Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 3rd 2013 Contents B3
Thursday, October 3, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
It s hard to say it more plainly.
Mothers have a right to breastfeed
wherever they want.
I ve contentedly breastfed while giv-
ing workshops, while shopping in the
mall and at public functions. There is
no reason under the sun why babies
cannot be breastfed in Parliament, at
workplaces, on Frederick Street, at
cricket matches, at church or temple,
on Harris Promenade, at Maracas, on
the Avenue and in NAPA.
There is no reason under the sun
why these places should be defined on
male terms, suited solely or mainly to
male bodies and responsibilities.
Equality means making all spaces
also defined on female terms, suited to
female bodies, and to women s multiple
responsibilities as workers, mothers,
citizens, community members and par-
ticipants in culture.
Equity means not making women
choose between work and family or
watching a performance and quietly
breastfeeding her baby. It means
enabling her to speak in parliament
while she is breastfeeding, if that is
what she chooses, because when she s
at home no one stops her from speaking
while breastfeeding. Women s brains
and their bodies can perform different
roles at the same time, in public and
in private. Mothers rock out like that
without a fuss every day.
And, there is no difference between
the home and the House of Parliament.
If the family really is the basis for the
nation, then the House, the state and
the nation need to be more family-
friendly or stop and check their own
Breasts were not put on the planet
for men s pleasure, though they are
sexual, just as ears, necks and knees.
Women evolved breasts to feed babies,
babies who go on to be productive
workers in our current capitalist system,
who grow into the citizens that define
our nation, whose right to good health
is a public responsibility.
Once you get over the tiefhead that
the meaning of women s bodies should
be defined by men s desire for them,
and that it is men who therefore set
the rules for women, then it s obvious
that breasts are as carnal, offensive or
vulgar as elbows. They are a natural
part of how women reproduce and nur-
ture life. What we should question are
their social meanings. Why are exposed
breasts considered immodest in some
cultures and not others? Who decides
women s rights?
We have to trust and empower
women to use their best judgment
about where and what is right for them
and their babies.
Feminist advocacy has long cam-
paigned for spaces like
rooms in malls and workplaces so that
women have somewhere quiet and dis-
creet to go if they choose. The key point
here is that they must choose.
Banishing women to seclusion despite
their own choice isn t progressive policy.
It s a denial of choice and an act of
domination. It feels like an experience
of violence. If anyone had ever stood
up over me and forced me into isolation
supposedly for my own comfort, I
would have felt like they were putting
a shame on me that I did not feel, and
punishing me for being a mother and
for inconveniently having a woman s
The mothers, grandmothers, women,
fathers and men, who are clear that
babies have a right to feed wherever
they are, know that NAPA acted
NAPA s position has been to defend
the indefensible, which is particularly
insulting given that there is absolutely
no written policy justifying adminis-
trators failure to immediately affirm a
commitment to a non-sexist, taxpay-
Minister of Culture, there is no reason
under the sun for this to happen again.
I can only hope you ve made sure
Once you get over the tiefhead
that the meaning of women's
bodies should be defined by
men's desire for them, and that
it is men who therefore set the
rules for women, then it's
obvious that breasts are as
carnal, offensive or vulgar as
elbows. They are a natural part
of how women reproduce and
Breast is best,
Earlier this year, Australian mothers descended on the Bribie Island Aquatic Centre, north of Brisbane, to
stage a "nurse-in" protest in support of a local mother who was asked to move from the poolside while
nursing. PHOTO COURTESY BRISBANE TIMES
DIARY OF A MOTHERING WORKER
Links Archive October 2nd 2013 October 4th 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page