Dear Old Lady Who Was Giving Me Dirty Looks While I Was Breastfeeding My 3-month-old at the Café Today:

LizBRCrossposts8 Comments

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Hi!

My name’s Liz. I was at Concannon’s Bakery & Café this morning with my mom, my sister, and four great little kids. You chose to sit at the table next to us, even though the whole place was full of empty tables. We knew we were going to be a somewhat noisy group, so we had taken the table in the farthest corner of the restaurant. We blocked in the three- and four-year-old so they couldn’t try to run off—it was perfect. They sat there eating their donuts. My sister’s baby gobbled up his veggie multigrain crackers. I held my sweet little Neville, who is almost three months old and the happiest baby ever.

Coffee and donuts. What a great way to start the morning. I’m sure you agree, as you were starting your day the same way.

For the sake of jogging your memory, this is what I look like and what I was wearing this morning:

Hi! Remember me? In this totally slutty/revealing top?

Hi! Remember me? In this totally slutty/revealing top?

And for documentation, this is how we were all sitting:

Notice that there are at least two bodies between your husband and me. I did that on purpose.

Notice that there are at least two bodies between your husband and me. I did that on purpose.

After we’d been there for a while, it was time to get ready to go. My sister watches my kids while I work—I’m an English instructor at a local university—and so they were going to be off to her house when we left. I pump milk every day for Neville, but he’s not very good at taking a bottle. It makes him angry, and he often cries for the 3-4 hours that I’m at work. I wanted to make sure he had a full belly before my sister took him home.

So I fed him.

That’s where everything went wrong.

Neville and I know how to nurse very discreetly. In fact, I prefer not to use a nursing cover because it draws far more attention to myself than subtly nursing does, and I’m not one who likes to draw attention to myself. (What can I say? I’m modest by nature.) So because of this, I was able to arrange my shirts and latch Neville on quickly. I’m usually pretty good at the art of distraction, too, and folks rarely notice that I’m nursing. I’m at work now, but let’s pretend that this Walking Dead Compendium is the baby. (It’s the closest thing I have with me.)

This is what it looks like when I nurse the baby:

Apologies for the graphic nature of this image.

Apologies for the graphic nature of this image.

See that? My left boob is out in that picture. I know it’s hard to tell, which is why your husband must have needed to crane his neck like that in order to confirm that yes, I was in fact breastfeeding a baby.

Please note that I am not in any way insinuating that your husband reminds me of Paul Rudd.

Please note that I am not in any way insinuating that your husband reminds me of Paul Rudd.

You wouldn’t think it would take so many double and triple checks to confirm such a thing, but I guess I was being so discreet that he just had to keep looking. And looking. And looking.

So, I guess I’d like to say I’m sorry. I’m sorry that he HAD to keep staring like that. I’m sorry that I sat in a corner so that I would garner less attention, and that I sat so that my sister was between my body and anyone else’s in the restaurant. I’m sorry that you were so bothered by this that you had to send me death glares the rest of the time you were there. That last one, the one you gave me as you were leaving and walking by, the one that was the most hateful of all them—that was especially my fault, because well. I’m a lady. I should know better than to get my boobs out in public and use them for what they’re for. And if I’m going to have them out, the least I could do is at least make them visible so that your husband can continue to treat me like the object that I am.

Your face

Your face

I hope you have a nice day.

Sincerely,

Liz

PS: THIS IS WHY MODESTY CULTURE IS BAD THING! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE TELL MEN THAT THEY CAN’T HELP STARING AT WOMEN’S BODIES! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WE TURN WOMEN INTO OBJECTS AND TELL THEM THAT THEIR BODIES SHOULD BE COVERED UP AT ALL TIMES! THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN GET BLAMED FOR THE BAD BEHAVIOR OF MEN!

Tell me, who was being inappropriate here? The woman with the hungry baby, or the man who looked like a total ape as he sat there gaping at her?

Note: this post originally appeared at Liz Boltz Ranfeld,where I blog about living and parenting as a liberal feminist Christian.

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LizBRDear Old Lady Who Was Giving Me Dirty Looks While I Was Breastfeeding My 3-month-old at the Café Today:

8 Comments on “Dear Old Lady Who Was Giving Me Dirty Looks While I Was Breastfeeding My 3-month-old at the Café Today:”

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  1. Pingback: Internet Wanderlust | 3kids2cats1divorce

  2. Profile photo of QoB
    QoB

    I swear it’s like some people have never been within 50 feet of a hungry baby in their life. In the grand game of life priorities, [feeding hungry baby] >>> [almost everything else including their bullshit ideas about 'modesty'].

    Keep on keepin’ on!

  3. Profile photo of [E] Rachel
    [E] Rachel

    Liz, I obviously 100% agree with all of the points you’re making. I find that most breastfeeding moms are more discreet than people could imagine anyone could be, and if not, well, it’s really none of my business any more than someone’s private conversation is. It doesn’t affect my day in the least, and I’d say I’m completely unaware of when someone’s breastfeeding probably 90% of the time that it happens anywhere near me.

    That said, I wanted to touch a little on part of your postscript: “THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN WOMEN GET BLAMED FOR THE BAD BEHAVIOR OF MEN.” Obviously, men’s inability to regulate their behavior when faced with a discreetly breastfeeding mother is what’s behind anti-BF culture. That being said, why is your post addressed not to the man who was craning his neck and sending you double and triple takes, but to his wife instead? You do mention late in the post that she was giving you dirty looks, but were her dirty looks or his blatant ogling the problem? His wife is certainly to blame for the dirty looks she gave you, but he’s to blame for the inappropriate staring, so I feel like some of the ire at least should be directed at him and not just his wife, as though she is to blame for his bad behavior.

    1. Profile photo of [E] Selena MacIntosh*
      [E] Selena MacIntosh*

      I agree. It’s a fantastic piece, and like PoM, I agree with almost all your points, Liz. I think maybe the fella in question should be in your crosshairs more than his lady companion, however, much like her ire should have been aimed at him instead of at you.

    2. Profile photo of LizBR
      LizBR

      Thanks for this. I did wonder as I wrote this if some people would take that away from the post, and I could anticipate that concern. It’s valid. I ended up deciding to target the wife and not the man for a few really specific reasons.

      First, I totally agree that of the two of them, he was the one who was most out of line. The reason she is in my crosshairs, though, is because I’ve been thinking so much about the way that in the modesty movement, women blame other women for men’s actions, instead of blaming the men. I think this old man’s actions are dirty enough–but I’m used to the idea that men are skeevy. Women blaming other women for their men’s skeeviness? That angers me far more right now, especially when it comes to the modesty movement. And that’s what I saw in this interaction. I saw the predictable bad behavior of a man who probably believes he’s well within his rights to ogle a woman, but I am angry at the idea that his wife would blame me for his bad behavior instead of him.

      It’s also probably because this happened the day I read this: http://www.charismamag.com/life/women/9703-how-women-can-make-church-a-safe-place-for-men

      I’m pretty sure this post is unintentionally about 60% directed at the author of that post instead. :)

      1. Profile photo of [E] Rachel
        [E] Rachel

        I was half-asleep when I clicked that link, and now I’m fully awake with rage. Ugh. Infantilizing men and once again putting the responsibility on women to not “tempt” them. Nope nope nope.

  4. Profile photo of amandamarieg
    amandamarieg

    Concannon’s!!! OH MY GOD ALL THE DONUTS. And they have a cherry amaretto mocha that is amazing. And this is not the point of your post!

    The point of your post is of course, “Ugh, people, why do you make me waste these amazing gifs on your terrible behavior?!” (I’m sorry some people are terrible.) In fairness, I probably always double take when I see public breastfeeding, just because it’s not something I’m used to seeing, but I don’t get why it’s considered appropriate to STARE. “It’s a BOOOOOOOOB! That I can’t even SEEEEEE!”

    (But seriously, great donuts. And that little cafe they’ve built over behind Best Buy? Adorbs.)

    1. Profile photo of LizBR
      LizBR

      I LOVE that when I mention Concannon’s on the internet, someone else always gets excited because they recognize it. People who don’t get to experience their donuts on a regular basis don’t even get to experience LIFE. And yes, that’s where I was when this happened–in the little cafe! Love it.

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