Who and why are nursing mothers annoying
Man among people
It seems that nothing causes such fierce disputes in social networks, like the question “How do you feel about mothers who breastfeed in public?” Users attribute to opponents in turn either cruelty, then a craving for exhibitionism, then increased bashfulness, then reduced social responsibility. Why is breastfeeding still confusing us, despite the fact that we have been doing this for centuries?
Breast plus, minus chest
Throughout the history of mankind, at least the part of the history documented by written sources has shown that women’s breasts have been perceived alternately as “bad” or “good”.
“When breasts were deemed“ good, ”the emphasis was on feeding the babies or, allegorically, a religious or political community. So it was five thousand years ago, when in many Western and Middle Eastern cultures people worshiped female idols, ”writes historian Marilyn Yalom in the book“ History of the Breast ”1.
“Bad” – sinful, dirty – became when the focus of attention shifted to the sexual aspect. “When the concept of“ bad ”breasts dominated, it became an instrument of temptation and even aggression,” the author explains.
It is worth considering that such judgments were not made by the women themselves, but by men: poets and doctors, politicians and clergy. Researchers know very little evidence of how women related to the part of the body that actually belongs to them.
“In the past, feeding and sensuality were considered the antithesis … In the Renaissance, the institution of nurses appeared, and the breasts of the upper classes were intended only for sex, and the breasts of the lower classes were intended for breastfeeding,” says Marilyn Yalom. What is happening today?
Today, we still receive conflicting messages about why we really have breasts. On the one hand, psychologists and pediatricians are not tired of recalling that breastfeeding is extremely important for both the baby and mother. In addition to the benefits of the substances that milk contains, natural feeding helps establish a safe attachment between mother and baby. Physical contact, which is accompanied by natural feeding on demand, positively affects the rate of emotional development of the child.
On the other hand, ads and media continue to exploit exciting, sexually explicit female images – and of course, special attention is paid to the breasts. Fashion and beauty industries produce a huge number of tools and devices that are designed to improve the appearance and condition of this part of the body. Cosmetic care, plastic and other “embellishments” of the breast are sometimes charged to a woman.
It turns out that in our time this part of the body is still located between two fires. And the requirements for it are still contradictory. Let’s try to figure out what to do about it.
During the Renaissance, in France there was a special kind of poem called “blazon”. It was a detailed laudatory description of parts of the female body. Here you have comparisons with apples, alabaster hue, smoothness and perfect size.
In contrast to this type of poem, there was another one in which the same parts of the female body were described roughly, physiologically. “Chest is just skin. Sluggish breasts, breasts like a rag, ”wrote the poet Clement Maro. It is surprisingly similar to the turns that are used in their speech by those who are terribly shocked by the appearance of nursing, right? “Cyanotic veins”, “saggy skin” and “terrible swollen nipples” from social networks would have found a place in the work of the poet of the Renaissance.
Where do such reactions come from? “Breast anti-praise has given men the opportunity to express through their breasts, hips, knees, feet, stomach, heart and genitals their own subconscious anxiety due to the fact that all people are mortal. It’s better to verbally dismember and make fun of the female body than to study the anatomy of our own ugliness and physical wilting, ”explains Marilyn Yalom.
Not only men are afraid of withering and death, hence the many comments that leave “happy wives and mothers”, which, in theory, should support other women. So maybe we just want to ignore the frightening story? Not to see what reminds of life cycles, that someone comes and someone leaves? Forget that our body is fragile and imperfect?
Rules are changing
“Can a woman breastfeed in public? Previously, say, 20-30 years ago, a social contract stated: this process should take place behind closed doors, away from prying eyes and closer to the hearth. However, the rules are now being revised. Nowadays, more and more women do not consider the home to be the only place where they would like to be realized, ”says body-oriented therapist and sexologist Ekaterina Antropova.
Those who resent the presence of women with infants in public places forget that mothers with children are also part of society. And they have exactly the same rights as any of us. Isolation within the apartment, interrupted only by visiting the children’s clinic, store and playground, can affect the mental state of a woman not in the best way.
“Often, young mothers feel dropped out of the cage. Their life before childbirth was very busy, and now it has a lot of routine. And then they take the child with them and go back to the big world – go to exhibitions and lectures, walk with friends, meet relatives in a cafe, ”the therapist explains. Naturally, the infant cannot temporarily “turn off” its needs.
“The baby has been around all this time, and you need to feed him often,” recalls Ekaterina Antropova. – The rooms of mother and child are not everywhere. A dilemma arises before mom: to feed the baby here or rush home through traffic jams to do it alone? Naturally, more and more women are choosing the first option and are being attacked for it. It seems to me that these attacks are unfair: more and more modern women do not want to lock themselves in the four walls, raising a baby, and have every right to do so. ”
The meeting of two realities
“The ability to feed and the ability to stimulate are still competing with each other, determining the fate of a woman,” writes Marilyn Yalom. And even if a baby is attached to our breasts, this struggle does not stop. At least not for everyone.
“Some proponents of feeding in public places are convinced that breastfeeding, if fed, is not considered a sexual object. In the subjective reality of a nursing mother, this is most likely the case. Especially if after birth she feels a decline in interest in sex in general, ”explains Ekaterina Antropova. But for other people, the breast of a nursing woman can be an erotic object, and the child at the chest does not cancel this fact.
“Having a baby is an undeniable sign of fertility, and it is directly related to sexuality,” the expert said. Some mothers who feed in public lose sight of this moment. They want others to be sensitive to their situation and feelings, but they don’t think that involuntary witnesses of the “naked breakfast” also have experiences that should be treated delicately.
“Those around them, perforce, receive a certain erotic signal that they must somehow deal with – for example, to experience excitement or suppress it. Someone realizes what exactly happens to him. And someone remains at the unconscious level, replacing his excitement, for example, with irritation – this, by the way, is a common case, ”says Ekaterina Antropova.
So it would be nice to first of all ask myself: “Why am I so ashamed or displeased if I see a woman with a baby near her chest? What exactly am I experiencing now? ” In any case, rude remarks should be kept with you.
Proponents of natural feeding sometimes hold campaigns: women get together and feed their children in parks, shopping centers, and cafes. The main goal of such meetings is to support each other, to talk about their experience in a friendly atmosphere. But the popularization of breastfeeding, the desire to give the image of a lactating woman the status of a habitual, rather than “indecent,” also play an important role.
Often photos of these meetings cause a storm of indignation in social networks. “There are women who turn feeding into an outrageous act. Shocking is a deliberate provocation, shocking behavior, contrary to the norms accepted in society. In this case, shocking is intended to tell society that its attitude towards young mothers and their needs is outdated and needs to be changed, ”explains Ekaterina Antropova.
“In my opinion, it really is: outdated and in need,” she says. – But the provocation, in my opinion, in this case plays against young mothers. Shocking behavior (and this is how feeding is perceived for show, without special clothes) causes aggression – and this is a natural reaction. People read the following message: “I do not care about you, I will ignore your rules and act as it suits me,” and this causes an internal protest. “
When the social paradigm changes, these changes are often accompanied by shocks. The actions of suffragists in the late XIX – early XX centuries were shocking, but largely thanks to the actions of these ladies today women can participate in elections, work, get divorced. But then the opponents wrote about them angry libel, the police arrested, family members could refuse rebellious relatives. Fortunately, it is unlikely that relatives will stop communicating with women today if they publicly do what they have been doing for centuries, that is, without shame, breastfeeding.
To regulate the most serious disputes and misconduct, we have a criminal code. But there is no article for public feeding in it and never has been. So can we dictate to an adult capable person what he can do and what he can not, if it is not about an offense? And at the same time – can we dictate to another how he should feel?
The admissibility of breastfeeding in public is not only a matter of culture, but also of tradition. But they still tend to transform taking into account the realities of our time. And, it seems, we just witnessed the notorious “era of change.” So both sides will have to agree. And this dialogue will not be easy.
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