This was a heated topic on our WhatsApp group earlier this month and funny enough, Stian sent a chat that a woman sitting next to him on the plane was breastfeeding…Quite funny since we have been discussing about it and even though the discussion had died down it suddenly erupted again. Well, my personal take on it at first was that women can feed anywhere, it doesn’t matter as long as they cover up and some of my mates where just not for that compromise, especially the females in the group. Well I can say the end of it all - let me leave the dashes for now and share some of the interesting views shared.
Ruth shared that women in rural communities in Africa breastfeed in public as a sign of pride. This is quite true especially when the women are in a polygamous marriage. I’m quite the imaginator when such things are said and as it might not seem funny to others, I could just imagine the first wife who was not able to bear a child for the union or one that only gave birth to baby girls looking at this wife number two or three breastfeeding her son with so much envy. As terrible as it might sound, especially with the term, ‘son’. We will leave that for another day’s topic. The point I’m driving at is the reality in most patriarchal led traditional communities. This moved the topic to becoming a discussion about patriarchy oppression of the women.
There was an argument from one men when I heard the discussion on radio who complained that breasts are seen as a sexual object and that was his argument to why women should never be allowed to breastfeed in public as it invokes wild thoughts in the men’s mind. Munya then added an interesting comment that, patriarchy plays a part in that men are the beneficiaries always, they are ‘protected’ from wild thoughts of being bombarded with ‘breasts’ in public. So go the ‘safety’ of men, breast feeding in public has to be banned. It is never in the interest of women and hungry babies, but men and their egos. A show of control…That just summed it all for me and left me feeling bad and agreeing that breastfeeding wherever as being a civil right that should be respected and not frowned upon.
A few interesting quotes shared which I think we should all ponder upon…
Breasts are viewed as sexual objects…how about men who urinate in public alleys everyday, what is it they will be holding while urinating and why ain’t it frowned upon in the same way too
Why should breasts be covered when breastfeeding, who covers their plate when eating?
Feeding should not be confined to secret rooms, toilet cubicles and dark alleys. If a grown man can have food in a fast food outlet, what’s to stop that child from being breastfed in the same place…breast feed in open spaces without suffocating the hungry baby.
- By Trevor Molife, The Development Eye.