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Breasts are rude. Discuss.

Unless you’re a stripper, there are only two times in life when you’re likely to get your boobs out in public: breastfeeding and topless sunbathing. Over the years, I’ve done my fair share of both although admittedly, the more I’ve done of the former, the less I’ve done of the latter. Dear Gravity, you are a goddamn cow.

I recently learned that 37% of people believe breastfeeding should only occur at home or in toilet cubicles. I wonder if those same people would say the same about topless sunbathing?

I also wonder how they feel about Pamela Anderson, Paris Hilton, Miranda Kerr and others baring their breasts at parties and photo shoots. Unacceptable? Oh yes. And hurry Miranda, your inappropriate breasts are offending my eyes.

If my eldest son had been surveyed, he would have immediately ticked the box that said ‘breastfeeding should only happen at home and preferably inside a dark cupboard”. He’s always cringed when I’ve fed his younger siblings in public despite having had no complaints when he was a hungry baby himself. How quickly they forget.

Nobody can forget the hype when Kate Langbroek, breastfed on live TV during The Panel. “Publicity stunt!” cried some. “Outrageous!” cried others. “Oh please!” I cried at nobody in particular. There’s nothing contrived about breastfeeding. If only infants could follow a PR schedule. Have you met a baby? They tend to be rather spontaneous and extremely unreasonable, particularly when tired or hungry which is approximately always. Kate Langbroek was at work. Her baby was hungry. She fed him. It happens. The end. And yet people still talk about it today.

The fact she was working at all is a problem for some people who feel uncomfortable when the worlds of work and motherhood collide. They can’t compute that personal choice or financial necessity makes that collision a reality for millions of women like Kate every day. Oh look, it’s 2009.

With over a decade of breastfeeding on my CV (not consecutively and not of the same child…no Bitty in our house), there’s not a public place where I haven’t breastfed or expressed. Beaches, planes, shopping centres, parks, airports, restaurants, BBQs, offices, cafes, meetings, parties, weddings, funerals, churches, synagogues…and frankly, I couldn’t care less who was watching.

Oddly enough, I tend to prioritise my baby’s immediate needs over the Elizabethan prudishness of people who have a problem with boobs being used for their natural function. I’m zany like that.

When I’m in breastfeeding mode, my breasts are about as sexual to me as a bowl of Weet Bix. Because that’s exactly what they represent to my baby. Sustenance. Not sex.

I also find the term ‘public breastfeeding’ amusing. Those who oppose it exude a fearful, vaguely alarmed vibe, as if there are groups of marauding mothers using their babies as an excuse to flash their lactating breasts in strangers’ faces: “I know! Let’s meet at Westfield! The first person to flash their leaky nipple to 100 shoppers wins a toasted sandwich!”

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As for the suggestion by some that breastfeeding should happen in toilets, I totally agree. As soon as those same people are happy to have their morning coffee made, served and drunk in a toilet cubicle, we shall happily breastfeed right alongside them.

As soon as people are happy to have their morning coffee in a toilet cubicle, breastfeeding mothers will join them.

My other favourite thing is when people say mothers should be discrete. This is also true. There are far too many breastfeeding women who brazenly strip naked to the waist in public each time their baby grizzles. Have you seen them throw their bosoms around with gay abandon while waving their arms in the air like they just don’t care? What is wrong with these women? Why do they derive so much pleasure from being almost nude in public? Oh wait. They’re not and they don’t. We feed our babies as quickly and quietly as possible because THEY ARE HUNGRY and SO THEIR CRIES DON’T DISTURB YOUR VERY IMPORTANT PUBLIC BUISNESS such as texting someone while you sip your skinny latte and flick through a newspaper in a coffee shop. Selfish exhibitionists, yes we are.

The week this breastfeeding media storm broke, I went out to dinner with my family. It was one of those chaotic meals where you end up wearing more food than you eat, cutlery is hurled around, several people burst into tears and you wonder why you didn’t all stay home and eat eggs.

Amid the chaos, with the baby squirming madly on my lap and attempting to wear my mushroom pizza as a hat, I whipped out a boob to try and feed him. Or at least, distract him. It was an impulsive move born of equal parts optimism, desperation and defiance.

As I tried in vain to use my body as a human pacifier, there was – for the first time ever – an unspoken challenge in the act. But as usual, nobody seemed to notice. Not that there was much to see. Having almost finished weaning, it’s really a blink-and-you’ll-miss-‘em situation. I did get one withering look, however. From my baby. He was all, ‘oh please woman, put those pathetic windsocks away. I have so moved on.’ To pizza.

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