At a "Big Splash" water park in Tulsa Oaklahoma Tina Russel was told to remove herself to a washroom, or else cover her child when breastfeeding. "We were there to have fun have family time. Relax," she said. "Ethan got fussy so I started to feed him."
Reading this I thought back to the many many times I've been busy watching my toddler, and needed to attend to my infant at the same time. Breastfeeding is the perfect solution for keeping one's infant happy while attending to one's older child with ease. It's a beautiful solution; always available, always fresh and no need to pre -heat!
I also thought of the many times when my children have been disruptive, crying and upset, and I was able to comfort and satisfy them easily. I thought particularly of the hours I've spent on a plane which could quite simply have been a nightmare of crying if not for the ability to nurse. I often nursed out of CONSIDERATION for others, not with the intention of causing discomfort!
Tina Russel was located on one of the "islands" in the middle of the activity pool when her younger son began to get fussy. Like many good mothers, she wanted to keep an eye on her older son, and still attend the needs of the younger child. For this she was reprimanded by the lifeguards, asked to move or cover up, and later told that she should have thought twice about having two kids so close together. The park manager apparently said: "it's not my choice that you had two children. It's not my choice that you had two children this close together."
In my opinion this is a clear example of the kind of scorn shown towards mothers in our modern society. I think back to some of the times I had to haul a screaming toddler out of a store, while balancing a baby on my hip and NO ONE bothered to help me with the door. Maybe they just didn't think of it, I don't know, but I wonder sometimes if there isn't a mentallity of "you got yourself in this mess, you clean it up." Women in the United States are given apallingly short maternity leaves, with the apparent mindset being "it's your choice to have kids, you suck up the consequences."
Some of the comments on the News Channel 8 Talk Back News were as follows:
"This woman sounds like an attention-seeker and an exhibitionist."
"What a skanky, lazy, irresponsible and very inconsiderate woman!"
"Probably more like, this is the first time the complaints got past her narcissisim."
In my opinion breastfeeding is one of the very least selfish things one can do for another human being, (besides sharing one's body with someone else for nine months, maybe.) It amazes me how many times I've heard breastfeeding being equated with selfishness. For many women it can be quite a struggle at first- painful sometimes, messy and not always very easy. I personally have never had any difficulty with it, but I've known women who have struggled with painful latch, thrush, sleepless nights, and perservered for the sake of their children. This is to me the essence of motherhood. Not that bottle feeding mothers lack this quality in the least, but the image of a woman breastfeeding seems to symbolize this selfLESSness perfectly.
6/24/2010 10:27:46 pm
I was extremly dissapointed and saddedned after reading the comments in the article you posted. It seems that there are a lot of misogenistic people out there (both men and women) who have been so brainwashed into thinking that womens breasts are only sexual objects. People don't know how to react when they see them being used for the very reason the were created for. So they get angry and upsset because they aren't used to it. Hopefully through awarness and the practice of breastfeeding becoming more popular, people will be less likely to be weirded out by it. Hopefully.
6/25/2010 12:26:07 am
This makes me seethe and I don't like to feel this way. Good article Kate.
6/25/2010 03:35:08 am
So true Kate about nursing on a flight! It's often done out of consideration of the people around you!
6/25/2010 07:44:18 am
Kate, thank you again for keeping these issues in the public domain. As i have said before you are an excellent commentator both visually and with words. With Love in your heart you can't go wrong.
6/30/2010 12:08:54 pm
Thank you so much for continuing to spread this story and to help raise awareness that we NEED more support. I have yet to hear anything positive come from Big Splash, but have found great support from our breastfeeding community that apparently is all over the continent and world. Thank you again for a great story.
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A blog on art, roller derby and life.
I'm an artist and mother of two in Courtenay, BC. I've completed a project called the "Madonna and Child Project," and I'm now working on a series of roller derby inspired drawings. In my spare time I play roller derby with the Brick House Betties.