Public Breastfeeding and Men

Visible Breasts: Are they a danger to men?

Public Breastfeeding and Men
Woman with pink cap breastfeeding baby
A woman breastfeeding in a public setting.

Social media has brought yet another hot topic to the forefront.

Apparently there are online photos depicting women breastfeeding in public and posts with these same types of images.

There are some who defend a woman’s right to do this very thing. And obviously, there are some who view this as an indecent act. I take pride in having a somewhat reasonable set of opinions, and this is where I stand:

I think that public breastfeeding is not indecent in any way, shape, or form.’

The responsibility now rests upon me to back this view up, to follow through with some explanation of that stance.  Obviously we need to stress the non-sexuality of breastfeeding. First, you the reader, ask yourself this: ‘Was the initial image sexy?’

No, it wasn’t.

Let’s look at two more images.

The anatomical aspect.
The anatomical aspect. License: Creative Commons CC0.

The sexual aspect.
The sexual aspect. License: Creative Commons CC0.

The anatomical image was so far from sexual that I pray that some of the readers of this article do not feel like they are being patronised. The image with the lace and necklace could be more appropriately viewed as sexual. The differing reactions are not that hard to describe. It is not as if I were showing two images, one of sick white blood cells versus healthy ones. So, now let us take that form of common sense and apply it to women that are publicly breastfeeding.

Women can differentiate between sexual stimulation by a lover versus hormonal stimulation by an infant. In their minds there is a switch. Something inside their brain says: ‘Hey, there is a very handsome person caressing my nipple with their tongue as foreplay.’ There is another part of the brain that registers the other circumstance: ‘This infant is hungry and is going to latch onto my nipple in order to nourish his or herself.’ The fascinating intricacies of neuroscience aside, this is the way it is.

I am sure there are many men out there who also have this mental switch. It is my hope that most do. Let us further hope that this article is only for a small minority of men; and that they find it helpful. Perhaps a thought exercise may help us and others flex this mental switch. Imagine if a man had to supply the other half of what was needed for whole breast milk. If he had assist the woman in breastfeeding; absurd as it sounds, would he only do that in the public in a restroom? On the flip side, would the same man not let his lover use that body part during sex?

The way I see it –  a couple cuddling on a park bench is way different than two people having sex on a blanket in the park. It’s the same argument to say that a mother feeding a kid on a park bench is way different than a half-naked female groping herself as people walk by. The switch is there for all, men just need to remember it and apply it. Crude examples aside, the new types of information brought about by the Internet Age has put many previous scenarios in a new light; and this is certainly one that I hope we can become more enlightened about.

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