When A Breast Is A Boob


Why do I have a National Geographic shot of a topless African woman?  The fact is, when I searched for a tasteful shot of a western woman’s breasts, all I got were images like this:

Readers, this is not me. I have brown hair.

I was looking for breasts and I got boobs. The boobs were all covered up but big, pushed up and yes, titillating.  The women in the pictures were all in provocative poses.  In the odd picture where a woman was topless, she had her hands obscuring her own breasts by fondling them, as if they are so fucking amazing that even she can’t get enough.  Our culture is so invested in sexualizing boobs that they are best displayed being played with by their owner, or literally wrapped up in mystery, only to be busted out and exposed in the interest of enhancing sex.

Before I lose any more readers to masturbation, let me move on to the other half of this post, the breast.  Under a search for “breastfeeding” is where I easily found the bared chest of a western woman:

This image is perfectly acceptable on the net.  She’s all breast.  Hanging loose.  Not playing with herself.  I had endless pictures to choose from.

Why then, in 2013, is there still debate going on about women breastfeeding in public?

I was recently talking to a male friend of mine about this very topic.  I am an advocate for feeding whenever, wherever.  This doesn’t mean that I often expect to find myself in line at a grocery store behind a nursing mother who’s concurrently paying for her purchases.  It does mean that if she needs to stop and find a place in the store where she can attend to her hungry baby, she has every right to do so without being hassled.

Anyway, back to my male friend.  He said that he is also for breastfeeding, but with some restrictions.  Oh, I asked?  For example, he didn’t want to find himself in a fine dining restaurant and have a woman at the next table “whip it out” while he was trying to eat.  Not appropriate, he said.

Hmm.  I took a few deep breaths.

I tried to explain to him that the first problem with his scenario (aside from the obvious breast whipping imagery) was that only a fool would bring a baby to a fine dining restaurant.  Once you have a baby, meals are not eaten hot, in full, or enjoyed until that child is about eighteen years old.  Fine dining?  Nope, not in any new parent’s vocabulary.

However, to play his nightmare out, I asked him why it would be a problem for him to witness a woman breastfeeding at a fine dining establishment.  Well, initially he said that it would be too distracting.  He would expect the woman to practice some modesty.  Then he went on to say that if his partner was nursing, he wouldn’t want her displaying her breast boob because that was something for him alone to have the privilege of viewing.  Essentially, her boobs were for his pleasure alone.


After a short but intense adverse reaction to this revelation, I then steadily queried, the breast would be for the baby’s pleasure, no?

He’s a smart guy (mostly, which is why his opinion shocked me).  He got it.  And this is where use of one of those feeding tents came up.

A more ridiculous thing I have never seen.  Truly.  A god awful cloak hooked around a woman’s neck in an array of ugly prints meant to look what, fashionable?  A woman’s breast is not behaving in a boob enough way, so the solution is to cover it up, hide it’s functionality away?

My friend saw this as a reasonable compromise.  He saw it as liberating for the woman who wants to breastfeed but doesn’t have the confidence to do it in public.  Full circle back to the question, why doesn’t she feel comfortable enough in the first place?  Could it be because of the sensibility of guys like him?

I see these absurd cover ups as bondage.  I see it as losing ownership over our bodies.  I see it as a weird medieval punishment for using our boobs as breasts.  I see it as a way to cover up anything breast related that doesn’t act as enticement, so our breasts remain purposeful boobs to our men.  I can’t help it.  I see big, ugly pieces of cloth wrapped like cow bells around women’s necks as shaming.

Women who breastfeed in public tend to be discreet and simply intent on meeting their child’s needs.  It’s not for show.  It’s not to make anyone uncomfortable.  It’s not to say that a woman will never use her breasts again for her and her partner’s sexual pleasure.

Breastfeeding is completely natural, hygienic and beautiful.  Maybe instead of giving out nursing tents we should be distributing blindfolds in our fine dining restaurants.

Oh for fuck sakes.


48 thoughts on “When A Breast Is A Boob

  1. The next time I see a calf nursing on its mother’s numerous outlets, I will point this to them. “Listen, Bessie. It’s great you have a kid and all, but, ya know, show some decorum. What will parents taking their children on the latest showing of Django say about such gratuitous demonstrations?”

    On the plus side, those feeding blankets are almost like a sexier burqa.

    • Definitely sexy if you like playful prints of whales, large colourful dots and in-your-face bright patterns on reams of loose fitting fabric that could be hiding Rosemary’s baby sucking on the teat of the devil.

      I prefer full disclosure for a lot of good reasons 😉

  2. Indeed. Your comment about bringing a baby to a fine dining restaurant made me laugh. What parent would want to willingly subject themselves to this?
    I’m all for feeding babes whenever and however. I also thought pitching a tent for your kid to eat was an odd way to create privacy. Doesn’t a floral / argyle pattern simply attract more attention?

    • Yes, I absolutely think an ugly floral tent attracts tons of attention to the fact that you’re trying to hide something. Something that for no reason should be hidden. Again, making a mystery of the breast (which is where it crosses over to boob). It’s twisted.
      Thanks for your comment.

  3. American’s are #1 in a lot of stupid categories and surprisingly low in others where being #1 would have actually been a good thing. Unfortunately our international view can be rather myopic. Especially among those of us who have never been outside of the country. You raise many good points here.

    • Thank you, shoutabyss. Same problem with the #1 stuff here in Canada. I have lived in a few places around the country. There are some pockets of normalcy around public breastfeeding (e.g. smaller “hippie” communities – go figure) and then the uptight, proper, what the hell is wrong with you communities. It kills me every time I see a woman staring down at her baby through her cowbell necklace and feels the need to hide it.

  4. This is great! I remember breast feeding my babies who are now in their twenties. I would get so frustrated at the response of other people and I covered up with a light weight shawl. What is wrong with people? 20 years later and they are still uptight!
    Thanks for bringing this post to the party! Have fun clicking on links and saying hello to other bloggers. Tell them Susie sent you!

  5. This was awesome, rock on! I loved it and you came up with a great thingy…blindfolds. Ha-ha! Great to read your post. I leave laughing and glad I came to the net and Susie’s party!

  6. Hi! Just stopping by as Susie sent me over from her blog party.

    Look, I am a dude, and a breast man at that! I am also open minded and educated enough to know that breastfeeding is a natural part of our human existance since the beginning of time. People in this country need to loosen up a bit and get over it. It’s what is natural.

    Happy New Year!



  7. Okay, first, at the risk of being screamed at … by someone, let me say two things (might as well get screamed at by both sides). First, I have now, finally, reached the point where a woman breastfeeding in public would not send me running for cover. Second, if we are going to ask that a woman cover her breasts while feeding, is it not at all possible to have a small cloak/hood that is attached to the BABY’S outfit instead of the tent? I mean really…do you have to cover the entire woman so that a breast will not show? And, for the record, I prefer smaller breasts, anyway. Our society has too much a hangup on large sizes.

  8. I love this! Hilarious! Nothing says “covert op” like a huge piece of patterned fabric draped over a wiggling tiny person. What baby even likes that? I guess I should make other people more comfortable than my kid? Warped indeed. Oh, and I love the comment Callahan made–AMEN!

  9. I’m here for Susie’s party. This is a great post and definitely one that gets my mental gears turning.

    American society has always been offended by the sight of a woman’s nipples and I’m not entirely sure why. A man (of any shape or size, mind you) can go shirtless at the beach, but an exposed female nipple is grounds for a count of indecent exposure, a double standard I find completely ridiculous. Come on people, everyone has nipples!

    I am a childless (for now) woman with one niece and three nephews who I completely adore. Being that both my sister and sister-in-law use the “tents” when out in public, I am ok with them since they are ok with them. When it comes to having children of my own, I will probably also use these cover-ups if I choose to breastfeed. It’s not that I feel ashamed of the female body or a woman’s right to feed a baby when he is hungry, but I would most likely feel more comfortable maintaining a certain level of modesty. It is my choice to make and I completely respect those women who choose a different path.

    The decision to “bare breast” is a personal one and I think that women need to be more supportive of one another regardless of the choices they make when it comes to feeding a child. There is no shame in whipping it out or covering it up. You have to do what’s right for you and not worry about the judgment of others. Though I’m sure once I become a mother, all bets are off and my answer may be different.

    Thanks for getting me thinking!

    • Hi Jessica and thanks for your comments. It’s not that I don’t support women’s individual choices, it’s that I support equality. Men can walk around topless and many women don’t feel comfortable enough to even bare their breast to feed. We have a better reason than men do to expose our chests yet we’re bound behind not only shirts, but bras – mostly designed to enhance that which we are “taught” its improper to show. It’s so important to ask ouselves what has happened in our (patriarchal) society to make women feel our breasts must be moderated to the point that their primary function and display of this function is a point of debate even among women?

      • I totally agree and that’s why I liked your post so much. It really got me thinking about the whole situation. There is definitely a double standard among the sexes and it is important to have these types of discussions to foster awareness. 🙂

  10. Bloody brilliant. I LOVE your style.

    I ‘whipped it out’ at a doctor’s surgery waiting room, but my bub wouldn’t take (I was forcing, trying to make it happen, declare that this is what I have chosen to do – but he didn’t take). The lady behind the desk offered me a surgery room, which I accepted, relaxed, sat on a bed, and my babe suckled.

    I did not have the guts to try and ‘whip out my titties’ to feed my child again, anywhere. While they had treated me nicely, I was petrified of being confronted by some male somewhere, or even a woman who didn’t understand. I felt massively unsupported in all aspects of being a mother, & didn’t feel I could handle such confrontation. So, you know, a toilet cubicle. Wish they had those paisley tents to over my tits in my feeding days – HA!

  11. Pingback: It’s really *not* just a boob « Average Couple with Kids

  12. Obviously, I am super, but fashionably, late to this party but may I throw in a couple of thoughts? Or three?

    Back in 1972, I became a rebel. I breastfed my first baby in defiance of the general public attitude…and lack, thereby of education. Long story that I was happily tapping out here but on about the 1000th word, I decided that I wouldn’t bore you with all that I had to say and deleted it. Tho it was/is extremely relevant and important. And filled with wisdom! Yes, I’m being snarky. 🙂

    The real issue here is NOT nursing mommies who need to feed their offspring. It, however, as alluded to many of the comments above, IS about the over-sexualization of our headlights. And more to the point, our fascination with showing the world our hardware. I detest that. I am sick of seeing some goofy starlet flopping her boobs around for all to see on some red carpet. Or a teeny bopper who is sure that by displaying her goods, she will surely attract some manly 15 year old whose only desire is to…well, you know.

    I am all about discretion, being the old lady I am, but breastfeeding is THE most natural thing in the world. It helped propagate our ancestors and those before them. Why do we think we can improve on something that is built in, sanitary, convenient, self-supporting, super healthy, CHEAP and builds a bond between mom and baby that is God-given? Really????!

    One way to convince the doubting public is to simply let hungry baby scream a while. After about 5 minutes of that, an entire restaurant might be willing to pay YOU to feed said screamer! Yeah, you can cover up…or ask to be seated out of the way. There are ways to not create a scene. Unless, of course, you want to make a point. But for Pete’s Sake…loose those tacky cover up aprons/bibs. They need to be on windows or better yet, out in the garden covering up some hapless tomatoe plant that needs shading.

    You nursing gals rock!! Keep up the good work!!! Great post!

    • Thank you for your comments, Queen. Never too late for a great addition to the conversation. Thank you also for 1972. I’d like to be able to say we’ve come a long way since then, but really we’ve only made some (ugly) fabric producers rich and taken breastfeeding faux public. Still plenty of work to be done….

  13. Pingback: I Am Liebster, Hear Me Roar | HEY BEERGUT!!

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