At Breastfeeding Mama Talk we get a ton of messages that come in . Some are concerned mamas unsure of what to do about sore nipples, some are trolls telling us where to stick it, and then every once in awhile we get a chance to really educate someone. It went something like this.
Man messaged us and this was his question-
“Something I have always wondered about when it comes to breastfeeding. Why do women feel it is okay to breastfeed in public, but feel it is rude when a man looks at her breasts? I am not trying to start any argument on this page, just wondering what are some other views on the subject.”
“I appreciate you being open and wanting to ask us a question.
The biological reason for breasts are for nursing a child. Along the way, they have become sexual objects. Of course there is a biological component as well for men to become attracted to breasts. For one, your instincts tell you that a woman with large hips and breasts will be able to bear children and feed them. You may not be thinking that in your mind of course, but ingrained in your being is that drive to find a woman to pass on your genetics. What has happened in our culture though, is this push of sex in our society. They use breasts and sex to sell all products from music videos to the soda you drink. They almost have warped the fact that breasts are for nursing. A woman can walk around a mall with half of her boobs coming out of her shirt and nobody cares. But, if that same woman sits down and pulls her shirt down to nurse her child, everyone gives her dirty looks like she is doing something wrong and should cover herself and hide.
At the end of the day, as a man, or even as a woman myself, we are going to notice when a woman is nursing or takes her shirt down to nurse etc. Most people glance over, see what is going on, and then look away or go about their business etc. looking at a woman and noticing she is nursing is fine, staring at her while she nursing is not okay.
Women have legal protection to nurse wherever they are legally allowed to be. They are allowed to nurse covered or uncovered. Most women are very discrete about nursing, even without covers, and people don’t even notice them. The problem is when someone does notice and makes a scene or acts like a child because of it. I’m not sure if you saw the video where the woman was sitting at a seat in the cafe at a target. A older guy standing in line saw that she was nursing, told her she was a whore and disgusting and then went to the manager demanding that he have his money back. Like really?!?!
So I guess to answer your question. In general I understand that if a woman sits near you and takes her shirt down to nurse, the man in you is attracted to her breasts and wants to look, maybe you just think the act of nursing in general is a beautiful thing, and you want to look. But, to be polite, understand that the woman had a legal right to nurse her child wherever she needs to, and it’s just the right thing to do to just look away .”
Normally at this point we expect to hear an argument back, but instead this is what he said about it,
“Thank you for the reply.. That is a very informed and educated response. I asked the same question to another group administrator right before you. Her only logical statement was that they were legally allowed to. Even going as far as calling men perverts for even looking and saying that breasts should not be sexualized and that if it was were she lived bad things would happen if I looked. Thank you again for the logical response.”
Stephanie was the admin who responded to that man and I was really impressed with her response and told her I would like to share this exchange with the world.