The Prude Brigade must be very sad indeed this month. I’m a bit late to the game on this one, but Pope Francis recently told mothers in the Sistine Chapel that they should go ahead and breastfeed in public, even in holy spaces.
“If they are hungry, mothers, let them eat, no worries, because here, they are the main focus.”
In an event weeks earlier, he instructed a mother to go ahead and feed her wailing baby rather than feel immodest.
“She was shy and didn’t want to breastfeed in public, while the Pope was passing,” he continued. “I wish to say the same to humanity: Give people something to eat! That woman had milk to give to her child; we have enough food in the world to feed everyone.”
Of course, the comments are pathetic because people are so used to thinking of breasts as the Magical Sex Orbs of Adult Fantasies. In reality, breasts are primarily lunch spigots and only secondarily sex organs. One commenter using the name “stephen(CLT)” complains that a breastfeeding woman is a “distraction.” Really? More so than a screaming baby?
It’s odd, isn’t it? I mean, I do get the discomfort. We’re all trained from early on to think of breasts as something we shouldn’t be seeing in public… except we do. In a sexual, air-brushed, marketing sort of context, barely covered breasts are everywhere. So why do they make us uncomfortable when we see them in a breastfeeding context? Because they seem utilitarian instead of decorative? Or is it that they often look a bit more saggy when they’re not in a bikini or lingerie with cups? Or is it that they excite some people, and it feels weird to be excited by something a baby is currently lunching on?
Men run around bare-chested, and that’s okay. Why? Naked male upper bodies are pretty exciting to lots of people. And some of them are pretty saggy. What’s the difference?
Seriously, what is this weird discomfort so many people – of all orientations – seem to feel about breastfeeding in public?