Last week, a woman with the improbable name of Nirvana Jennette was berated for breastfeeding in church. I wrote a post for Christianity Today’s women’s blog, her.meneutics, in response; you can read it here.
Basically, I wanted to point out that God is pictured, in Scripture, as a nursing mother. And that in other cultures–notably, cultures that lack the excessive, well, sexualized-boobage-on-display of ours–no one bats an eye when a mom feeds her hungry baby in full view.
Well, given some of the hyper-masculine trends in churchianity these days, I thought people might get upset over the whole “biblical-imagery-God-nursing” thing!
But no. Nope.
For some readers, my article seemed to:
- attack modesty
- refuse to recognize that seeing a woman breastfeeding makes some people uncomfortable
- defend bf’ing in public on the grounds that ‘it’s natural!’
Because “don’t I realize” that…
- seeing breasts triggers sexual thoughts for people–and, yes, Ye Olde Argument “Don’t Cause a Brother to Stumble” (see Romans 14:13-15) was dragged out, too*
- sex and pooping are natural but we don’t do them in the church pew
- and other fallacious comparisons
I wrote the following in response:
“It is worth considering the possibility that plunging necklines, Victoria’s Secret, and (I’ll say it) porn have exaggerated breasts’ sexual meaning at the expense of their other, God given function; whereas, perhaps, a culture without constant exposure to images of glorified, sexualized breasts might be more likely simply to shrug off whatever skin they might see in the act of nursing.
This seems plausible.
It’s POSSIBLE to create a *different* culture around the natural act of breastfeeding–one that, like many cultures elsewhere–recognizes it as simply another part of community/church life in mixed-age settings–ie. the body of Christ in all its beautiful diversity?. Because that is what it is.
You don’t like what you perceive as the ‘militant’ attitude of some breastfeeding moms? Consider what attitude might have given roots to that one.
It’s possible to create a culture where no one feels that militancy is necessary.
A baby’s need to be fed shouldn’t (can’t!) be dictated by schedules or strangers’ preferences. You’re uncomfortable; you want to look away? You are free to do so.
What I’m saying is that it may be possible to look/see *in a different way.*”
P.P.S., on why breastfeeding is more than just a topic of the mommy wars, read my post here.
*I’m not trying to belittle this line of argument. Okay, maybe I am, just a little. But really, this line of argument belittles itself. Men have less control over where they point their eyeballs than infants or their mothers do over the when and where of infant hunger? And women should therefore be banished to the bathroom with their infants? How ’bout we make the men go sit in the bathroom?