Gym Tells Mom To 'Stop Acting Like A Victim' After She Complains About Harassment

by Ashley Austrew

A mom says she was called a ‘victim’ after she spoke out about being shamed for breastfeeding.

Being shamed for breastfeeding a baby is pretty bad, but you know what makes it even worse? When you try to call out the jerks who shamed you and they accuse you of playing the victim. That’s what one Ohio mom endured when she says she was shamed and humiliated for nursing her eight-month-old in a gym cafe.

In a post on Facebook, Aidan Johnson claims she was having a meeting in an on-site cafe at her local Premier fitness club in Dublin, Ohio, when her son got hungry and she decided to let him nurse.

A gym employee approached and asked if she could “accommodate” Johnson’s needs by moving her somewhere more private. Johnson declined, but says the employee kept pestering her. She writes:

“She [the employee] began saying that the gym supports breastfeeding and she ‘understands’ because she breastfed. They ‘just wanted to make sure I was accommodated’ so I could go up to the kids area which is private or I could go into another room which wasn’t occupied until the afternoon. Over and over she kept saying how much she ‘understood’ and how they just wanted to ‘accommodate me’. I said ‘no thanks, I’m fine and clearly my sleeping son is too.'”

Johnson writes that she was upset with the aggressive attempts to move her, so she called her husband, who agreed to speak with the gym’s manager. Unfortunately, the gym’s manager — whose name, interestingly enough, is Jim — was not amenable to the situation:

“Jim said that I was being a victim and that my husband was being a victim. He said that he went down to the bistro, saw me nursing, and saw ‘all the people staring and making comments’ so he sent HR down to talk to me. My husband said ‘so your main objective was to have her move or cover up’ and he said ‘yes’… He repeated multiple times that I was just acting like a victim. When my husband mentioned Ohio breastfeeding law and that I’m legally allowed to nurse, he said ‘well I’m legally allowed to ask her to cover up.’ [sic]”

Johnson, who says she’s been nursing her kids for a total of 31 months, writes that she feels “hurt, sad, embarrassed, and ANGRY” about the situation. She said it’s only “confirmed… why nursing in public is something I need to continue to do for the sake of other mothers,” and adds, “People get so offended by breastfeeding advocates. But why are there advocates to begin with? Because there has to be.”

According to NBC4, the president of the Premier at Sawmill Athletic Club issued a statement saying the gym has a “longstanding commitment to breastfeeding mothers” and confirming that “mothers may breastfeed comfortably during their visits to the club.” Apparently that wasn’t the case for Johnson, though. She wasn’t left to breastfeed comfortably. She was repeatedly disturbed under the guise of being “accommodated” because the manager knew he couldn’t come straight out and ask her to cover up.

In fact, what Johnson claims happened to her is made all the more obnoxious specifically because of how these people went about it. It’s one thing to be asked to cover up by some ignorant stranger, but to have people attempt to be sly about it and then to get raged at and accused of playing the victim when you point out that you feel uncomfortable? If that’s actually how this whole thing went down, every single staff member involved needs some serious training on how to react to a breastfeeding mom.

It’s hard to fathom that we still have to aggressively advocate for the rights of breastfeeding moms in 2016, but that’s unfortunately where we are. Johnson was spot on when she said breastfeeding advocates only exist because they absolutely have to. Apparently there are still many, many people in the world who haven’t gotten the memo that the best thing you can possibly do to “accommodate” a breastfeeding mom is treat her with kindness and respect, and back off so she can feed her damn baby.