There is often debate if nursing an infant in public is acceptable. In this cartoon you, will find two authority figures questioning a woman about publicly displaying her breasts. She is sitting alone on a bench in a peaceful manner feeding her baby, when approached by these very intimidating looking men. When you look at the cartoon you can see a Victoria’s Secret ad plastered on the wall behind the somewhat conservative looking woman. Some might argue that the model is much more audacious than the quiet woman nursing the baby, but others may argue that it’s disgusting and that she should find somewhere private.
This particular incident took place in Texas and according to Texas law it’s perfectly legal to breastfeed your baby anywhere a woman chooses. So while looking at this image you can see that the men are unlawfully approaching the woman to harass her about something that is not in their right to do so. The image also implies that nursing in a mall is something monstrous. As if breastfeeding a baby in public is absolutely unheard of! The cartoon shows conflict between the two parties with the man timidly hiding behind the security guard who could be taken as the mall manager.
He takes protection as if what is happening may hurt him in some way. A similar incident happened inside a Victoria Secret store when a mother of a 4 month old baby wanted to nurse in the changing room. The woman had just finished shopping and kindly asked the cashier if she could nurse her baby in one of the changing rooms, in which she didn’t have to ask according to Texas law. The cashier started to nod her head yes, but an employee next to her immediately responded by telling her that she could do so in the alley outside next to the store.
As if it was not offensive enough to the woman to be told to feed her baby in a dirty alley; in addition, the weather outside was very windy and cold. Just as the mother in the cartoon she was made to feel ashamed to feed her baby and as if she was doing something wrong. Furthermore the cartoon implies nursing a baby in a modest way is more indecent than the Victoria’s Secret model in a bra with no shirt. When looking at the cartoon you can very easily spot the caricature the cartoonist uses.
The large poster of a woman with overly exposed breasts, but secondarily you see the woman sitting on a bench with showing a minimal amount of skin while breastfeeding. There is no breast being paraded around the mall as the two men are implying. The tone is set by the cartoonist when using the large expressive font and over emphasizing the words to express how shocked the two men are. The woman nursing her baby almost seems to have a look of a deer in headlights. She seems quite unaware that she could be disturbing other shopper’s experiences in the mall by feeding her baby.
She has her shopping bag next to her and was patronizing the mall just as everyone else was, but instead of hiding in a dark place to feed her baby she sat on a public bench to nurse. From my prospective of the cartoon, I see two men that look like they are harassing a woman who is peacefully feeding her infant. She is not being indecent and exposing her breast for all to see. She covered herself with the blanket and the baby’s head blocks the view of the woman’s breast. It’s as if the thought of the baby nursing is what is bothering these two men not actually seeing the woman’s flesh.
There are many times I have seen women walking through the shopping mall in a sports bra and exercise pants exposing more skin than this woman is in the cartoon. I feel the public is more accepting to see a woman in a minimal amount of clothing than a mom conservatively feeding her baby on a beach in the shopping mall. For example a swimsuit fashion show was held in a Texas mall where women and men crowd around in praise of the skin being shown. There is no shame upon them for exposing their bodies nor are they are ambushed by mall security being told to leave the premises.
If nursing your baby in public was more common in the United States than there would be less criticism. In the concluding analysis of the cartoon, nursing a baby in public is only as accepted as society makes it. The cultures of breastfeeding changes throughout the world, but you will find with a larger population of women nursing in public you get more support from the community. If women keep hiding and not standing up for the rights and laws of nursing in public, then we will never see nursing in public as normal in the United States.
Education on the benefits and impact of woman nursing babies could very well affect acceptance of nursing in public as it has in the Philippines. The Philippines is one of the leaders in promoting and protecting women’s right to breastfeed. The effects can be seen by 88% of babies being breastfed at birth and 34% up to five months of age. There will always be people who have opinions of what is acceptable and not when it comes to the body. Factors include religion, culture, and demographics, but one thing I can say that stands true over the years with the masses acceptance is around the corner.