Poem questions why public breastfeeding is even an issue
Tits abound. Seriously, they’re everywhere. Many of us have no problem with this – boobs are glorious. It’s just really absurd that no one seems to have a problem with their pervasiveness, unless they are being used to feed an infant.
It’s impossible to escape the judgment that permeates our culture in regards to breastfeeding. As a mother attempting to feed her child, it’s hard not to feel self-conscious. There’s judgement everywhere, even from other mothers. Whether or not people take issue with public breastfeeding, the constant barrage of stories of women being shamed for it are enough to make any woman apprehensive and nervous.
British poet and spoken-word artist Hollie McNish tackles the dilemma many of us face in the short film “Embarrassed.” In just over three minutes, she sums up the awkwardness of public breastfeeding.
“I wrote this poem in a public toilet after my 6 month old baby fell asleep,” McNish wrote under the video on her YouTube channel. “I was in town on my own a lot with her and the first time I fed her someone commented that I should stay home.” Right. Babies need to be fed every two to three hours. Maybe new mothers should just all be shut-ins?
“I was embarrassed and for 6 months took her into toilets when I was alone without the support of boyfriend, friends, mum etc. I hate that I did that but I was nervous, tired and felt awkward,” she wrote. “And now I find it weird that our TVs, media etc never show breastfeeding in soaps, cartoons, anything. That we and the US are so bloody scared of it. It’s weird.”
It is weird. Why don’t we ever see it on TV? What the hell, cable? We can literally watch zombies eat faces, but we can’t see babies breastfeeding? There are so many little details like this that never even crossed my mind. Why aren’t breastfeeding mothers used in ads? Why don’t we see them on television? We are at the same time totally fixated on breasts, and totally offended when they are used for their intended purpose.
Have you ever seen The Walking Dead? Depending on the episode you find, you may get the pleasure of seeing a 10-year-old boy shot through the chest with a rifle bullet. Oooh — or you may see someone saw off their own hand. You’ll definitely see a zombie sucking out someones brain at some point. But you won’t see a nipple. Nipples are disgusting. Just to recap: the undead feasting on the flesh of the living — fine. Woman pulling out her tit to breastfeed — disgusting! Vulgar! Stop her!
It’s crazy that we make women feel so uncomfortable about this necessary, biological process. First, we shove the necessity of it down her throat throughout her pregnancy. Then, when she actually agrees that it is best for her and her child, and attempts to do it — we make it shameful. What the hell?
I was very discreet when I breast fed my first child, to the point of discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t let it stop me from feeding him in public, but I was armed with wraps and cover-ups, basically creating a sweat lodge for the poor baby. God forbid I let a nipple slip — and I’m not even a bashful person. The social stigma involved in pulling out your breast to feed your child obviously got to me. That’s why continuously discussing the absurdity of it all is so necessary.
Kudos to everyone involved in this video for a stellar job.
We have a hell of a lot of problems in this world — and nipples didn’t cause any of them.
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