Woman kicked off plane for breastfeeding her baby

We don't have all the facts about this situation, but if the information about her location on the plane is correct, I don't think anyone was justified to compell her to use a blanket while feeding her child, given that breastfeeding is not illegal in that state (and don't get me started on places where it is illegal). Frankly, I don't even think she should have been compelled if she was sitting in an aisle seat, but I understand that some passengers might be uncomfortable and unable to switch seats.

Why do some people still think it's inappropriate for women to breastfeed their children in public?! It's not like they strip down or whip out their breasts for amusement, and you can be discreet without using a blanket to cover yourself up.

Some people are so strangely squeamish, like the people who were outraged at seeing the breastfeeding picture on a Baby Talk magazine cover. People called the photo gross, sexual, and some shredded or hid the magazine for fear that the men in their families would see it. You see more breast watching Fashion File, the red carpet photos at the Oscars, and any number of TV shows. Some people seem incapable of thinking of the breast as anything but a sexual object, even in un-sexy situations.

Some places have nursing rooms for those who choose to use them, but that's optional. Many places don't have comfortable, clean, designated nursing areas, and when that's not available or desired, I don't think a mother should be forced to go to the car to feed her baby, or worse, go to a public restroom. Would you eat in the bathroom? I can't imagine a stranger approaching me to criticize me for how and where I feed my child. Let's hope that when Baby is born I won't have such unpleasant experiences!

It baffles me that 57% of respondents surveyed for the article about the Baby Talk cover don't think that women should have the right to breastfeed in public (!), and people freak out about that beautiful photo, yet seeing a celebrity almost naked on the cover of a magazine is accepted as commonplace.

Strange world we live in. The Baby Talk article examined why women don't nurse longer - is it any wonder?

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  1. Great post. I completely agree and have been meaning to post on this topic, but you have basically said what needs to be said. Those who find a breast with a baby attached sexual need a reality check.

  2. What does it say about the people who think that cover is sexual in nature?


  3. My perspective was always that anywhere I could drink juice, water, coffee or the like was a place in which my child could also consume a beverage. Some places I didn't nurse in. Art galleries, for instance, I generally tried to find a place out of the gallery area.

    I was never asked to leave anywhere or to cover up. I probably got a few weird looks, but I determined before Katherine was born that I would ignore such things. Besides, when you have a hungry child, desperation kicks in. Would the people around you rather have a quiet, nursing baby or a howling screaming one? Easy decision, eh?

  4. It's nuts that a good chunk of the kooks whining about discretion and forcing babies under cloths, would be the same people howling about Muslim women being forced to wear burkas.

  5. I think that it's incredibly hypocritical and sad that this is still happening. I feel like we've been fighting this fight forever.

  6. How can someone look at that cover, of a loving look from a child to a mother and think anything bad? Your points were perfectly put and I can't add anything except bravo for putting it out there.

  7. Hi. Great post. As a follower of George Lakoff's theory (as well as others of course) that there's almost always a legitimate reason for any belief, I'm having a tough time trying to figure out why anyone would reasonably want to prevent women from breastfeeding in public.

    I think that such an attitude might have its origins in the conservative/puritanical desire to maintain order and discipline. Anything remotely sexual (i.e. anything associated with the entire reproductive system) is to be kept private.

    The point of this, I suppose, would be to prevent people's earthly passions from taking over, at the expense of their "godliness." Just a guess.

    Anyway, looking forward to your next post. Maybe we can exchange links sometime.

  8. Interesting theory, cardozo. You may be on to something. It seems strange to me though, that a society which condones so many racy magazines, videos and TV shows contains large groups of people who think that breastfeeding in public is wrong. Perhaps breasts aren't considered as offensive when they're not 'working'?

  9. UPDATE:

    Flight attendant disciplined for ordering breastfeeding mom off plane

    Last Update: 11/17/2006 3:31:02 PM
    By: Associated Press

    BURLINGTON, Vt. (AP) - A commuter airline says it disciplined a flight attendant who ordered a Santa Fe woman off an airplane after the passenger refused to cover her baby with a blanket while breast-feeding the child.

    A spokesman for Freedom Airlines says the attendant did not meet company expectations when Emily Gillette was told to leave the plane at a Vermont airport for declining a blanket.

    The airline did not disclose the nature of the discipline.

    Gillette lives in Santa Fe.

    The plane was three hours late taking off, and Gillette began to breast-feed her 22-month-old daughter.

    She says a flight attendant handed her a blanket and told her to cover up. Gillette declined.

    The attendant had Gillette removed from the plane.

  10. Regarding "working" vs. "non-working" breasts, I think it's the slippery slope argument.

    Right now there is no taboo about revealing clothes on TV and mags. That ship has sailed.

    But there's still somewhat of a taboo with breastfeeding, so that's where the groups are focusing their energies.

    Much like the pro-lifers are trying to work on the parental notification issue as a smaller battle within the war, one they think they might be able to win.

  11. Sounds like something straight out of a Muslim country, but since it's America it just really makes you wonder... how far apart are these two who hate each other so from an ideological standpoint? Both think the human body is disgusting, apparently. Looks like they all forget they sucked on breasts when they were infants, too. "Discreet"?

    You know, I honestly think the reason it makes people uncomfortable is because they have unhealthy sexual moral repressions that make the sight of a breast into one of guilt and angst. Which is why the sight of Janet Jackson's breast (singular) on TV during the Super Bowl almost caused a thermonuclear meltdown in America. The fact that the showing of a breast on TV was so shocking really shows you that not only are Americans ulta-conservatives, but have a very unhealthy view of women and the human body. To be reviled by something "natural" displays a vast amount of intolerance and misunderstanding of the role of women in the development of the human species. Breast-feeding should be a freely and open thing to do, and if people are uncomfortable with it... they can frikkin GROW UP!

  12. I agree, Adrian!!

  13. you say don't get you started on countries where it is Illegal, my wife is a student midwife and is currently doing a presentation on the law with regard to breastfeeding. We have been unable to find any countries where breastfeeding IS illegal in public. We checked countries such as pakistan, saudi arabia and afghanistan where you would expect perhaps the islamic governments would make such acts illegal but this is not the case. I would appreciate it greatly if you could point out countries where public breastfeeding is illegal and even more so if it could be cited.

  14. I didn't actually say countries, but places. For instance, in some US states, there is no breastfeeding exemption to indecent exposure laws. So while breastfeeding itself may not be illegal, a woman could be charged for exposing her breast, leaving judges to decide about discretion and exposure in the case. One wonders if places where proposed breastfeeding legislation has failed might be places where judges are liable to be more conservative and strict about the nature of discretion...

    It would be interesting if your wife looked into these kinds of situations worldwide, and legal challenges to breastfeeding laws for her project (makes me wish I had the time to do a research project on it - interesting topic!).