On my way to work this morning, I noticed that the headline in the local train-trash said something to the effect of 'Mother Told Breast Feeding Is Offensive'. I read on to find that Manuela Valle was breastfeeding her 2 month old daughter in H&M when she was told (not asked) that if she was going to continue to breastfeed, then she must do so in a private dressing room so as to not offend customers. Amazing.
What I found to be offensive (aside from the treatment of Valle), was the response of people to the story (on the CBC website) who were talking about breastfeeding as some completely unnatural and disgusting practice. Comments about mothers needing to feed their babies at home and not in public, that it is gross, that breastfeeding in public is 'fine but' you can't just whip it out. Im pretty sure that she was just quietly doing what is perfectly natural for any mother to do, and that is feed her baby when she needed it. As for feeding children at home, does this also include bottle or solid fed children? I don't think so. Any suggestion that her action is offensive, is simply a perversion of a good thing. This is only reinforced by asking a woman to breastfeed in private, making it out to be something that is shameful and to be hidden. Apparently this is not how the BC Human Rights Commission sees breastfeeding, which states "women who wish to breastfeed or express milk can do so while walking in stores." Take that, H&M.
I was also concerned at comments being made that this was a possible set up, and that (heaven forbid) Valles has a PhD in Women's Studies. I'm sorry, does this somehow make her treatment acceptable?
So tomorrow, if you're in the Vancouver area, there is going to be a nurse-in at the H&M store starting at 12.30. There is also going to be a protest station outside. Although I am not a mother, I will be going along to show my support!