Public Breastfeeding and Desexualising the Debate

Youtube star, Jay Salads recently posted a social experiment video that sought to highlight the duality between the use of breasts as sexual objects vs. their intended use; to sustain an infant.

This issue has been highlighted more frequently recently with Trollstation posting a video that went viral. An actress, Amina, can be seen being abused on the London Tube. A man (also an actor) aggressively harassed her for ‘exposing herself’. The experiment sought to understand how the public would react. Fortunately, other commuters were quick to defend Amina, arguing that she has the right to feed her child despite his objections. But do these social experiments raise more questions than they answer?

At what point did breasts stop being recognised as the natural source of food they are? Are breasts only acceptable as sexualised objects for male pleasure? Arguably, the media and the beauty industry have succeeded in objectifying women’s bodies, but at what point did common sense disappear from the debate? Why is what men deem appropriate still the measure for acceptable female behaviour?

Chantel Molnar writes for Huffington Post about this duality. “We don't seem to have any problem with the duality of our mouths, which can be for sex and for eating. We do not make people cover their heads with a blanket when they are eating in public simply because the mouth is frequently used sexually.”

A forum on Medical News Today sought to give equal weight to both sides of the debate. While one user stated that breastfeeding publicly is “natural and healthy,” another likened it to women urinating and defecating in the street.

Molnar asks, where do we make room in society for mother-work? Economically speaking, the role of breastfeeding threatens a mother’s role as an active market consumer. This places her at the mercy of big pharma-culture with the purchase of expensive, synthetic formula. Where, breastfeeding wholly empowers the mother, turning her from purchaser of goods to the sole producer of the food that sustains her baby.

WABA – the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action suggests that society as a whole simply fails to acknowledge a complete definition of women’s work which would successfully integrate the full productive capabilities and activities of women, including breastfeeding.

Perhaps, a fully integrated economic definition of the role that women play in the production of humans, would desexualise the debate once and for all.

 
  Haylee Read - CONTRIBUTOR

Haylee Read - CONTRIBUTOR