Women have been breastfeeding in public throughout the ages — only recently has it become an issue
If you’re one of the weirdos who has an issue with women breastfeeding in public, be warned — this post might get you a little upset. That’s because it’s full of images of women nursing their kids while giving exactly zero effs. Because it’s not a big deal — or at least it never used to be.
We know how life is for a nursing mom in modern times. We know people feel free to harass women for revealing a sliver of boob while feeding their child and we know some people find it “gross” and yelp pitifully for a mom to cover her offending parts and feed her baby either hidden away from everyone or under a cover.
And it’s bullshit.
Thankfully, a very cool viral Facebook post is helping open eyes to the fact that this is nothing new. Women nursing their children in full view of anyone they happen to be around is a thing that’s been happening since forever. Rene Johnson shared some historical tidbits along with a whole slew of vintage photos of moms feeding their babies in front of other people. Go ahead and clutch your pearls if you need to.
Citing information from Breastfeeding USA, Johnson makes her case:
Nursing in public seemed to be a non-issue in colonial America. Our foremothers were expected to maintain a busy household, which included feeding the baby, and breastfeeding in the market or other public areas was not a cause for uproar. At that time, breastfeeding was the only way to feed a baby, either by the natural mother or a wet-nurse. The Puritans believed breasts were created for the nourishment of children and strongly encouraged women to nurse their own babies. Breastfeeding in public was commonplace for colonial women because they lived in a society that supported breastfeeding.
Even the Puritans were cool with it, y’all. My, how far we’ve stumbled.
Several of the images she includes in the post are from just a few decades ago — others are much less recent. But they all have one thing in common; moms are feeding their children without concern for those around them. Exactly as they should be.
Nursing in public used to just be a thing that had to happen, not a political statement. Not a parenting style. Not a thing to write a firey op-ed or chastise your daughter-in-law over. It just…was.
If you want to go really far back in history, there’s only approximately 12 million artistic depictions of the Virgin Mary latching Baby Jesus on her breast, and if it’s good enough for our Lord and Savior, why isn’t it good enough for us? Because people are horrible, obviously.
Like, da Vinci was cool with it. You’re going to argue with a literal genius?
Side note: Doesn’t Mary look so over it in this one? Her face is my face like, every day. Tie your shoes. Stop hitting your sister. Go to bed. Leave me alone. Even if your baby is the actual Christ child you’re gonna pull this face when he won’t quit the cluster feeding. It’s all in the eyes and hers say enough. They also say “breastfeeding in public is totally normal, shut up, weirdos.”
Extended breastfeeding toddler Jesus looks like a handful, amiright?
Anyway, aside from Mary, pretty much every other mom throughout the ages has breastfed her kid in public until society somehow decided that 10-foot tall Victoria’s Secret bra ads were completely fine but a mom nursing on a bench next to it should be admonished. Honestly, what the fuck?
This used to just happen without anyone freaking out. Baby got hungry. Mom fed baby. End of story.
In her post, Johnson points out that there’s a federal law guaranteeing women the right to breastfeed in public — not that some people are stopped by laws when deciding that their own selfish comfort level should come first. It’s also now legal to breastfeed in public in all 50 states, though Utah needs to catch the heck up as far as their insistence that a woman use a cover. Thanks, male, religious wingnut lawmakers!
Johnson’s post serves as a visual reminder that it wasn’t always like this. Women weren’t always shamed and shunned and made to feel nervous to do something as natural as breathing. Using breasts for their literal intended purpose shouldn’t ever be met with scorn, criticism, or creepy dudes saying it makes them feel “uncomfortable.” It should be met with smiles or nothing at all, just like it was when our great-great grandmothers did it.