Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Modesty and Breastfeeding

Edited: In the "And now breastfeeding" paragraph, I wrote, "It is also my understanding that the Church Handbook clarifies that the primary purpose of breast is to nourish and nurture children. If I am wrong about that, someone who has access to the Handbook, please let me know." I have been corrected: it isn't the Handbook, it's from A Parent's Guide, Chapter 5. Sorry about that. -TopHat

This post has been a long time in coming- I really meant to post it months ago. Last week a reporter asked me about the Facebook nurse-in, "How do you, as a BYU grad, get involved with this?" I answered his questioned with a simple, "A good education teaches you to think for yourself and compels you to action, just as the BYU motto states, 'Enter to learn, Go forth to serve.'" I skirted around the question he intended to ask, but I'm going to be more direct here. What did I think he wanted to ask? "How do you, as a member of the LDS Church, get involved with this- especially with the emphasis on modesty in the Church?" I'm going to answer this, but I want to emphasize that this is how I understand the principle of modesty and I don't speak for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

The Reason behind Modesty

I'll first tackle this- I do know that as people with finite minds, we don't know nor can we understand all of God's intentions behind everything, but this is what I understand from my study of this topic. Almost every talk about modesty emphasizes that we are in the image of God. We are then taught to be modest out of respect for God's image. We shouldn't misuse the image of God for the purpose of satisfying the natural man. "The natural man is an enemy to God." When we dress with the intention to be "sexy" or bring to attention to our bodies, we are succumbing to our natural man and we are misusing God's image. I think this is where the line is drawn between art and pornography: art is respectful of God's image, pornography isn't.

And now breastfeeding
Now we get to how breastfeeding is involved. This made me think, "Is breastfeeding misusing the image of God?" Well, that's an obvious "No." In the Latter-day Saint Woman, Part A, it states, "Our Heavenly Father made the mother’s body so it could produce milk." In A Parent's Guide, it also states, "the female breasts....were intended to nourish and comfort children." The breast is intended to breastfeed, so when I breastfeed, I am not misusing my body or God's image, so I don't feel that I am immodest in this.

"But men are more visual...we should help them"
I understand where this is coming from- we are trying to become a Zion people and a Zion society is a society that helps each other. However, I feel that this argument hurts more than it helps.

First, it hurts men. It implies that men have no self-control or agency in the matter. Preserving agency is one of the primary reasons of being here on Earth and removing men from their agency is harmful and against the plan. I want no part of it, so I will not encourage that argument. Also, this argument can be used as an excuse to not tackle an issue. This is one example of, "I'm like this ____ and I can't change that." This isn't limited to men and being visual, of course, this can be extended to any person and any addiction/struggle they might have. The ultimate harm of this argument is the "I can't change that" clause. This is a direct attack on Christ's atonement- implying that it isn't as encompassing and total and infinite as it is. "I can't change that. Nothing can help me- not even Christ."

Secondly, this argument hurts women. The "women should be responsible for men's thoughts" line is a thin and dangerous line. At what point would that stop? When a woman wears a mini skirt and is raped? I fully believe that men and women are responsible for themselves. When we tell young girls that they need to be modest for men, we are encouraging a very detrimental thought process and setting them up for abusive relationships. "He thinks/does ____ because I _____" is what is going to keep women in relationships that they need to get out of. It's what makes someone think they can change their spouse/friend/family member, "If only I ____, s/he wouldn't ____."

The biggest issue here
I really feel the issue is cultural. Our American culture breeds the idea that women's breast's are for sex and arousal: that breasts = sex = private. But breasts don't equal sex any more than mouths do- and I breathe and eat and speak without hiding my mouth. The idea that breasts are for sex and sex only is not a world-wide phenomenon. Some argue that since women have breasts and men don't (for the most part) that it was meant to be a sexual organ. You could say the same for a man's facial hair. But perhaps, the reason women, and not men, have breasts is that women bear children and are mothers and men aren't. I feel that Satan's attempt to sexualize breasts is part of his attempt to devalue motherhood, and ultimately the family. By tackling this issue, I'm hoping to restore some of the sacredness of motherhood and family and to set straight some of what Satan has twisted.

A World-wide Church
One friend of mine pointed out to me that if the Church is the same world wide (and it is), then the issue with breastfeeding should be the same worldwide. If a mother can breastfeed in church in Brazil uncovered (and they do), then I should be able to do the same here- covering while breastfeeding isn't the gospel. It's like the "The Church isn't the people, it's the gospel" argument. I do think it is nice that many buildings have a mother's lounge for women who need more seclusion- I used it when Margaret was going through a time where she would only nurse lying down- and it's kind of hard to lie down in Relief Society! However, I don't want the thought process to become, "There is a mother's lounge for women to breastfeed, so all breastfeeding must belong there whether or not a woman wants to be there." The Church is a family church and segregating mothers from the rest of the congregation is damaging and discrimination.

Other's comfort
One argument for "covering up" while breastfeeding is that other people are "uncomfortable." I do understand consideration for others, but personally, I'm going to feed and comfort my child before I worry about another person's comfort. My child is a person too, and I'm going to respect her comfort also. I read one argument about this last week that there are still some people (sadly) uncomfortable with the sight/thought of interracial marriages and couples, but that doesn't mean those marriages and couples should hide; the same goes for breastfeeding. People are going to be uncomfortable with just about anything... from the color yellow to elephants. In the meantime, I'm going to concern myself first with the needs and concerns of the children that God has entrusted me. They are my first priority.

Conclusion
I do, as a Latter-day Saint, value modesty and the respect of God's image. However, I don't feel that breastfeeding disrespects God, so I don't feel it is a "modesty" issue. I want my children to be modest, not because of what other people might think, but because of their own testimonies about the sacredness and the nature of God.

91 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. awesome post, great thoughts.

    i hate the argument that women are responsible for mens thoughts. you put that down with such great words.

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  3. Here Here! Well said. Also, I am so impressed with all you did with the facebook nurse in. I actually read about in the paper and saw your name-- I actually can't remember where-- before I had read it on your blog and I was very proud! Way to go!

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  4. VERY well said! I completely agree!

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  5. *thunderous applause*

    Awesome post!! Love it!

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  6. Very interesting post...I like what you said about cultural standards with respect to modesty. In some African countries legs are considered the quintessential "no-no part" for women. Villagers can strut around topless, but they're outraged if some tourist chick shows up wearing shorts.

    On that note, I think I speak for most heterosexual men when I say that the most fascinating curves on a women's body are located below the equator...;-)

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  7. Beautifully said. Like always.

    I personally am not comfortable exposing myself as such in front of many people, but that is SO a personal thing. If I see a woman breastfeeding their child where I wouldn't, I think, "Good for her!" It's just a personal thing, though, but nobody's making me do it in public at all. It's just how I am, not how people have indoctrinated me at all.

    Again, well stated. You're such a well thought-out arguer (is that a word?) and strong believer in what you believe. That's an admirable quality!

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  8. I think you havs stated what has been needing to be stated. Personally I think its a wonderful time when the baby and mother spend that personal time. There were times when I just saw my wife glow as she would feed our son Ben. I could see the closeness and the non-verbal communication going on that I don't think I could ever understand. I think more people like you need to stand up for up for what needs to be said.

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  9. Would you like to keep this blog away from the haters, or would you like them to be able to see your perspective? Apparently some of them are too dumb to realize they can google your name to find this blog instantly.

    I am still trying to convince one of them that your original pulled photo (with Margaret sitting up) is not showing a huge areola -- they think that the curve of Margaret's cheek is areola!! Anyway, I refused to link them here, because I didn't want them invading your personal space. But if you don't mind, I might link them to this post so they can see your rationale in your own words.

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  10. Just wanted to let you know I linked to this post on my blog.

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  11. Brilliant! I esp. agree with the world-wide church part. Modesty and breastfeeding is really only a Western concept. Anyone who thinks that breastfeeding is contrary to the gospel of Christ is narrow-minded, IMO.

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  12. You hit the nail on the head here. I appreciated your consideration of all of the varied perspectives on this issue. I really admire your willingness to be an advocate for women on the breastfeeding issue---I agree that our culture is trying to turn something sacred and beautiful between mother and child into something awful and unnecessary. Great job!

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  13. Regardless of what you have said. Facebook is a privately owned company that can make its own rules. Your facebook page is NOT your private property. You are subject to their rules and regulations.

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  14. Saturdays...
    This post wasn't about the Facebook issue, but about my views of modesty and breastfeeding. If you'd like to discuss the Facebook issue, please comment on the many posts dedicated to that. Thanks.

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  15. I do not want you to post this comment; but, I think you should know this:

    1. having comment moderation enabled

    2. having 0 of 12 comments be contradictive of your post

    makes it look like you are trying to control what people read on this important subject. It also makes it seem to many that you are solely defensive and thus not a very good champion of this cause.

    Perhaps you could allow contradictive posts (but only those that are courteous and worded well) and then people will think that you can stand your ground. It is good that you filter the mean comments out.

    Two pence,
    R

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  16. R,
    To be completely fair, I have posted every comment, including yours. There has simply not been a post against this issue.
    I do post comments that are contrary to my opinions and my longtime readers do know that.
    TopHat

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  17. Wonderful! I was proven wrong before you posted my comment.

    Good show and thank you,
    R

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  18. To be quite honest, I admire your desire to change our society for the better, but I dislike the direction you're going with this and I find your logic flawed.

    I want to address the issue of a "World Wide Church." A "World Wide Church" means that allowances are made for differences in culture. Just because something is done one way in Brazil doesn't mean you "should be able to" do the same thing in the United States.

    Teaching principles of modesty to young girls will not set them up for abusive relationships. Our bodies are sacred and posting pictures on the internet (no matter what the context) is not a good way to show respect for that sanctity.

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    1. I actually live in Brazil (I am American, married to a Brazilian) and I love how comfortably I can nurse my children here. I remember having the bishop and his wife over for lunch one Sunday, and her little one asked to nurse. she pulled her top DOWN, basically exposing her entire breast, to nurse her baby. she did not use a cover. we were mid-conversation and she didn't miss a beat, because IT WAS NOT A BIG DEAL.

      did her husband gasp and try to cover his wife up? no. did my husband freak out? nope, and she was sitting right across from him. I was also breastfeeding my baby and breasts just don't freak out Brazilian men in general, because they are seen everywhere. moms nursing their babies anywhere, anytime.

      So, tell me why a breastfeeding pair in Brazil should be treated differently than a breastfeeding pair in the USA?
      and yes, I DO believe we "should be able to do the same thing" because that "thing" is NOTHING wrong.

      when you see documentaries on indian tribes where they basically all walk around naked, or at least with women walking around with their breasts exposed, is it not AMAZING that the men don't walk around with constant erections? oh, that's right, because bodies are NORMAL, and they don't freak out and have nasty thoughts at every inch of skin they see.
      it is purely our society that has screwed this up. we need to fiz this, and NOW. it's all wrong, we are sending the wrong messages. it's so simple, and people keep complicating it!

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  19. This is a very well articulated perspective and I completely agree that the majority and even the (US) LDS perspective has been shaped by social mores more than morals.
    However, many of your arguments could also easily be applied to suggest tha women should be able to go around topless just as men do at beaches and other places. Would you agree with that, or do you think that the utility of breastfeeding alone is what overcomes the sexual understanding of breasts that society has adopted?

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    1. why not? in lots of countries it's legal! actually, in NYC it's legal :)
      http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/07/29/moira-johnston-goes-topless-in-nyc-to-raise-awareness-of-the-right-to-a-bare-chest.html

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  20. John,
    In keeping in the context of the church, it is important to remember that both men and women are held to the same modesty standards, especially once they have been to the temple for their endowment: torso from the knees to the shoulders and some arm. As children are growing up, we teach them to follow the same guidelines they'll follow when they reach that point in their lives. There are exceptions to this, and as you've pointed out: swimming is one of those exceptions for both men and women where the garment isn't required to be worn properly or at all, as is exercising, intimacy, showering, etc. Modesty issues, like the garment, are between the person and the Lord. There may exceptions for various reasons. For example, the temple matron, when I went to the temple for myself, told me that if I wanted to wear underwear underneath my garments to hold a pad in place during my periods, I could if I prayed about it and felt comfortable with that. A person might require special medical equipment that might cause part of their stomach or shoulder or back, etc to be exposed. That is something that person might go to the Lord for. As we know, even bathing suits are subject to the user's own discretion. Some men might feel more comfortable in a speedo due to what they are doing or perhaps they feel a speedo gives them more support than trunks. Some women choose two piece swimsuits if they feel that they prefer the boy short type bottom or whatever. Perhaps the bra-like top gives them them more support. Modesty is ultimately between the person and the Lord. With this blog post, I was trying to explain why I feel that breastfeeding is a time (like swimming, etc) that my child's need to eat or be comforted is going to trump covering my shoulder or breast, and I'm ok with that and I feel that God is ok with that and I gave reasons why that is.

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  21. Snowbird,
    It is not modesty that leads girls or boys into abusive relationships. I do feel that telling a girl or boy that they are responsible for other people's thoughts is manipulative. We know that we are responsible for ourselves, not others. Christ even tells us that if our thoughts are sinful, that is our sin (Matt. 5:28). As I've said, I want my children to be modest- because I agree with you that modesty is about respect for God and ourselves. I don't feel it is about keeping other's thoughts "in line."

    As for displaying pictures, If I felt my pictures were pornographic or used the image of God immodestly, I wouldn't have shown them. I don't have a problem with sharing pictures that I feel are tasteful- and I feel mine were, and in my post I have given reasons why I don't feel breastfeeding is immodest or pornographic.

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  22. As always, your post is beautiful, articulate, and thorough, and I agree completely.

    I'm especially happy with three points you made:

    1. Women are not responsible for men's thoughts.

    Muslim women are required to cover themselves head to toe because they are responsible for keeping men's thoughts in line. That is why, if a woman is raped, she is the one put to death.

    That is such an evil principle, and it's source is Satan.

    2. We are not required by the Church to cover up at the beach, as you pointed out, and a woman in a bathing suit is showing much more than a breastfeeding mother. Obviously, degrees of modesty are situational, even within the guidelines of the Gospel.

    The Church has explained in more than one publication that we should explain to our children and young adults that breasts are for nurturing our children. No where does it promote shame or embarassment as an appropriate response to teaching our children about the divine purpose of our bodies.

    A baby EATING is a divine thing, and crucial thing, and respectful thing, or the Church would have a policy about it.

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  23. Please be careful quoting the church handbook, especially when you can't give exact quotations and you admit that you aren't even positive about them. I would be very surprised if the leaders of our church have come out and made statment about breasts being used for breastfeeding. In all honesty, I don't think it affects our salvation enough to be commanded in it.

    In the pamphlet "For the Strength of Youth" we are directed that cultural practices do dictate some of the church's stances on issues. Granted, in this particular pamphlet, it is referring to dating practices. But, it does still show that Church leadership does allow culture to dictate standards to some degree.

    That being said, in our culture, breasts are regarded sexually. Is it right or wrong? Thats another discussion. But it still remains that in the culture in which you and I reside, an exposed breast makes a lot of people uncomfortable.

    When I had to nurse at church, I always went to the mother's room. I don't feel that the church was trying to keep nursing mothers out of Sacrament Meeting, but rather, they want to provide a quiet place for mothers to have that time with their babies. Both of my children were easily distracted when nursing. Nursing in a crowded, noisy room was not the best thing for my babies. It does not make sense for me to want what is best for my children, but then to insist on nursing in an area that will not allow them to focus on eating like they should.

    Women are not responsible for men's thoughts. You are exactly right. But it is considered rude to put a bottle of beer in front of a recovering alcoholic. You don't know if the man sitting across from you in the mall is a recovering porn addict. Are you responsible for his thoughts? No. But we have been asked in this life to lift one another and ease each other's burdens. We are held responsible for how we treat our fellow men.

    Can you be modest and breastfeed without a blanket? Yes. I've done it before. It can be done with exposing little or no skin.

    Kristy- Breastmilk is best if available, but formula isn't rat poison either. Babies need food, above all else. Formula isn't a bad option. There are many mothers who aren't able to breastfeed for some reason. They need support as well. It is very offensive to those mothers to suppose that they are not meeting their babies needs because of their inability to breastfeed.

    I don't like that people have questioned your membership or faith because of your stance on breastfeeding. It is not our place to ask questions like that of anyone but ourselves.

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  24. "I would be very surprised if the leaders of our church have come out and made statment about breasts being used for breastfeeding."

    Maybe not in the handbook of instructions, but it is in manuals and other instructions on teaching children sexuality.

    "Nursing in a crowded, noisy room was not the best thing for my babies. "

    This is exactly why I avoid the Mothers' room -- too many distractions! Our ward has over 120 children ages 0-12, and our chapel is quieter and less distracting to nurse in than the Mothers' rooms I've been in. I'm trying to picture what your sacrament meeting must be like -- paper airplanes whizzing overhead? hee hee - *That* would definitely distract my baby.

    In my mind, mothers' rooms are for chatting or sleeping.

    I went to the Mothers' room during Sunday School last week because I was sick of roaming the halls with my toddler and wanted to sit down and sleep. It was bone-chillingly cold -- the kind of cold that actually hurts a little. I certainly won't be returning there any time soon!

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  25. Whoa there, Alisaterry, don't bring other religions into it if you don't know anything about them. This is 8 years of living in the Middle East talking, Plus I majored in Arabic.

    Muslim women are not required to cover head to toe. If you are thinking about Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia, those are countries that use different "interpretations" of Islam that other muslims in the world find appalling. Don't judge all Muslims by what they do - you woudln't judge all Mormons by what the FLDS gets up to, would you?

    An interesting thought on Cultural mores: in the Middle East, it is a woman's hair, not her breasts, that is considered the most sexual part of her body. A woman flipping or fiddling with her long, loose hair in a Provo Sacrament meeting would barely be noticed because it's just not a big deal here. If you were to do the same thing at a branch in Jordan, people would think you were trying to seduce someone - DEFINITELY not appropriate in church.

    That's why you see a lot of Moderate Muslim women wear the hijab, or head scarf. It's not because they are responsible for men's thoughts, it's just a different standard of modesty. I knew a lot of girls in Kuwait who wore the hijab but "compensated" with extremely tight clothing.

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  26. "But it is considered rude to put a bottle of beer in front of a recovering alcoholic. You don't know if the man sitting across from you in the mall is a recovering porn addict. Are you responsible for his thoughts? No. But we have been asked in this life to lift one another and ease each other's burdens. We are held responsible for how we treat our fellow men."

    MJ - This an asinine line of reasoning. Are you saying that breastfeeding in front of people is somehow comparable to enabling alcoholism? I know that's not exactly what you mean, but come on, you put the two in the same thought?!

    In any case, what if there's a closet foot-fetishist running around - should we all avoid wearing flip-flops and high heels in case we "trigger" some kind of impure thoughts? What about pedophiles? I guarantee there's a lot of them running around - does that mean we shouldn't bring our children around adult men, in case one of those men might have salacious thoughts about them?

    And in regards to your comment about Sacrament meeting, I can't think of a more peaceful and quiet environment to nurse my baby in, except maybe the temple.

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  27. I'm going anonymous for this comment (well, using my secret identity).

    The more I think about it, the task of lifting others' burdens simply does not apply in this situation. It is taking things to extremes to apply that here.

    We could apply that principle to so many situations and it would get insane.

    My example deals with my husband's affair. I would LOVE it if the radio station would stop playing "Before He Cheats" and "Should've Said No". I would love it if all women named Angie would change their names permanently. I would like it if the words 'Legends' and 'Tavern' were erased from existence. I would love it if all Red Motorola Razor phones were crushed and buried in a bottomless pit. I would love it if there were no mentions of lingerie or condoms or heck, even sheets allowed anywhere, in any context. When I hear those names and words or see those objects, all the horrible feelings can come flooding back to me in an instant.

    Do I sound a little neurotic? Yeah, that's the point. I would never expect anyone to avoid mentioning a certain name or object so as to lift my burdens. The problem is mine. If I choose to allow those things to affect me deeply, that is my problem and no one else's. I can just as easily choose to not allow those things to affect me. Oh, I might not be able to stop the germination of a thought, but I can refuse to allow it to flourish.

    I see the same thing applying to breastfeeding women in their consideration of others' behaviors and challenges. It is not their burden to bear. It has no correlation to how they treat their fellow men.

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  28. Emily,
    As for nursing in the temple- I have! It was also during Margaret's "must nurse lying down" stage. Couch in the waiting room- Sacramento Temple. :) Temple workers going in and out and a few other people waiting. I was lying there for a little more than an hour. The only comments I got were things like, "Are you putting her to sleep or is she putting you to sleep?" I was sick that day and very very tired and falling asleep. No blanket or cover used.

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  29. Oops, I was way low with my estimate of 120 kids ages 0-12. We have 127 kids in primary (ages 3-11), and the birth rate is holding -- we have at least 30 babies younger than Sunbeams.

    All I'm saying is that it's not like my ward is all old, quiet ladies. I can't imagine what your sacrament is like if I think ours is calm!

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  30. ""The scriptures often refer respectfully but plainly to the body and its parts. There is no embarrassment and often there is sacred symbolism. It is the world that makes the divinely created body an object of carnal lust. For example, it makes the female breasts primarily into sexual enticements, while the truth is that they were intended to nourish and comfort children." (A Parent's Guide, 37).

    "Breast milk, especially during the days immediately following birth, is the best food for a baby."
    “Lesson 22: Maternal and Infant Care,” The Latter-day Saint Woman: Basic Manual for Women, Part B, 179

    "Q. What are the pros and cons of breast feeding and bottle feeding?

    A. Breast feeding really is better than bottle feeding, but it is important to remember that some women have difficulty breast feeding and such women should not feel inferior as mothers.

    Breast milk and feeding has many advantages:

    1. Breast milk is an ideally balanced food for baby, and formulas are only an attempt to approximate breast milk.

    2. Breast milk is clean. There are no sterilization or storage problems.

    3. Breast milk has disease preventing qualities.

    4. Iron in breast milk is more easily absorbed and beneficial to the infant.

    5. Upset stomach, intestinal difficulties, and allergies are less frequent in breast-fed babies.

    6. Breast feeding helps the uterus of the mother to return to its normal state more rapidly.

    7. Breast feeding is much more economical and usually more convenient.

    8. A bond is formed between mother and child during nursing.

    9. Breast feeding has other emotional benefits as well. Mothers who feed their infants often report, “I feel more like I’m giving my baby what he needs.” “It helps me feel fulfilled as a woman.” “It forces me to relax and take time with my baby. I love breast feeding and I need the rest.” “It makes me feel important because I know the baby needs me.” “It helps me appreciate more the sacrifices my mother made for me.” “I feel closer to my Father in Heaven and the role I play in creation.”

    A pediatrician or other physician should be consulted regarding the appropriate formula for the baby who is not breast fed."
    Staying Healthy: Welfare Services Suggests How,” Ensign, Sep 1981, 10

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  31. I'm trying to find where I've said that breastfeeding isn't important. Oh wait, I didn't. I only said that we shouldn't make mothers who can't feel inferior. Just like the resource from the Church that you quoted. Hmmm...funny that. I'm also trying to find where I've said that the breasts purpose is only sexual. Oh wait, never said that either.

    Please, show me where in the church handbook it says to breastfeed in Sacrament Meeting. I'm begging you.

    Emily- If you actually read my post, you should see a section where I talk about how I do breastfeed in front of people and do it without exposing my breast. My comparison was that exposing breasts to a recovering porn addict is as rude as it is to expose a recovering alcoholic to beer. You even said yourself that you were probably misinterpretting it, so why did you even go there? Talk about asinine. Others on this board have taken my analogy to a ridiculous extreme. I'm not expecting people to go to ridiculous extremes to help ease one another's burdens. I'm not saying that you should run home if you ever have to nurse. But I am saying that when nursing in public, with or without a blanket, caution should be used not to expose oneself. Its really not that hard, folks.

    As far as teaching children about sexuality, take one look in the public schools right now, and you'll see that things have changed since many of these resources were written. What my parents had to teach me about sex is drastically different from what I will have to teach my children about sex. Are the principles the same? Yeah. But the method is different. Are these resources wrong? No. But my children will need more information than just "breasts are solely used for breastfeeding." That doesn't fly in the 6th grade. Heck, that explanation won't even work in kindergarten.

    I know, how about we all start making blanket statements and assuming things about everybody else? Since one person's Sacrament Meeting is quiet and the mother's room noisy, then everybody's must be. Since I disagreed with Heather on something, even though I did it respectfully, even though I still consider Heather a friend and I appreciate who she is as a mother and a woman, I must hate those who breastfeed and be stupid.

    How about we teach our children of Christ and to be good people? Guess what, you can do that without breastmilk and even formula fed kids can learn those things.

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  32. This was written:
    "Please be careful quoting the church handbook, especially when you can't give exact quotations and you admit that you aren't even positive about them. I would be very surprised if the leaders of our church have come out and made statment about breasts being used for breastfeeding."

    And then I quoted exactly where the leaders of our church have come out and made a statement about breasts being used for breastfeeding. I have no idea where you pulled those other accusations from, since all I did was post quotes.

    But I will defend Emily. Comparing an eating child to a bottle of beer is asinine. That doesn't mean you are stupid and can't disagree, but if you are going to use a strong analogy to make your point, it shouldn't surprise you that it becomes a controversy. Breastfeeding sustains the life and health of my child. Beer does none of these things.

    But if you would like to start the "who put what words in whose mouth" game, you are welcome to come over to my blog, because Heather doesn't need that crap on her's.

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  33. I'm not comparing a child eating to a bottle of beer. I'm comparing exposed breasts to a bottle of beer.

    Heather posted my comment, which shows that she's open minded enough to recognize that my arguement isn't 'crap' as you so eloquently wrote.

    No where have I said that breastfeeding in public is wrong, or even that breastfeeding without a blanket is wrong. I'm a huge advocate of a woman's right to breastfeed and to do so when and where she pleases. But a woman needs to do so with exposing as little skin as possible. It is possible to breastfeed without a blanket and show little or no skin. I've done it with two kids.

    Oh and just a little note on the use of the word 'asinine.' It is synonymous with 'stupid' thus, when you call someone or someone's argument 'asinine' you are calling that person or their argument 'stupid.' Calling someone or something stupid is a cop out in any discussion. It is childish, even if you think you are highly intelligent and mature because you are using a three syllable word.

    Is breastfeeding important? Yes. Should a woman be able to? Yes. Does breastfeeding your child somehow make you superior to anyone else? No. There are more important things than breastfeeding.

    And, alisaterry, I have no interest in your blog, so don't worry, I'm not going to waste my time reading it.

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  34. Wow, I really appreciated this post, Heather. You have really helped me to understand why you feel so passionately about this issue.

    I wish you had told the reporter all of this!

    Also, Inever realized breastfeeding in sacrament meeting was a hot issue. I mean, I covered up but I nursed often in sacrament meeting because I didn't see why spiritual food (for me) and temporal food (for Soren) couldn't coincide. I mean, isn't that why the floor of our meeting houses is littered with cheerios?

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  35. The problem with comparing a mother nursing in front of someone struggling with porn to placing alcohol in front of an alcoholic is that breastfeeding isn't porn.

    If you want to go with that analogy, then I'd say it would be more like putting a Dr. Pepper in front of an alcoholic. Dr. Pepper is like alcohol in the fact that it's a drink and it's fizzy, like beer. Breastfeeding might be like porn in the fact that it involves a person and possibly some nudity. But not all alcohol is fizzy and not all soft drinks are alcoholic. In the same way, not all pornography is nudity and not all nudity is pornographic. Breastfeeding is not pornographic for the reasons I've stated in the post.

    Also, I'd be wary of saying a woman "needs" to expose as little as possible because everyone has their own definition of what "as little as possible" is. That is a decision left up to the mother.

    If she's breastfeeding without a blanket, someone's going to want her to have a blanket. If she has a blanket, someone's going to want her in the back of the room in a corner. If she's in the back of a room in a corner, someone's going to want her in a different room.

    And to ask the same question you posed: And what makes a stranger's comfort more important than my baby's comfort?

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  36. MJ -
    I was a little surprised at Emily's use of 'asinine'. So I looked it up. It made a lot more sense than I thought. I had always thought of it like you do, to mean 'stupid' or 'like an ass'. But really, according to Merriam Webster, the primary definition is 'foolish' or 'marked by a lack of good sense or judgment'. Once I saw those definitions, it actually made a lot of sense. So I wouldn't jump to assume that she called you stupid.

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  37. Heather - I just want to thank you again for your incredible post, and would like to reprint it on my blog, with your permission.

    I also want to thank you for your courage and willingness to be both famous and infamous over an issue you feel passionate about.

    You are one of the gentlest and kindest people that I have ever met, and you don't deserve the snapping and sarcasm that has been coming your way.

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  38. Wonderful post, Heather :D

    Just one MJ comment--"But I am saying that when nursing in public, with or without a blanket, caution should be used not to expose oneself. Its really not that hard, folks."

    I didn't see anyone, in this entire post or comment section, talk about how we should all strip topless and then breastfeed, or that we need to "expose" ourselves to the point that people struggling with porn addictions would start drooling from across the room. I'm pretty sure we are all as discreet as we feel we need to be in the situation we are in. I nursed in church several times today, staying in all three meetings, with no fuss and without flashing large amounts of skin because I don't need to--you yourself mentioned how you can feed discreetly without any covering. But in Relief Society dd started freaking out and wanted to nurse in a whimper-pop-on-pop-off-fuss-yell-thrash-pop-on-pop-off way that would have distracted the entire room with the fussing, and the extra flashing involved wouldn't help, so we stepped out. Different situation entirely. No one here claimed the best way to use our divine bodies was to flash large quantities of breasts everywhere under the pretext of breastfeeding. We're just talking about feeding our kids, in the way we feel is most respectful of the people and situation--with the child considered first, and that breastfeeding happening to involve breasts does not make it an immodest act.

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  39. This is a wonderful post! Thank you very, very much! I've come across your blog several times, seeing as how crunchy, LDS moms often find themselves in similar online arenas. I like to add blogs like yours to my blogroll, so those who read my blog can get a good idea of where my inspiration comes from. If you don't want me to, just let me know.

    I wish more people understood breastfeeding as you have described it.

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  40. I just read on BYU News Net how Facebook is making steps in the right direction. Congrats! And keep up the good work. And thanks again for this post. You have said everything SO WELL. I'll have to print this for my "I'M the Mama" binder (lots of resources on parenting decisions I've made).

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  41. I just got an email from someone who wanted me to post their comment, but wanted to remain anonymous because of the sensitive nature of what she was sharing. I copy/pasted what she wanted to say here:

    I really enjoyed your post (I've linked to it in a million diff. places). :)

    I noticed something in the comments and wanted to respond, but wanted to remain anonymous.

    Somebody compared breastfeeding uncovered in front of a porn addict to offering beer to an alcoholic (or something like that).

    My husband struggles with a pornography addiction. He's doing well. But here's my point...breastfeeding is not porn to him. Because breastfeeding is not sexual. I would feel just fine if a mother chose to feed her baby in front of my husband. In fact...I'm more concerned with the outfits some people choose to wear to Church than I will ever be with a little boob being exposed for the sake of nourishing or comforting a baby or small child. My husband agrees with me that breastfeeding is not sexual, and agrees that mums are under no obligation to cover.

    He also made an interesting point: If the Gospel is the same everywhere (as we're so fond of saying) and LDS women in other cultures breastfeed without blankets and the Church is OK with that then it follows that our problems in North America are NOT part of the Gospel and must, therefore, be a cultural hangup.

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  42. Does anyone have a link to the story that Facebook is actually going to do something about this? I would love to link to that on my blog.

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  43. It's highly ironic that in our church this would even be a problem, especially since it's very family oriented. And breastfeeding is very "family friendly."
    All 50 U.S. states & its territories allow breastfeeding in public places where a mother is legally allowed. Therefore in a church that sustains and follows the law, no one can tell a mother to stop, they are breaking the law. And breastfeeding is NOT an act of indecency. Many states in their breastfeeding laws state that mothers do need to conform to the appropriate norms in their places of worship. Please see this website for further information:
    http://www.ncsl.org/programs/health/breast50.htm
    I personally think that getting aroused when a mother breastfeeding is like getting aroused when changing a baby's diaper. It is not sexual in anyway even though the private parts are being exposed. It is the responsibility of parents & leaders to teach the YM so.

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  44. My father is in his 60s and clearly remembers women in SLC nursing everywhere when he was young: parks, public transport, and yes, sacrament meeting. Women weren't covered in those nursing tents, either.

    Something happened in the 50s, 60s and 70s that changed the way we look at breastfeeding. (I know what happened, and so do you, but we'll just leave it at 'there was a cultural shift.')

    I'm reclaiming my spiritual body that sacrifices itself to bear and nurture children.

    I'll nurse in sacrament meeting, sunday school, and especially in Relief Society. I mean my WORD, if we can't nurse in Relief Society, exactly where can we nurse? And don't say one of the two chairs (that are in the bathroom that stinks) for the approximately 12 nursing babies just in our ward.

    I do admit to occasionally finding an empty classroom (we're the first ward into the building) to nurse my almost two year old. That's more to do with me being sick of wearing totally nursing-accessible clothes than embarrassment of what we're doing.

    Thanks for a great post (Jane from What About Mom referred me.)

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  45. Thank you so much for writing this. I really needed to hear it and the other positive opinions expressed in this thread. The comment right before mine actually brought me to tears as I have struggled with whether or not it was okay to bf in church--uncovered. I feel that there is nothing wrong with it, and yet I never see women at church nursing unless they are in the mothers room. I just might get brave enough to try it now. I definitely feel braver about other public places. So thank you, thank you, from the bottom of my heart.

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  46. Thank you so much for this!

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  47. Thank you for this. I just wrote a letter to my bishop and stake president with some of your points; they've asked me not to nurse in sacrament meeting b/c it might distract others. The kindness and respect with which you wrote this blog post was inspiring to me :)

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  48. Olivia9:54 AM

    I'm commenting late, having just read Rixa's post on this subject. I just want to say how well thought out and written this is. You hit the nail on the head for all the arguments people make against breastfeeding in public.

    And this My child is a person too, and I'm going to respect her comfort also. particularly resonates with me. I will remember this the next time I hear someone say seeing a mother bf in public makes them uncomfortable.

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  49. This was beautiful and I am so appreciative of women like you who can express my feelings in such a wonderful and respectful way.

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  50. This is an excellent post! I'm going to bookmark it because my goodness have I heard complaints from other women at church recently about mothers who breastfeed their children in public. My son has since weaned, but this online breastfeeding community I've found (both LDS & not) has me decided that next child I'm going to nurse in Sacrament Meeting. Why should I have to miss everything going on just because my child is hungry? If he (or she) doesn't mind nursing in there then that's what I'll do.

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  51. HEATHER, YOU ARE AMAZING!!! YOU SO ROCK! My heart is full to overflowing with gratitude for the grace and intelligence with which you articulate your passion for something so divine and natural. You truly inspire me! Thank you for writing this. I will be sharing it.

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  52. Michael9:28 AM

    I know it says, the Blog author must approve this. But My comment is Soley about the modesty thing, and with church. I know the baby has needs, but just like with any person, We as the adults know what's best, and the instant someone needs something, does not mean we give to them Instantly. I think taking the baby out IS a consideration to others, not that breastfeeding is bad, but can be very distracting for anyone, lets say the speaker. We would not bring a Can or pot into sacrament meeting and use the bathroom, would we? The body IS amazing, But nobody wants to see someone's Anus folding out while defecating. It's natural though right? it's beautiful right? That the body can do such things? There is a reason that in the church buildings, there is a mothers lounge. I am assuming they were meant to be there, by way of the church building plans.

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  53. Michael,
    "The instant someone needs something does not mean we give to them instantly." That may be true for older people who understand the concept of waiting and of time, but babies and toddlers don't have that. They just know that the people who are supposed to take of them are ignoring them. They can't understand, "I need to wait because this is considered socially inappropriate" and I feel that if they are ignored often enough that they may internalize, "I must not be worthy of my needs being met." Babies cannot be spoiled.

    And you'right- I do think using the restroom is natural and doesn't misuse the image of God, but I don't believe that we use the restroom separately because of modesty. Bathrooms are separated from the public because of sanitation reasons. The reason we don't just pee in the street is not because those parts of the body are being used inappropriately, but because we have an understanding of cleanliness and how to prevent disease.

    Not all church buildings have a mother's lounge. My stake center doesn't have one at all. Mother's lounges are nice for those that want to use them, but the expectation that it must be used is ultimately segregation- and discrimination.

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  54. I just want to tell you that I love this post. This explains EXACTLY how I feel, but was never able to put into words. I'm not married and don't have children, but I'm tempted to put this in a brochure and pass it out when I do :).

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  55. I am so glad I found this post -- breasts are "primarily for nourishment of children". I went back to the LDS publication and am THRILLED to see in *official* print that breasts are for nourishing children, not for sexually enticing men. Awesome.

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  56. Your arguments make absolutely no sense to me as a mother & fellow member of the church.

    Point 1: Since when is modesty conditional on the situation? Breasts are breasts, and I don't see how you can ever be modest if you are putting them out for public view. In my opinion the most basic form of modesty is covering parts of your body that are private. Whether this is because they have a sexual function or not is irrelevant. How can you tell a 15-year-old that it is immodest to show cleavage or wear a tank top, yet at the same time say it is appropriate to show your entire breast in public when breastfeeding? Either it is modest to show your breasts or it is not.

    Point 2: Your argument about the image of God I find completely irrelevant. Aren't we also exercising a Godly gift when we have sex? Isn't procreation also something we do "in God's image"? Does that mean that because this is a "Godly" act that we should do it in public for others to see? I don't see how this argument of yours has anything to do with modesty. Of course breasts are intended for nourishing children and it is not misusing them when they are used for this purpose - but what in the world does that have to do with letting others see them when we do it?

    Point 3: Of course men should control themselves - whether they see a woman on the street in a short skirt or a fully exposed breast. But what does that have to do with anything? Does the fact that men should control themselves make it okay for a woman to bare her breasts? Is it "modest" for women at strip clubs to dance around topless because men shouldn't want to go there, shouldn't be aroused if they do? What does modesty or appropriateness of baring breasts have to do with men and their self control at all?

    Points 4 & 5: You are missing the boat completely. We don't live in South America, we don't live in Africa. In the United States it is culturally inappropriate to bare your breasts in public. If you are so bent on showing your breasts, move somewhere where it IS culturally appropriate, but it's not here! Just because people do it elsewhere doesn't give you the right to do it here. You aren't giving into Satan by following cultural norms, you are giving into the place where you live. And why wouldn't you? I have a friend who lives in Dubai, and right now it is Ramadan there, which means if you eat or drink in public you will be arrested. Should she go around eating and drinking in public there, not conforming to the cultural
    pressures of where she lives? Since when is it wrong to live within cultural norms?

    Point 6: I nursed my son, he was always fed as soon as he showed signs of hunger, and I never showed my breasts in public. I never made anyone uncomfortable. I didn't sacrifice the health or happiness of my baby to do it. How is it somehow better for the child if your breast is out for everyone to see versus nursing discreetly or under a cover? My cover had boning in it so I still maintained eye contact with him while he ate. He never minded at all. In fact I think it was nice to have some focused time where I was all he could see. I don't understand how being modest while nursing compromises the comfort of your child.

    If you would like to let your breasts show while publicly nursing then so be it, but please don't act like it is in any way modest. And don't blame others for being uncomfortable with it. After all, for the majority of people in the church, the only breasts they've seen are those of them self or their spouse. Everyone appreciates the benefits of breastfeeding, and the beauty of this special connection between mother and child, they just don't enjoy seeing you topless!!

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    1. This is a response to BB which although you have done well I would like to add my own feelings. My post is very long because BB did such an excellent job of epitomizing the thoughts of people in the US that have made me so very uncomfortable. I hope it's going to be OK that I post several different times just to get it all out there.

      Dear BB, I have an issue with every single one of your points which although you put them in several points boils down to your belief that showing a breast is immodest even if it's for the purpose of breastfeeding. Both of my parents are from the US but my seven brothers and sisters and I were all raised in Latin America where it is completely normal for a woman to breastfeed in public and in most cases no attempts at covering any part of the breast is made.

      I have lived most of my adult life in the US and felt terribly uncomfortable with the way breastfeeding was viewed here. No matter what anyone says, all of the stigma around showing your breasts in the US affects how comfortable a woman feels when breastfeeding. My parents still live in Latin America and I always looked forward to visiting them whenever I had a nursing baby because it meant that there would be a "break" in having to worry about other people's feelings. A mother has enough on her plate just worrying about taking care of her child without having to worry about all of the adults and what in my opinion is a thought process that goes contrary to what Heavenly Father intended for his children.

      I cringe with posts that compare breastfeeding to having sex, going to the bathroom and other "normal" body functions that we do in private. There is so much so wrong with the mindset of so many people in the US around breast feeding that I almost feel at a loss for how to talk about it.

      First of all we are a world wide church. That means that we can't say that it is immodest to show breasts in the US yet it is modest to do so in other countries. It is or it isn't and if the culture says it is when in God's eyes it isn't then people need to change in that culture. I'm going to give an extreme example of a cultural belief that is not in alignment with God's laws or wishes for his children. In Latin America it is culturally common and acceptable for men to have more than one "woman" with whom they have sexual relations. Women may not like it but they "understand" this need and accept it. This mindset has created lots of problems even in the church. This is of course an extreme example so I don't want to be accused of comparing breastfeeding to committing adultery but, what I am saying is that there are cultural norms that are not God's norms.

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    2. I believe that it is damaging to women, men, children and babies to feel that it is immodest to show breasts when breastfeeding. Women because it affects how we feel about our body and doesn't give us the freedom and encouragement to do what is healthiest for our child. Imagine how you feel when you are sitting in your rocker at home nursing your baby all by yourself. That's what it feels like to nurse in public in other countries. It changes so much about the way you handle yourself with your child. You know how people look at a baby and say, "How cute!" You can have a baby latched on and nursing and just being it's cute little self but in the US we pretend the baby isn't even there as long as it's nursing. In other countries there is no change with the way a person looks at or interacts with a baby even if it's nursing. I've had people reach out and hold my baby's hand, stroke his head or just comment on how cute he is all while he's openly nursing. The laugh when they see him get so sleepy that his eyes start to roll back or comment on how sweetly he holds my breast as he nurses. Nothing like this EVER happened when I was nursing in the US. The kind of interaction you get in the US makes you feel furtive and alienated as you nurse whereas in other countries you feel supported and truly a part of the group that you are in.

      The US mindset negatively affects men because they grow up with all these unnecessary hangups about breasts. I knew a woman in the church whose husband would only allow her to breastfeed in their bedroom. She couldn't be anywhere in their house even if no one else was there! That's just insane to me. Imagine all our young men that go on missions and how much drama and discomfort they would be saved if they hadn't been raised around all these hangups about seeing breasts when children are nursing. Every time someone tells a story of how crazy it was on on their mission because women just whipped out a breast to nurse their baby I think, "People in the US are so insulated that they don't even realize that they are the minority in this world." Only in the US does the story even make any sense.

      The mindset hurts children because our stigma keeps mothers from nursing them as long or as freely as they would like to. I nursed one of my daughters till she was three which is completely normal in most parts of the world but you can bet I raised some eyebrows here in the US. Another way it affects children is that what we surround them with develops their version of normal which affects them for the rest of their lives. Very few children see women breast feeding at all in the US and if they do it is obvious that it is being done with every attempt to not show anything. It makes me really sad when I see mothers cover themselves with a big blanket or one of those hoop things. I want everyone to have to go to a "breast-feeding immersion camp" in another country so they can relax and enjoy breastfeeding the way I feel it should be enjoyed.

      The stigma affects babies because they feel and absorb their mother's tension and they don't usually get breastfeed as much or as long in the US as they would in other countries. Breastfeeding isn't a cinch for everyone. It hurts like hell for the first week or so. There are babies that have trouble latching on. One of mine had a funky nursing style that was painful and took a long time to train him out of. Then there's the teething stage where they like to gnaw on you instead of suck.Then the teeth come and they get a kick out of biting you. There are so many ways that it can be difficult. When it's time to make dinner or drive somewhere you don't have the luxury of letting someone else feed the baby for you. You are forced to stop and take care of your child. With so many things that can make breastfeeding challenging it makes me angry that adults in the US culture would provide anything other than support.

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    3. Having lived in two worlds I have very strong opinions about the way things are in the US. I have to go back to the fact that we are a worldwide church. How do you think our brothers and sisters feel when they come to visit us or live here and bring their "immodest" customs? If they are sure in the gospel they just think people here are weird. But what about if they are new to the church? The US mind set can wreak havoc with new members not only here but abroad as well. How do you think a new member feels when they have some US member that is living or serving abroad tell them they need to cover up? You believe you are 100% right and defend yourself on all your positions. Many missionaries with your mindset take it upon themselves to bring the rest of the world to a more enlightened place too.

      Here's a comparison. There are some religions where it is wrong for women to wear make-up or pierce their ears. We are lucky to have a prophet and specific direction in this area. Let's say that we didn't have this specific direction and women in one country believed it was wrong to wear make up or pierce their ears. Would it be morally wrong to wear make-up in some countries and not in others? You give the example of your friend in Dubai. I go back to my extreme example of before. It is wrong to give in to the place where you live and give in to cultural norms when those norms go against Heavenly Father's plan for the health and happiness of his children. I have already stated how I think the US cultural norm is not supportive of nursing on several levels. I haven't gone deeply into everything that makes breastfeeding so important to support because I feel that's scientifically a given. I've just touched on the emotional aspects but, I believe all of it is important and perfectly planned by Heavenly Father.

      You talk a lot about modesty and how it's not modest to show breasts for breastfeeding in the US. Remember that this is a "new" development in the US. I believe that it is a harmful development and that instead of going along with it we need to actively fight against it. I believe that we need brave souls to push the envelope and force people to look at why they believe the way they do. I wish I could say that I had been brave enough to bare by breast in public when nursing in the US but I admit that, while I didn't cover myself with a blanket or tent, I would always wear clothes that didn't require me to uncover my whole breast. I know that because of the uncomfortable feelings we get here in the US it's often easier to wear a tent or blanket but it pains me when I see how nursing is viewed here and how it affects us.

      I feel that this is an area where women and men need to take a stand and begin to make changes. I appreciate everyone that is willing to brave the stigma in the culture and do what they know is right based not on the mindset that has developed in the US over the last fifty or so years but what has been a part of the human experience since Eve nursed her first child.

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  57. Personally, I feel like a little bit too much time and energy has been focused here on where you should be allowed to breast feed and why. Honestly, it seems a bit obsessive, and I don't see the good this is really doing for women. If you are a big advocate of breast feeding, have you ever thought of training to become a lactation consultant? You could put this time and energy into helping women (who might not otherwise) learn how to nurse their newborns. I had an amazing lactation consultant that helped me when I thought I would have to give up nursing and who I am so grateful to. I think that would be a greater service to breast feeding and other women than these endless discussions on why people should be comfortable with you doing it in sacrament meeting, the temple, facebook etc, etc....

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  58. BB, I'm sorry I didn't get around to addressing you earlier. Because you tried to submit the same copy/pasted comment three times befor I could come moderate it, Blogger thought you were spam and put your comment in the spam folder.

    And you are spam, but I'll address you anyway. Unfortunately, the comment form is only so big, so it'll be in multiple comments.

    "Since when is modesty conditional on the situation?"
    Do you go to the beach or pool and swim fully clothed without any part of your shoulders showing? Tour back? Your leg above the knee? Modesty is sitautional and personal and up to no one but the individual.

    "How can you tell a 15-year-old that it is immodest to show cleavage or wear a tank top, yet at the same time say it is appropriate to show your entire breast in public when breastfeeding?"
    I don't presume to tell anyone, what is immodest for them and this is why: Telling women to cover up and telling women to strip down are frequently used tactics for oppressing women. I don't see the world as black and white as you do.

    "Aren't we also exercising a Godly gift when we have sex? Isn't procreation also something we do "in God's image"? Does that mean that because this is a "Godly" act that we should do it in public for others to see?"
    Do not compare breastfeeding to sex. It can only be compared to something that is actually close to equal to it: like eating. I eat in public without a cover. My baby eats in public without a cover. Anything less segregates my children from society, which I will not do. I try not to promote discrimination like that.

    "Of course breasts are intended for nourishing children and it is not misusing them when they are used for this purpose - but what in the world does that have to do with letting others see them when we do it?"
    Because hiding behind a cover implies that either the act of breastfeeding is wrong.

    "Does the fact that men should control themselves make it okay for a woman to bare her breasts?"
    Yes it does. I see mem jogging shirtless every day and some of them are quite handsome, but I control myself and my thoughts. I'm sorry if it's wrong to expect the same from men.

    "Is it "modest" for women at strip clubs to dance around topless because men shouldn't want to go there, shouldn't be aroused if they do?"
    Are you saying that breastfeeding is arousing like topless dancing is? If you are, then you are sick.

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  59. BB (continuted)-
    "What does modesty or appropriateness of baring breasts have to do with men and their self control at all?"
    Because people often teach modesty in such a way that it blames women for men's thoughts.

    "You aren't giving into Satan by following cultural norms, you are giving into the place where you live. And why wouldn't you?
    Because I'm hoping to change to culture. And I know I have already changed the culture for many people.

    "I have a friend who lives in Dubai, and right now it is Ramadan there, which means if you eat or drink in public you will be arrested. Should she go around eating and drinking in public there, not conforming to the cultural pressures of where she lives?"
    If your friend may get arrested, I'll assume it means eating and drinking during the daytime hours there is illegal. Nowhere in the United States is breastfeeding- covered or uncovered- illegal.

    "Since when is it wrong to live within cultural norms?"
    Since they are oppressive to breastfeeding women and babies and are therefore, wrong.

    "How is it somehow better for the child if your breast is out for everyone to see versus nursing discreetly or under a cover? ...I don't understand how being modest while nursing compromises the comfort of your child."
    You've obviously never nursed an active toddler. It is definitely better for my child to nurse how she is most comfortable and that means uncovered for her. It's good for all the other children too.

    "Everyone appreciates the benefits of breastfeeding, and the beauty of this special connection between mother and child, they just don't enjoy seeing you topless!!"
    I'm pretty sure I've never been topless in church, please don't toss unfounded accusations around.

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  60. Kell-bell,

    Well, you don't have to like what I post on my blog. It's my blog. I do volunteer a lot of my time to helping women breastfeed. I'm glad you were able to find help with a lactation consultant.

    I also think it's important to talk about nursing in public because even if every mom had a wonderful lactation consultant like you did, some would still stop breastfeeding earlier than they'd like because of societal pressure. Nursing children past 2 years or 1 year or even 6 months is shocking to some people and we need to see it and make it normal so a mom doesn't feel pressured to wean at a time that she doesn't want to. I want all women to be able to reach their breastfeeding goals.

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  61. Your posts are always so awesome! I'm glad I found the link to it since it's so well articulated.

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  62. Claire8:18 PM

    "When we tell young girls that they need to be modest for men, we are encouraging a very detrimental thought process and setting them up for abusive relationships. "He thinks/does ____ because I _____" is what is going to keep women in relationships that they need to get out of. It's what makes someone think they can change their spouse/friend/family member, "If only I ____, s/he wouldn't ____." "

    This is EXACTLY what I've been trying to dislodge from the years I've spent in YW's. I will say this: I will not be held accountable for a young mans actions. Yes we see woman walking around in skanky dresses but if a young man can't keep it in his pants is that my problem? No it's not. Telling young woman that keeping these young men pure and in line to go a mission will only tell them that's their only job! Young woman these days should be more focused on school and extracurricular activities like sports! Expanding on their talents and maybe going on a mission. Their main goal in life shouldn't just be to be SAHM. It's sad that the church wont teach them to reach for something bigger. Here's a wonderful article that you'd maybe like. http://www.patheos.com/Resources/Additional-Resources/Standards-Night-Is-Substandard-Teaching-Sexuality-to-the-Young-Women?offset=0&max=1

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  63. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this! I agree with you 110%! My sister actually posted something very similar to this about a year ago! (http://improveswithage.blogspot.com/2010/06/breastfeeding-and-lds-church.html)

    I've actually started standing up for our rights a bit and have nursed my daughter a few times in sacerment meeting. SO much easier than trying to take a screaming baby to the mother's room.

    I was hoping to be able to share this post on my blog actually, is that ok? (http://jumping-jellybean.blogspot.com/)

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  64. Jillyn,
    I'm glad you liked it. I have a friend with your same name (but with 2 n's). How funny is that? You can quote from it, but don't copy it all over! And link back to me, please!

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  65. That is funny, i've never met anyone with the same name as me!

    and i had just planned on posting a link the the entire post and then sharing my thoughts :D

    i am enjoying discovering your blog! I'm also a more "hippie" person. We had a homebirth with a midwife, i breastfeed, cloth diaper, baby wear, delay/select vax), and other similar things. It's always nice to find like minded mama's, especially in The Church ;)

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  66. My brain wasn't working at it's full potential, so it's not the best post i've done...but yours is the one that's great and i wanted to get out there :)

    http://jumping-jellybean.blogspot.com/2011/03/nursing-and-modesty.html

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  67. This is great! I just found this blog and am due this month with a baby girl! I have been wondering about this b/c I am just not a big fan of the nursing room and was wondering if there would be some big "to-do" if i chose instead to breastfeed where ever. I intend to keep looking through this blog it looks FANTASTIC!

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  68. I really enjoyed your post. I am not LDS, but this same question has been one that has really bothered me since my daughter was born just over a year ago. Why must I be sent away to the nursing mother's room when my child is hungry?

    I don't know about LDS auditoriums, but in most churches you sit in pews or chairs and face the front. Who's even going to see me if they are all facing the front and focusing on worship, anyway.

    I actually went so far as to post this as a question a while back on the Emily Post Blog, and I was really quite startled at the absolute vitriol spewed at me. One commenter actually said that I would be irreverent to be nursing my child during something so sacred as a worship service.

    I was completely flabbergasted. God made breasts to feed babies, but if I did that in worship (use my body for the purpose it was made for, by God) I would be irreverent.

    The bottom line is that this is a cultural issue, and anyone who can read the Bible can read that we are to be in this world but not of it. That doesn't mean I stand up and shake my naked chest in worship services- far from it. Usually no one can see anything when i nurse anyway- but it does mean that I put the purposes of God before the purposes of men.

    I'll get off my soap-box now.

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  69. Sariah8:51 PM

    Thank you so much for posting this! I am LDS as well and I was in a Relief society monthly meeting and my son was hungry so I fed him during the lesson and most of the women didn't care and I had one sister come up to me and tell me that there was a room specifically made for "that" and I told her that I refused to be put in a corner when I really needed some "women" time b/c I am a stay at home mom. Luckily she has never said anything to me again.
    But I loved everything that you wrote. I am definitely going to use this as a teaching tool to my daughters. But she already knows that breasts are for feeding she gets upset with people who don't breastfeed and tells them! It's so embarrassing! But thanks so much for this article and I think that we need to teach our Young Men and Young Women this.

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  70. Thank you for this interesting take on a very popular debate. I haven't read anything quite like this one before.

    I'm all for empowering women, but I just have one note of caution. If a woman feels comfortable nursing uncovered, whether that be anywhere or in select situations, I think she should at least factor in her own husband's feeling on the subject, even if she is of the opinion that it is only her comfort level that matters. I know the author here has discussed it with her husband, according to one of her comments, but I get the impression that most nursing mothers do not. I know friends who tried to nursing blankets, got frustrated, and tossed them aside without looking back. Having the blanket to begin with would make me think that had been the plan and was what the husbands were thinking would happen. I just wonder how often women talk to their husbands about it before going public.

    Anyway, all that just to say, I think us women should at least care if our husbands are comfortable with us exposing our breasts to nurse in public, even if we don't care about anyone else's comfort levels. Especially since the reality of our culture is that breasts are considered sexual.

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  71. While it would be nice to have supportive husbands in this matter, I don't think that a husband should get to have a say in the matter as they aren't his breasts and it's not his body. While it's true our culture considers breasts to be sexual, it won't necessarily be that way forever- and we can work towards eliminating that!

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  72. I do not live in Saudi Arabia. My husband does not dictate what I wear, or what I cover/uncover. He does not own my body and does not get to pretend he has a say in what I do with it.

    I just asked him what he thinks about the idea and he rolled his eyes and said "I can't roll my eyes strongly enough." Indeed.

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  73. I just have to say that you are doing such a great service to your Church with this thoughtful, thorough, intelligent post. I was raised evangelical but am now an agnostic. My cousin is LDS and she's pretty awesome but the Church as a whole has a bad reputation in America. Loved reading this. Thank you.

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  74. As an atheist childfree woman, I found your blog post to be very well articulated and extremely thoughtful. Thanks for sharing.

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  75. I am not part of LDS but a friend of mine is, I work graveyard and like to educate myself in my down time. My friend was talking about her endowment coming up so I was curious what it was all about. Then it made me curious about temple garments. Then I got to thinking how would or can you breastfeed in temple garments. Then I found you, and wow! I am a big supporter of NIP and breastfeeding in general and want to say this is the best written blog on NIP I have ever read!!! Bravo! I have been blown away! Keep up the wonderful work.

    Also you answered my other question about temple garments and having your period.

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  76. THANK YOU for writing this! I am a new mom and went to the mother's lounge for the first time last sunday. I figured there would be other mothers nursing and we would all be very relaxed. I was so wrong. I walked in and all of the women had covers over them. I was so confused why do we have a room set apart for women to nurse if they also have to be covered up to nurse? Anyways I plopped down and nursed my baby without a cover and told myself I shouldn't feel guilty. You just re-confirmed that for me.

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  77. 1. Go breastfeeders!
    2. In a mother's lounge I think you can choose to cover or not cover and NOT feel shamed either way. I will always cover for my own peace of mind of continuing to keep sacred what God's given me. Exposing it makes it casual. Right? Temples?
    3. World wide Church means it's the same in doctrine. You will get the same lesson materials. You will NOT get all the same functions/policies/standards. Pretty sure the boys at the top expect our US boys to be in white shirts and ties and clean cut hair because that is the best to offer when passing the sacrament but this standard/policy isn't the same world wide.
    4. Pretty sure a baby can eat when covered by blanket or nursing cover. And that any inconvenience on me as a nursing mother is trumped by any teenage boy's (and the rest of those unlucky men still not grown up) mind the one that's not grown up yet and still developing. Because it's a temporal inconvenience to cover and potentially spiritually damaging for those that witness my bare breast. Because again, a baby still eats or if absolutely necessary the oh my heavens inconvenience of leaving the public area to go nurse discreetly for the child that just can't be covered. (I've had one of those)
    5. Pretty sure I'm better off playing it safe and encouraging stricter modesty in a culture that's increasingly sexual and one where sex and breasts are pretty closely knit together--just saying when in public. In the privacy of your home or like setting, you choose still what's best for you. Cause logically speaking sex is a beautiful, sacred expression too but we'd never want that public, right? This whole some things that are sacred we keep more private but my breast let me bare it? Not buying it.
    6. Think it would be awesome if we ALL could believe and reach the beliefs you've posted about the body and breasts in particular, but don't see that happening so again point 5 above. Start your movement in the best place possible to change society--the privacy of your home.
    7. A breast may be used to nurture and the Church handbooks/guide books may ALL support breastFEEDING but I've NEVER read any where that it says exposing your breast is okay--maybe when nursing and in an emergency and you've nothing to cover or any place to go discreetly. BTW I'm still telling my men in my life my breast is for something else because they know I've disappeared to nurse...in fact more so are they aware of it by my absence than by my presence whenever I've felt the need to nurse uncovered and had to go to a different room.

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    1. Re: #3: White shirts aren't policy anywhere. I believe it explicitly says that in the new Handbook.
      Re #4: Some babies don't like being covered. It happens. Also, I'm not sure how viewing breastfeeding is "spiritually damaging" to anyone.
      Re #5; Covering up contributes to the sexualization of the culture by saying, "I'm going to agree that this is risque." Also, comparing breastfeeding to sex? Gross. If breastfeeding is like sex in public, then bottle feeding is like using a dildo in public: it's a plastic representation of a body part and it's being used similarly. And yet bottle feeding in public is ok and doesn't freak anyone out- because it's NOT like sex. It's feeding a child. Don't ever compare breastfeeding to sex. EVER. Not comparable.
      Re #6: It's happening, you just might not see it, but it's happening. I'm going to live so that
      Re #7: If you'd like to see pictures of breastfeeding uncovered, you can find them in the Book of Mormon Stories book (top of page 31) and in the Calgary, Alberta Temple and in sacrament meeting in 1871. Also, in both December 2008 and 2011, the Church History Museum in Salt Lake hosted an exhibit of nativity creches, some of which featured Mary breastfeeding uncovered. The Church is fine with breastfeeding uncovered, it's just the people that aren't. And so we practice getting the people up to where the gospel is: at home, at church, and in our lives everywhere.

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  78. Hello Ladies,

    This may not be the place for it, but I feel the need to say something from my heart, and I hope you will listen.

    I have always counted myself as a feminist. I am Pagan, and I was raised by a lapsed Catholic. I have always been out spoken in my feminism, and believe all women have a place in this world equal to men.

    Now, saying this, I was also raised by a hippie grandmother. So, I counted myself as very open.

    I realize this is not the case, as much as I had hoped.

    A dear friend of mine had posted this, and being a fan of public breastfeeding ect, I read it. She is LDS, I am so very not.

    The author's last sentence was just flooring to me, as it is almost word for word something I have said myself.

    I grew up in a small town that had a large group of LDS families. I went to school with their daughters, and fed them on Sundays at the local buffet style pizza restaurant.

    A child had run up to me, and I caught him and brought him to his mother, because he was going to run into the kitchen. I had at that point served them every Sunday for almost a year. She snatched her son away from me and walked away saying "Don't let them touch you, they are Sinners...they work on Sunday"

    My first thought was "Well if you didn't show up I wouldn't have to work would I?"

    I was branded a sinner, something that never had occurred to me in my long 15.5 years of life at the time. Such a simple statement from a simple minded person hurt me very deeply, and engendered in me a distaste that I never really examined. I have held it my whole life up to this point. ( almost 30, now)

    I despised everything about LDS families since then, and never broke the wall that had built up in my heart. I missed out on what could have been good relationships with LDS women, because I thought them all cookie cutter drones.

    I want to apologize. I thought that men had taken away the divinity of LDS women, and left them matching blue jean skirt, long, capped hair, shells of women they could have been.

    I realize now, that they were always divine, as we all are, and it was I that had taken the divinity from them in my heart.

    I can not deeply apologize enough. Thank you for bringing this form of enlightenment to me.

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  79. For those who keep bring up this idea that since we culturally link breasts with sex, here is my response:

    We live in a world that is increasingly sexualized and our exposure to human bodies increases while our comfort level with our own bodies decreases. This is especially new of women and new mothers.

    Like me, few women instinctively know how to breastfeed and there are many, many barriers to doing it. Unfortunately, one of these for LDS women is a culture that discourages us from any sort of familiarity with our own bodies. In an effort to stay “morally pure” we are not given the skills we need to be good mothers. This is tragic.

    It has long-reaching consequences for the young men in the church as well. They are taught (as girls are as well), that “sex is bad, until you get married”. At the same time, they see semi-nude images almost everywhere they go.

    For many, the taboo nature of a woman’s body in the LDS faith coupled with the sexualization of her in modern culture leads our young men to be curious. Some of them turn to parents or church leaders for answers while others, sadly, turn to friends and peers and the internet. This natural curiosity leads some of them down dark paths of addiction to pornography that takes excruciating work to overcome.

    When leaders of the church ask women to cover up while breastfeeding their babies at church (or worse, go to another room), they reinforce these world-created narratives of a woman’s body and add barriers to something that is already not easy. They create secrecy or shame where there is none and they alienate women who often need the church interaction the very most.

    (Excerpt from a letter I wrote on behalf of an acquaintance)

    It is unfortunate, but our resistance to NiP as a favor to our young men is actually reinforcing the very problem we hope to avoid.

    ~Lacey

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  80. Just because the act of breastfeeding is not sexual doesn't mean that breasts aren't a private body part. I don't think it's too much to ask for people to cover up and be courteous of those around them who feel uncomfortable seeing others' private body parts. There are plenty of non sexual bodily functions that I would be uncomfortable witnessing. It is just part of common courtesy and basic respect of others to think of how others around you feel and act accordingly. A community takes compromise.
    Even though the act of breastfeeding itself is not sexual, it is ridiculous to say that there is nothing sexual about the female breast. Of course there is! I'm not saying it's a woman's problem how a man reacts to seeing her breastfeed, but I just think it's silly to say that all breasts are for is to nourish babies and there is nothing sexual about them in any context.
    I don't know why everyone has to be so extreme one way or the other- the priesthood leaders giving women a hard time, or the women militantly refusing to put a blanket over themselves. It's much ado about nothing.

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    1. A great compromise would be to look away if you're not comfortable watching. It's unreasonable (and is NOT a compromise) to segregate a nursing baby from a pew of other eating babies (cheerios and the like) with a blanket/cover if the mom or baby doesn't want to. And it's not a compromise to force all women to leave the room if they don't want to.

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  81. Great post. Thanks for sharing!

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  82. I breastfeed in public including at church and have had a couple people tell me it's immodest. I was completely dumbfounded that they would even say that. Thank you for your blog post!!!

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  83. Ludona8:14 AM

    By the time you get to my comment it will probably be a moot point but here goes anyway. I am 60, have been LDS all my life and have nursed 3 children from birth to between 12-15 months. I think there is a lot being made out of a very natural, millenium-long standing practice of breastfeeding. Why make an issue out of it? Because it's the culturally popular thing to do?
    I'm surprised to find LDS women getting so hot and bothered about such an age-old, natural process. So what if someone doesn't like it if you breastfeed in Sacrament Mtg. Let the Bishop take you aside and speak with you about it, then give him all your well-researched answers. Or let the "offended" person take issue with you her- or himself. One of many responses could be, "I've given this a great deal of research, thought and prayer and have made the decision that it is right for me. Thank you for your concern." There's always the naysayer in every crowd.
    I find it curious that this has become such an LDS Younger Mother rant in the 21st century! This in the face of 11 states legalizing gay marriage, heterosexual couples living together without marriage, rampant abortions, birth control, etc. indicates that it is obvious there are NO cultural boundaries. Only the ones that the self-conscious, young, are trying to fan the fire of?
    Do what you want! Everyone is entitled to their opinion and their actions as long as they don't molest another. You haven't and won't be arrested for anything except speeding, not wearing your seatbelt and leaving your children outside of their various safety harnesses in cars!
    So what if some old biddy gossips about you and sets two or three like-minded women against you for breastfeeding at the Ward Activity! You're bigger than that. Let go of it. Don't create such angst among other LDS women who have enough to contend with. You need to take a deep breath and relax for that darling baby of yours.
    There is only one thing that I'd like to take you to task for. You state that Satan made breasts sexual.... I hope I'm quoting you correcly, it's so far up the page that I don't want to go back. But I am quite certain that God made our breasts sexually pleasing to men. Boyd K. Packer doesn't talk about it specifically but in the old "Rainbow Missionary Discussions" he made if very clear that there are ways in which Heavenly Father created our bodies and our minds to entice MEN to take upon them the responsibility of marriage and children. Breasts, just like many parts of our body are capable of multi-tasking and the only thing created by Satan is evil.
    Have fun with your rhetoric. I do hope it doesn't become the only box on which you are willing to stand. There is also something to be said for contending one with another. Love your enemies. Do good to them who spitefully use you...
    Sincerely.

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