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Woman Ejected for Breastfeeding

Woman Ejected for Breastfeeding

It’s one of the sad ironies of our culture that almost-naked women can be splashed across advertisements on the sides of buses, on billboards, in the pages of magazines, on store walls, but when a woman tries to breastfeed publicly, she is immediately expected to hide away.  This glaring hypocrisy was illustrated this weekend, when a woman was asked to leave her local Target, and the store’s employees eventually called the police.  Why all of this fuss, you ask?  The woman was breastfeeding.

Mary Martinez and her husband, Jose, were shopping in a Target in Harper Woods, Michigan, on Sunday.  Mary is the mother of three; her youngest daughter is four weeks old, and breastfeeding is thus a normal and important part of her life.  The couple was shocked to be stopped in the electronics aisle of Target and asked to leave.

Jose is a Detroit police officer, and apparently knew that public breastfeeding is not illegal.  The couple argued with Target’s security team.  Finally, the Harper Woods police were called.  They stayed talking with the couple and with the Target security officers until the couple became embarrassed and left the store.

Target does not prohibit breastfeeding in their stores, and the corporate manager of the Harper Woods store says that it is “certainly not discouraged inside her store.”  But Mary’s account of the story is very different.  She recounted how security officials forced her out of the store: “Two security guards, the manager or team leader, two officers, they just made a spectacle and a scene,” said Mary.  “I feel like I can’t go to that specific Target anymore.”

Breastfeeding is incredibly beneficial for mothers and children, especially when the child is as young as Martinez’s daughter.  In fact, nursing may protect at-risk women from breast cancer.  But the difficulties inherent in breastfeeding at work or in public places, because of our cultural taboo on public breastfeeding, make the practice nearly impossible for some women.  “Lactivistsall over the country (and in Canada) have held “nurse-ins” at stores where nursing mothers have been asked to leave because they were disrupting the other customers, or violating store policy.

It’s certainly a good step that Target allows breastfeeding in its stores.  But the corporation needs to make sure that they emphasize that this is their policy to their employees – and make sure that no customers are summarily ejected for such an inane reason.

What do you think?  Are you comfortable with public breastfeeding?

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Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

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138 comments

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5:17PM PDT on May 8, 2011

@ Blake why do you sexualize something that is not sexual at all? women do not fling their breasts out there for all to see it is private but also part of life... exchanging bodily fluids???? wow that is a sick mind you have there in your noggin...again NOTHING SEXUAL AT ALL!!!!

3:49PM PDT on Jul 10, 2010

What a double standard!! Come on people, it's just a breast and nursing is a part of life. Why should it be forbidden or hidden?

9:33AM PDT on Apr 7, 2010

Blake - "so I would consider it to be in a more severe category."

Are you confused about what is taking place here. This is not an exchange of bodily fluids as in a sexual act. The ridiculousness of your post is astounding. In addition, these women are not baring their breasts to the public, so the comparison to being topless is nonexistent.

6:17AM PDT on Apr 7, 2010

Breast feeding in public should not be acceptable unless generalized female toplessness is. Even then it involves something more than just toplessness (namely the transfer of bodily fluid) so I would consider it to be in a more severe category.

6:17PM PST on Jan 1, 2010

breasts are beautiful, so are babies!!

7:29PM PST on Dec 22, 2009

You cannot time when a baby will be hungry,just as you cannot time when they will wet their diapers. So asking a mother to do this at home is unreasonable.

7:27PM PST on Dec 22, 2009

If you feel breast feeding should not be done in public, then perhaps you need to examine how exactly you were raised. Breast feeding is a very natural thing and a very needed thing for the baby. There should be no constraints on this issue,PERIOD.

4:55AM PST on Dec 21, 2009

For what it's worth, I've never had a problem nursing at Target. I usually ask to use one of the dressing rooms for nursing and they are very accommodating (thankfully it's just DD and myself, but I suppose if I had more kids I could use a family dressing room). I have also nursed in their Cafe tables, towards the back, while I ate. I try to keep covered, but other than that, I've never given it a second thought.

3:12PM PST on Dec 18, 2009

It's natural...just be aware of the surroundings...

1:06PM PST on Dec 16, 2009

"Nature designed a plan to insure humans a good healthy start in life. It is called Breast Feeding! We can follow the plan, or we can subvert the will Nature and suffer the consequences." - Hetrose

What more beautiful and natural expression of mother to child love can one experience?

Many people in this country, specifically, should just grow up! It is just a breast being used for that purpose for which it was designed.

How about less war, bigotry, violence, power over behavior and more public bresatfeeding? I vote Yes on that!

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