Sunday, January 15, 2012

Breastfeeding in public: the ongoing Saga

     When my children were little, I sought out books for them with images of breastfeeding babies.
When they were at the picture book stage, and had younger siblings who nursed or were nursing toddlers themselves, I favoured books like A Teeny Tiny Baby by Amy-Schwartz and Happy Birth Day by Robie Harris over books with pictures of bottle feeding. One of my favourite Christmas books, The Story Christmas Jane Ray , features two paintings of Mary nursing the Christ Child, and is one I still share with my little ones at work.
     During this stage in my childrens' lives, I was of course nursing them everywhere- Starbucks, Barnes and Noble, work, church services, even in a sling cooking or while pushing a cart down the aisles of Fred Meyer. I only once, in all 8 years or public breastfeeding, had someone say something negative to me (unless you count the time that woman at a Starbucks read me the riot act for caffienating my kid's boob-juice-but she had no problem with me nursing).
     I knew, and know, that public breastfeeding is still controversial. There have been nurse ins with the past month, and just last week a campaign to bring breastfeeding back to Sesame Street. Yet I was still shocked when this past week artist Dave Dorman raised objections on his blog about the cover art  on Fiona Staple's upcoming comic Saga. Dorman, whose C.V. includes illustrations for Heavy Metal , objected to this image in which the female protagonist is breastfeeding her infant. Dorman originally raised objections based on the fact that he mistakenly thought Saga was intended for children. It's not, but that is beside the point. In the year 2012, breastfeeding an infant should not be seen as something done for "shock value". You can read Ms Staples response here  .) Dorman seems unable to separate the dual purposes of breasts. Yes, breasts are sexual and are often used in foreplay. So are hands. So are mouths. Yet we don't feel compelled to shop vegetables or eat dinner behind closed doors. Dorman needs to internalise this, especially as he's raising a son now 7. In discussing this controversy with the DM, I asked the (mostly rhetorical ) question, "What is he teaching his son about women?" The DM had an answer anyway, which was, "You don't think misogynists spring fully formed from the ground, do you? They're taught by their fathers, uncles and brothers."
     I don't know Dave Dorman, I don't know what values he's passing on to his son, but I can guess from his outrage that he wants you to "think of the children". So do I- which is why I will be purchasing Saga, sharing it with my teenage children, and making sure to support images of public breast feeding whenever I can.


At 5:18 PM, Blogger Jennifer Marin said...

I hadn't heard of Saga; now you've piqued my interest. Thanks for the tip, and the well-written post!

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Lone Star Ma said...

Amen, Sister! I need to go to the comic book store, now!

At 11:44 AM, Blogger Jenna Carodiskey-Wiebe said...

It comes out in March but you can probably pre-order it!

At 9:55 PM, Blogger Friendly Neighborhood Librarian said...

I breast fed my first child 31 years ago and really thought times would keep progressing right along... it's so sad to know they haven't.
Thanks for your thoughtful words!


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