A boob. How offensive is a boob? Yes, there is the male gaze and what a boob means to them, but what is a boob to a mom, an infant, a toddler? Hiding a body part that gives nourishment to the future generation is quite miraculous. Should women have to adjust and hide something so natural because men are aroused at the sight of a breast or some women are offended or embarrassed seeing the human body in public? The consensus is most places around the world say they support public breastfeeding but their actions speak differently.
This topic has been one of controversy for some time now in some parts of the world, but not everywhere. Take a look at how breast feeding in public is viewed in different places around the globe:
Breasts are made to feed an infant and whipping out a breast to do so is something they won’t bat an eye at. If a woman doesn’t and the child is crying and hungry, the community will assume it is not that women’s child.
It is illegal to discriminate mother’s breastfeeding in public under the Sex Discrimination Act 1984. However, discrimination is still a source of conflict when a woman, Kirstie Marshall, was fired from Parliament for breastfeeding. Their solution was to set up a special room for nursing mothers. Apparently out of sight, out of mind is how they really feel about the subject. There is still lingering judgment if an infant is fed in public.
Cambodia promotes public breastfeeding and it is seen as commonplace.
Like many other countries, Canada doesn’t explicitly support public breastfeeding in their laws. However, there are other non-governmental groups have policies specifically trying to give recognition to the importance of equality and state that the breasts of a woman are equal to the breasts of a man. They aim to protect the infant, except reports are still coming out to this day about women being asked to cover up or leave shops for breastfeeding. Of course, afterwards the shop owners try to cover their tracks and apologize but the fact that there is still a stigma of a breast being perverse rather than nutrition for a child is a mindset that needs changing still.
Many women are embarrassed to breastfeed in public in China, so there are babycare facilities for mothers to go to when in public.
Public breastfeeding is legal.
There are no real laws about public breastfeeding, just that parents have rights to their own ways of care for their children. Not many women are seen to breastfeed in public in Germany.
Public breastfeeding is no big deal. Breasts in public are uncontroversial.
Breastfeeding is accepted but preferred to not be super blatant and try to be discreet.
It is common to see breastfeeding on buses, in parks, restaurants, hospitals etc. If a mom doesn’t breastfeed her child she is considered to be a ‘bokshi’ meaning ‘witch’.
There are no laws against public breastfeeding.
Breastfeeding is common. Actually, not breastfeeding is frowned upon. New Zealand encourages infant nutrition whether in the privacy of your own home or in public. They strongly support breastfeeding.
Public breastfeeding is normal in Norway.
Women are allowed to breastfeed in public, but apparently the Philippines want to make sure “it doesn’t get out of hand” so they have allocated a time limit and amount of times able to breastfeed in public. Also the Philippines has separate rooms apart from bathrooms for mothers to nurse.
Women are only allowed to show their face and hands in public, therefore breast feeding is prohibited. Women breast feed in private.
Nursing is encouraged and not viewed as a sexual act.
Public breastfeeding is legal and widely accepted.
Taiwan issued a Public Breastfeeding Act in 2010. There are nursing rooms for privacy. BUT like many other places, a woman was forced to leave the National Palace Museum while she was breastfeeding. There is still ignorance that exists, but the Taiwanese people spoke up and the employee and employer who forced the mother to leave were fined 6,000 Taiwan dollars.
The UK has a Sex Discrimination Act allowing public breastfeeding if the child is less than six months of age. Most people are for public breastfeeding if it is discreet. Scotland did not feel the same way as other parts of the UK, and felt that mothers did not need to be so discreet. Scotland passed the freedom of public breastfeeding in 2005 and fines any public place that doesn’t allow a woman to breastfeed in the open.
Breastfeeding in public has been an ongoing issue in the USA. Many people have even said the natural act is “gross”. There is a law allowing public breastfeeding, but many states have different opinions on the subject. Many women have been harassed for showing breasts in public even though it is to feed their child. Also employers are not required to pay a mother on her break if she is breastfeeding. Mothers are fighting for a change of mindset. Breasts are not gross or sex objects. The sooner people see them as nourishment, the better. Many women are posting their breastfeeding images to social media to make a change.
Actions speak louder than words and until the actions of employees and government officials actually change the way they act in accordance to the laws implemented to protect a mother’s right, then public breastfeeding will be an ongoing issue.