If I spend five minutes on facebook these days I'll usually come across a thread about breastfeeding. The comments on these threads are boringly predictable ranging from support of those who breastfeed, to suggesting that it's all good but woman should cover up, feed in the toilet, only breastfeed at home, are breastfeeding for attention and all the way down to the trolls who call woman who breastfeed dirty sluts. I tend to think anyone who takes the time to call someone they don't know a dirty slut probably isn't doing it because she's breastfeeding, he's doing it because she's a woman so that can be discounted.
One view that crops up with quite a regularity is the idea that woman breastfeeding is OK because it's wholesome and good and besides breastfeeders show off less flesh than your typical young woman out on the town of an evening, dressed up like a whore, which is frankly more offensive to my delicate sensibilities than angelic me feeding my child.
I used to let this point of view wash over me, didn't really think about it much and after all, it is such a prevalent opinion if you spend any time on parent's forums that it kind of seemed like the norm. Recently however it has really got my goat. Why is it that women are so keen to judge each other? There is really no need to defend your decision to breastfeed so why is it that woman so frequently do try to defend it by pointing at another woman and saying "I'm not a slut, she's a slut, look at her"? Given the quantity of men willing to call woman sluts and whores on a public forum why do other woman feel the need to stick the boot in too?
What this boils down to it woman's choice and the society we live in that blames woman's choices for what happens to them.
Women have the right to breastfeed or not, to wear clothes that cover them head to toe or cover very little, they have the right to work in the sex industry or anywhere else that takes their fancy and no one has the right to dictate to them what they should or shouldn't do. It would be nice to see woman treating each other with a little respect and that could start with a little thing like not saying "I'm not being offensive, she is, that's offensive, not me". Come on, up the sisterhood!
When it comes to breastfeeding itself, it is another one of those areas (like sleep) where my god parents go off on one! Again, I suspect a lot of it is to justify our own choices (which we shouldn't need to) but the constant grinching over breastfed or bottlefed is getting a little tired. I will be the first person to hold her hands up and say I am massively pro breastfeeding. Anyone who knows me or has read this blog probably knows that. I was determined to breastfeed and I think I would have felt like a failure had I not. Meanderingdaughter1 fed for about 16 months and Meanderingdaughter2 is still going strong at 10 months. I am proud of this and I would always encourage women to breastfeed. However I don't think women should be forced into it. They shouldn't be made to feel like failures if they stop or like the devil incarnate if they decide not to do it at all. They shouldn't be made to feel like attention seekers if they breastfeed in public or if they breastfeed over a certain age. They shouldn't be abused if they are bottle feeding or told they are damaging their child.
The only things, in my mind, that are wrong with feeding your child is if you want to feed in a certain way and feel that you can't due to pressure or lack of proper support. This should always be about the choice of the mother and society has no place to blame or shame women for what they choose to do.