I have no objection to breast-feeding, really. It’s great for babies, and it sure seems easy to prepare the milk (steps: 1) hold baby to breast; 2) breathe).
And I really don’t object to breast-feeding in public when necessary, as long as it’s done discreetly and tastefully. Human lactation does strike me as a little weird, however, when the sucklings are of an age to walk to the mammary glands, as seems to be the fad these days in certain granola-related circles where weaning, like toilet-training, is considered repressive. Moms, if you’re still nursing toddlers, do it at home! People stare!
What I object to is turning breast-feeding into a political statement. And this seems to be another new fad in Granola Land. The Washington Post reports today that some 30 mothers staged what they deemed a “nurse-in” Sunday at a Starbucks Coffee shop in Silver Spring, Md. The purpose? God only knows. Nursing a baby in public is legal in the state of Maryland. The law doesn’t apply to private establishments, however, and a Starbucks employee about a month ago had asked one of the moms, Lorig Charkoudian (who describes herself as a “conflict resolution trainer”) to cover up or go into the ladies room to nurse her 15-month-old (!) daughter. When Charkoudian protested, a spokeswoman for Starbucks promptly sent her an e-mail assuring her that it would inform employees of Starbucks shops in Maryland that they should allow their female customer to breast-feed their babies at their tables.
That wasn’t good enough for Charkoudian, however, who seemed to want to get a real conflict going so she could train someone to resolve it. She decided to push the company to adopt a nationwide policy allowing on-the-premises nursing, and she set up a website, nurseatstarbucks.com, that includes form letters to send to Starbucks CEO Orin C. Smith. And just to hammer home the point, the 30 mothers dragged babies, older (presumably non-nursing) kids, and hapless husbands down to the Silver Spring Starbucks. Some of the moms carried their infants in those cloth slings that enable you to “wear your baby” at all times until you dislocate your back or the kid gets into Harvard, whichever happens first.
Here is how Washington Post reporter Rosalind S. Helderman describes the scene:
“At the Starbucks on Cherry Hill Road yesterday, older children sprawled on the sidewalk playing with dolls and building blocks, while the moms held up signs advertising their cause — ‘Lactate with a Latte’ read one — and swapped stories. One woman recalled being asked to move to a fitting room while nursing at a nearby Target store, prompting a chorus of dismayed comments from the others.
“‘Let’s go there next!’ said Dawn Davenport-Coven, a [Washington, D.C.] mother who said she feels so strongly about teaching her daughters the importance of breast-feeding that she said she not-so-accidentally ‘loses’ baby bottles that come with dolls she gives her 3-year-old.”
The form letter to Smith that Charkoudian drafted purports to be written by the nursing youngster himself or herself–although if I were Smith, I wouldn’t be fooled:
“My name is ________________________ and I am ______ months old. I like to drink my mama’s breast milk. It tastes good and it is so good for me. I like the fact that when my mama takes me places, she feeds me when I am hungry, which is a lot, since my tummy is so small. Sometimes she goes to Starbucks. When she does, I don’t want to have to starve. I want to be able to nurse there, too. I don’t like nursing under a blanket because I can’t see my mama and my mama can’t see me and it gets hot and uncomfortable under there….”
Yeesh–to paraphrase Dorothy Parker’s review of a Pooh book, kinda makes you want to fwow up.