Breastfeeding in Public March 13, 2014Posted by dreamom in family, Life, Parenting.
Recently, in response to news of a breastfeeding mother being discriminated against while nursing her child, a news station posted a poll asking people whether it was appropriate for her to be nursing her child there. Although it was presented as a discussion point, the fact is it isn’t. The Ontario Charter of Human Rights says “What about breastfeeding? You have rights as a breastfeeding mother, including the right to breastfeed a child in a public area. No one should prevent you from breastfeeding your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to “cover up,” disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more “discreet.” ( http://www.ohrc.on.ca/en/pregnancy-and-breastfeeding-brochure#sthash.mvmYosh3.dpuf )
I contacted the station to discuss the role they are playing in the discrimination by persisting in this conversation, which is pointless, as the woman was within her rights, and what happened to her was wrong legally. This was my reply to their response to me.
“No one suggested what was illegal? Breastfeeding in public? I certainly hope not! What IS ‘illegal’ (in opposition with the Charter of Human Rights in Ontario) is asking a woman who IS nursing in public (be it in a cashier line, a park, a pool, Target, Whole Foods, etc, etc) to cover or move and to be more discreet. How is discussing if that makes people comfortable “a fair issue for discussion” with “many different opinions”. I have heard several discussions on the matter, and have worked to end the discrimination against breastfeeding mothers on Facebook. It is not a matter open for discussion. If the woman is legally entitled to be there, she is allowed to breastfeed there. Period. If that makes you uncomfortable you have to get over it. Just like you have to get over a gay couple beside you on a plane making you uncomfortable. Just like you have to get over how having a female coworker or supervisor is making you feel uncomfortable.
In having these discussions based on the comfort level of people, you are perpetuating the discrimination that breastfeeding mothers face. The stories of some women are ridiculous. Most have not made headlines. Poll how many breastfeeding women have been asked to move, be more discreet, to cover up, or to stop breastfeeding by anyone.
I feel your station missed an opportunity to have a really useful discussion about how what the mother was doing WAS appropriate, and HOW can we make it more publicly known that breastfeeding is a protected right for the mother and child. How can businesses make it more known for their patrons and staff that breastfeeding is going to be respected.
I am sorry to say that I simply expect more from the media and the role that they (you) play in shaping public opinion.”