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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Just Say No to Nursing

Posted by on September 12 at 11:58 AM

Charles is baiting the commenters—unsympathetically coming out against boys crying and such like—and I want to get in on the action.

So: While I’m for boys having feelings, up to and including feelings that make them cry, I am strongly opposed to the nursing of infants in public. I believe, as Barbara Walters does, that nursing is unsightly and that innocent passersby should not be required to look on infants being nursed. And I say this as a parent—a parent who not once nursed in public.

My officemate, Bradley Steinbacher, disagrees. He believes that women should nurse openly, if only to increase the number of bared breasts on public display.

“Even swollen, chewed-up breasts?” I inquired.

“Yes,” Brad responded, “even those.”


CommentsRSS icon

If you don't like it, don't look.

Frankly, anything that shuts crying infants up is OK by me, boobies or not.

I'm no big fan of babies myself, but given the choice between seeing breastfeeding or knowing that the child is getting nutritionally-inferior formula that's overwhelmingly marketed to those of lower income, I'll take the breasts.

Can a woman with implants still breast feed?

This has nothing to do with children or nursing. This has only to do with a gay man not wanting to look at boobs. Well, I like neither children nor Comeback posters, but I put up with them.

Besides, the term "lactivist" is hilarious.

I love the exchange between Dan & Brad.

I may be way out in left field, but what exactly is so offensive about a tit? Swollen & chewed up or not.

I'm surprised Dan is anti. Anti female ejaculation doesn't surprise me, but anti breast feeding in public?

I've known a lot of nursing mothers, and I've never seen enough boob to make it interesting. Not one of them was unable to be discreet. I'm sure some are, but I don't know them. It's not hard to maneuver a shawl, a blanket, a scarf, a jacket, a loose-fitting shirt, or some special highly engineered nursing garment. I don't see what the fuss is about.

...and Dan, had you chosen to do so, exactly how would you have nursed your baby in public?

Why shouldn't we normalize such human things as breast-feeding in public? If only to get the "American Taliban" a little more used to the human body.
And yeh, if a baby is screaming-hungry, and the breast (free-range, organic, of course) will soothe the savage beast... who's to say 'no, it makes me uncomfy'? Puh-lease.

Huh? "Unsightly"?

As I understand it, you're not a fan of opponents to gay marriage whose argument boils down to "eww, ick". Nor would you, I imagine, be too thrilled with a prohibition on men kissing in public ("eww, ick").

So, tell me again what the basis for your objection to breastfeeding is?

I think Sidran had the same thing in mind when he tried to ban posters on poles, they are unsightly and that an innocent passerby should not be required to look. Young babies need to feed OFTEN. For survival. Just like bands need the poles for their survival. But I guess, Dan, you need to pick your battles. SAVE THE BANDS!

Breastfeeding is a little annoying to come across, but it's just one of those things you just have to deal with in a public place. Don't love it, don't hate it.

I wish they invented some sort of blanket or tent-thing for this purpose so we don't have to feel like we're prying when we run across someone breastfeeding.

It's reasonable for women to pull a baby blanket or something over their shoulder and the baby while they breasfead in public. It can be kept discreet without offending other people...even though there's nothing offensive about breasfeading a baby.

I used to agree with the breastfeeding naysayers until I had a baby of my own. The truth is that nothing calmed my baby faster than nursing. It was like magic.

Although, there was this one time when I nursed my shreiking baby on a small commuter plane while sitting next to a priest. The priest stared at me without blinking the entire time. I had thrown a blanket over me and my baby so I know he couldn't see anything.
In my opinion, that was a rather uncomfortable nursing experience.

the stranger needs more women on its editorial staff. i am not kidding.

If this results in a breast-feed-in (or whatever it's called) in the Stranger's lobby I will laugh and laugh and laugh.

I personally think that a lot of America's hang ups over breasts are pretty nutso. Growing up from 11 to 29 in Canada, you get a much more balanced perspective on things, in general.

The more breast-feeding becomes normal, the better the immune systems of Americans will be.

Sure, use a blanket if you want, but what did you _think_ breasts were for?

The Stranger's edit staff is half women, Kerri, not kidding. Read the staff, er, box. And our most recent hire—Angela Valdez—is going to result in us having more women on edit staff than men.

And I'm not actually anti-breast feeding in public. I'm wildly pro. Just trolling for comments, a la Mudede. I winked with the "I didn't breast feed" comment. Of course I didn't. I couldn't. Or shouldn't.

As long as the woman doesn't strip down to her waist, take off the bra, and sit their with the little tyke attached to one nipple (even though I am all for public male and female nudity, but that isn't the nature of this string) then public breast feeding should be fine.

But one thing I ask, what part of "PUBLIC" breast feeding would make her think that no one will not want to look at her?

While I don’t believe that it is necessary to ban nursing in public, I would heartily support a ban on the public display of infants. They are messy, noisy and annoying, not to mention a significant threat to public health. Seems like such a ban would meet Dan’s well thought out position as well as the myriad of others that follow and lead from nursing through to the inevitable messy diaper it results in.

As to the public display of dripping bare lactating breasts… this gay man has no problem with it… just so long as their isn’t a little toothless shit making disease spreading screamer latched onto it.

I mean I know that every parent thinks their “cute”, but their not, and the public has no use for them, and they have no use for the public. And besides, that’s what Puerto Rican nannies are for.

My mother, admittedly a conservative, always had the sense to take the baby out of sight when she went to nurse him/her.

It's akin to picking your nose in public, something that isn't really immoral but just isn't considerate to do in public view.

Hey Treacle:

The quote you misquote is more appropos to this conversation than you might think: music soothes the "savage breast" not the "savage beast." Nothing soothes that, though, like breasts. At least for straight Savages.

Though what music has to do with breast-feeding I dunno. What tune would most go with it?


The actual quote: Results from Laura Moncur's Motivational Quotations:

Music has charms to soothe the savage breast
To soften rocks, or bend a knotted oak.
William Congreve (1670 - 1729), The Mourning Bride, Act 1 Scene 1


To anyone who might have a serious problem with public breast feeding - all I can say is Tough Titty.

YGBKM (posts 20 and 21) - lurn too spel

Breast-feeding? I’ll admit to a level of ignorance about breasts, but do they have to be feed? I always thought they kinda just ate whatever the rest of the body ate. If that’s what nursing is about (feeding infants to breasts) then I’m all for it at all times and in all places (as long as it helps deplete infants rapidly). How long does it take for a breast to consume an entire infant?

Latch On - soree publick edecation phaled mee.

I think women who breastfeed proudly in public just love the attention of people looking at their breasts in ANY context :P

Wow, YGTBKM - you spell almost as bad as my sister who went to Catholic school. My parents took a look at the way she was turning out, and went public school all the way with me. The poor thing still can't spell "cat".

As far as the boobies go - I come from a big extended family that seemed to always have some baby stuck on some breast somewhere, so it's no big deal for me.

Ok, Dan and Charles, so you're trolling for comments. Congratulations, you hauled in a big catch.

Any point to this little experiment worth sharing?

Well, I was just making fun of Mudede—who was, I think, serious, which is sad. I was kidding—and I thought it was clear I was kidding, and didn't expect to get many comments. But apparently I was wrong.

Dan: "Trolling for comments". Artificial controversy.
How very editorially mature. Lay off the dope for a coupla months, will you? K Thx.

Bill: thanks for the link and quote.
I personally think that Sibelius would go well with breast-feeding. Certain pieces of Brahms would be appropriate too. Single tune? Heartbeats.

As for breasts in general: gay or straight (as long as yer Mum wasn't fooled into using formula) EVERYONE has a connection to breasts.
¡Viva Lactivistas!

I've never grokked the whole to-do about breast feeding. In 90% or more of the cases, the only way you'd even know the woman in question was, indeed, breast-feeding (and not giving the child a bottle, or hiding a puppy under her blankie) would be if you lifted the blankie and looked. Most women, at least in this fucked-up Puritanical joke of a repressed country, are extremely discreet about it.

And I agree with the whole idea of quieting infants in public. Screaming babies or bared boobies - no contest. I'll take the bared boobies any time. I think some people are just made uncomfortable by being reminded that breasts have a purpose other than selling beer and cars.

Lay off the dope? Never, ever.

This is all very important:

I am in favor of exposed breasts;
I am against male crying;
I am VERY VERY opposed to fat people in public! They should be locked away and made to eat only carrots and ice cubes until they look like normal human beings!!;
Women are better editors;
It is all the fault of the Jews.

dan, with all due respect, your edit staff is not half women. you have a good number of ladies writing for the paper, designing the paper, selling the paper, and making sure the paper is error free.

your top positions in the masthead are all held by men. these are the positions that make the decisions and, ultimately, set the tone of the publication.

don't get me wrong here -- i love dudes. straight, gay, whatever. i love dude humor and sophomoric musings about chewed up titties. i just think that sometimes you guys take it a little too far.

but, whatever. you were just trolling for lively commentary and i appreciate that. i also appreciate the advice you gave me in the parking lot the other night and the fun time at havana. it is, as the kids say, all good.

now, if you'll excuse me, i need to go cry on mudede's shoulder. you know, PMS and all that icky vaginal stuff.

Well, our web editor is a woman, and our film editor—two huge roles at the paper. And until Jennifer left, so was our Music editor, the biggest section of the paper. And, I'm sorry, but "edit staff" includes "the ladies" who write for the paper. That's what edit staff is, Kerri.

With the arrival of our new news staff, three out of four of our news writers will be women. Two of the three people on our music staff are women. And on and on. I'll get SRS if it'll make you feel better, Kerri.

I notice you both avoid the Jews question altogether. How many tribe members are on the editorial staff Weeping Willow?

Yes, breast feeding is natural, babies calm down from it and it is fine if women can do it discreetly in public. Discreet is the key word.
Sadly, not everyone is so tasteful.
There are some women who feel that because it's their right and duty to breast feed their kids, that means it's okay to just flop their titties out in public (like at a restaurant in the booth) or at a friends' house with absolutely no warning and no attempt to cover it up.
I kid you not, it has happened to me more than a few times. Even at the home in which I used to live with friends (the breast feeder was a frequent visitor). If I had a dollar for every time I was just watching tv and smoking a doob with my friends and turned my head and POW! Engorged scabby boobies! With no "hey, guys, do you mind if I breast feed?" Or, "I'm going to feed the baby", I'd have, like, enough money to buy a case of beer. In bottles. To feed my own breastseses.

Geesh, Courtlynn, you'd think it was natural or something. Get over yourself.

Hi Kerri. Here’s my take on the "the stranger needs more women on its editorial staff": I've never worked in a less male-dominated environment. The women on the current edit staff (all of whom Dan hired, I think), have strong voices in the office. I doubt any of us would tell you that we're not offered the same respect and opportunities to influence the paper as the men here are. I've not felt any discernible gender (or Jew/gentile or gay/straight) divide or bias, probably because it's such a small staff and we all have to pitch in wholeheartedly to get the paper out each week.
If by “needs more women” you’re meaning “needs to be more sensitive,” fuck that. The Stranger will always make room for unpleasant opinions.
I'm way off topic. So: I don't like babies but I don't mind people breastfeeding in public. Seeing a woman nursing her spawn feels far less filthy than watching someone smoke.

I'm all for breastfeeding, and I plan to do it when I have children. However, there are things to be said for both discretion and common politeness. If you're at, say, a party or a restaurant, go into a less occupied room or the bathroom, and don't bitch about being ostracized.

And for God's sake, ask those around you if it's ok with them if you breastfeed. If they're not, don't flip out about it and act like you're being oppressed. Annoying as it sometimes is, our culture isn't accustomed to women baring their tits all the time. It's a simple act of politeness to ask others beforehand, and if it bothers them, either give them the chance to escape before the little monster gets his feeding, or go somewhere else.

Fewer babies, fewer boobs.
More babies, more boobs.
Boobs need babies less than babies need boobs.

One time I was in a high-rise elevator in Chicago with my 3-month old son. Two strange men were already in the elevator when I got in, one of whom I noticed was wearing a large cross. He gave me a dirty look right away, as if he was just waiting for me to take out my tit.

At some point before we reached the bottom, the elevator stopped completely dead. We rang the bell and called the emergency phone, and it turned out that a power failure had affected the entire complex. The emergency guy suggested that it would be hours before they got us out.

Of course, only about half an hour into the whole mess my baby was hungry, and of course I breastfed him, without thinking twice about it. The man with the cross turned out to be a deacon in the church, and suggested to me that I needed have more 'respect' for his modesty! This led to an amazing admission by the second man, who grew up in an orphange and never knew his mother! Acting on impulse, I offered him my breast. Despite some intitial embarrasment, he accepted, and took a small sip. He started crying, then laughing.

We talked for a long time about the changing roles of women historically, and about the role of women in the church. At one point, I squeezed some milk into my cupped hand, and the deacon lapped it up, like a cat. It was an incredibly bonding experience, and demonstrated (I hope) the unique importance of breast feeding in all human lives.

Afterward, we all got drunk.

That's the best story I've ever heard, even if it sounds like it's not true. Damn! I'm going to have to remember that "I never even knew my own mother" line!

At least breast-feeding in public is less vomit-inducing than changing a dirty diaper. I see many more parent's doing the latter than the former.

dan, how can i be trolling for comments when i actually hold this opinion as true? as eli will confirm, i have expressed this opinion during staff meetings and gatherings. because my position might bother lots of people, and generate lots of comments, is that a reason for me not to post it? i post lots of things that generate no or very few comments.

And I laughed until I stopped.

amy kate: thanks for your post. there is no doubt in my mind that women are treated just as fairly as men within your hallowed ground. although i still believe that the top of the mountain could use a little more estrogen, i have been particularly impressed by what writers such as cienna and erica have brought to the paper.

i sure don't equate "more women" with "more sensitivity." i would bet big money that many of my girl friends can be waaaaay harsher than my boy friends. unpleasant opinions? bring 'em on. i've got a million and could use a few more.

dan, please don't get SRS. your foxy boyfriend would undoubtedly hunt me down and kill me. but, please either learn to count properly or update the masthead that appears online.

according to what you have listed here, there are 20 men and 10 women on your edit staff. even if we throw in production and design, the numbers still don't change much -- 24 men, 15 women.

that is not half. i'm just sayin'.

Hey, Dan, didn't you write that you used pot once or twice a year? I remember you talking about packing your son off to your mom's, and you called a friend you once gave a gigantic bag of pot to, and that he gave you a single joint, you and Terry smoked out, and then ate cookies and watched movies. What happened to that? In the past couple years, I've read about you smoking out every chance you get, whether with people you met on book tours, or with the staffers at city hall. Has David Schmader corrupted you?

Our current editorial staff:

1. Hannah Levin
2. Megan Seling
3. Annie Wagner
4. Amy Kate Horn
5. Gillian Anderson
6. Kim Hayden
7. Sarah Mirk
8. Erica C. Barnett
9. Jen Graves

1. Dan Savage
2. Some jackass named Brad
3. Josh Feit
4. Eli Sanders
5. David Schmader
6. Dave Segal
7. Charles Mudede
8. Christopher Frizzelle
9. Brendan Kiley

Our on-line masthead is indeed out of date. As for Savage's counting abilities, I leave that for him to defend.

You lost me at "I believe, as Barbara Walters does..."

I actually joke about smoking pot all the time, which I don't do. I've been tagged as a pothead, so I embrace the charge and claim to be Cheech. Or Chong. Fact is, I don't get high that often—certainly not as often as, oh, some of my co-workers. And never around the kid. Maybe three or four times a year. But I joke about being a stoner cuz, well, everyone thinks I'm a stoner now, so why not?

You have no say in the matter; period. You can't breast feed because you are a man, unless you got an aparatus like De Nero wore in Meet the Fockers. I have never seen a "chewed-up" breast. WTF Dan. Get a real opinion!

Man, the amicability of this thread hit the death spiral in a hurry.

looks like dan's post beat mudede's for comment-baiting. the only question is who is going to win tomorrow... my money is on the dude who decides to make a post that essentially says "smokers should never leave their homes".... ready.... go

I don't know but I have a feeling that there is an age discrepancy between the male and female stranger staff. maybe I'm wrong.
can we get those numbers?

Would you rather have to see a woman breastfeed, or listen to a screaming baby? Having nursed 2 children, and occasionally wanting to leave the house during that time, my only option was to occasionally nurse in public. You can go into a stinky bathroom and do it--and why should you have to?--or run and hide in shame behind something big, or sit on a bench and act like it's a normal thing which I hate to tell you it is. If people are too immature to deal with women feeding their babies in the healthiest possible way, they should stay home and watch cartoons.

If you are discreet when you feed, it doesn't bother me. If you want to flash it for everybody to see, don't be surprised when I walk up with my camera phone and take a picture.

i don't know what universe americans live in but it certainly isn't the one that the rest of us occupy. the only place in the world this conversation would happen is in america. i live in canada and have breastfed both my children in public and have NEVER ONCE been made to feel uncomforatble. i don't use a blanket to cover up ... most babies get hot and uncomfortable under one. that being said i don't flash my 'scabby' nipples around. it's easy to lift up your shirt and show barely any skin at all let alone breast. i have yet to see ANY mom nursing in public in canada getting up to the titties right out in the open antics that people posting are describing. and you know what? my guess is that it rarely happens ... people (read americans) are freaked out at the IDEA of breastfeeding. god forbid breasts are actually being used for breastfeeding not for selling beer or cars. you see more tit on some girl in a bikini on a billboard selling whatever (which i also don't object to) than you ever do on a nursing mom. the health benefits of breastfeeding are too numerous to get into here, this is not the audience that would appreciate them ... but i will mention one that is relevant. the breastfed child has an IQ 5 to 12 points higher (depending on the study) than a bottle fed child. since breastmilk is what babies are meant to be eating, you could say formula lowers a child's IQ by 5 to 12 points. would anyone feed their baby a jar of baby food that states on its label "this will permanently lower your child's intelligence"? people should be happy that women are breastfeeding because it is collectively raising your nation's intelligence (which judging from who you elect you sorely need) nowhere else on earth is a nation so sex obsessed and sex phobic at the same time. i am shocked to see this discussion in 'the stranger' of all places. i expected better from the readers ... dan, i know you said you were trolling for comments and you got me hook, line and sinker. you've said previously in your column that the last election made you want to move to canada and we'd love to have you ... you're one of our kind. but, i'm sorry to have to say, please stay ... your people still need you.

These posts... they're going to make me cry! I guess I should've posted this in Mudede's thread.

They are just tits.
They are multi-purpose and frankly if you are scared/freaked out by the sight of a stray breast you need to seek some kind of professional help.
It is the sort of attitude that the American taliban would jump on board with. Because you know that women are evil temptresses.

Dan, if someone told you that you and Terry shouldn't hold hands in public because they thought it was "icky," you'd lose your mind. In all other cases, you believe that people have a right to decide what they do with their bodies (abortion, Plan B, holding hands in public, etc.) Why not in this (biologically-determined!) case?

Let 'em nurse in public. The babies will be be quieter. Plus who really cares if a boob is exposed? I've seen so many by this point in my life that the idea of seeing another one - even in public - is something of a non-event for me. Just try not to squirt me in the fact while feeding your "Mini Me".

I have absolutely, positively no idea why showing a woman's nipples are so taboo in this country. And I'm a gay man so it's not like I have any bias. But God forbid a woman might use her breasts for what they were meant for. Even if she "flops out a titty," how is that any more offensive than if a man does so (especially if the man's are bigger)?

yum, yum milkie!

looking good...

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