The Milk Memoirs

One part chronicle, one part resource of all things breastfeeding and family life…with a good dose of fun,crafts & mommy realness

Emily Slough: My latest breastfeeding heroine

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It was my usual mid-morning pumping session at the office: Pump in one hand, and cellphone in the other. I was reading to pass the time by, when I came across the article of Emily Slough in the UK.

I read it with my mouth open in complete disbelief. Where did we go wrong in society that someone would attempt to bully a mother for feeding her child?

Despite having full breasts, and all my pumping efforts, I had gotten so worked up by this article that my milk stopped flowing. I sat there completely flabbergasted that there are actually people out there that are that intellectually starved that they would do such a thing.

Emily Slough: Minding her own business, having a snack with baby Matilda

Emily Slough: Minding her own business, having a snack with baby Matilda

Emily Slough was going about her errands, when her eight month old baby needed to be nursed. And all mommies know that, when baby needs to nurse, there’s little negotiation about it. So she grabbed a seat on some steps to feed her child, when some douchebag stranger thought it was a good idea to snap a pic of her, and post it on Facebook, saying:
‘I know the sun is out n all that but there’s no need to let your kid feast on your nipple in town!!! Tramp

I don’t even know where to begin to respond to this, as this is just ridiculous that we even have to defend breastfeeding in public. I know my fuse may be short at times, but this is just unfathomable.

Truthfully and thankfully, I’ve been fortunate enough to have never been faced with this kind of treatment. And I feed publicly alot as we go about living our lives, and mostly without a cover, and not once have I had slander thrown my way, nor been given the evil eye. I always said I’d probably burst out laughing in the face of someone who would have something silly to say. But, thankfully it has never happened. I’d like to believe this is because South African society, in general, is more accepting of breastfeeding as nourishing your baby, and not some sexual act. (Possibly because we’re more accustomed to the tribal cultures, where ladies bear their breasts as a normal tribal custom, and not some sexual display. Maybe not. Who knows. ) So I certainly could not imagine living a life where I’d have to retreat to the toilet to feed my child. That’s just crazy.

Seriously, where has the humanity gone, that because some people believe breastfeeding is something so shameful, they’re willing to try and bully a mother about it. In the most cowardly manner ever, mind you.

What possesses u to humiliate a mother for nourishing her child? Something women were built to do?

worst fears

My fear is of the possible repercussions that this attempted shaming act, may have on other women out there. Im worried about what effect this might have on other nursing moms. On other soon-to-be mothers. Would witnessing this kind of treatment put them off breastfeeding their newborns? They could possibly question whether it really is worth all the trouble mastering breastfeeding if this is what your going to be subjected to. Or what about other moms who are already so conscious about feeding publicly? This is enough to put them even more on edge. It’s their fears come to life!

Im not sure what that douchebag stranger was hoping to accomplish though. Must mothers now change the way we feed our babies purely because the ignorant minority have an issue with it? I didn’t realise their opinion meant so much that I would now have to starve my poor child, just because they have an uninformed notion of what breastfeeding is.
How is feeding your child vile? If she was bottle feeding her child would that be vile too?I need to understand what happened in our society that it became a disgusting act to feed your young in public? Please help me understand this?! Last I checked, God made women’s breasts to feed her child. To fulfil a basic human need. I need to understand what is it that these morons find so disgusting about this.

The only perverse facet in this whole debacle is the mind of the person who only sees a woman’s breasts as sexual objects. And that’s their problem, not the nursing mother’s. Even so, I know personally when I breastfeed, you see much less of me than you would of a woman just wearing a low cut top. And there’s nothing wrong with that either, by the way.

Being called a tramp because you’re seeing to your child’s basic needs is still mind boggling to me, hence all continuous questioning of the matter. In my personal opinion, the focus is all wrong. Too much is spent on the skin ‘n sexualisation, and not enough on the true sacredness of it all.

The strength and dedication of a mother who breastfeeds her child should be celebrated not be a point of harassment. Breastfeeding is a selfless act, and one filled with love. It is a divine gift, and there is no way it could or should possibly be associated with anything less.
It should be encouraged and promoted, not be discouraged with such pointless and stupid acts of attempted humiliation.

But you know, truth be told, as a bright silver lining, I feel that this couldn’t have happened to a better person. If ever there was someone to reignite the flames of “normalizing” breastfeeding, we’ve found her! Emily’s response was eloquent, sharp and constructive. Have a read, and start feeling the wheels of karma turning:

“The mentality of the individual that attempted to shame me for feeding my daughter makes me so angry. I am very confident and comfortable with my breast feeding, but I know plenty who aren’t and don’t even humour the idea of nursing because of some ridiculous stigma attached to it and fear of embarrassment, humiliation and non-acceptance.

I was initially going to ignore the post and laugh it off, but then I realised that this is a perfect example of what needs to be erased in modern day society. Why should mothers who are doing the best by their children feel that they should be confined to a toilet or changing room to provide their baby with nutrients? Would you eat in a toilet or with a blanket draped over your face?”

Doesn’t reading that alone just make you feel like this couldn’t have happened to more capable person?
Not only has she managed to provide a strong and graceful response to the indigent act against her, but has skillfully turned this into an opportunity to bring about some positivity to the breastfeeding plight. An opportunity for enlightenment, awareness and education about breastfeeding. How, you ask? Well, this brave young woman has organized a mass breastfeeding protest in Rugeley at 12pm on Saturday 15th March 2014. That’s tomorrow!

I swear, if I lived closer, I would join in for sure! I’m sure this has resonated with many women all around the world, whether they’ve experienced this kind of ill treatment or not. And no doubt would fully support Emily. I believe thats because, sadly, that “Spotted Rugeley” community is but a microcosm of our global society.

I’ve heard of sister mass feeds happening too, but none on this side of the world. Anyone else hear of anything locally, in Cape Town or South Africa in general?

A lot of mind-set changes could happen here, she’s setting the wheels turning, or at least adding some extra momentum to them. Cant wait to watch this unfold. I particularly love that she says you can “bring a bottle” to the mass feeding in support. “The more the merrier”. Because really, who knows where society will draw the line one day, if something so natural as breastfeeding is treated with such indignation.

Why not have a look at her FACEBOOK page for more updates. She’s been a busy little breastfeeding bee, what with all the radio shows, and interviews she’s been snapped up for.

I hope that her peaceful protest shall be a successful step towards breaking down the ignorance about breastfeeding that has been built up in the society.

If you know of any other means of showing your support from an international perspective please holler at me – I would join in heart beat!

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Author: mommabeartrax

Mother of two (and counting), pregnant with the third and have a sweet little angel in heaven. A very happy wifey, blogger, lover of life and laughter, a clumsy swimmer, loyal friend, Im funnier in my head than I actually am, I am a qualified HypnoBirthing Child Birth Educator, I get inexplicably excited about good food, baking & crafts. Although, I think baking and crafts are just trying to fill a void that my Kenpo and gym-rat days used to fill. Lastly, according to the rest of the world, I fix your printer. But I'm actually a Software Architect.

10 thoughts on “Emily Slough: My latest breastfeeding heroine

  1. The total ignorance of some people, but you are right, the way she has handled it is totally amazing. Well done in turning this into something positive,

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  2. I attended the Rugeley Mass Feed and was privileged to meet Emily as we breast fed along with a dozen or so brilliant women. Breastfeeding is the most natural thing in the world and women should feel encouraged and supported if they choose to feed their child.

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    • Hi Nicola, totally agree with you. And what a privilege indeed! I truly appreciate that you took the time to read and comment. Perhaps if we’re lucky you could share with us some more of your first hand experience at the mass feed. I would love to know what the passers-by had to say, what was the general feeling of the day was over there. And in your personal opinion, do you think it made the impact Emily was hoping for.

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      • Emily had arranged a DJ and there were helium balloons all around, there was a real street party atmosphere. I came on the train with my daughter as I really wanted to show my support. It’s always daunting to go anywhere alone, especially when you know nobody there or even where you are actually going, or what you will experience when you arrive there.

        I ended up setting off too early as I didn’t know the town centre and I was lurking around the town centre for what seemed like a very long time.

        As it drew closer to 12pm a group of ladies started to arrive and I was soon talking to lots of different people, some had traveled over an hour or so to be there.

        I felt very welcome, it was a very inclusive crowd of people, all gathered for the same purpose and it was an amazing atmosphere.

        I had no reservations about sitting on the infamous steps alongside Emily and some really lovely women while we fed our babies. Of course once we were all sitting there, we were there for ages, as you know baby tells you when they are finished and not the other way round.

        I spoke to Emily Slough while we fed on the steps and she is a lovely, intelligent, articulate woman. At that point I decided that I would support Emily fully in her campaign to help women who wish to feed do so without prejudice and fear.

        Emily was overwhelmed I think by the support she received on the day and pledged not to leave it there, but to continue trying to make a difference.

        Emily has started up the Facebook page Free to Feed and is also setting up a website and is quickly amassing quite a following.

        I spoke on BBC 5 live radio this morning about the event and hope to help Emily in anyway possible as she continues with her campaign.

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  3. Nicola, once more thank you for generously sharing your experience with us all. What Emily, as well as wonderful women such as yourself are doing and the amount of momentum that is being created with your actions is just incredible. You mentioned that you have now decided to fully support her and the Free to feed campaign – perhaps inbox me, and lets see how we, from South Africa’s side, can get involved.

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  4. ps. Nicola, inbox me at milkmemoir​s@gmail.co​m, if you’re keen to help start the fires this side of the world

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  5. Inboxed you

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  6. Pingback: Check out the pinup gals of the Vintage Breastfeeding Calendar Campaign | The Milk Memoirs

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