David Koch must have wondered what he walked into this week. Mind you it is really hard to walk anywhere with your feet planted that far down your throat.
So the people over at The Punch provided him with a vehicle to say really clearly that he is not anti-breastfeeding, just pro-politeness.
He makes a lot of very good points regarding the importance of breastfeeding, shares some cool family anecdotes and then says “They may be considered old-fashioned values but we think they are just as relevant today as they were 30 years ago.”
He has totally missed the point that the hundreds of mothers were making this week – that it is their lawful right to breastfeed covered or uncovered, and it is disrespectful to them to deny the existence of a basic human right in Australian society.
So what is it about a breastfeeding infant that upsets so many people?
I suspect these are the same people who are upset at the sight of butt cheeks hanging out the bottom of short shorts, or muffin tops peeking over extra tight jeans. They don’t like really low necklines, see-through tops, or sunbathing where “the kiddies might see”. A glimpse of a ‘tramp stamp’ or g-string sends them into paroxysms of discomfort, and as for those very pregnant nudie photos so popular on magazine covers (like Demi Moore and Jessica Simpson) that is probably just a bit “rude” for them.
I think it is a version of the Madonna myth. That mothers are all virginal and perfect (like the Madonna) and sexy naked flesh (even a glimpse of nipple or side boob) is just an all too visible reminder that this particular MILF actually engaged in sex to get herself into this situation.
This is only one step removed from the abhorrent practise of “slut shaming” where a girl who dresses in a particular way is judged based on her clothing. Someone with tattoos, low neckline, high heels and a short skirt is obviously sexually promiscuous or maybe even asking to be raped.
I was talking to a group of women who said they were worried when breastfeeding about revealing side boob or fat rolls – body image anxiety doesn’t finish when you aren’t a teenager any more, but really should that be a concern when you gave birth a few weeks ago?
It is this sad double standard that makes me relieved that I only have sons. Women are expected to maintain their looks and body size or become invisible. But if they dress in a way that shows it off then other judgements are made about their morals and personal behaviour. Based on their clothes?
So I think that Mr Koch agrees that breastfeeding is important but feels that old-fashioned prudery is more important than the laws we have had in place since 1984. He would like us all to wear twin sets and pearls, feed under a discreet muslin wrap and be sure to exhibit respect, honesty and courtesy in everything we do. But wait – appearance is NOT politeness.
I am pretty sure the way people look has no impact on how respectful, honest or courteous they are. I know people with tattoos who are kind and respectful, I know of people in business attire who are dishonest. The motorbike gang who do the Christmas toy collection don’t look very classy but are some of the kindest, most communityminded folk I know.
It’s what you do that counts, not how you look. Let’s all be kinder to each other. Remind prudes that they need to look the other way. And raise a new generation who know better than to make assumptions based on appearance.