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How about men stop telling women how and where to breastfeed?

Steve Price has joined the ranks of grumpy middle aged men keen to give advice to women about how and where they should breastfeed.

Price — a 2GB host and regular on The Project with two daughters of his own — tweeted earlier this week:

In a fiery segment with Price on The Project last night, breastfeeding mother-of two, host Carrie Bickmore pointed out that mothers breastfeed their children where they need to, “not where you want us to. Why do women have to do it discreetly, what is your issue with it?”

Carrie Bickmore vs Steve Price on The Project last night talking about breastfeeding.

Their exchange went like this [we have transcribed it in full]:

Carrie Bickmore: Now our very own Steve Price has got himself in a bit of trouble on Twitter. He tweeted last night saying “Discreet public breast feeding no drama but walking through Qantas domestic!!!” As you can imagine social media went a little bit crazy. I’ve got to admit I saw that tweet as I was sitting down breast feeding and I thought, “Pricey, you idiot. Be quiet.”

Waleed Aly: And you bolted straight for Qantas domestic, didn’t you?

Carrie Bickmore: Yeah, exactly.

Waleed Aly: You’re right though there was a big reaction, @NannanBay for example said “A breast feeding mum or a Radio jock spewing crap??? No Contest!!!” Ah didn’t say which one won, anyway, and Lou said “@StevePriceMedia are you jealous that she can multitask.”

Carrie Bickmore: My favourite one though, I think she summed it up for us “@StevePriceMedia I’m only seeing one tit in this story.” And that tit joins us now. Pricey, seriously why?

Steve Price: Well Carrie, if you read the twitter message I obviously didn’t object to what that woman was doing, it surprised me to see her walking through an airport breastfeeding while walking. Look, it twigged my interest but I have no objection to public breastfeeding. I just thought, “that’s unusual a woman walking through an airport breastfeeding.” You know very well I’ve got no objection whatsoever, and I don’t mean to sound defensive here by the way, I’ve got no objection whatsoever to public breastfeeding. In fact three weeks ago in a production meeting at The Project you were breastfeeding your gorgeous little baby daughter.

Carrie Bickmore: Absolutely…

Steve Price: …So if I had a problem I might have said something.

Carrie Bickmore: But you used the words ‘discreet public breastfeeding’ which means you clearly think it should be done privately in a room away from you. Just for your information we feed where we want to, not where you want us to.

Steve Price: Do you not find it interesting and would you actually breastfeed walking through a crowded airport?

Carrie Bickmore: No, because I’m not coordinated enough to walk and breastfeed at the same time. But if my baby needed to feed, I would feed, Pricey. I mean you choose to feed at the Qantas Club, that’s where she chooses to feed, walking through a terminal.

Steve Price: I’m not suggesting anyone go and sit in a dark room. But there’s more chairs in an airport then there is in just about any building in the world. So all she needed to do was sit down. Look I don’t care that she did it…

Carrie Bickmore: Then why comment, it’s none of your business.

Steve Price: …has anyone else on that panel ever seen someone walking publicly through a crowded airport with a baby clamped on their breast?

Peter Helliar: About six times a day, six times a day mate I reckon I see it to be honest.

Steve Price: Never, ever. Be honest.

Peter Helliar: So Pricey are you going to apologise for your drunken rant? I assumed you’d had a few because why would you take on mums and babies mate?

Steve Price: It was 11 o clock in the morning, I had had nothing to drink.

Peter Helliar: I stand by what I said.

Steve Price: And I think the response on Twitter is absolutely ridiculous. I had one message which said I had violated the human rights of the mother and the baby. Now for gods sake I didn’t even speak to this woman, I didn’t name her, I’ve got no idea who she was and she had no idea I’d even seen her. These people are just feral and they’re stupid.

Carrie Bickmore: Feral! Oh Pricey.

Steve Price: Since when did breastfeeding mothers are they a no go zone. I can comment on what I like, when I like and people can just go and jam it as far as I’m concerned.

Waleed Aly: Right. So ferals…

Carrie Bickmore: He’s doing this well, he’s doing this well to be fair. He’s a shock jock. He’s doing this very well.

Waleed Aly: Yeah he is. I like “ferals stupid people that can jam it.” Why would they possibly be offended pricey?

Steve Price: No idea.

Peter Helliar: Well Pricey sometimes I get offended by the stuff you do. Like I’m offended by this to be honest (plays a video of Steve Price playing golf). Your golf swing. And I’m offended by this as well (another video of Steve Price).

Steve Price: And so do I attack you on Twitter and call you a moron and threaten to come over and bash your head in? No I don’t.

Peter Helliar: No you text me.

Carrie Bickmore: Why do women have to do it discreetly? What is your issue with it?

Steve Price: I think walking though a crowded airport is an unusual place to breastfeed a child. Now if my wife and I got off a plane, and we’ve had two daughters, she breastfeed both of them, and Wendy said to me, “I think I might breastfeed Lucy while we walk to the car” I would say “Are you insane? Sit down and do it properly.”

Carrie Bickmore: Well I look forward to sitting on your lap in the meeting next Monday and doing it for you.

So to recap: the most important thing here is the delicate sensibilities of strangers. Not the needs of the baby. Not the needs of the mother.

Strangers like Steven Price who have strict guidelines about the way breastfeeding should happen.

Wait, this sounds familiar. When was the last time a man in the media called for breastfeeding mothers to be ‘more discreet’?

Responding to a story on Sunrise in 2013 about Liana Webster, a Bribie Island woman who was forced to leave her local pool after a complaint was made about her breast feeding in public, host David Kochie said: “I totally think women should be able to breastfeed in public but I just think they should be a bit classy about it.”

He had two breastfeeding daughters, he pointed out at the time. But noted that if they breastfed in restaurants, they’d turn their chairs around.

While broadly supportive of breastfeeding, he said, the problem was with ‘high traffic areas’.

As I’ve written previously, with over three years of breastfeeding three children on my CV, there’s not a public place where I haven’t breastfed or expressed. Beaches, planes, shopping centres, parks, airports, WALKING THROUGH AIRPORTS, restaurants, BBQs, offices, cafes, meetings, parties, weddings, funerals, churches, synagogues… and frankly, I couldn’t care less who was watching. Oddly enough, I tended 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.

To a breastfeeding woman, our breasts are about as sexual to us as a bowl of Weet Bix. Because that’s exactly what they represent our babies. Sustenance. Not sex. Or nudity.

I’ve always found the whole term ‘public breastfeeding’ amusing. Those who oppose it (or voice the need for it to remain ‘classy’ and ‘discreet’) always exude a distasteful, 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 an old man wins a toasted sandwich!”

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Yes indeed. 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 semi-nude in public?

In actual fact, they’re not and they don’t. Breastfeeding mothers feed their babies as quickly and quietly as possible because THEY ARE HUNGRY and SO THEIR CRIES DON’T DISTURB YOUR VERY IMPORTANT PUBLIC BUSINESS such as texting someone while you sip your soy latte or walking unencumbered through an airport.

As for the suggestion by some people 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, women shall happily breastfeed right alongside them.

And using a ‘mothers’ room’ (which tend to be ghastly, germy places), isn’t always possible, particularly if you have more than one child.

To be fair, Steve Price wasn’t suggesting the woman he saw at the airport should have been breastfeeding in the toilet. He simply wanted her to sit down and “do it properly”. But Steve, breastfeeding is just like any other kind of meal. Sometimes you’re able to sit down and enjoy a nice dinner at a table with cutlery and tablecloth. On other occasions you’re forced to grab a sandwich on the run because you don’t have the luxury of time.

Here I am breastfeeding in my lounge room, a low traffic area.

Breastfeeding a baby can take up to half an hour and that time is not always available. Perhaps the mother breastfeeding at the airport was late for a flight. Or she had to rush home to other children. Or get to work. It’s not always possible to sit in a quiet place and stop your life to feed your baby. Sometimes you have to multitask.

The longer you have been breastfeeding, the easier this becomes. By baby number three I was adept at feeding while my son was in the Baby Bjorn, as I went about my life and did all the things that simply couldn’t wait – just like my baby couldn’t wait because he was hungry.

So a word of advice for the men (and some women) who insist on trying to police breastfeeding: nobody is trying to tell you how and when to eat. How about you pay breastfeeding mothers the same courtesy.

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