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:
And for documentation, this is how we were all sitting:
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:
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.
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.
I hope you have a nice day.
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.