He was a middle-aged guy enjoying a coffee, until he was offended by a breastfeeding mother and asked her to “cover up”. He could never have expected what happened next…
Let’s skip the, ‘It’s 2015 and breastfeeding mothers are still ostracised for feeding their hungry babies in public’ stance. We know that. Call those offended by breastfeeding prudes, backwards, conservatives, sexists, old fashioned or simply idiots – whatever the label, they are still a huge part of our society, have a large voice and can be brutal when pushing their views onto others.
And that’s what happened when a guy at a Queensland café was offended by another patron breastfeeding her baby. Initially, he complained to the Cheese and Biscuits café owner, Jessica-Anne Allen, who owns the café with her husband, Stephen, suggesting they ask the breastfeeding mother to cover up. Jessica-Anne told the SMH the gentleman “inform[ed] us there was a mother breastfeeding out there and we might want to ask her to cover up”.
“We told him that we are a breastfeeding friendly cafe, that we have mothers’ groups and ladies who come and breastfeed all the time and we would never ask a mother to cover up when she is feeding her child.” This customer had a very large voice though. Not satisfied with the outcome, he approached the mother directly to show his disapproval. When Jessica realised what had happened, she asked the man to leave.
“I informed him I would rather ask him to leave, and I took his coffee and put it in a take away container and asked him to leave,” Jessica told the SMH.
The ‘offended’ patron may have felt justified in his view, and his bullying behaviour of the breastfeeding mother, but his outdated ‘view pushing’ has backfired severely.
The Cheese and Biscuits Facebook page has been inundated with support from around the globe as well as locally for the café owners and their decision not to be bullied, or have other patrons bullied.
Arizona resident Randy Jones wrote: “Thank you for standing up and doing the right thing for women everywhere. Some people just need to grow up and act more like adults. My friends and I are coming to your cafe and buying lots of food, even if we have to walk. Here we come! Cheers!”
From the Netherlands, Fadile Tuncel admitted the problem is universal. “I am from the Netherlands and I saw your story in the newspaper. I just wanna say THANK YOU FOR STANDING UP FOR BREASTFEEDING. I wish people would do that too in the Netherlands but unfortunately…”
And from Belgium, this: “The news reached Belgium in Europe. We completely support the way you acted!”
It appears this seemingly small act of bravery from the café owners has created a tidal wave of support, from once drowned out voices tired of tip-toeing around backwards views.
Wade-Catherine Ashley wrote: “Congratulations for taking a stand. You are demonstrating courage as you stand up for your beliefs and ethics. It’s time everyone starting defending those who are discriminated against. I applaud you! Next time I take a holiday, I am going to visit your cafe.”
Bill Jackson summed up the obvious, highlighting that breasts are for ‘breastfeeding’ and lest we not forget this… “Good for you! Maybe something more fitting for his level of maturity would have been to ask him to close his eyes, stick his fingers in his ears and babble to himself so as not to see or hear a nursing baby. Seems the twit forgot what breasts are really for…”
We like to think that we are a nation of free thinkers, and certainly the show of support for the mum and café owners is encouraging. But the reality is this kind of breastfeeding discrimination happens every day in Australia and other parts of the world.
According to The Australian Breastfeeding Association, “Breastfeeding is an integral part of the reproductive process, the natural and ideal way of feeding the infant and a unique biological and emotional basis for child development. Breastmilk is the normal food for human babies. It contains all the requirements necessary for a baby’s development for the first 6 months and remains the most important part of the baby’s diet.”
Pretty simple survival strategy for mankind, really. But Mum’s are judged constantly – judged for breastfeeding their hungry baby, judged for bottle feeding, judged for working, or being a stay-at-home mum, judged for their parenting skills… Motherhood is life changing, with many women feeling overwhelmed and struggling in silence to learn how to care for their baby and adapt to their new life.
People who judge, or think breastfeeding in public is not acceptable, are not likely to change their views in a hurry. They think they are right, full stop – but education plays a big role. So let’s celebrate those who are standing up for the vulnerable, intimated and bullied.
Have you been discriminated against while breastfeeding? How did it make your feel and what was your response? Tell us below…