Breastfeeding is a topic in America where there isn’t a lot of gray area. People have such strong opinions about breastfeeding that it clearly strikes a personal cord with each and every one of us. This is directly tied into the fact that you need your breasts to breastfeed. In America the female body is taboo. Breasts are thought of as solely for sexual purposes. Breasts are to be hidden away for when a man is ready to use them for sexual purposes or pt on display as a way to attract men to us. Breastfeeding is just one topic where people refuse to accept that women are awesome, powerful and most of all dynamic. I use my mouth to talk, to eat, to have oral sex, to sing and to kiss my Mom, my son and my husband. I use my hands to eat, to hold my son, to hug my husband, to have sex with and to play sports. Breasts, however, are not recognized for their multiple purposes. They are not respected as nature’s instrument through which new life is developed, protected, sustained, nurtured and comforted.
Even when many people are trying to be supportive they add their personal conditions under which you are permitted to breastfeed. “I support breastfeeding, but you should use a cover in public,” “but you should be discrete to help others feel comfortable,” “but not while I’m eating,” “as long as you don’t shove it in my face,” “as long as you stop when they can talk,” “as long as you don’t show my kids.” And so on. I suppose somewhere down the line these people decided that they are the moral compasses of society and they decide where the lines are. It sounds endemic of the narcissistic society that we have created. The narcissistic society that we have created by distancing ourselves from our children from birth by the overuse of hospitals, strollers, cribs, formula and bottles. Breasts are not only sexy, they are a tool through which early attachment is achieved and life-long emotional health is established.
Personally I don’t care what other people say to me. I will not make any decision about my child based on what someone else thinks. However, the reason this conversation bothers me is because my son has to go grow up in a society where women are shown great disrespect in all aspects of their lives. My son will be raised to respect every aspect of a woman. He will recognize the awesome power that we have as the nurturers in society. He will develop a deep understanding of how the female body works. He will understand the magic of the reproductive system, how a baby grows inside the womb and how a natural child birth happens. He will know how breasts then create a special liquid specifically tailored to the baby she gave birth to. He will learn how breastfeeding a baby provides vital physiological and emotional protection. He will know that a woman can work at home with her children or run a large company or kick his ass at any sport. He will respect the level of access she has to her emotions. He will not feel fear an upset woman. Instead he will listen, empathize with her and validate her feelings. And if he chooses he will have sexual relationships with women based on trust. He will recognize that her body does not belong to him. He will understand that women can enjoy sex as much as him. He will have a deep understanding that the body parts he enjoys sexually do not lose their power when she chooses to allow him to have sex with her.
Right now I am following Jack’s lead and allowing him to freely explore what his instincts are communicating to him. But make no mistake; I have big plans for my boy. If that means taking on every individual, every institution and every backward belief held by our society then so be it. I pity the fool who tries to suck my son into the world of female oppression. Jack will learn that he can be a boob man and hold the utmost respect for women at the same time.
Abby Theuring, MSW