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Why Are People So Freaked Out by Public Breastfeeding?

By Kara Baskin

There is an entire subgenre of parenting literature (books, magazine articles, viral blog posts) whose purpose it is to defend a woman's right to breastfeed, particularly in public. This is because people do idiotic things like this: At a Canadian Starbucks last week, a scandalized customer complained about a breastfeeding mom. Happily, a barista (a teenage boy, no less!) deftly handled the matter by walking over to the mother, apologizing for the customer, and offering her a free refill. The offended Starbucks patron departed in a huff. No milk with their coffee.

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Now there's a new, very long, very sarcastic Huffington Post piece mocking these oafs, sarcastically concluding that "breastfeeding in public is for lazy, exhibitionist, thrill-seeking, husband-stealing mothers who have nothing better to do than to make the rest of us shrivel in disgust."

It's a funny piece, but it's also one more sad entry in the parental over-justification canon, necessitated by judgmental people.

All sarcasm is somewhat rooted in truth, but I'm willing to bet that most people who criticize women who breastfeed publicly don't really think that these moms are lazy, thrill-seeking, or exhibitionists. They honestly just don't understand. They think that breastfeeding is simple to schedule and that hungry children could be easily shielded beneath enormous nursing tents.

What's the worst thing anyone has said to you while breastfeeding? And if you're opposed to breastfeeding in public, how come?


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