At the Mom Movie on Monday (say that quickly three times) there were a whole lotta women breastfeeding their kids as they watched Harry Potter duke it out with Voldemort. Seeing so many women breastfeeding in public made me think of the following poll:
Which do you most agree with?
A) It is okay to breastfeed in public.
B) It is okay to breastfeed in public as long as you use a shield.
C) It is never okay to breastfeed in public.
For me the answer is:
D) This is a question that even I (the schlub behind the infamous teen pregnancy post) am not dumb enough to answer.
I see enough passionate arguments on this subject all around the Internet that I’m not going to touch it. And, as a man, I really have no right to pass judgement either way. There is, however, one element of this subject I want to talk address… The criticism directed toward MEN who encounter women breastfeeding in public.
As a dude who reads mom blogs and interacts with a lot of moms on Twitter, I can’t tell you how many times I have read something along the lines of the following:
“Ewww, gross. Some sicko pervert dude totally just stared at me as I breastfed the baby at the mall. I think I need to take a shower.”
I always cringe when I read this kind of thing because, though I loathe to admit it, there has been a time or two when I have glanced at a breast feeding woman a beat too long.
But here’s the thing, ladies. With the exception of a small number of actual sicko perverts, the majority of dudes who glance your way while you breastfeed are just as mortified to have made eye contact with you as you are with them.
It’s true. We don’t mean to look. Honestly. And we’re not titillated by it. Believe me, when men fantasize about breasts we don’t imagine babies attached to them. It’s just that there’s something in our brain that goes, “Dude. There’s a boob. IN PUBLIC!”
There’s also the shock factor too. Here we are, going about our boring day when… all of a sudden… there’s a boob. IN PUBLIC!
It takes our brain a second to get over the shock and yell, “LOOK AWAY! AVERT THY EYES! YOU’RE EMBARRASSING ME!”
Now before you think I am a total lunatic you have to imagine, ladies, suddenly happening upon a man at the mall who has his pants down. It would, I’m sure, catch your attention. You might even glance a beat longer than you intended to.
I realize this is a poor comparison, especially since the parts men are supposed to keep covered up aren’t capable of doing anything incredible like feeding our children. The coolest thing ours can do is melt ice in urinals at fancy restaurants. But hopefully you sort of see where I’m coming from here.
So the next time you’re breast feeding in public and catch a guy looking your way, cut him a little slack. He’s not a pervert (more than likely), and wants you to know he’s very sorry. He will keep his eyes on his Caesar salad the rest of the meal. He promises.