I’m not sure what this says about me, but up until the other day I thought my peers were being a little dramatic about public breastfeeding. I know, I know. I’m sorry. But it’s the truth. I just didn’t think anyone really made a big deal about a woman feeding her baby in public.
It’s fair to mention here that I typically use a cover so (duh) no one has ever said anything to me. But I always assumed that if I ever went somewhere and forgot my nursing cover, I would be the only one uncomfortable in that situation. I figured that although people might not cheer and throw 1st place ribbons my way, they would at least graciously look away and let me do my business of feeding their future president.
Now, benefit of the doubt, I will admit that there could be numerous reasons this woman might have given me the meanest, most disgusted look imaginable when she pulled up next to me in that parking lot while I fed my angry ass kid cover-free.
Top Ten I came up with:
- My resting bitch face
- Her resting bitch face
- Global warming
- Maybe she was hungover
- Maybe she thought I was hungover
- This election year
- Last election year
- Nixon’s election year
- The KC Chief’s near shut-out in Pittsburgh
- Toxic algae in Lake Afton.
It could’ve been anything. But something about her attitude tells me that it wasn’t.
And, perhaps most importantly (and the point of this post), my first reaction was not anger or defensiveness. I know many of my friends reading this would’ve told the lady off.
But my first reaction was not to ask what her problem was. My first reaction was to ask what mine was.
My gut reaction, you guys, was to feel ashamed and apologetic; to figure out what I’m doing wrong; to do better next time.
She had teenage sons with her. I had some grace with that. I hoped she didn’t think I was trying to show off my boobs or something. I wanted to be like “Lady, I promise, I usually am a super modest person!”
And then I remembered something that Dr. Christiane Northrup said. “Do you ever notice how often women apologize?”
Women apologize all the time. Not so much in words, but in action and decorum. We self-correct. We restrain. We make our self-judgment fashionable and become exclusive. We use that to put down other women. And we call that having class.
We are embarrassed by our own emotions. We make fun of ourselves when we cry for no reason. We feel bad if we have an emotional outburst. We medicate ourselves to calm those waves. But we never really clean the oil spill in that ocean, do we?
We are forever explaining ourselves, lest anyone think we were seeking attention/feeling sorry for ourselves/being a bitch/etc.
And when we’re not apologizing, we’re mean spirited and aggressive. When we are finally fed up enough and completely done we make these big bold declarations about all the things we are that other women are not. And we call that feminism (not to be confused with actual feminism, mind you).
Now this is the part where I’m supposed to say I’m done apologizing for my femininity. That this constant internal struggle between being too sexy and not sexy enough is tired and archaic and I’m over it. That I’m not going to feel bad all the time for taking up space and being a woman who has kids to feed and bills to pay and a husband to love and a body to cherish, despite and also for its imperfections.
This is the part where I’m supposed to make my battle cry.
But I know this issue is deeper than that and bigger than me.
This Soulful Simplicity series is about letting go of spiritual clutter to make room for more of what matters. A huge part of that is dismantling ideas I had about myself and who I’m supposed to be; digging through the debris to find misplaced treasure; finding out why I feel the way I do about things.
That breastfeeding incident was mild. It could’ve easily been something I shrugged off. I almost did. But it opened up a bigger problem for me that I can’t ignore.
I have to laugh anytime someone says I’m a feminist. I mean, I suppose I am one. But only incidentally.
Only because I see myself as a fully capable person and I speak out against violence directed at women sometimes. I guess that makes me a feminist? Truthfully though, I don’t have any street cred. I don’t rally against the patriarchy. I don’t deserve the title.
I’m just a young woman with some ideas about respect, trying to get by in this world and raise three daughters in it.
And people actually call me a hardcore feminist. Ha!
We have a long way to go.
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