Yes. I had to go there.
I had a minor lapse of memory and posted a pro-breastfeeding uncovered picture on Instagram. Naturally everyone and their mothers appeared to give their opinion. I agreed with most of the comments. There were lots of “please be discreet” comments, mostly from women who aren’t yet mothers but they make a fair point. And of course there were responses of “I try to be discreet but my child can come unlatched and move a cover faster than the blink of an eye.” The final group that always makes an appearance are conservative, evangelical Christian women preaching against causing men to stumble. More on that in a minute.
I never understood why someone wouldn’t use a nursing cover before I had Dillinger. Truly. Didn’t get it. I didn’t want anyone to see my breasts, whether I was feeding my kid or not! But then one day, I actually had a son to feed. Which, for those who haven’t tried it yet, means holding a baby, a breast, connecting the two while holding your shirt and bra in place out of baby’s way and if you’re a sprayer like me, holding a blanket or burp rag. NO ONE TOLD ME IT WOULD REQUIRE AT LEAST FIVE HANDS TO FEED MY CHILD. Dear Lord.
Within days of Dillinger’s arrival I had announced that my nursing cover was the bane of my existence and that I despised living in a puritanical culture where nursing mothers are a menace to society in which men have access to high definition pornography on their phones. How dare anyone force him to ever see a woman feed her child in public because he might sin!!1!
Back to evangelical Christians.
Growing up in youth group, we girls were regularly told to be very careful about our selection of dress when we were around young men. So, basically, always. Spaghetti straps, two piece swimsuits, short shorts were all out because that was “causing your brother to stumble”. Girls and women have essentially been told by the church that men have absolutely zero ability to control themselves sexually and or mentally. And worse, THAT THEY ARE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THEIR OWN THOUGHT LIVES. Additionally, these women have been told that the difference between a good Christian brother and teenager masturbating in his bedroom was the same as the difference between a regular tank and spaghetti straps. So make sure you wear a loose fitting tee and long khaki shorts that are a size too big because, you know. Lust. And the Lord and stuff.
While I think it is very important to be modest as a Christian woman, it’s still something the Lord is working out in my life by the Holy Spirit. I am not naturally a modest individual because I am fairly oblivious. I just do not think often about my body, so assume no one else thinks about it either. But here is the thing. The average boy is exposed to pornography by age 11. The average high school boy has access to high definition pornography in a few seconds on his cell phone. So to tell Christian women that the entire thought life of every man she passes rides on a nursing cover or a tank top is beyond naive. If a boy hasn’t decided how to deal with lust by that point, it’s pretty much too late.
Men have to deal with breasts everywhere they turn. On actual women, on television, in ads, while checking out of the grocery store. The average guy is far less likely to stare and lust over a woman feeding her baby than he otherwise would if she were walking by on the street. Men who feel breastfeeding is sexual or a turn on are perverts who need Jesus and therapy or maybe a five cent bullet to the back of the head. Because there are some types of messed up that can’t be fixed, even with 200 years of therapy.
But I digress.
If you happen to be one of those parents who actually speaks to your children, please teach your kids that breasts are for feeding babies. That’s why God made them. Husbands get to enjoy them too, but for child that piece of information doesn’t really apply.
If you are a wife, mom or sister of a guy who has access to the Internet or a smart phone, a mother feeding her child on the bench at the mall is the least of your worries, I assure you. If you do not believe me, either go through his browser history or walk him over to said mother and ask point blank if he’s turned on. I guarantee you he will start walking away, completely mortified.
If you are a women who feels responsible for the thought life of every guy you pass, please know that God is not going to hold you accountable for someone else’s actions and thoughts. But he will hold us accountable for our own, and on that point, where the Holy Spirit convicts us on the issue of modesty is an issue regarding which we all need to be concerned.
I am being told by a married girlfriend that some men do find it extremely attractive when their wives feed and care for their children. This does not mean husbands try to jump their wives at every feeding. This may be due to the fact that if they did, they would quickly be punched in the face. (My husband would like me to point out that he doesn’t particularly find it attractive, stating that “there’s really not much to see” when D is eating.)