The Positive Power of Breastfeeding Righteousness

by Dominique Browning

It’s a truism that men never outgrew their fixation on their mothers’ breasts. But I’m beginning to think the same thing holds true for women. As a co-founder of Moms Clean Air Force, I’ve ventured into the online world of self-styled “mommy bloggers.” Theirs is a rich, exciting, provocative community – and it is full of excellent writing. I only wish I had had such company when I was a new mom.

But I’ve been stunned by the vitriol around breastfeeding. It has gotten to the point that many writers simply won’t write about the subject anymore, because of the feeding frenzy (so to speak) of flamers that attack the bloggers, no matter what their position on breastfeeding.

Sisters, sisters! Let me insert a few words from my end of motherhood: children grown up and out of the house.

Breastfeeding is NOT an issue we should be dividing on, as women and mothers. Lactivists are necessary heroines–when they’re focusing on what can be done to make nursing mothers feel safe and comfortable, and make breastfeeding easier. Moms shouldn’t have to fight the culture to do what comes naturally.

I love the moments of support I spot in the best blogs, like Mama Knows Breast; I read a story about women who gave their breast milk to a new mother who had survived a double mastectomy. That makes you feel proud of women–and grateful for the Internet that connected everyone.

But breastfeeding has to remain a laissez-faire situation, to each her own. Many women are comfortable with breastfeeding anywhere and everywhere. Great! It wasn’t that long ago, in the 80s, when I was breastfeeding my sons, that I had to sit in the bathrooms of restaurants, because it was considered unseemly to feed them, even covered, at the table. Yuck. I rejoice that our society is more open now; that breastfeeding in public isn’t such a taboo.

Yes, the breast is a sexual organ, but it is more, too. Drape it if you’re modest–or if others around you are. Be considerate of prepubescent and adolescent boys, otherwise digging for back issues of Victoria’s Secrets. It doesn’t have to be more complicated.

Flaunt it if you must prove your exuberance about your body. And for those in the audience–if it bothers you, look the other way. Or get comfortable with your fascination, and analyze why, exactly, you are fixated on that breastfeeding mom. Try to remember being a baby yourself. Just don’t start acting like one.

There are women who cannot breastfeed, for various reasons. Be compassionate. Don’t judge. They aren’t lesser moms; their children will not necessarily be lesser world citizens–or have lesser brain power.

And some women simply do not want to breastfeed. So? Suckle and let suckle by other means. Breastfeeding does not warrant conversion fervor. I don’t believe any study that “proves” can isolate breastfeeding as the factor that makes children perform better academically. That’s just silly–and poor science; it ignores too many contributing factors.

Back when formula manufacturers were trying to convince moms that their stuff was better than breast milk, breastfeeding became a politicized issue. But we know better now. We have a choice. That’s what counts: the choice.

How about moms take the breastfeeders’ righteous passion, and spread it around to other topics.

Here’s what is worth getting VERY worked up about:

BPA–and all the bisphenol chemicals–in plastic bottles, toys–and food cans. The latest: Scientists have found that BPA and methylparabens block breast cancer drugs, interfering with their efficacy in fighting the disease. All breastfeeders–all people–should support the “Safe Chemicals Act” introduced by Senator Lautenberg.  Don’t even get me started on triclosans in those anti-bacterial soaps we’re told we should have–and we should really avoid.

Air pollution–this is my number one priority, especially pollution containing toxics like mercury, which cause neurological damage, from coal-fired power plants. When moms eat fish contaminated with mercury, it gets into their breast milk–and into their babies. Lactivists: join your righteous voices to Moms Clean Air Force, so that we can fight against air pollution. It is completely connected to breastfeeding.

We’re all fired up about buying “green” cleaning products, low-voc paints, formaldehyde-free particle board (or we should be). But you know what? We still have to open the windows. Moms should be fighting air pollution with all their hearts–and despite the overheated political rhetoric, cleaning the air actually creates jobs and strengthens the economy.

Being a mom is tons of work. We’re all in this crazy-tough business of mothering together. You may feel alone with an infant now, but believe me, you’ll be getting strength from your village for years to come. We all have a lot to learn from one another.

And guess what? You think the breastfeeding thing is tricky? Its nothing compared to what’s coming up!

Re-posted from Moms Clean Air Force. Learn more on Facebook.

Related Stories:

Should Breastfeeding Be a Partisan Issue? | Care2 Causes

Breastfeeding In Front of a Teenager | Care2 Causes

Are Breastfeeding Bans Just a Way To Keep Women In The Home 



Sandra L.
Sandra Lewis4 years ago

Women's breasts are more beautiful than men's hairy chests. Attach babies to the nipples of women's breasts and they are still beautiful and the least harmful sights that one can view. Of course, you can always avert your eyes because it is rude to stare at other people to begin with. Believe me, when I assist my newborn infant in latching onto my nipple, I won't be paying any attention to your ignorance or your false modesty. I do hope you get an eyeful so you at least have some idea of the true biological function of the female body, since they never show it on television.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you for article.

Carolyn B.
Carolyn R5 years ago

Everyone who thinks their little discomfort with breastfeeding is anyone's problem but their own, I'm going to start picking on all the things YOU do in public that turn my stomach - sleazy tacky clothes, cruddy perfume, fawning sycophantic & sexist behavior, loud gum chewing, bad grammar, bad posture, clackity high heels, stupid flashing shoes, ape-like ear-picking and belly-scratching, disrespectful and discourteous treatment of clerks and even people in your own family, drunks, people who chew with their mouths open, wiping your nose on your sleeve, overly loud coughing & horking of phlegm, all of these are MUCH more nasty, un-wholesome, and sometimes even unsanitary than mammas feeding babies. Pick on someone else: women have been bullied and dumped on quite enough for a while, don't you think? Your choice to bottle feed? Maybe I don't want to look at THAT. Maybe seeing you feed your kid formula makes me uncomfortable, grossed out even, but my momma taught me manners enough to keep this opinion to myself. Heck, loads of people, the fact that they chose to breed at all grosses me out immensely, but I'm not so boorish as to think it's sensible for me to make a fuss about this in public for pete's sake! This is one thing you just need to GET OVER, it's boobies, not toxic waste, not corporate nonsense, not violence or oppression or ugliness of any kind! BOOBIES = BEAUTY! If boobies bother you, YOU have a problem - seek help.

Sarah M.
Sarah M5 years ago


Diana S.
Diana P5 years ago

So flashing strangers is looked down on, but add a baby and it's a-okay? Whether a mother chooses to breast feed or not is her decision, and a little modesty is all the rest of us ask.

Halle K.
.5 years ago

Breastfeeding is healthy and if desired should be done, if not should be left alone and not dwelled upon. No one will ever be a better mother than another if they are all looking out for their children's welfare and not neglecting them.If they are watching out for their children's welfare then they are a supermom within thier own beings and their own rights.Yes women should drape their breasts in public places just in case others get offended but then again maybe public places should be more accomodating in a breast feeding friendly way and mothers shouldn't have to inhale the human waste from after dinner bathroom fiends nor be made felt like they wished they had stayed at home.

Dianne Robertson
Dianne Robertson5 years ago