Breastfeeding shaming is a very real problem. Too many new moms have come under fire for feeding their baby at restaurants, classrooms, parks, and various other places, often resulting in them being kicked out or—as is the favorite suggestion of critics of public breastfeeding—told to “do it in the bathroom.” Seriously, if celebrity moms like Mila Kunis are being shamed for where they choose to feed their hungry baby, imagine how often it must happen to “regular” moms. (If you’re interested, this campaign touches on it.)
It was with that in mind that Diana Channing took to social media last week. After the viral hashtag #metoo prompted millions of women to share their own stories about sexual harassment or assault on social media, Channing decided to weigh in too.
“Speaking of sexual violence, how is telling a woman and child to cover up not sexual violence?” she wrote on Instagram. “Stop sexualizing breastfeeding.”
Channing goes on recount a story from her own breastfeeding days, saying she and a friend were made to feel insecure after being “talked to” for breastfeeding in a restaurant, something that clearly didn’t sit right with either of them.
“Motherhood is so f*cking fierce,” Channing continues. “What could be more perverse than asking a woman to feel shame for nurturing an innocent life in the way she was biologically designed to do?...When we speak up we make the world a safer place.”
Channing makes some pretty strong points. Breastfeeding is not sexual. It’s biological. And being told to “cover up” implies that the woman is doing something “dirty” or “wrong” rather than what it actually is: feeding a hungry baby.
Some moms choose to wear a blanket or scarf over them while breastfeeding. But some women feel comfortable going without (or just have to—how many times have you left home and realized you forgot your scarf?), and that’s okay too. What Channing is ultimately saying with her post is that all women should be able to make that decision for themselves and their baby without having other people’s opinions projected onto them.
Here’s hoping this time people will listen.