Criminalizing Comfort

I’ve heard a lot of buzz around the internet about how Michelle Obama is pushing her liberal  breastfeeding agenda on the poor helpless women of America. Apparently it was some kind of vast left-wing conspiracy just because she made some fairly mundane remarks about breastfeeding the same week the IRS finally made up its mind that if penis pumps could be considered tax-exempt, it was only fair that breast pumps be fair game as well. I’m actually rather conservative and I find the whole thing silly.

I suppose I was lulled into a false sense of security by all the positive press breastfeeding has been receiving lately. So I was shocked when I read about a Georgia city that had actually passed a law RESTRICTING a woman’s right to breastfeed her child. No, strike that– criminalizing a two-year-old who breastfeeds in public.

Despite both state and federal laws to the contrary, Forest Park, Georgia has decided that your boobs are illegal, at least if you’re using them to feed a 24-month-old. At 23 months, you’re fine. And if you squeeze them into a too-small tank top, you’re also fine. Just don’t feed your toddler, because heaven knows, no one wants to see that.

It’s about decency. As City Manager John Parker said, “It sets up a process whereby we can try to control nudity throughout the entire city.”

To which I can only reply… wha?

Where is this mythical American city where the milk and the breasts run free, where so many woman are walking around publicly breastfeeding their toddlers, disrupting public business with their dirtypillows out where everyone can see them, that the city council has to actually take the time and energy to pass a law to stop them? Because the last time I checked, less than 6% of American women are still breastfeeding past 18 months. Perhaps they all live in Forest City. I don’t know.

It gets even better.

According to This Daddy’s Blog, he put in a call to Forest Park’s city office. In between guffaws, Mr. Parker informed him that “”We don’t want children that can walk around to be breastfeeding in public.”

Well, Mr. Parker, I don’t want misogynistic jerks to hold public office, but apparently I don’t get my wish.

Also, what the heck? Do southern babies walk later than Yankee babies? Because around here, babies typically walk between 10 and 12 months. Maybe my babies are just gifted.  Who knows.

I will admit that I’ve tried to picture the logistics of enforcing a law like this, and it makes me giggle. Do I have to carry my babies’ birth certificates with me if I am breastfeeding in Georgia? If I”m in a store, am I at the mercy of the owner? Will a cop have to leave the scene of a crime if they get a call because some woman is suspected of nursing a 26-month-old at the playground? Will the police be lurking in the bushes, hoping to catch someone nursing a toddler? And will they be in trouble if the alleged toddler turns out to be just an oversized 18-month-old?

I’m already seeing the typical arguments on the interwebz.

Who nurses a two-year-old? That’s sick.

I nurse two-year-olds. Heck, I nurse three-year-olds. In another 18 months, I hope to be nursing TWO two-year-olds.That’s almost like nursing a four-year-old, and that’s really twisted.  Not in Forest Park, Georgia, however, because I do not want to nurse my babies in the hoosegow.

Well, if you want to nurse your two-year-old, that’s your business, but I don’t want to see it.

Great. I don’t particularly want you staring at my boobs either. I find it kind of creepy. Look away. I hear there are lots of historic sights in Georgia that you can stare at instead.

Seriously, a two-year-old can eat other food. Why don’t you just chuck him some cheerios?

Because nursing a toddler is as much about comfort and connection as it is about anything else. I’m not crazy about seeing toddlers walking around with binkies in their mouths, but I’m not trying to make it illegal.

But… but… it’s weird. And I didn’t do it. So you shouldn’t either.

You have every right to think it’s weird. And I have every right to still do it. Federal law says so. Georgia state law says so. And if you don’t like it, don’t legislate against it. Just look away. Here, I have a blanket you can tos over your head.

Office of the City Manager
John Parker
745 Forest Parkway
Forest Park, Ga. 30297
Phone: 404-366-4720
Fax: 404-608-23
Email address – jparker@forestparkga.org

And if you’re in Georgia, please consider attending the nurse-in, even if you aren’t nursing a toddler.
https://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=214603545231699

STATE LAW:
Georgia Code – Health – Title 31, Section 31-1-9
The breast-feeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which should be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health. A mother may breast-feed her baby in any location where the mother and baby are otherwise authorized to be.

FEDERAL LAW states that “a woman may breastfeed her child at any location in a Federal building or on Federal property, if the woman and her child are otherwise authorized to be present at the location.”

2 Comments


  1. //

    I think Mr. Parker is going to get a picture of me breastfeeding my (almost) 26-month old. Narrow minded, patriarchal, misogynistic jerk.


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