There seem to be two sets of common rules for breastfeeding.
The first set, is what we call The Law. It's real, it's supposed to be enforced and is apparently understood.
The second set is a bit of a grey area. It's imaginary, unjust when enforced and totally impossible to understand.
You might have heard about the mom from Florida, who was banned from entering the grounds of James E. Plew Elementary School for the rest of the school year. Why? Because she was breaking the principal's imaginary breastfeeding rule set, while she waited for her niece to complete her weekly fitness class.
It wasn't the fact that this mom, Maegan Rae Shoemaker, was breastfeeding her 8-month-old daughter that was apparently a problem; the supposed issue was the way in which she was breastfeeding her baby. It seems that Shoemaker's mothering had made another parent uncomfortable and that her attempts at "discretion" were simply not good enough.
Hold that thought.
Attempts at discretion? Discretion?
Let me answer very clearly -- absolutely nothing.
There is nothing that makes breastfeeding offensive.
There is nothing that makes breastfeeding something we need to hide.
There is nothing that makes breastfeeding something to feel ashamed of.
And it's not just me that thinks this -- these are real, enforced and understandable statements. These are, quite simply, The Law.
According to the 2014 Florida Statutes:
"383.015 Breastfeeding: The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values, and in furtherance of this goal:
(1) A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding."
You see? Support for breastfeeding is real, validated and protected. And the more that we challenge injustice, the more likely that breastfeeding will be considered normal.
I myself am often asked why I write about breastfeeding, and why proud mothers from across the globe send me their nursing pictures for sharing to my Facebook page; so many naysayers still don't see "the point."
Shoemaker's story is the point.
The injustice, unfairness and ignorance that she, and so many others, have faced... that's the point. Because the truth is, we need to see breastfeeding in order to view it as normal.
This story is still unfolding and hopefully, Shoemaker will have her trespass warning revoked and an apology offered.
It seems that right now, in 2014, we live in a society where The Law favors common sense, yet public opinion all-to-often takes the more ignorant route. Time for change, anyone?
This post originally appeared on Mama Bean Parenting.