Kuala Lampur, Feb. 7 — This question has been lingering in my mind for a very long time: Why are people (pathetically, even some women) so riled up at the sight of a woman’s breasts? Why can’t it be viewed like any other part of the human anatomy?
Why is it alright for a Victoria’s Secret model to strut half naked down the runway during their annual show and get lots of praise but the minute a woman takes out a breast to feed a hungry infant there is an outcry?
I wonder if those shouting “shame, shame, shame” at these desperate mothers would do the same if their own family members had to feed their babies in public.
Shaming breastfeeding women is shameful and should be categorised as sexual harassment. The many social media comments I read shaming actress Emma Maembong for pumping her breast milk in public were a sad reminder of how women’s bodies are still policed for something as fundamental as breastfeeding.
I truly wonder if those who jumped on the shame-that-breastfeeding-mother bandwagon were fed with a water hose when they were screaming their lungs out for milk as infants in public.
Breastfeeding mothers should not be told to cover up on airplanes, they should not be told to cover up in parks, they should not be shamed for breastfeeding in restaurants, they should not be chased into dirty public toilets and breastfeeding mothers should not be told to not pump their breast milk in their own office cubicle.
Heck, they should not be told to leave any premises for wanting to feed their hungry child from their own bodies, by revealing a little extra flesh. Enough. Just avert your gaze and move on.
Sexualising and over-reacting to something as basic as sustenance for a child, to me, is a psychological issue which needs to be discussed, because this is a real problem in our society today.
I have personally witnessed this toxic public reaction on two occasions; in one of those times, the woman looked like a new mother as she was struggling to cover her breast and her baby, appearing fearful of the reactions of those around her, some of whom shook their heads in disgust as they walked past her.
I offered to help cover her with my dupatta which was pinned onto my traditional Indian attire. I truly could not help feeling sorry for her although I am not a breastfeeding mother.
The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry should spearhead an annual campaign by joining forces with the many women’s rights NGOs out there to educate people on the importance of breastfeeding, and why these women must be encouraged and protected as they feed their children, instead of being shamed.
Breastfeeding should be normalised as an important part of childcare.
To those of you who enjoyed shaming Emma and mothers like her: Shame, shame, shame!
* This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views ofMalay Mail.
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