind closed doors to cry hunger (selfish, I know).

MDL said...

A small coverlet could be carried along for such occasions.

Steve Kellmeyer said...

"As small coverlet"

Thank you for demonstrating my point.
Both sides are very inconsistent.