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Breast Amnesia

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By Jessica Hayden

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Breast Amnesia – forgetting that breasts are actually there to feed children and aren’t necessarily there solely for sexual pleasure…

How many of us suffer from this?

I recently read an article online about Ashley Clawson, a woman who was refused to breastfeed in Victoria Secret, a lingerie shop. My first reaction was wondering how I would respond if someone asked me if they could breastfeed in my hypothetical shop. I decided that the best solution would be to say yes, of course, and perhaps offer a more private area, purely for their comfort rather than my opinion on public breastfeeding. Then I considered why breastfeeding is encouraged to be such a private act whereas sexualising breasts is such a public act. You not only see women in their underwear in adverts and on the sides of buses, but breasts appear almost daily in your “family” newspaper. I started reading what other people thought and the response shocked me. The vast amount of replies were calling breastfeeding in public “wrong” and “embarrassing”. However, there was one woman’s response which left me completely baffled. She called breastfeeding in public “inappropriate”.

What kind of culture teaches that breastfeeding is inappropriate? How is it that our society has evolved in to one which calls a pair of sexualised breasts in a newspaper “tradition”, and vilifies anyone who dares protest against it (which has certainly been my experience when campaigning for No More Page Three, a campaign which seeks to remove glamour modelling from The Sun, a so-called “family newspaper” which has a page dedicated to sexualising women) yet dismisses a woman for having her breasts out in public in order to feed her child – which, let’s remember, is what her breasts are meant to do! Victoria Secret, far from celebrating women’s bodies, as they would so have you believe, have illuminated the cold misogyny which I have named “breast amnesia”.

If breast amnesia isn’t a sign of how our society is reducing women to being purely sexual beings, then I don’t know what is. It’s time we started discussing it.

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