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Breastfeeding: Much Ado About Suckling

The columnist is once again going for cheap laughs at the expense of others in the debate over breastfeeding.

Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh. ~ W. H. Auden US (English-born) critic & poet (1907 - 1973)

I was astonished by the voracity and scope of the debate triggered by last Saturday’s Patch article,

There were 46 comments posted in the oftentimes heated, sometimes humorous deliberations; a sizeable response by any standards.

In , a column I wrote for the Easton Patch in February of last year, I referenced an incident where I witnessed a young woman breastfeeding her baby at Starbuck’s in Easton. It was done in my usual playful, tongue-in-cheek style, but one reader who obviously missed my subtle humor took offense to my feigned shock at witnessing this stirring tribute to La Leche League International while enjoying my Triple Grande Cappuccino.

Amy, the reader who ‘didn’t get it’, responded as follows……………

“The Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 111 § 221 (2008) allows a mother to breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present. The law also specifies that the act of a mother breastfeeding her child shall not be considered lewd, indecent, immoral or unlawful conduct and provides for a civil action by a mother subjected to a violation of this law.

You claim that it's natural and you're as open minded as the next guy ("or more so"? I think not!) yet you are ranting about it on a public forum. She was being discreet about it and presumably at no point did any of her breast or nipple show, so what's it to you? Shame on you for being put out. Did it ever occur to you that she, too was taking a well-deserved break from what had already been a rather hectic day and her baby was hungry? Would you have preferred she do it in the cold car, or the dirty bathroom? Next time you see a nursing mother lawfully feeding her child in public, take your wife's advice and look away.”

My response to this well-intentioned, yet sadly mislead young lady was……….

“Thank you for your comments, Amy. I appreciate you taking the time.

I'm not sure whether or not you're a regular reader of my column. If you were, I think you'd understand that much of my 'style' is predicated on humor, much of it 'tongue-in-cheek'.

In reality, I have no problem with breast feeding in public between a consenting adult and a minor under the age of two. Between two consenting adults? Now THAT I would have a problem with.”

I’m exceedingly thankful that Amy didn’t quite grasp the humorous intent of that column. I’ve gotten a lot of mileage out of it over the past year-and-a-half, having referenced it several times in subsequent columns.

For my money, one of the best comments posted to last Saturday’s article came from a reader, Janis, who proudly stated…………

“I breastfed my children and most of my friends did as well.”

I laughed for about five minutes after reading that and, being that it’s my nature to ‘jump on the wagon’, I responded…………

“Janis - most of your friends breastfed your children? The English language is a tricky bugger isn't it?”

I’m not laughing at you, Janis. I’m laughing with you. But, then again, you may not think it’s all that funny; so I guess I’m laughing at you.

If you’d like updates on the aforementioned article or any other Norton Patch story, simply go to the article you’re interested in and scroll down to the bottom where you’ll see ‘Email me updates about this story’. Then if you'll just enter your email address and click on ‘Keep me posted,’ you’ll be kept abreast of the situation.

Sorry! Sometimes I just can’t help myself!

Make it a great week!

Bob Havey is a freelance writer and a consummate trouble-maker. His column, The Way I See It, runs every other Wednesday at Norton Patch. Check out his author’s page on Facebook.

Jasmine August 15, 2012 at 01:29 PM
LOL....This is ALWAYS a touchy subject, love that you can bring humor to it! Personally I think women should be able to breast feed in public HOWEVER they should cover up!. I get it it's their right, their freedom, their duty to feed their child, and by all means please do, but I do not wish to see your boob hanging out as you do! It is common decency to simply put a blanket or cover over yourself as your child has his/her meal. Great topic Bob!
ed wynn August 15, 2012 at 01:42 PM
you get paid for this ?? OMG, I could SO get a paycheck !!
Bob Havey August 15, 2012 at 07:44 PM
Thanks, Jasmine!
Bob Havey August 15, 2012 at 07:45 PM
Hey, don't knock it. You get paid for playing with chickens and goats.
JE August 15, 2012 at 09:48 PM
Hahaha Bob! Darn language! Well, I'm glad I could be the source of a good laugh! My statement really gives new meaning to the phrase "friends with benefits"! Gee, I could have taken a vacation or had more dates with my husband. Talk about controversial!! LOL!
Bob Havey August 15, 2012 at 10:01 PM
You're a good sport, Janis! Glad we both had a good laugh. It seems there's not enough of that in the world any longer. Thanks!

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