Public Breastfeeding Doesn’t Work In Western Culture

Madonna Litta – Leonardo Da Vinci

I was standing outside a newsagents some years ago, and a Roma Gypsy woman is sitting on the concrete breastfeeding her young one. The breast was not covered, and so it was quite an apparent affair. An African lady exits the newsagents and takes notice of it. Scolding the woman she says, “Put that away, you disgust me”, and the Roma Gypsy girl frowns, refuses to obey, and so the Nigerian woman storms off.

I think breastfeeding is the most natural thing a woman can do. I have no problem with it, especially when the lady takes great pains to cover her dignity. I don’t, however, think society is ready to transform its attitude to boobies in public. Whether or not a child is attached to the breast is irrelevant here because it’s still a boob at the end of the day. I try to ponder the reasons as to why society is so against this very public affair and arrive at some conclusions.

People often blame Christianity’s influence on the anatomy being sacred that we view the breast as something immodest and to be covered. Nothing could be further from the truth. It was the pagan religions of Greeks, Romans and others who depicted the “natural jewels” of women in a sexual way that are to blame. The Church would often try to turn this view around by drawing the blessed Virgin breastfeeding the child Jesus. In this manner, they decided to stress that the breast was sacred and life-giving, not sexual.

The western world lost in its purpose for the boob; the Church had to stress the importance of modesty. Not listening to reason, secular society continued long before and after the Churches arrival in the west to sexualize women’s ”natural jewels.”

Tribal cultures around the world that have no contact with western civilization don’t look at it through the same lens. There is this perception that the breast is nothing sexual, but a functional part of the woman’s body merely for feeding the baby.

In parts of Africa, men freely walk around, not just bare-breasted women, but naked women. They don’t get aroused in the slightest because their upbringing is radically different from ours concerning the concept of human anatomy and sexuality. Although sexual beings like ourselves with an appetite for the opposite sex, they’ve never quite gotten as far as western culture in its pursuit of portraying the breast as part of that appetite.

It begs these questions then, that if they can not be bothered by something so natural, is it possible for western civilization to do the same? Can western culture ever radically transform it’s habitually formed lust and at times disgust for the breast into something non-sexual? Somehow, I don’t believe it to be impossible, yet most likely not a probable outcome.

The war between those who would desire to force us to look upon the breast, versus those who would have us regard it as something immodest to be tucked away, will rage on. In the meantime, my own opinion is that a woman should cover herself gracefully until such a time when western men and women have a radical conversion. Is there a time and date for such a conversion? I believe so, on the 12th of never.

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