One of my favorite parts of writing for Odyssey has been the opportunity to express my viewpoints freely as part of a team of content creators, all with different perspectives on every aspect of life. Once in a while though, I come across an article that crosses the line. There are articles I disagree with, and then there are articles I find straight up offensive.
Odyssey's Facebook page recently promoted this article: "I'm A Woman And You Can't Convince Me Breastfeeding in Public Is Ok." I was very much taken aback and felt the need to respond.
In particular, a few lines deeply upset me:
"If you see a girl in a shirt cut too low, you call her a slut. If you see a celebrity post a nude photo, you call them immodest and a terrible role model. What makes you think that pulling out a breast in the middle of public is different, regardless of what you're doing with it?"
First of all, it is never normal or appropriate to call other women sluts at all, let alone for just showing a little bit of cleavage. No, I do not call a woman a slut for a low-cut top, and anyone who does so has zero right to claim they support women. Simply being a woman does not mean you cannot be complicit in misogyny.
Next, let's talk about celebrity nudes. Let's talk about the fact that these photos are almost never posted by celebrities themselves, and are leaked by hackers or vengeful ex-partners. I strongly encourage anyone, celebrity or otherwise, who chooses to take a sexually explicit photo to think very carefully about who they send it to or how they distribute it because there is always a risk of it getting out. However, when you place 100% of the blame on the subject(s) of the photo and completely neglect the fact that someone else is actively using their photos to humiliate and shame them, you are once again complicit in their sexual exploitation.
Now that that bit is off my chest, let's get back to the topic at hand: breastfeeding.
Breasts have exactly one functional purpose: feeding babies. Humanity is still here because up until the relatively recent invention of formula, breastfeeding was the most convenient and effective way to feed babies. The fact that our society now views breasts primarily as sexual objects is a social construct, not the truth. Many people who are attracted to men find the male chest sexually appealing, but recognize that it's creepy to get hot and bothered over some random person in public who isn't putting their body on display for our pleasure. They're just going about their business. I fail to see how this logic does not apply to women's breasts.
Here's the thing: No one is obligated to look at a breastfeeding mother. In fact, many breastfeeding mothers would be very uncomfortable with a stranger looking right at them for a long period of time, or having some sort of public freak-out about it. That's creepy!
At the end of the day, how much or little you care about what other people do with their bodies is up to you. Don't like how that girl over there is showing her cleavage? Look away, she isn't forcing you to wear her clothing. Don't want to be offended by celebrity nudes? Don't pay attention to them, that celebrity is likely being exploited and probably wants people to stop looking for them anyway. Don't like seeing nipples in public? Stop worrying about other people's business and get over yourself. Briefly seeing a nipple has hurt exactly zero people in the history of humanity.
It's so dang easy, I'm shocked we are still having this conversation.