Speaking as a mother who breastfed both of my kids and was a card-carrying member of LaLeche League (an uneasy relationship since I worked outside the home but valuable all the same for many other reasons), I figured I’d weigh in on this, but not from the Facebook angle. There are plenty of other offerings among my SciBlings on the Facebook debacle, and I am sure you can find them via the main page so I am not linking them here. I can’t say I am surprised at FB’s reactionary response to the photos of the mother in question. Breastfeeding is ridiculously sexualized in the US.
So here I offer you Exhibit B:
Bill Maher made a pig of himself (not surprisingly) when he weighed in recently on public breastfeeding as Katharine Mieszkowski reports in Bill Maher: “Don’t show me your tits!” via Salon’s Broadsheet. Since not all have access to the now gated community of Salon, here’s the text. I hope Ms. Mieszkowski will forgive me for reprinting this rather than just providing a link. There’s also a video of Maher’s idiocy in the Salon piece.
HBO’s Bill Maher is a self-professed libertarian, except when it comes to moms agitating for the right to breast-feed in public. Then he’s all about telling us what to do with our bodies and babies.
In a segment on “Real Time With Bill Maher” on Sept. 14, which inflamed lactivists the Web over, Maher ridiculed a recent nationwide nurse-in to object to Applebee’s treatment of a breast-feeding mom in Kentucky. (As we mentioned last week, you can catch some choice video of the Applebee’s nurse-in here. One highlight: adults brandishing bananas put blankets over their heads to demonstrate that infants might find it challenging to eat that way, too.)
Among Maher’s digs against the lactivists, he compares breast-feeding in public to masturbating in public: “Next thing, women will be wanting to give birth in the waterfall in the mall,” he jokes. He carps that these moms are just “too lazy” to plan ahead or cover up. And what do these mothers really want, according to Maher? To feed their hungry children and avoid crying fits in public, maybe? Nah, says Maher, what they really want is attention! Yep, what they really, really want is guys like Maher looking at their boobs.
But Maher knows one place where food and breasts mix: Hooters! Get it? Hooters. Yuk, yuk! A joke that really only proves the lactivists’ point that breasts are considered 100 percent socially acceptable when they’re intended to sexually titillate lascivious middle-aged men but “Ewww, gross” when they’re used to feed a kid.
I really would have been happy to make it through life without ever writing the words “Bill Maher” and “masturbating” in the same sentence, but as they say on Fox News: “We report. You decide.” Here’s the video; the nursing fuss comes at the end:
Broadsheet prediction: Forget Applebee’s. The next lactivist boobalicious action will take place outside the studios of “Real Time With Bill Maher,” uniting thousands of moms with babies at the breast, in a lactating throng not seen since Manila. Poor Bill Maher. To get to work, he’ll have to stumble by, covering his eyes with both hands to avoid possibly catching a glimpse of — horrors! — a nipple.
Better still, here’s a Broadsheet contest: The first daring lactivist who actually infiltrates the set of “Real Time With Bill Maher” and disrupts the show with a one-woman nurse-in wins my voice on the outgoing message of her home answering machine or voice-mail. I may be no Carl Kasell, but I can promise dulcet tones, too, and I’ll even throw in the lactivist nursing slogan of your choice; pick your favorite here.
Here’s the New Rules clip.