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Lauredhel is an Australian woman and mother with a disability. She blogs about disability and accessibility, social and reproductive justice, gender, freedom from violence, the uses and misuses of language, medical science, otters, gardening, and cooking.

This author has written 1598 posts for Hoyden About Town. Read more about Lauredhel »

58 responses to “Antibreastfeeding Bingo”

  1. Aphie

    Hah. That final point makes me giggle a bit. My girlfriend’s pregnant with her first child and she plans on feeding at University…. by taking her newborn with her to lectures with her. :p

  2. Rachel

    Mind if I add this to my Bingo collection? It’ll get it up to 23 :)

  3. Deborah

    Brilliant! Also…

    “There’s a mothers’ room in David Jones / Myer / [insert appropriate shop name here] that you can use for that.”

  4. Legal Eagle

    Deborah, the last one gives me the absolute pip. Why should I have to sit behind a curtain in a mother’s room? The craziest thing I ever heard of on this topic was the uproar which resulted when a US parenting magazine featured a photo of a mother breastfeeding on the cover.

    Luckily, no one has ever been rude to my face when I breastfed in public (even when I breastfed my daughter in the Melbourne Club!) My son is now 3 months old, and coos and smiles at me to tell me how much he loves his mummy’s milk. I’d forgotten how adorable that is.

  5. MomTFH

    Oh, that has to be one of the beautiful things I have ever seen. In a sad, sad way. Brilliant.

    PS Thanks for the link love. I was inspired by greatness.

    MomTFH’s last blog post..Email and reply

  6. Antibreastfeeding Bingo « Mom’s Tinfoil Hat

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  7. More Parenting and Breastfeeding Bingo | PhD in Parenting

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  8. Jill

    I love the Bingo craze.

    I’m always intrigued by the “old enough to ask for it” line. Newborns ask for milk and there’s a language unique to each mother-baby dyad. From rooting to a specific grunt or squawk to a tug on the shirt, infants ask for milk non-verbally.

    Off to go abuse my baby with my breasts now…

  9. SunlessNick

    This one bemuses me the most:

    That’s unhygienic. We could get a disease.

    How? HOW?

  10. Ruth Moss

    Just brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

    Love the free space “whipped it out” or “wapped it out” as they say here!

  11. Rozasharn

    I bet I can explain the ‘old enough to ask for it’ line.

    This is based in the idea that breasts are always sexual. People who say that line are giving you a pass for the first few months, because if the baby’s too young to talk then your !!sexual display of your breasts! !effectively cheating on your man!! isn’t on the record and doesn’t really count. But they figure if your child is old enough to talk in words then he could *talk to other people about your breasts* which would be just the same as locker-room bragging about sex.

  12. Xtinian Thoughts » Blog Archive » “…whipped it out…”

    [...] Breastfeeding Bingo [...]

  13. Mary

    Rozasharn: or they are ascribing sexual motives to the child directly. I doubt many people are willing to flat out say that they think a child is wanting to breastfeed for sexual reasons (although I could be wrong, they’re more than willing to say it about the mother) but I suspect the feeling goes that the child can ask for access to breasts like a sexual partner could… he or she must at some level want said access for the same reasons, since the sexual use of breasts is obviously primary to others!

    Then add people who believe that everyone else will think that.

  14. Deborah

    I’m thinking maybe I should change “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in the toilet?” to “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in the [insert variable here]?”

    No… the ‘toilet’ line so common, and so very wrong.

    And I’m thinking this – “There’s a mothers’ room in David Jones / Myer / [insert appropriate shop name here] that you can use for that.” – should be changed to:

    “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable in the mothers’ room in David Jones / Myer / [insert appropriate shop name here]”

    You know, in the mode of a concern troll.

  15. Deborah

    But rereading the card again, I see that’s the ‘toilet’ line anyway i.e. “Wouldn’t you be more comfortable….”

    So scotch that last comment from me.

  16. Dave Bath

    Something just popped into my mind while reading this about why some males might make comments, although it might only be a minority (and it certainly doesn’t explain women making offensive comments)

    (1) Babies are cute;
    (2) Helping something cute gives one the “warm and fuzzies”;
    (3) Being PRECLUDED by nature from helping something cute in the nicest possible way is frustrating.
    So maybe:
    there is a subconscious “lactation envy” operating, the male real equivalent of “penis envy” that mythically affects females.

    Hmmm…. if this is one reason, then it might also explain antipathy from older women.

  17. Legal Eagle

    Seriously, I know my husband got really sad that he couldn’t “help” with breastfeeding, and one day tried to bottle feed our daughter while I slept. She hated the bottle, and I woke up engorged, so then he felt even more useless. Still, he’s entirely supportive of breastfeeding in public – I think he just wished he could have done it himself!!!

    My daughter used to call my breasts “boobas”. When she wanted a drink, she’d pull down my top and shout “boobas!” It was a bit embarrassing, but funny too.

  18. tigtog

    @ Lauredhel:

    When was the last time you saw someone randomly “help” a stranger’s baby in public in a way that was precluded by the baby breastfeeding? What were they going to do, run up to it and jam a bottle in its mouth?

    I thought Dave meant that he was precluded by nature from breastfeeding, and that he wished that he weren’t.

  19. Cheryl Baer

    Very accurate… which leaves me unsure as to whether I should laugh or cry.

    Cheryl Baer’s last blog post..Why You SHOULD Nurse In Public

  20. Dave Bath

    tigtog@18 and LE@17
    Yep. Got my (obviously the Explanation Fairy departed) meaning in one. To be more precise, it was about an “I cannot/couldn’t/didn’t/chose-not-to do it so I’m envious of YOU being able to” thing, and that it might be a factor in SOME cases where idiots insult competent and fortunate mothers.

    Dave Bath’s last blog post..Fractally wrong

  21. XtinaS

    “Human milk turns to water after six (9, 12) months.”

    oO  I have never heard of this.  What ignorant *tongue-biting language redacted* came up with this idea?

  22. Helen

    One very damaging trope that was around when I had my kids – in 1991 and 1997 – was that if you did breastfeed, then comping with a bottle would cause your breastmilk to dry up entirely. Yes, there is a relationship between how much the baby takes and how much you make, but it turns out it was not the all or nothing thing that some of the lactation “experts” made it out to be. My son had a hard time learning to suck at first and was going into something of a downward spiral when I finally started comping him – once a day. this turned him around completely and soon he was happily breastfeeding.
    How many people have gone onto total bottle feeding (and hell that was a hassle) because of inaccurate representations of breastfeeding? (And lack of lactation support – apart from him being weighed and tsking noises made, there wasn’t any help on offer.)

  23. Mary

    Re Dave Bath’s hypothesis, I guess I can see a chain of events that goes something like:

    Premise 1: I wish to be helpful to people (or to women in particular, or children in particular)
    Premise 2: breastfeeding is necessary
    Premise 3: breastfeeding is inherently icky/private/embarrassing for a mother
    Conclusion: a woman breastfeeding in public has not been able to find somewhere private herself, and would be relieved to be pointed to a private space

    This does not explain openly hostile tone and so on, but it does remind me of similar experiences I’ve had with receiving technical advice from men (as in, I am assumed to need help far more often than I in fact do need help), so I wouldn’t be surprised if the chain of logic behind some less aggressive anti-breastfeeding acts run this way, particularly for men who are socialised to believe that they are very likely to be better informed than a woman in most situations: a woman not doing something thought to be right must not have known how to, and needs help.

  24. amphibious

    The “water” B/S I have never heard – can anyone really be that ignorant? Check out the last lines of RUTH in the OT.
    I think not, more likely it’s the uptight, body terror types who deodorise, sanitise and scrub the bejasus out of reality.

  25. Luna

    Absolutely hilarious. And brilliant. And sad.

  26. links for 2009-02-23 « Embololalia

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  27. Purrdence
  28. Mindy

    I can’t believe that so many people have lost the use of their necks and can’t just look away.

  29. Fine

    Strange that, isn’t Mindy? If you don’t like to see a woman breastfeeding, don’t look.

  30. amphibious

    In muslim societies, ME & India, though the women may have their FACE covered, nobody bats an eyelid at their breastfeeding openly.
    Funny dat.

  31. Zoe

    Guess what I got today at the daycare centre where we’re doing orientation with Jet: “I think that’s why he’s so clingy!”

    Nah, lady, he’s clingy because it’s his third visit here and he doesn’t know who the hell you are. ;)

    And otherwise lovely carer, but as it happens, leaving …

  32. Jill

    Lauredhel, I do think there is a “lactation envy” at work in these occasions sometimes. So many women don’t breastfeed, because they were told they “can’t” for whatever reason (and of course I’m not talking about the 1% of women who are legitimately medically incapable of breastfeeding), so when they see another mother doing it, they feel a combination of resentment towards themselves and guilt, and then turn that resentment outwards onto the mother. “How dare she make me FEEL BAD by doing what I couldn’t.”

    It sounds crazy but I’ve seen it a thousand times in every aspect of the mommy wars. Any time a mom fails at something and then sees another mom succeeding, the successful mom is obviously trying to subconsciously make the other mom feel guilty. Because that’s the basis of all our parenting decisions, after all: how bad it makes another parent feel for not doing the same thing.

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  34. MomTFH

    That’s why I put that in my Mommy Wars Bingo. I think there is definitely nuance to be had, but I can’t understand why moms who chose not to breastfeed or legitimately cannot breastfeed think that means the entire conversation needs to be censored from ever mentioning it. It is one of many areas in which people are oversensitive about their parenting choices, but I think this is one in which people are way overboard in their reactions.

    I was just involved in a thread on a parenting site that tends to be fairly progressive, and someone mentioned that someone was being cis privileged in their speech. This one poster (who tends to be less enlightened than most of the posters on there) started howling about how she had every right to do that, for the transgendered person to stop whining, and then started comparing it to everyone on the site who told her she was stupid / evil / poisoning her daughter by not breastfeeding. No one on the site did that, at all.

    So, not only do some people freak out every time it’s mentioned, some people even freak out and use it as an example of their victim status when it is not even mentioned.

    MomTFH’s last blog post..We need some WORK

  35. chrismulfo

    Here’s a variation on the “wouldn’t you be more comfortable…” theme, which really happened in Pennsylvania.

    Mom with baby needing to nurse, speaking to person at info booth at an outdoor family event: “Is there a mothers’ tent where I can nurse my baby?”
    Info person: “Oh, no! We don’t have anything like that. The PortaPottys are over that way.”

  36. Helen

    Although, I think driving while breastfeeding is probably going too far.

    (And don’t you just know it’s this asshat that will be invoked every time someone gets their knickers in a knot about someone merely breastfeeding not in a toilet).

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  38. Rebekka

    On a related note, how about this?

    I think it probably falls under the “call child protection” bingo square but words fail me…

  39. Beppie

    That’s such a heartbreaking story, Rebekka.

  40. Emma Someone

    Ok so BF is obviously fine but what about expressing? Say there’s someone sitting next to you in a class, who has been advised of the women’s room available to her in the library, and instead she assembles her pump and expresses while sitting next to you… how do you feel about that?

  41. tigtog

    @ Emma Someone:

    Should that woman have to miss out on class in order to pump? Or sit there in aching discomfort until the class is over when she could be relieving that pain by using the pump? Just so that others in the class don’t get freaked out by breastmilk getting pumped?

  42. Emma Someone

    It was a 5 hour class, with breaks every hour, and she’d negotiated to use a room to do this before the class but decided she couldn’t be bothered walking to the room (across the hallway) and would do it in class instead, thereby freaking out a lot of the people in the (psychology) class. :)

    It’s a genuine question and I’m asking because I am in the situation where I myself wasn’t bothered by the act but others were and was I notbothered because I’m openminded, woman-focused, aware of the discomfort issue and fully supportive of a woman’s right to breastfeed, or am I at the extreme of “whatever floats your boat – it takes more courage to do it than for me to be ok with it” spectrum and other people aren’t? I’ve had a lot of students tell me that it was “inapporpriate” but they can’t articulate why… hence the question.

  43. tigtog

    @ Emma Someone:

    Emma, it does sound as if in that situation there had been plenty of accommodations made for her to pump in privacy at appropriate intervals, so it does make one wonder why she did not. But she shouldn’t be required to sequester herself in order to pump either.

    Perhaps she was trying to make a point? She’s perfectly entitled to do so, of course.

    Miss Manners would say that it is wrong to make other people uncomfortable when a small effort on your part would remove that discomfort from their experience. But Miss Manners rules often require women to collaborate in making their own efforts invisible and therefore easily dismissed, so I’m half “she could have been more polite” and half “bollocks to that”.

    I wonder whether what the other students feel is “inappropriate” is not so much her expressing per se but that she felt no need to make her effort invisible for the benefit of others.

  44. tigtog

    P.S. she may also have some invisible disability issues that make that walk across the hall not as simple as it might superficially appear to the temporarily able-bodied.

  45. Emma Someone

    @lauradhel
    Breaks were 10 min/hour and 45 mins for lunch… so adequate for the setup and packup process as well as all the rest of things she has every right to attend to? I think what bugged people was that it was disrupting class and she had been offered an alternative that was private and set up for expressing already.

    As I said – it didn’t bother me and I’m trying to work out what bothered them! It wouldn’t have bothered me if it was a babe or toddler or child, and it didn’t bother me that it was a pump. She was well-prepared for it, didn’t make a big deal out of it when doing it, and only spilt a bit of milk (sadly!) when closing the containers.

    I’m unsure of how to discuss this with the people in my class who are midwives. I kid you not.

  46. Mindy

    10 minutes of pumping would have netted me about 20ml of milk, certainly not enough to feed a hungry baby. Pumping rates vary from woman to woman and 10 minutes may not have been enough for her.

  47. Deborah

    Or even 45 minutes, especially if that was the only time she had available to find some food, and a drink, and to go to the toilet herself. I think she managed admirably under the circumstances. And I admire her aplomb – I found it hard enough feeding in public, ‘tho I did it, let alone pumping. I didn’t do so well on the pumping in any case – about 25mls per 10 minutes, from the one breast I have that actually works (lumps removed from the other, so I don’t get nerve stimulation, so no let-down reflex).

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