One of my favourite bloggers, a Dr Petra Boynton, a sex and relationships psychologist whom I will try and interview one day, wrote a short piece about why people may feel uncomfortable about seeing boobs in that light, versus, say a man looking at a dirty magazine in public. In short, because breasts are mainly viewed as sexual objects, whipping them out, even if it’s to feed a hungry baby, may be seen as ‘gross’.
Here’s a blog entry that criticises this ‘phenomenon’.
This brings to light an alarming paradox even as we are in our 21st century. While we work to be more receptive towards different cultures and new ideas and practices,Â humankind seems to have trouble responding to old ones, such as the choice to wear a hijab or a corset, or in this case, to breastfeed. As the world turns, people are becoming more open-minded AND conservative (or intolerant?)Â at the same time.
In the 70s, my mother told me that women used to breastfeed on buses and trains and even people’s houses when they’re visiting.Â Today, we have to hide in toilets and designated little cubicles or as I did, in the car with those sunscreens and visors covering the windows as if engaging in some sort of illicit behaviour. Most of the time, we opt to express and bottle-feed, simply because breastfeeding isn’t such a widespread practice anymore, nipple confusion be damned.
If more mothers breastfed, you’d think that all the inappropriateness of the practice would’ve dissipated with time.
Oh wait. LESS mothers are breastfeeding (in Malaysia). And why is that, I wonder?
I wonder if this is so in Japan, where it is compulsory for all women to breastfeed. So far, I have met three Japanese moms who tell me that to breastfeed is their duty and that it is largely frowned upon to feed their children formula. Do Japanese men, belonging to a country that is full of paradoxes, frown upon the display of an infant suckling on an exposed boob?
As a mother who is proud to have breastfed, I say deal with it. If women feel threatened by a naked boob that is being used to nurture, then it is because of their own insecurities and narrow-minded upbringing. If you bring up your sons and daughters to view breastfeeding as a natural everyday occurence, they will not view it as merely sexual (or ‘gross’). And this nonsense will not be allowed to continue.