Nipples, Nudity, Breastfeeding, and more.

woman-embarrassed

Photo from Insiderhealth.com

Great article on Huff Post today by by Donna Highfill, “Nip Slips And Other World Concerns“. In a nutshell she laments the sad state of affairs with people in the United States who are often too consumed with celebrity nipples & nudity suggesting that our country’s obsession is connected to the fact that because nipples aren’t something you see regularly it causes people to want to see them all the more. Is she right?

Highfill postulates that if women covered their wrists celebrity magazines would then spend a ton of time snapping photos every time Jennifer Aniston’s sleeve comes up a little to high.

I’m sure there is an element of truth behind Highfill’s thoughts but I would like to add my two cents to the equation.

I believe the problem is that the United States has overly-sexualized nipples. Every few months or so a story will come up in the national or local news about some young mother who was asked to leave a mall or public place because she was breastfeeding her child.

Breastfeeding, perhaps one of the most beautiful symbols of humanity, is so often sexualized in our society and considered to be scandalous if done in public.

Many readers might think the root of the oversexualization of nipples can be found in the Puritans, that damnable intolerant sect, right?

Actually you would be wrong. Check out this review of a Puritan diary that discusses breast feeding in a very public and organic way.

The Puritans, for all their problems, didn’t view breastfeeding as something sexual. It wasn’t for breastfeeding in public that Hester Prynn was unfairly treated.

Traveling through Mexico and Central America I’ve noticed that breastfeeding in public is no big deal.

Here in the U.S. we sexualize just about everything under the rainbow.

If a guy urinates in public and a cop notices; the dude isn’t just charged with public indecency, there’s plenty of stories (like this one) where the guy gets booked on a sex crime and ends up on the sexual predator list!

 I don’t understand why Americans are so scared of nudity. 

Don’t you know that everyone is naked under their clothes?

While on the one hand I’m not suggesting I support people’s right to walk around naked in a public mall.

On the other hand, I hardly think a little nudity is going to traumatize little Johnny or Susie for life.

Maybe if our children were more exposed to positive forms of nudity (like breastfeeding) they would have a better attitude toward the subject and wouldn’t end up being nudity-obsessed adults; watching and waiting for the latest Hollywood nipple slip.

Kenneth



Categories: Culture & Society, sex

Tags: , , , , , , ,

16 replies

  1. I normally have no problem with breast feeding in public, really. The other day, though, my son’s teacher during parent teacher conferences, whipped out the boob and started feeding the baby–whom she woke up to feed. That was a bit weird.

  2. I agree with you that such a thing would be weird….but only because its not the norm for our society. I just think its too bad that something as simple as breastfeeding is generally considered abnormal.

    I’ve had people tell me that they believe a woman breastfeeding her child in public should be illegal because it’s too sexual. Isn’t it crazy that there are guys out there who are so screwed up in their head that they think an infant eating is a sexual experience? Everyone has nipples….its not that big a’ deal.

    • I agree that in most instances I do not consider it all that weird. I also think that most Americans are beyond Puritanical when it comes to things like this. The way I see it is that breast feeding should be accepted wherever and whenever eating is accepted–I think breastfeeding at the opera, in a job interview, or in a teacher-parent conference is out of place. If said teacher had broken out a salami and cheese sandwich it would have been equally odd.

    • Good point….guess she should have been more discrete.

    • I am a breastfeeding mother, and I must say I disagree with this comment. Breastfeeding in public should be socially accepted wherever babies are socially accepted. Babies are not adults; adults can wait quite a long time for their next meal without screaming. By the way, babies aren’t usually accepted at the opera (mainly because of their screaming potential). Screaming would also be rather distracting in a parent-teacher interview, much more so than a quiet, suckling baby. It is a bit strange that she woke the baby to feed it, but maybe that is just what it seemed like to you. Or perhaps she was distractingly engorged or leaking or something … Anyway, can we please let mothers mother their own babies however they wish without judgment? Speaking from experience, a sleep-deprived woman full of milk and hormones could use the support a lot more than she can deal with the criticism.

    • I also disagree with this comment and wholeheartedly agree with whowanderarelost. Well said. Breastfeeding is so important and a huge commitment. It can be very hard to incorporate into a lifestyle where you have commitments outside the home (like being a school teacher). Support not judgement would have been a better response.

    • I breastfed both of my babies, for just over two years each. (“Extended nursing” – That’s a whole other can of worms!)

      And I am fortunate enough to have a job where I keep my kids with me. So I would take the baby to work and they’d be in the office with me the whole time. (I work at a non-profit cemetery, in a tiny, little office, meeting with families.) Of course, there were times people walked in on me nursing my baby, but most didn’t seem to care. Sometimes unaccompanied old men were a little thrown off by it, but mostly people were cool. In fact, some women were so accepting, they’d let me nurse while I wrote up contracts! A lot of mothers and grandmothers were jealous of the fact that I could work and be a nursing mother with my babies with me at all times. I was the lucky one. (Three cheers for multi-tasking!)

      Only once did I lose a customer because the kids were around. Only once did someone say our office was “unprofessional.” I told him he could go down the street to the big cemetery owned by a big corporation and pay big money instead. He did. I was fine with that. But he didn’t even see me breastfeeding. The kids were just present and that was enough to drive him away!

      As you may have guessed, I’m a big advocate of breastfeeding and of normalizing it. And, while I never used a nursing cover, I also never intentionally flashed my nipples either. I’d be discreet in that I’d try to minimize the amount of visible boobage, but I’d nurse anywhere, anytime. I’ve even been known to walk down Main Street in Disneyland, with my shirt hiked up on one side, with a baby latched on. It just is what it is. Life doesn’t stop because the baby’s hungry. And babies shouldn’t have to wait to eat. They can’t. So, if it’s acceptable to stick a bottle in a baby’s mouth, it should be okay to stick a boob in a baby’s mouth, too.

  3. “Isn’t it crazy that there are guys out there who are so screwed up in their head that they think an infant eating is a sexual experience?” YESSSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. I love your posts! They are so direct! I feel quite strongly on this one, having breastfed all three of my children, and fitted women for nursing bras! I got so irritated by peoples’ attitudes that I did a survey of cafes in Brighton and then told everyone which ones were breastfeeding friendly. We are going back 23 years now, I also set up a local breastfeeding group with the local NCT for women to come and have a chat and a coffee. It was primarily aimed at women living in temporary accommodation who had no support. Most younger guys seem fine with it. It was older guys that found it embarassing/ awkward – and I respect that, as long as people are open about it. Seems to be more a generational thing here. Often women give themselves a hard time over it and will go onto bottle feeding quickly in order to be able to ‘get their bodies back’… personally, I loved it – such an incredible bond. So great for the baby if it works out. I don’t think I really cared what other people thought.

    • BeWell,

      Hopefully my friend catholic John isn’t reading this comment cause he’ll accuse me of being a Hipster…but I’m really into looking at life organically (i.e. naturally). Breastfeeding makes so much sense to me and the fact that American society got away from it in the 1950’s seems really strange and sad.

    • happened here in the UK too. It goes in fashions. Doesnt make any sense to me when breastfeeding is so good for mother and baby, no hassle wiv all those bottles, and free|

      I think it is positive that you are questioning stuff! theres lots of ways to think about things huh?

      regards :-)

  5. Excellent points, thank you for addressing the issue. My daughter breastfeed and was lucky to have not experienced such proplems.

  6. I honestly have no problem with breastfeeding in public, but I cannot understand why a woman would want to do it completely exposed. And I say this because of the people who do view it as sexual or weird, or whatever. How hard is it to throw a blanket over your shoulder to protect your private anatomy? Sometimes it seems as though the mother is belligerent about it and looking for negative attention. Why would any mother want to attact negative attention to a beautiful act between she and her child? And I guess that’s the last point, it is not an act that should have anything to do with any other person, so why not just create a cozy safe place to do it with a soft, light blanket? I’ve seen many women do this and I think it is just lovely to see them create a little space to take care of their child with no worry about ogling or any negativity coming from the outside.

Trackbacks

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