The town of Springfield, Missouri has outlawed mothers nursing children over a year old in order to make their town more “tourist friendly.” The website AllGov explains the new ordinance:
Councilmembers adopted a new law in September making it a crime to show “the female breast below a point immediately above the top of the areola, for the purpose of sexual arousal or gratification or which is likely to cause affront or alarm.” They said they changed the law because Springfield is “a ‘family friendly’ tourist spot, and the breasts of women undermine this mission.” Springfield is an hour away from the folksy tourist town Branson in the Missouri Ozarks.
Protests from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and a radical feminist group called “Free the Nipple” erupted. The latter group is found nationwide and aims to make it legal for women to bare their nipples in public, as it already is for men. In places where this is already legal, women prance around topless in order to call attention to the law, applauding their warped sense of equality.
Unfortunately for nursing mothers, these activists have taken the mantle of fighting to protect women’s rights to breastfeed in public upon themselves.
To be clear, nursing mothers do not have any desire to “pull out their mommy sacs” in public (as one “conservative” told me yesterday on Twitter when I posted about the issue). Nursing mothers, unlike these activists, are not exhibitionists. By-and-large, mothers feel no burning desire to expose themselves, nor do they. Most who nurse in public do so discreetly, either with a nursing cover or with strategically placed clothing.
My children do not enjoy eating under a sheet with no air circulation (who would?) so I leave the house wearing two shirts; when I need to nurse one goes up, one stays down, and nothing is exposed. Most don’t even know I’m nursing. This is a photo of me nursing while meeting Leah Remini at a book signing earlier this week. Even in this picture, she didn’t know I was nursing my baby while posing for a photo. I didn’t do this to make a statement about breastfeeding; I just wanted to get my book signed while keeping my son happy, fed and quiet.
For any readers still demanding mothers hide in closets in order to feed their children, I direct you to Honest Toddler’s mother on the issue with the funniest piece on nursing in public I’ve ever read. Nursing mothers show less skin than most women on billboards. That’s by design; almost no breastfeeding mothers use feeding their children as an opportunity to expose themselves.
For Free the Nipple activists, the objective is convincing Americans that men and women are the same; that their nipples are no different. Fortunately for mothers and babies, that is simply not the case. Women’s bodies are different, and more capable, than men’s. Women are able to feed their children with their own bodies after bringing them into the world. In order to leave the house, women need to be able to breastfeed safely and comfortably anywhere they go with their babies.
For these radical feminists, the end-goal of this prancing around naked is total gender equality, even when none exists biologically. For mothers discreetly nursing their babies in public, the goal is simply to feed their children while living their lives.
One of the arguments against nursing in public is that mothers of infants are (inexplicably) labeled as exhibitionists. Free the Nipple activists actually are. When they hijack an issue totally unrelated to their cause (feeding babies), they risk mothers being painted with the same exhibitionist brush. In reality the two kinds of women couldn’t be more different.