BODY POL­I­TICS

Marie Claire (South Africa) - - CONTENTS -

Breast-feed­ing in pub­lic; Zumba; mi­cro-needling

It may be sec­ond na­ture to many women, some­thing that has been sus­tain­ing life for thou­sands of years, but just in case we needed con­fir­ma­tion – many coun­tries have leg­is­la­tion stat­ing that moth­ers may breast­feed their baby in pub­lic with­out be­ing dis­crim­i­nated against or ha­rassed. While there is no law against the prac­tice in South Africa, sen­ti­ment against it ex­ists. Re­cently, an ed­u­ca­tion ac­tivist, Dr No­ma­langa Mkhize, ex­pe­ri­enced sham­ing from an at­ten­dant dur­ing a flight while she was breast­feed­ing. She was asked if she wouldn’t pre­fer to cover up. She has since told on­line mag­a­zine The Con that she is spurred to ac­tion – to en­cour­age a stronger pub­lic-breast­feed­ing lobby.

In Texas, a state bill aims to give a mother the right to take le­gal ac­tion against any­one who dis­crim­i­nates against her as a re­sult of her breast­feed­ing in pub­lic. To sup­port the bill, two graphic-art stu­dents at the Univer­sity of North Texas have launched a cam­paign called ‘When Nur­ture Calls’. The mock ads show young moth­ers forced to breast­feed their ba­bies in dirty pub­lic toi­lets, each im­age cap­tioned with phrases like ‘Ta­ble for two’ and ‘Pri­vate din­ing’. The tag line states sim­ply that a ‘baby should never be nur­tured where na­ture calls’ and I com­pletely agree. In­stead of re­treat­ing to a loo, some women would rather at­tempt to si­lence a hun­gry baby than sit in a pub­lic space for a few min­utes of feed­ing time.

One mother in the UK was asked to leave a sports store when she be­gan breast­feed­ing her child. A photo of an­other was posted on Face­book with the la­bel ‘tramp’. It prompted her to start an in­ter­na­tional move­ment called ‘Free to Feed’.

Pub­lic breast­feed­ing is seen as shame­ful be­cause breasts are sex­ual or­gans. Cleav­age, okay; a bare breast feed­ing a child? Er, no. What many people see, and re­act to, is a sex­ual be­ing – over­look­ing a woman’s wider roles as mother and nur­turer.

‘When Nur­ture Calls’ ads.

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