In the last 24 hours, I’ve received Facebook invitations to *more than 40* nurse-in events all taking place simultaneously tomorrow at Target stores across the country. What did Target do to gain the wrath of the mama-sphere, you ask?
From an online group about the incident that started it all:
Recently a mama was nursing her babe in a local Houston area Target. When she was asked to move to a private location, she refused, and was harassed and humiliated by three separate employees. She then called Target’s corporate customer service number and was told by a representative, and then her supervisor that they were aware of the laws, but …that just because something is lawful doesn’t mean its acceptable in their store.
Let’s show them just how many mamas they’ve offended. We have a right to shop and meet our babies’ needs while doing so. Public humiliation for doing so will not be tolerated.
These lactivists have called for an international nurse-in event today at Target stores around the globe. So if you’re near a Target, grab your babe and head on over for a snack. And if you’re not lactating, grab a doll and pretend.
Amidst the fantastic public response to my post about an incident of breastfeeding discrimination earlier this month, there’s also been something very confusing going on. Something I wasn’t expecting was the number of women who commented something like, “Yay, breastfeeding rights! But have some respect and cover up.”
I just don’t understand how in the world it makes sense for folks to be committed to the right to choose what to feed your baby–breastmilk vs. formula–but at the same time, think it’s ok to tell someone how to feed their baby–with a cover.
So I was beyond thrilled to find the video Covering Up is a Feminist Issue by PhD in Parenting. It speaks for itself and makes a dramatic point, but without all the drama.
What are your thoughts? Can you both support my right to breastfeed and insist I cover up? Is telling a mama to cover up, like the video says, a form of oppression?
A reporter from KREX 5 interviews mama Jessica Coleman. Within just an hour of sending out our press release, we'd already been contacted by three news outlets.
When a City pool manager told my dear friend Jes to go nurse in the bathroom two weeks ago, I don’t think any of us–him, her, or myself–realized the shitstorm that was about to ensue. The incident made national news, the City issued a formal apology, and there are now new training policies in place to prevent other Grand Junction moms from experiencing breastfeeding discrimination.
So how did we get from there to here? With a little bit of media savvy and a big bit of diplomacy. Below is a step-by-step guide to how we responded to the situation, and we’re sharing it in hopes that this list and these materials might be helpful to other mamas in similar situations.
- SPEAK UP – When the Manager confronted the Mama, she spoke up and explained Colorado state law to him. As the consumer who was paying for our birthday party’s use of the pool area, I also went to the main office and spoke to the Manager. Both Mama and I made sure he understood the law, and he made sure we understood that he wasn’t really concerned about upholding it.
- BE INTENTIONAL –Personally, I think it’s super important to remember that this experience belongs to the mama who was publicly confronted. She may not necessarily want to create a scene or draw broader attention to what just happened. In our case, once the Mama overcame the initial shock and emotion of the incident, she knew clearly that she wanted to turn it into an opportunity to create positive change. She was up for the task, but not everyone will be–and that’s ok.
- SPREAD THE WORD – Just by mentioning the incident to a few friends on Facebook, concerned phone calls began to pour into the City’s Parks and Recreation offices the very next morning, before we even urged families to call and voice their disapproval. Don’t be shy about spreading the word. Thousands of moms in your city or town have breastfed their babies, and many of them would probably love the opportunity to speak up in defense of public breastfeeding.
- WRITE IT DOWN – While the incident is still fresh in your mind, write out a personal statement that describes where you were, what you were doing, who said what to you, and so on. Make sure to include how this experience made you feel. In our case, the City gathered statements from their involved employees as soon as they became aware of the incident, so it was important for us to get the story written down, too.
- SCHEDULE A MEETING – There’s no better way to have dialogue than to…well, have dialogue! Mama Jes visited the City’s Department of Parks & Recreation right away to schedule a meeting with someone to calmly discuss how this incident Continue reading
At my daughter’s 3rd birthday party last Sunday, a snarky young pool manager asked one of our guests to go into the bathroom to nurse her baby. When she informed him that his request was against Colorado state law, he assured her that it really just wasn’t that big of a deal.
I took this photo just before the pool manager asked mama Jes to go nurse her baby in the bathroom last weekend. I bet he regrets that conversation right about now.
Well, it was a big deal. A big deal that’s now evolved into coverage by local, regional, and national media outlets, an inundation of concerned phone calls to the City of Grand Junction, and a new city-wide training policy for all Parks & Recreation employees regarding the legality of public breastfeeding. And this, all in the span of four days.
Let me set the scene for you. Among the party guests were two doulas, a breastfeeding counselor, and a tandem-nursing mom of two toddlers. Many of the mamas present had nursed multiple babies & toddlers for many years, all unashamedly in public. If our group had visible auras or energy fields or whatnot, we would have been radiating with giant nipples and uteri.
I feel kind of bad for the young pool manager, who couldn’t have possibly chosen to violate the law with a worse group of moms–worse for him, that is. The coincidence that we happened to be a group of passionate breastfeeding advocates turned this unfortunate incident into an opportunity to affect some cultural change around breastfeeding in public.
Here’s a round-up of the media coverage we garnered this week:
To stay updated on this incident as the snowball continues to roll, check out our Grand Junction Supports Breastfeeding Facebook page.
UPDATE 09/04/11 5:27pm MST: The Associated Press and the Huffington Post have picked up the story, and there are rumors of CNN coverage as well. Who knew?! 🙂 Here are a few more links to add to the list:
Let us know if you find any other media coverage we don’t have listed here.
This photo looks a bit like an old Wild West kind of situation. Something along the lines of, “Let’s wrangle up some muscle & meet down at the corral at high noon.” Except the ‘muscle’ is a group of nursing mamas, babies & toddlers, and the corral is the ‘No Strings Attached’ resale shop in downtown Dekalb, Illinois.
After a 21 year old new mom was accosted by the shop’s owner for nursing her 11 month old babe in the store, she turned to Facebook to rally the troops–or, shall we say, the gun-slingin’ posse.
Photo by Jennifer Moore Photography
I realize that this event happened back on June 2nd, but it’s by no means old news. The issue of breastfeeding rights (have we coined that term yet?) is a hot topic, and it’s uber-relevant, as stories like this one pop up regularly from all over the U.S.
Hopefully, one day, a mom won’t have to get butterflies in her stomach every time she lifts her shirt to attach a baby, and we won’t need nurse-ins anymore. Until then, though, the Wild West analogy that this photo conjures up works perfectly for me.
Moms in Pittsburgh are about to have a new tool in their arsenal for combatting those judgmental stares and unreasonable requests to cover-up-or-leave.
Jill Miller, artist/mom/breastfeeding advocate, has hatched a plan to transform an ice cream truck into a combination guerrilla theater performance and public service project.
Check out Jen’s video on Kickstarter for details about her plans for the Milk Truck to serve as a lounge-style nursing space, and plans to tour it around to community events and art exhibitions. Continue reading