For the past several months actress Alyssa Milano has been the celebrity 'voice' of normalizing breastfeeding. Honestly, I find her so annoying and I think she's an attention grabber. Ok, you breastfeed your baby and you take pictures of it so that people can see that you breastfeed in public... Anyway, this whole public breastfeeding cause has been on the rise in the last few years. Women are tired of not being able to nourish their babies while out in a packed shopping mall without getting scoffs and disgusted stares. I'll be honest, I wasn't on board to this cause initially, and while I'm still not totally in support of it, I know that it's an important thing, but it will never be normalized and here's why...
I was reading an article about how Milano posted a picture of her breastfeeding while getting her makeup done. I scrolled down to the comments section of the article, just to get a feel of what other people thought. Like me some people believe she only wants attention but most people were giving her kudos for displaying herself as she was. Her breast was completely uncovered and the only thing we couldn't see was her nipple because it was in the baby's mouth. Although there were many comments supporting her and praising her, there were even more comments that were really disturbing.
One person said "Thanks Alyssa for giving me something to whack off to tonight" another said "I have always dreamed of seeing her like this, I'm posting this on my wall. Thank God for breastfeeding" and there were other variations of the same statement. It disturbed me because even though she had a baby girl attached to her breast, her body was still being objectified and viewed in a sexual nature instead of a maternal nature. This really bothered me because it's just gross to think of some guy gaining some sexual pleasure from a woman with a baby at her breast. In my opinion, as long as woman's body is objectified breast feeding will never be normalized.
One argument is that at one time in history, women were allowed to breastfeed with little to no stigma. In modern tribal cultures, women breastfeed in public and even walk around with their breasts uncovered (National Geographic anyone?). In past cultures and in tribal cultures breasts were/are not viewed as sexual objects. In many modern developed, non-tribal cultures, breasts are a symbol of sex and pleasure not maternity and motherhood. The issues people have with breastfeeding directly stems from the fact that a woman's body is considered an object. Alyssa Milano has used this to her advantage for a large part of a career but now she wants public breastfeeding to be normalized? I understand that people change and evolve especially after starting a family so I won't even count that against her. What I'm saying is that you have to start at the foundation in order to build a house.
We still live in a rape culture, where men think that women don't understand what they want and that women are temptresses who want men to force them into sex. I think there are so many things that need to be tackled before normalizing public breastfeeding. Personally, I don't care if a woman decides to breastfeed in public, it's her body and her baby...But is it safe? I believe that there should be more accommodations for breastfeeding women in public places, such as private, clean rooms that are designated for feeding. Does breastfeeding need to be public? I don't think so, but there should be more accommodations for it. Breastfeeding is for the purpose of nourishing your baby, does it matter if everyone sees or not?
It's a very hard thing to tackle because the objectification of the female body (and the rape culture) has ties to many things even religion. Anything is possible, but I don't believe you're going to encourage the masses to join the cause by posting pictures on social media and by not dealing with the root of the problem first.