Sunday, August 06, 2006
What Are You Looking At?
According to at least 5000 readers of BabyTalk Magazine, the picture above is offensive, disgusting, horrifying and gross. I just don't get it. With a little effort I could get offended by the isolation of the mother's breast, reducing her to her food-dispensing function (by analogy to commercial photos of women with their heads cropped out), but I can't imagine that is what bothers a quarter of Babytalk's readers about this cover.
I nursed each of my two children for about six months, despite returning to work within a month of each birth. I'm sure it was very good for my children, and it was generally good for me, too, but it would have been much better if I could have nursed in public without feeling obliged to hide what I was doing. Two months before I gave birth, my physical mothering seemed to be a completely public business, inviting strangers to instruct me, comment, and even pat my belly. Two months after I gave birth, physical mothering had become something indecent, like urinating in public. I recall one hot summer day when, infant strapped to my chest, I toured a local art museum with visiting family. Now that museum must have had a dozen representations on its walls of women nursing their children, but could I be left in peace to do the same on a bench in a gallery? Not a chance.
I'm usually pretty good at working out how a particular piece of irrational custom figures into the grand patriarcho-capitalist plot, but I confess that this one defeats me. What is disgusting about nursing?
Thanks to Alas, A Blog
Posted by KC at 11:51 AM