Singaporean mum asks: "Is breastfeeding considered an act of indecent exposure?"
"It's 2016, and there are just so many other things to make a big deal of, other than the fact that mums are breastfeeding in public."
We're sure that by now, mums are no strangers to nasty remarks and comments about breastfeeding in public. Yes, it is 2016 and this is still considered an issue. There are also several cases about breastfeeding being sexualised and how doing it in public is considered as an act of indecent exposure.
How long is this going to last? When are people going to stop being so ignorant and save the nasty comments?
Yuki Tan shares with us her experience of being shamed for breastfeeding in public...
It's 2016- there are just so many other things to make a big deal of, other than the fact that mums are breastfeeding in public. I still don't understand why people can get so ignorant and so narrow-minded. Some even go to the extent of stating that breastfeeding is an act of indecent exposure. How ridiculous is that?
This over ten years ago when I was breastfeeding my firstborn; Michi. Breastfeeding mums should really be thankful for the many breastfeeding friendly malls in Singapore now. At that time, breastfeeding or simply the changing of diapers proved to be a feat as there weren't many breastfeeding friendly malls around.
So most of the time, I go out of the house prepared and make sure to bring a sarong sling along with me for when it's time to breastfeed Michi.
Michi would normally breastfeed under the sarong discreetly and I would use a nursing cover to cover her. This garnered stares from passers-by, especially when Michi started crying and tugging the cover.
These stares would sometimes result in them passing unfavourable remarks and nasty comments. In fact, at that time, it made me feel ashamed for something that I just had to do.
"Why are you suffocating your kid when she's sleeping soundly?"
Yes, they actually thought Michi was sleeping soundly under the sarong sling! I was ashamed and furious. Furious because I knew I didn't have to feel ashamed for doing something like this and also because their remarks were so ridiculously ignorant.
The worst case was when I was waiting for my friend who was late for a meet-up. We sat at the seating area of a shopping mall and Michi started crying and I knew she was hungry. I rushed to the customer service counter while at the same time comforting my baby and asked the lady if there were any baby rooms in the mall.
The lady was attending to another patron at that time so she just answered my question dismissively, and I couldn't be bothered to persist because Michi was already practically bawling her eyes out.
I decided to move off to a quiet seating area and started to breastfeed my baby. I received quite a number of stares from passers-by but one particular one just couldn't keep his eyes off us. He started pointing towards us and informing people around him.
As I'm writing this, I'm glad that social media wasn't a huge thing last time because if it was, I would have my face on the internet or something by the end of the day!
Out of nowhere, this man came up to us and pulled the sarong out and said: "What do you think you're doing?! This is inappropriate and you should go to a private place!" I was so embarrassed. How could someone be so ignorant?
I didn't want to pursue the matter so I just packed up my stuff quickly and walked away.
But this one other incident, though, was what really left an impact on me.
I was waiting to have dinner with a friend at this really huge shopping mall located in the West of Singapore. The mall as you may have guessed it by now, did not have any baby room.
When it was feeding time, I decided to breastfeed her as per normal, with the sarong and the nursing cover. She started crying and struggling which attracted stares, which I had already gotten used to.
When I finally got to pacify her, a security guard came up to us and starting hurling offensive remarks, including some that were along the lines of how breastfeeding should be done in private because it's an act of indecent exposure.
He said that I should go to the toilet. By now, the commotion had started to attract a crowd and no, nobody spoke up for me.
"Why would I want to breastfeed my child at the toilet? Do you have your meals at the toilet?" I asked furiously.
He was at first speechless but then quickly chased me out of the mall. I can safely say that I've never stepped foot into that mall since the incident.
But till today, the incident still baffles me. What was that security guard thinking, chasing me out and hurling those hurtful remarks at me in public?
Why didn't anyone speak up for me? Why was I ashamed for something so natural, something that I HAD to do? I guess to them breasts are nothing else but, sexual organs.
Mummies, what do you feel about this incident? Do share with us any similar experiences you may have encountered.