Could We Talk About Nursing?

posted in: Confessions | 118
Migrant Mother, 1936. Photo: Dorothea Lange via Wikipedia.

 

Being publicly introspective is one thing.

I’m obviously comfortable — or comfortable enough — to puzzle over my personal emotions and experiences here on the ol’ PG. This blog has existed well over a decade, after all; it must not be too painful or I wouldn’t do it. But it’s important to point out that most of the time when I write a post with question marks all over it (literally and/or figuratively) it’s that I’m confused or conflicted or just curious about something within myself, within my lived experience. I’m the interviewer and the interviewed; I’m my own judge, jury, executioner, mortician, etc. Being confused about myself or wondering about my own life is a closed circuit. Do you follow me? If not, it’s my fault, not yours. This is hard to explain.

Now, having a blog gets weirder when I’m puzzling over something that is outside of my experience, especially when that something is more controversial, say, than a broken clock. In fact, when I’m puzzling over something serious, something I have no experience with and legitimate confusion about, my general rule is to not blog about it until I have some damn sense.

But I legitimately don’t know what to think about public breastfeeding and I want to ask you about it so that I can begin to maybe work through my confusion. And it’s scary, because I take great pride in the quality of the comments on PaperGirl (and my Facebook page) and whenever something even slightly spiny comes up on the ol’ PG, I shut my eyes real tight and pray you all do the right thing and don’t “talk ugly” to each other, like Gramma Graham would say.

You have never once talked ugly. But still: Read the rest of this post, take a mo’, and then comment if you wish to comment. And I hope you do! Because I’m serious about need perspective from various peeps, especially those who have breastfed their babies on planes.

Here’s the deal:

Today on the plane back from Portland, I looked to my right and wow! I did a double-take: A woman across the aisle was nursing her infant and Mama’s breast was out. Her (lovely! natural! blessed-be!) most generous cantaloupesized right breast was present and accounted for, actively being used for what is, absolutely, an amazing, beautiful, exquisite reason. The breast was out so to feed a human being she birthed from her literal body. Miraculous! Understandable!

And yet!

Wow, that was a very naked breast in a very public place in 21st century America. And I was like, “Okay. I cannot make sense of this data at this time.” This is a foreign sensation for me, as I like to think I have a fairly strong philosophical foundation that informs how I feel about most things. This one had me stymied, friends. It really did. Some of the back-n-forth in my mind went like this:

ME: It’s indecent, showing that much naked flesh, and it’s a sex organ, right?

MYSELF: Yes, and it’s a life-giving breast! You are brainwashed by a germaphobe-run society! It’s beautiful! You’re weird, not her!

ME: Having the whole thing out in front of God and Southwest Airlines Flight 55 seems a little dramatic, though. Come on. Like, she is trying to be seen right now.

MYSELF: She’s a nursing mother! What is your deal?? Covering up what nature has so brilliantly put in place is wrong and a function of the patriarchy!

ME: Yeah, okay, sure, but good grief, Woman! Cover your boob! A little!

MYSELF: It is early.

ME: No, it’s not “early.” It’s 5:05 a.m.

MYSELF: (Pause.) But it’s beautiful!

ME: I’m going to wrap my scarf around my head and go to sleep, now.

Okay. That’s it. That is literally all I can write for you without going into some deep, armchair-psychology self-analysis about what surely are repressed feelings about not having kids or a partner at this point in my life. I’m not interested in all that. I just need some input.

Very open breastfeeding in public. Discuss, my loves.