Breastfeeding indecent?

What a load of crap:

Melissa Kroener was in a grocery last June when her 3-month-old son, Luke, got fussy and hungry.

Kroener, a law student, thought it too hot to breast-feed her child in the car and considered the store’s bathroom “too gross.” An employee offered her a seat at the front of the store.

All went well until a customer noticed and accused Kroener of public indecency. Another employee told her to move.

When I imagine this scene I see in my mind’s eye the old Winn Dixie on Main Street in Nicholasville, where the boys and I used to go hang out while we were visiting Dad. (He lived in an apartment nearby, and that’s about all I want to say about that. It was a rough time, and it’s long past.)

The storefront of that Winn-Dixie was nothing but windows and girders. There were black chairs lined up along the wall near the automatic doors, the toy vending machines and a vacuum/carpet shampooer you could rent. I’m imagining a woman sitting there with her breast exposed for all to see, both inside the store and out.

Even in that case, I don’t think it’s right to force her to move.

The film Tampopo, one of my favorites, is all about food. The end credits scroll past a baby who is breastfeeding. And this isn’t your normal, American-style breastfeeding, where there’s a blanket or something draped over. This is a bare breast, with a baby sucking on it, for the entirety of the credits.

When I first saw it, it was very disconcerting. The breastfeeding seemed to last forever. While intellectually I knew that this was a very natural thing, that the baby was eating, there was a core part of me that was uncomfortable seeing it.


It’s natural to breastfeed. It’s healthier for the baby. And in today’s busy world, we can’t guarantee that we will be in the privacy of our own home, or that we will have pumped breast milk handy, when the baby needs nourishment. We have things we need to do, and none of us is perfect.

I think this all comes down to the sexualization of the breast.

What, scientifically, does the breast have to do with the sexual act? Nothing. It’s not necessary. It’s very nice to include it, but we all know where the real action happens. Yet in our culture we have so sexualized breasts that we are shocked when we see them.

They’re just breasts.

Is it impossible to see a breast and not be scandalized? Can’t we agree that there are times when breasts are not sexy?