There has been several instances of discrimination of mothers who breastfeed in public. 2 years ago, a Coca restaurant employee chided a breastfeeding mother for feeding her baby in public.
More recently, the story of a dispute between commuters in the train has emerged. One commuter was unhappy with another for feeding her baby in public and berated her. When the breastfeeding mother refused to stop, the other lodged a complaint with station staff and forced the mother off the train.
In a largely conservative society like Singapore, even if most do not outrightly scold a mother who is feeding her baby, the mother is more likely is get disapproving stares.
Which is probably why most mothers who breastfeed their child do so like this:
Public disapproval could be one reason why when Pigeon Singapore, a company which deals with mother and baby care products, organised a mass breastfeeding event and put out a video of it, only 10 seconds (or less than 8%) of their 2.20 minutes video was footage of mothers actually feeding their babies – and that too all properly covered up.
Is the hypersexualisation of women’s breasts the reason behind Singapore public’s disapproval with breastfeeding?
Women’s breasts have long been hyper-sexualised in our society.
Hypersexualition of women’s breasts could be the reason why the social networking platform Instagram initially banned this Australian photographer’s account:
It could also be the reason why a James Shamsi’s picture was removed from Instagram, but was reinstated when shown to be male.
Late last year, #FreetheNipple campaign, a campaign which pushed for gender equality in censorship laws and bring attention to hypersexualisation of certain parts of women’s body, gained much prominence when Bruce Willis’ and Demi Moore’s daughter, Scott Willis, went topless in New York City to support the campaign.
Alyssa Milano, a popular American actress, producer and singer shared several motherly pictures to make a point that women’s body parts should not be objectified.
Although according to Singapore’s decency laws women here are not permitted to go topless in public, the police had previously clarified that “It is not an offence to breastfeed in public if the woman is decently clad and she does not expose her breast more than is necessary to breastfeed her child”.
The police clarification on the topic is quite subjective and besides public disapproval, could be the other major reason why mothers in Singapore go to so much trouble to cover up when breastfeeding in public.