This is not the first time a mum has been shamed for breastfeeding in public in Singapore. Only this time, things may have gone too far…
Is breastfeeding in public disgusting?
Apparently, a reader ‘contributed’ this picture yesterday, to a very popular online portal in Singapore. The picture shows a mum breastfeeding her baby (leaning to her husband), with her left breast exposed. Another kid is also seen sitting next to the father.
The caption goes, “When I saw this, I stand up Stacy, makes me wanna move in Martin but don’t know if the hot mama can hush hush Hannah.”
(For those who didn’t know, Stand-up Stacey, Move-in Martin and Hush-hush Hannah are friendly LTA mascots encouraging riders to be well mannered and thoughtful when using public transport.)
The comment itself has sexual undertones, but allowing the picture to be published online, with a ‘damage control’ disclaimer like “breastfeeding is a natural and beautiful act that should be supported,” is seriously uncool!
Meanwhile, the picture has raised many an eyebrow here in Singapore, and elicited varied responses. We have classified these ‘reactions’ into 4 main categories:
- So what?: That’s what breasts are for; for nourishing your babies. It’s also primarily what makes us humans, mammals- the ability to suckle your young.
It is heartening to note that this sentiment was shared by a large number of people, including men. Is breastfeeding in public slowly becoming a norm in Singapore?
- Cover up mummy: So, how much is too much, and what exactly is acceptable? According to this report, the Singapore Police Force (SPF) states that, “It is not an offence to breastfeed in public if the woman is decently clad and she does not expose her breast more than is necessary to breastfeed her child.”
Many feel that with the wide range of nursing tops, covers, shawls and slings available, the mummy should have resorted to covering up, rather than indulge in such “indecent exposure”, what with there being “children around.”
- Men will still be men: Much of the attempt to cover up while breastfeeding is done to ward off the dreaded ‘male eye’, which is often incapable of viewing a woman’s breasts as anything more than sexual objects. We spotted many a ‘gem’ in the comments section, which are unfortunately too risque to be published here.
Mummies of boys, hope you take it upon yourselves to educate your sons about the biological function of breasts. Hopefully, the next generation of men will be able to view women’s breasts as much more than objects of desire.
- Are there no laws against public photography in Singapore?: Is it even legal in Singapore to take a picture of someone without permission, and post it online for the rest of the world to judge? Does it qualify as defamation?
To quote this report, “Taking photos of other people in public places is perfectly lawful, if the photos are decent and non-sexual, and affords no legal recourse to the one whose photo was taken. However, posting them on an online portal, accompanied with accusations, can be defamatory.”
“To constitute defamation, the post must satisfy 3 requirements. It must be defamatory to reputation, must refer to the victim, and must be broadcasted. An uncensored photo accompanied by text accusing the main character of wrongdoing, can constitute libel.”
We are not sure where this picture stands in terms of legalities, but we do hope that in future, publishers would employ higher ethical standards when it comes to publicly shaming and crucifying a family like this.
‘Shamed’ Singapore mum retaliates
Many of us assumed that our victimised mummy probably retreated into her shell, terribly embarrassed to show face again. We are glad to say that we were wrong!
Today morning, this mum put up a Facebook post in bold retaliation, posting more pictures of her breastfeeding her baby!
She writes, “I know that a picture of me breastfeeding is being shared right now. I am ok with it.”
Wow, we admire her guts for standing up for what she believes in, “I don’t think it is wrong to breastfeed in public. I have a nursing cover, but my girl will cry and struggle when I use it.”
“Those who suggest using a cover should try eating or drinking under a cover and see if you like it or not. I put my baby first so as long as she is comfortable and feeding well, I don’t really care what others think.”
It is interesting to observe the evolution of breastfeeding over the years. Ancient records talk of the magical healing properties of breast milk. For medieval Christians, it seems, viewing Mary nursing Christ was considered a blessing, and not something to be ashamed of.
Somewhere along the line, breast feeding became shunned, and something for the uneducated or ‘lower classes’; for people who couldn’t afford formula milk. Today’s world has woken up to the health benefits of breast milk, and now insists that babies be exclusively breastfed for at least the first 6 months.
So now, there is this huge pressure to breastfeed, but to do it discreetly. This writer herself has breastfed her babies in stinky toilets, for lack of nursing rooms nearby.
There’s nothing more satisfying for a mum than to see her baby being nourished by milk she ‘made’ herself. We suggest that the next time you see a mum breastfeeding her baby, and it makes you uncomfortable, you look somewhere else? This mummy does have a point when she says:
“It isn’t that hard to just look away if you don’t like to see a baby drinking milk. Anyway, it’s just a breast. We all have it. Be it female or male. It’s meant to be used to feed a baby…What’s so sexual/wrong about it?”
We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts and comments with us in the Comment box below.
Join the ParentTown community for Q&A among parents-to-be, parents AND experts!