|Copyright 2014. Don't steal it. I'll cut you.|
But not everyone is comfortable being outspoken. Not everyone wants to post 100 memes in support of breastfeeding each day. There are many mothers who nurse in public who have zero desire to attend a nurse in. There are plenty of breastfeeders who don't want to write about it, talk about it at length, wear lactivist t-shirts, or put pro-breastfeeding bumper stickers on their car. Are they any less valuable? Is their input worthless?
There are some out there who would actually say, "yes." If you've been around long enough, you may have noticed that. There are folks out there who believe if you are not promoting and attending nurse-ins, passing around every fired up pro-breastfeeding blog post, creating and sharing memes, and wearing a pre-shrunk, nursing accessible, 100% organic cotton t-shirt declaring your lactivism, you are not doing enough. They believe we must all be in the face of opposition, beating our chests and chanting. It's as if we must always have the mindset that we are at war. Arm your tits and roar!!!
There's no doubt that the chest beating and chanting is effective. I'm one of those people, for the most part. I do not, however, blindly follow the crowd. I do not support every single nurse-in just because. I question if it's needed. Did the company show remorse? Did they show they are willing to accomodate breastfeeding mothers without harrassment? Yes? No need for a nurse-in. If you decide to do one anyway, I will not lend my support. I will not speak against it, but I will not promote it, either. That point alone caused someone to tell me that I set the entire Civil Rights Movement back. Yeah, little old me. Who knew I had so much power? I completely changed the course of history - Quantum Leap style - because I refused to promote a particular nurse-in (Applebees). That sort of hyperbole gets us nowhere. And guess what? I think comparing the plight of American mothers who nurse in public to those who marched for Civil Rights in the 1960's is pure bunk. Yeah, I said it. I wholeheartedly believe that we need to keep educating people, supporting one another, and making sure we don't get harrassed for nursing in public. I do not, however, equate our movement with the Civil Rights Movement. I have seen comparisons of mothers who nurse in public with African Americans who marched in the 1960's. While I appreciate the general sentiment, the idea doesn't sit well with me. Last I checked, none of us have been hosed down in the street, set on fire, bombed out of our churches, or murdered. No one has set a burning Hygeia pump on fire on my lawn. While I vocally and loudly support the right of a mother to nurse her baby in public, covered or uncovered, and I think it's insane that we even have to argue it in America in 2014, I do not for one moment equate myself with Rosa Parks. Does that opinion ruffle some feathers? It sure does. That's fine. Disagree with me if you must. However, don't even pretend that my opinion sets breastfeeding back or that I'm not doing anything to support breastfeeding mothers and their families because that just makes you a foolish. I was born into this. No really - my mother worked in maternity for over 30 years and was a lactation consultant. I grew up around this and have been actively supporting breastfeeding mothers and their babies since I was in high school (my first foray into breastfeeding counselling was with teen moms at my school). It would take me a long time to list all the ways I have helped families and list all the names of the mothers who had my help with breastfeeding, so there is no room to say I don't do anything for the cause. I have also breastfeed my own children...and in public.
Do you have to be overtly vocal to support breastfeeding? No. The mother who breastfeeds is doing a lot to support breastfeeding. The mother who quietly leaves the Enfamil bag filled with samples behind in her hospital room when she checks out post birth is making a statement. The person who sends a link to KellyMom or La Leche League to a pregnant friend is making a statement. The mother who quietly sits on a bench in a public location and nurses here baby publicly, covered or uncovered, is making a statement. The mother who sits in her living room after the kids have gone to bed, sipping her iced coffee and watching Real Housewives, while stuffing envelopes for her local chapter of La Leche League is making a statement. The dad who holds his wife's purse while she walks around the grocery store, nursing babe in a Moby, is making a statement. The waitress who see a mother nursing her toddler in the corner booth of the diner and asks her if she'd like a glass of water is making a statement. None of these things are overtly vocal. None of them make it onto a bloody battleground. But these folks are just as important as those who are a lot louder. Though their voices are quieter, their message is still as strong.
Moving forward will always require those who are willing stand in the spotlight and those who are holding the spotlight. It requires cooperation between the people who want to speak firmly and those who quietly nod in agreement from behind their computer screen. It's not a battle over who is more oppressed or who fights harder. If those who are beating their chest are unwilling to see the value in those who are quietly supportive, then they have already lost ground. You don't need to write 1,000 blog posts screaming that you'll never ever cover your baby and that you'll cut a bitch for suggesting it or attend a dozen nurse ins. Nurse your baby if you can. Support other families who breastfeed. You'll make a difference.