It really annoys me when I see things like this BBC story – a mass breastfeeding protest at a branch of Sports Direct in Nottingham.
I’m proud of the women, one of whom I know, but I can’t help thinking they shouldn’t have to do this stuff any more. It’s appalling that any mother is ever asked to stop feeding her baby. Babies can’t wait. They need to eat when they need to eat. Mothers are equipped with a portable supply of food at the right temperature. What on earth is the issue?
Oh, give them a bottle, I hear you say. Well, some babies won’t take a bottle and why expect people to go through all that faffing anyway if they don’t have to.
All you can see when a baby is feeding is the back of their head. If you are especially nosy and look very hard you might get a fleeting glimpse of a nipple as the baby goes on or off the breast. But surely if you were that repulsed by the idea, you wouldn’t be looking that closely?
The law now protects the rights of babies to be breastfed anywhere it’s legal for them to be throughout the UK. Mothers should be confident in that, but it’s very difficult to be confident when you have some ignorant shop assistant challenging you, as happened to Wioletta Komar. She told the BBC how it made her feel:
“It was the way she spoke to me and her whole attitude – she was just so rude, and I felt so upset and embarrassed,” said Mrs Komar, who has not breastfed in public since then.
“I still feel depressed about it and can’t forget about that bad experience.
“I can’t understand why a baby has to be punished for being hungry and why I need to feel like a criminal when I just want to feed my baby son.”
That is why it’s so good to see so many women show solidarity with Wioletta. Nobody should ever have to feel that they can’t feed their baby in public. People who have a problem with it should never
When my baby was 4 months old, I had to deal with a cafe manager in Edwinstowe, only 20 miles from that Sports Direct in Nottingham, actually yell at me to stop feeding her in case a man came in and I got embarrassed. I was able to calmly tell her that I wouldn’t get embarrassed and I simply kept going. The next day, once I’d calmed down, I wrote a letter of complaint in which I highlighted that I was showing far less flesh than customers would see in the Sun, which was there for customers to read.
The idea that a woman could be bullied and intimidated out of a shop merely for feeding her baby in the second decade of the 21st century is simply appalling. Sports Direct has been less than courteous both then and since to Wioletta Komar. Let’s hope that they’ve learned their lesson. A proper public apology would be good instead of their hitherto truculent silence.
H/T to my friend Sandra, Lindsay’s mum, for highlighting this on Facebook. She said she was doing this sort of protest when her kids were small. You would think we we should have outgrown this sort of prejudice and ignorance by now.