Use Your Words Wisely

by Kimberley on January 17, 2010 · 11 comments

I was on Twitter this afternoon checking out some Gossip about tonight’s Golden Globes when a Tweet came through from one of my tweeple that made me really upset. She had been searching for conversations about breast feeding on Twitter when she stumbled across  these tweets from two random women:

@maggieebaby: This bitch is forreal breastfeeding her baby right in the food court.Can she do that?

@phillybeans: Breastfeeding in public should be illegal! 3 encounters today….gross

Reading these tweets made me feel really upset; I cannot believe that two women would actually say such hateful things about breast feeding. I can understand not wanting to breast feed yourself if you are not into it, but to go out of your way to say nasty stuff about it that makes other women feel uncomfortable about breast feeding in public, is just plain wrong.

I don’t know these people, they are strangers that live far, far away from me but, their words hurt me and every mother who has ever made the commitment to give their baby the best start in life possible by breast feeding them. Breast feeding, at times can be a hard job. The last thing any breast feeding mother should have to worry about is whether or not someone is spreading hateful messages about them online.

Women should be supporting other women not cutting them down and undermining progress that we have fought so hard to make. Just because you have the ability to tweet out every random thought you have does not mean that you do not have to take responsibility for those words and the impact they may have. Why not use your words to build understanding rather than hate?

FYI – I considered not putting these woman’s Twitter names in this post but, Twitter is a public forum that is broadcast to anyone with the internet; they were both fine sending the tweets out for the general public and that is why I choose to include them.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Teresa January 17, 2010 at 3:24 pm

As a mammal I think it’s bizarre that anyone could have a problem with B’fing. Would they prefer if the mothers were feeding their babies french fries from the food court or just screamed in hunger?
Oddly, my own mammal mama had issue with me and my sister b’fing at first. I laughed and said, “So you’d rather I spend a ton of money on an inferior product when I make the best possible food for free?”
That helped her “get it”.

Kimberley January 17, 2010 at 3:29 pm

I totally agree, formula is expensive and much of it is full of crap (second ingredient High Glucose-Fructose corn syrup). If I have the ability to BF why wouldn’t I?

I don’t want these women to feel attacked but rather to understand that there words are hurtful and that there voice could be used for more positive things.

Krista January 17, 2010 at 7:40 pm

I get what you are saying and have no problem with people breastfeeding in public. If you can do it, more power to you. But I’m a little upset that you title this use your words kindly and then make really negative comments about formula. I would have loved to have breastfed but do to medical complications on my part I couldn’t so I formula fed both of my children. I have no regrets about it yet to have someone call what I used to nourish my kids “full of crap” hurts me. Just a thought that harsh words go both ways.

Krista January 17, 2010 at 7:46 pm

I meant to say wisely not kindly in my previous post.

Aaron January 17, 2010 at 9:13 pm

I think it is sad that people (Male or Female) have problems with women feeding their children, I do believe that this is rare among adults, I have noticed teenagers have a hard time with seeing a woman feeding her child. I think at this age (teen) people are embarrassed easily and a teen seeing a mother feeding her child and may push their embarrassment onto the woman and her child?

I have two kids, from that I have spent time in the parent scene.

I regularly see women feeding their children in public. For example, I was on my way into the coffee shop for my morning coffee and came across a woman feeding her child in the first chair by the doorway. I smiled and carried on, as I looked around the shop there was no-one looking or leering at the woman in a negative manner, both she and her baby were comfortable. This was in Oak Bay Starbucks, a conservative venue and still no obvious objections, so I think that for the most part these instances of people making derogatory comments about feeding in public are rare. (or at least I would like to think so) In my social crowd the person who criticized a woman for feeding her child in public would be frowned upon.

TheFeministBreeder January 17, 2010 at 10:30 pm

Be grateful you missed the giant breastfeeding bigotry war on Twitter over this summer. I, and about 30 other twitterers, got into it with an LA radio host who twittered disgusting rants about breastfeeding moms. It turned into a week long war where he dug up information on me (because I happen to have been the most high profile blogger in the mix) and posted it all over the radio station’s website. Not pretty. You can read about that here:

Alison January 17, 2010 at 10:42 pm

Its quite possible these are not mothers themselves or just ignorant. I will confess to thinking that breastfeeding was ‘gross’ before I became a Mom. While I didnt think it should be illegal or banned I tried to avoid looking if someone was breastfeeding. I was ignorant, very – very ignorant. When I became a mother many many views changed including this one. Suddenly something that was gross became beautiful 🙂

Kimberley January 17, 2010 at 10:50 pm

Yup, I eat crow all the time now that I am a mother. All the things I said I would never do that I do all the time and vice versa. That is why I did not just tell them off.

They have since erased their comments and I am sure they realize they were hurtful.

Claire January 18, 2010 at 1:05 am

Yes! I tackle this stuff all the time on Twitter. The benefits of breastfeeding are well documented, to the point where it’s been said that low breastfeeding rates are a public health issue. Yet, 60% of women that choose not to breastfeed do so at least in part because they are concerned about attitudes towards breastfeeding in public places. This needs to change, period!

Claire January 18, 2010 at 1:09 am

Oh – I wrote a similar post on this on my blog a few months ago, if you’re interested.

Kimberley January 27, 2010 at 2:32 pm

Krista – Forgive me for the delay in my response. I only just received the comment last night.

Thank you for calling me out. You were right, I did not use my own words wisely when I spoke of formula and for that, I owe you a sincere apology.

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment and pointing out my own hurtful words. I really do appreciate it.

Thank you to everyone else for commenting. The debate about breast feeding is heated but, I am glad the debate is going on at all. In this case, I think debate itself gives exposure to an important topic.

Thank you all for reading.

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