Thursday, August 30, 2007

Here's a link to the Herald-Leader article that covered the incident.

Here's a copy of the letter I sent to the editor of the Herald-Leader:

This event has shamed Kentucky and Applebee's on a national level. That Applebee's intends to stock blankets is ludicrous. Perhaps they could give them to those few patrons who are offended by breastfeeding? Let them eat with blankets over their heads instead (and see how far the A/C goes when you're eating hot food under a blanket). As for those who suggest breastfeeding in the bathroom, I will propose an equal scenario: it is just as "easy" to breastfeed while sitting on a toilet as it is to try to sit on a toilet and feed a knife-and-fork meal to the toddler sitting on your lap. It seems absurd to suggest a parent do such a thing, but the wrangling, balance, and sanitary issues are the same that a breastfeeding mom has to deal with. And if the mom is new to breastfeeding or the child is old enough to wiggle around, it just gets more difficult.

Most experienced breastfeeding moms don't reveal anything when they nurse in public (as shown on the front page of this newspaper). They aren't interested in flashing the world, just in feeding their babies — and many go out of their way to keep covered. When I first learned to breastfeed, I needed to see my son's mouth in order to latch him on. I tried using a blanket – I even tried draping it over both our heads – and it was beyond impractical. I have NO desire to display any part of my breasts, so I make every effort to be discreet…but it's more likely to cause an embarrassing scene if I try to wrestle a blanket over my son when he'll only play with it or pull it off. Many people simply find the idea of public breastfeeding offensive, whether anything is showing or not. What better indicator is there that there's breastfeeding going on than a blanket-covered chest?

What if a restaurant patron is made uncomfortable by a message on a t-shirt? Or what if they find other races offensive? They can't just demand that the "offender" cover up or leave. Aside from the fact that it would be a preposterous request, discriminating by race and hindering freedom of speech are prohibited by law, regardless of the opinion of restaurant management. Interfering with public breastfeeding in this state is also against the law, plain and simple. Kentucky lawmakers know that some people are put off by the act of public breastfeeding, but they passed the law anyway, to protect what they viewed to be a mother's legal right.

Mike Scanlon thinks this mother had an "agenda" because she kept a copy of the law with her? No, Mr. Scanlon. It's because of uninformed people like the Applebee's manager that she does it. How else will the uneducated believe her when she says she has a legal right to feed her child? Unfortunately, some people don't have the capability to think rationally even when presented with a straightforward legal document – as evidenced by the response of the Applebee's manager. After reading about this ridiculous situation, I printed a copy for my diaper bag too. I hope I never have to use it just to act within my legal rights.

In closing, I will offer up one important piece of evidence just for my online readers, who no doubt have seen all the back-and-forth comments posted in argumentation for one side or another:

"No person shall interfere with a mother breastfeeding her child..."
That is taken directly from the Kentucky breastfeeding law. Her boobs weren't "hanging out all over the table," people (as many naysayers put it). In fact, if the picture on the front page of the Herald-Leader is any indication, they probably weren't exposed at all. But even if they were a little visible, guess what? If a mother has determined that using a blanket while breastfeeding is impractical for her and her baby, there is NOTHING ANYONE CAN DO ABOUT IT. Period. Technically, the fact that the manager sent that poor waitress over to harass Brooke Ryan counts as "interference".

Incidentally, here's a really great, sassy blog I found today.

No comments: