On The Boob: Breastfeeding (In Public)
As a baby, I was not breastfed. My mom was fifteen and it was weird for her, so she went with the bottle. We could spend time delving into the interesting physiological and psychological differences I have to others who were breastfed, but that's for another time.
For mothers who do nurse, occasionally their babies will begin the screaming in a public place. In forty-five states, the law explicitly says that these mothers could go ahead, whip out the boob, and feed their children. Washington is among those states, having passed legislation in 2009 declaring breastfeeding a civil right. Washington is also among twenty-six other states exempting breastfeeding from indecent exposure laws, and twenty-three states with laws protecting breastfeeding mothers in the workplace.
Despite having protections on almost every level, there have been three official complaints to the state Human Rights Commission. In response, the Seattle City Council has passed an additional law making it illegal to ask a breastfeeding parent to stop, cover up, or relocate.
My personal opinion is that breastfeeding is not a big deal. It's generally accepted that breast milk is healthier for the baby than formula. There are supposedly emotionally beneficial reasons (for mother and child) to breastfeed. Moreover, my personal views about nudity are probably more lax than others. Clothing is a necessity for temperature control. The widely accepted need for clothing in modern times is based on morality, which is–of course–relative and arbitrary.
Should asking a mom to stop nursing, cover up, or relocate be illegal? Should it be punishable by law?
According to this, in 2003, 70% of new mothers started breastfeeding, 36% were still doing it at 6 months, and 17% were still breastfeeding at 12 months. It is apparently a common concern that parents will not attempt to nurse, or will stop doing so earlier without support from society, family, friends, and the workplace. The laws are being put on the books because, theoretically, the embarrassment and hassle of having someone tell you to feed your child somewhere else is enough to make someone stop breastfeeding entirely.
In addition, it is my belief that the heavy influence of the church on Western society is a contributing factor to the public's view of nudity. Clergy must be celibate, women are stoned to death for losing their virginity before marriage, homosexuality is punishable by death, etc. Adam and Eve cover themselves after they eat the fruit which gives them knowledge of right and wrong. (Hence, nudity=wrong.)
As an anti-theist, I wholeheartedly agree with Seattle's law. There is no logical reason to be against a mother breastfeeding in public. Relating to mothers stopping earlier, I think individuals should do what they feel is best for their baby regardless of what others think. If this group of people is vulnerable or feels threatened, they should have the law on their side.
On the other hand, maybe it would be a good idea to leave other people alone. It's a boob, it has a nipple. It isn't going to bite you.