Wednesday, August 11, 2010

"Breastfeeding Burqas" - Women's choice - or more oppression?

Around the Western world there is debate about the Islamic garment known as the Burqa.

Within the breastfeeding world, there is debate about a similar garment, known by a variety of names but with similar intention.

Breastfeeding covers.

These creations of the new millennium (before someone decided to make money out of the idea, you might have used a bunny rug) are starting to take off in a big way and that makes me scared. Because there is a very real risk that parts of our society uncomfortable with women openly breastfeeding in public will start to demand the use of such covers. And even though some women say they use them because they want the privacy or their baby is distracted without one, I suspect most do so because they fear negative attention.

Think of the actions of the flight attendant who tried to make breastfeeding mum Kathryn Ward cover up:

''I didn't say anything because at the same time she asked me she saw a padded insert underneath him and put it on top of him without asking my permission,'' Mrs Ward said. ''She said, 'I know it's natural, but some people may not like to see it.' ''

It seems pretty clear she believed something - anything - should be hiding the action.

If I lived in a world where I could be confident that every woman who used a breastfeeding cover was doing so because that was how she preferred things, then I probably wouldn't be living in a world where some believe a Burqa to be a woman's right and others believe it to be her duty.


Anonymous said...

If someone wants to put a cloth over their own head, I have no problem with that ... but why do it to a baby?

One Woman's Thoughts said...

WOW. Does the cloth covering call even more attention to breastfeeding?
Nature feeds it's young and we too can be natural and non offensive by breastfeeding without calling attention by trying NOT to call attention to it. FOr a nation obsessed with breats, it is interesting that we need to hide the fact for which they were intended.