Fear the Baby, Not the Breast

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
June 22 2010 4:33 PM

Fear the Baby, Not the Breast

/blogs/xx_factor/2010/06/22/kim_kardashians_tweet_about_breastfeeding_wasnt_about_sexy_breasts/jcr:content/body/slate_image

Sarah-in your post on Kim Kardashian's angry tweet about a fellow restaurant-goer who breast-fed her baby at the table (and then changed its diaper!), you write: "Kardashian appears to have little problem flashing her goods for the world to see, but when breasts are attached to babies, they somehow become repulsive."

I think there's something to that: Maybe it's not simply the breast that's weird, but the baby . I know, I know, I love infants, too, when they're smiling and yawning and biting their siblings . But if I get uncomfortable around a woman breast-feeding in public, it's less about seeing her nipples than it is about watching the baby go to town on said nipples. For a woman who has never been pregnant or nursed a baby, the whole process seems a little alien and uncanny-like sex before you've had it, or a period before you've gotten yours. (Isn't there some feminist critic who's written about this? Help me out, readers.) We're in a moment where breast-feeding is shifting from something done in private-like sex and menstruation-to something increasingly being done in public. So I'm not surprised that it's still seen as "gross" by some, because they're so used to it being a hidden, or at least intimate, practice.

I certainly think women should be able to nurse their babies in public without being harassed. (Though, like commenter Shylo , I think doing so in a crowded store aisle is, at the very least, inconsiderate.) But I don't think people's discomfort with it is purely about "sexualizing" the female body.

Advertisement

Photograph by Jaimie Reina/AFP.

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Smash and Grab

Will competitive Senate contests in Kansas and South Dakota lead to more late-breaking races in future elections?

Stop Panicking. America Is Now in Very Good Shape to Respond to the Ebola Crisis.

The 2014 Kansas City Royals Show the Value of Building a Mediocre Baseball Team

The GOP Won’t Win Any Black Votes With Its New “Willie Horton” Ad

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

Technocracy

Forget Oculus Rift

This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual reality experience.

One of Putin’s Favorite Oligarchs Wants to Start an Orthodox Christian Fox News

These Companies in Japan Are More Than 1,000 Years Old

Trending News Channel
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 20 2014 8:14 PM You Should Be Optimistic About Ebola Don’t panic. Here are all the signs that the U.S. is containing the disease.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 20 2014 7:23 PM Chipotle’s Magical Burrito Empire Keeps Growing, Might Be Slowing
  Life
Outward
Oct. 20 2014 3:16 PM The Catholic Church Is Changing, and Celibate Gays Are Leading the Way
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 20 2014 6:17 PM I Am 25. I Don't Work at Facebook. My Doctors Want Me to Freeze My Eggs.
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Oct. 20 2014 7:15 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 9 A spoiler-filled discussion of "Flatline."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 20 2014 9:13 PM The Smart, Talented, and Utterly Hilarious Leslie Jones Is SNL’s Newest Cast Member
  Technology
Technocracy
Oct. 20 2014 11:36 PM Forget Oculus Rift This $25 cardboard box turns your phone into an incredibly fun virtual-reality experience.
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Oct. 20 2014 11:46 AM Is Anybody Watching My Do-Gooding? The difference between being a hero and being an altruist.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.