Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Reactions to Dr. Phil Show about Breastfeeding in Public

I finally had time to watch the TiVo’ed show which aired on Dr. Phil last week. The title of the show was "The Latest Debates" and it was episode #593. Well it was another case of extremes. If Dr. Phil keeps this up I will be watching less. It just is not so much fun anymore to see the way, way extreme on one end and the polar opposite extreme on the other. It used to be fun for me but now it is draining. Dr. Phil tries to be the middle man, the only voice of reason. However he often says too little and lets the people go on and on. This leaves me (and others, I am sure) talking to the TV screen trying to get our unsaid point across to the extremists.

I watched this to keep informed as to what is airing in the mainstream American media about breastfeeding. I didn't watch it for entertainment as I found it frustrating to watch.

Some people think I am alternative and a fanatic but believe me, I am middle-of-the-road compared to people such as these two women.

The show featured two women who were giving their points of view. The childless woman (named Sheley) never wants to see anyone breastfeed in public, even if the nursing is discreet. Shelley doesn’t want to see the act of nursing going on as she doesn’t “find it attractive” and “doesn’t find it appealing”. Well lady, guess what, if anyone thinks that breastfeeding is appealing or attractive that borders on some kind of sick fetish. I relate the words attractive and appealing in either an aesthetic manner or in a sexually appealing way.

I loved breastfeeding my children and I am happy to see anyone breastfeeding anywhere but I have never found it attractive or appealing in either an artistic or titillating way. I find it loving and beautiful but when I have seen a flash of a woman’s nipple or a peeking of the color of her breast skin I don’t find it attractive or appealing.

By the way, I don’t find seeing women in shirts that show cleavage, or parts of their breasts or bellies and backs, appealing. I also don’t find low riding pants attractive, I don’t want to see people’s bellies or flanks or backs or buttock-cracks either. I don’t care if they are too-thin, just right, or too fat to be wearing those clothes. Frankly, I am sick of the current fashion of skin tight clothing, low cut necklines, crop tops and low riding pants. Enough is enough, when is the next clothing fad moving in to take over this one? I can't wait!

But back to breastfeeding as a problem for Shelley, because doesn’t find it attractive. Even my husband who is a heterosexual and is attracted to me never found my act of breastfeeding our children appealing or attractive! I would not want him or any man to find breastfeeding attractive or appealing. That is gross!!

Another analogy for this woman would be that the act of watching a child emerge from the mother’s birth canal would not look attractive or appealing in an aesthetic (or in a sexual way). I don’t think anyone anywhere thinks that childbirth in itself is attractive or visually appealing. Is this a reason for this woman to never have a baby? Is this a reason if she did have a baby, for the father of the baby to not look at the emerging baby lest he see something non-sexual happening down there? Seeing a baby born is a wonderful thing, a unique and beautiful thing, but it is not something that shows a woman’s genitals in an attractive or appealing way! Just the fact that the childbirth process involves urine, feces, amniotic fluid, and some blood is enough to make any body part unattractive and unappealing.

Nursing Discreetly
I have seen many, many women nurse discreetly. If anyone is nursing discreetly, it can be done with no one but the mother and baby seeing any part of the breast. If she has a problem with seeing the baby being held by the mother and nursing but not seeing anything more than that I think there must be some other serious issue going on with her. She said that in order to ‘not see’ these women such as while eating in a restaurant she’d have to stare at the ceiling. Lady, get real. Why don’t you pay attention to the person you are with and look at them and talk to them? Why are you staring at other customers? Didn’t anyone ever tell you that staring is not polite?

As to the breastfeeding mother, named Synnora, I disagreed with her also. Synnora said it was her personal mission to desensitize people to seeing the breast as a sexual object and to get breastfeeding accepted as the norm. She intentionally does not breastfeed discreetly. I’d like her to know she is doing breastfeeding a disservice. I don’t know what made her think she can personally change the views of lots of people, but she is wrong. She even mentioned changing America’s view and changing the world. She is not going to do it that way. Also in other countries, people don’t even have issues with breasts. In Europe, breastfeeding is done non-discreetly and is not problematic. I have seen Europeans here nursing very not-discreetly—this is because they grew up with a different mindset. Also regarding nudity in general, I am told in Europe, people of all ages and genders change from their street clothes to bathing suits right on the beach! How about that for an example of how public nudity is acceptable? But back to breastfeeding. People who hate breastfeeding are not going to suddenly respect it or like it or support it because she flashes her breast around. I hate the fact that she perpetuates the myth that in order to nurse it has to expose the breast.

Only one time was it said that nursing can be done discreetly without a blanket. I nursed with a blanket one time.

I also hated that on the show there were numerous references to nursings discreetly by putting a blanket over the baby. Guess what, folks, that is a huge flag that the baby is nursing. Also babies can’t breathe under there. IT gets hot very quickly. Sitting and trying to keep an open air vent is a ridiculous thing to do while nursing.

It is very possible to nurse discreetly without ever using a blanket. Many people won’t even know you are breastfeeding. I can’t tell you how many people have seen me nursing but thought the baby was just being held by me. I know this as they stuck their face right in my breast to get a look at the baby, saying things like, “he is so cute”. I assume they thought I’d tilt the baby’s face so they could see it as it was not fully visible. When I said he is nursing they backed way off in shock. I have also held my sleeping babies in the same position and no one knew at all if I was nursing or not nursing.

This is inspiring me to find photos of me nursing discreetly and to put them on my blog. Discreet nursing can be done. Discreet nursing can be done without a blanket.

My grandmother watched the show. She gave birth in the 1940s and did not breastfeed. She thought the show was ridiculous and also there were too many extreme statements. She also said that in her day, people just nursed or used bottles and that was it. No one talked about it or argued or debated. They just fed the child. She said that to live in an environment where all the opinions are everywhere and debate is done about every little thing is exhausting and draining. I don’t find hearing all these debates enjoyable.

Americans take note that not talking about a subject is sometimes better than talking about it and bringing negative press to it. I hope that the breastfeeding mother on the show realizes that she has done breastfeeding a disservice by appearing on the show. It fuels the fire of the people who hate breastfeeding. It also wrongly assumes that every mother must expose her breast to breastfeed. I wonder if she knows the desire to be discreet drives some women to never even try to breastfeed?


Synnora said...

I actually said that I meet my child and as an afterthought I hope it "normalizes" the breast as a feeding utensil as well as a sexual object. I also said no one takes their tops off to nurse. I do not use a blanket because my son throws them off and I feel I have nothing to hide. No one sees anything when I nurse but I feel that the risk of an "accidental" nipple here and there is not cause for banning NIP. I also was dissapointed by the editting as I said rational things but they decied to only show what they thought was attention getting and out of context. PLease understand that I do not flash people nor condone it, I was simply stating that I do not believe any restrictions shoudl be placed on the nursing diad. Thank you.

Deena said...

Wow, Synnora herself commented on your blog! (Hey Synnora I blogged about this show too -check it out!)
Actually, I was going to defend Synnora in this comment. I didn't feel like she was saying to nurse in some outrageous manner to change public perception. I understood that she was saying she wasn't going to go out of her way to hide and that the public does need to be less sensitive about the issue.
I agree with both of you about the blanket: very annoying. Hot. Suffocating. And my babies don't like it, kick it off.