Question of the Week: When, If Ever, Is Nursing in Public Too In-Your-Face?

After a woman was recently asked to move to the changing rooms at a Texas Target to nurse her child, she and other breastfeeding advocates organized a national nurse-in at Target stores across the country last week on December 28th. A writer-friend of ours, Amy Keyishian, went to her local store and took a, shall we say, spirited picture of herself nursing her kid (above), which caused quite a, shall we say, stir. Her writer friend, Marjorie Ingall, jumped to her defense in what we would call a spot-on analysis of why so many people freak out whenever a boob gets whipped out in public to feed a baby. So, what do you think? Should nursing be a private thing between mother and child? Is public breastfeeding okay, so long as it’s not in-your-face (i.e. not at a restaurant without a boob-burka or, say, while pushing your kid in a Target cart)? Or do we as a society need to accept the fact that breasts aren’t just sexual objects to be ogled by men and all chill the fuck out?


  1. Seriously? This is such a classless way to make a ‘statement’. Breastfeeding is perfectly normal and healthy, but being an exhibitionist about is is not. It’s not all about you, the mother with the hungry kid…have some respect for the people around you. Not everyone wants to see your milk engorged breasts displayed in public. if a non-lactating woman did it, it would be called ‘indecent exposure’ and she’d be on her way to jail in handcuffs. Yes folks, there are laws in most places regarding brandishing bare breasts. Personally, this is a private thing that should be kept private.

  2. Have you ever seen a woman breastfeeding? In those instances I have there wasn’t any milk to see and not a lot of milk too, because there was a baby’s head in the way.

  3. I’m just going to say that I don’t want to watch liquid come from any orifice of the body, whether it be urine, spit, or, yes, even milk. My objection to public breast feeding has nothing to do with viewing breasts as a sexual object, rather there are some bodily functions that should be performed in private.

  4. The only time I believe it is inappropriate to feed your kid is in venues that do not allow eating such as a live concert. I was once at a concert with a classical Violinist when a two or three year old kid began screaming the mom decide her kid was hunger and tried to shove her nipple in his mouth but he kept screaming and she had her tit flinging around slapping the kid in the face.
    Instead of removing herself and the kid to the lobby she continued to try and feed him at the seat. The establishment had clear rules about eating in the theater. So I guess I have a problem when Moms use breast feeding as some sort of license to disrupt the public and hide behind the milk delivery system. if your kid is crying during what is the most tender and beautiful piece of music please get up and take your boobies and the baby to the lobby.

  5. ‘it’s understandable that babies’ urges are much more immediate than ours. I’m much more grossed out by a person who eats fast food on the train.’

    I agree.

    Women should not be forced into toilets when they need to feed in public (often the only option for total privacy)- would you eat your dinner in a toilet?

    However, I will say that provocative images like the one above don’t help the argument that we should all chill out about this. If a mother needs to feed her baby whilst out shopping, it makes much more sense to find somewhere to sit down.

    In an ideal world, everyone would understand that boobs are for feeding babies, and not be offended, or grossed out, or whatever if a woman accidentally exposes a bit of boob when putting her child on the breast. She is just feeding her baby. You wouldn’t expect a bottle-feeding mother not to feed in public would you? There should be no difference.

    Btw Em and Lo, you forgot to mention that under the Equality Act 2010, in the UK, it is now illegal for anyone to ask a breastfeeding woman to stop feeding in public. So, much as the debate might continue over here, there isn’t much anyone can do if they don’t like it.

  6. That picture is gold.

    I have no problem with public breast feeding per se. If she doesn’t care that I can see, I don’t care that she’s breastfeeding. Also, it’s understandable that babies’ urges are much more immediate than ours. I’m much more grossed out by a person who eats fast food on the train.

    However, I can’t help but wonder if they’re the same type of person. If the baby’s screaming, obviously you give it the tit. Or if you’re posing for a hilarious picture. But seriously, how often does that NEED to happen? Not usually, I’ll bet. Some people – assholes, I call them – sort of get off on the dirty looks they get for publicly questionable behavior. Eating McDonald’s on the train. Holding up the deli line. Loudly demanding to talk to managers.

    So, case by case, I guess…

  7. Having kids will definitely change your mind on this. If a woman wants to feed her kid anytime anywhere I have no problem with that. You can always look away, but it’s much more difficult to not hear a hungry screaming baby. The purpose of breasts is to feed a baby, not sexual.

  8. I, as a woman in my early 20s, plan on breastfeeding my children. But it will be done in privacy or with a nice cover over the child and myself.

    What is the point of whipping out your breast to feed your child while shopping or doing anything else? It’s always seemed a little attention seeking to me. For $1 you can get a yard of fabric from Wal-Mart and drape it over yourself and the baby.

    Can you not take half an hour of your day to sit down somewhere half way quiet and cuddle with your child instead of doing it on the go or in a rush?

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