The Unliberated Breast

Breast-feeding Screens  I was at Ikea this week with my 18year old son, who will be flying the nest to move into his student flat. Whilst sampling some of Ikea’s finest gravlax and cinnamon buns, I spotted this curved screen at the end of the restaurant sporting a snazzy logo ‘nursing area’.

I imagined myself 17 years back, breastfeeding this same son who now towers over me;  Would I want to remove myself from the table and hide myself behind a screen to feed him? NO, I would want to sit at that table and talk to my friends whilst nursing. I was shocked to realise that nursing mothers are still asked to remove themselves from the social, public context and make themselves invisible.

It made we think of Black Breastfeeding Week , celebrated for the first time in the UK last month (25th – 31st August) and a post I read on @theunsungheroines about the history of breastfeeding trauma which has passed down through generations. The terror, oppression and gendered dehumanization of black slave women in the past may still be hindering breastfeeding in the black community ;

A lot of slave babies died during slavery because they weren’t breast-fed. Mothers were forced to breast-feed their white oppressors baby’s whilst their own babies were fed on concoctions of dirty water and cows milk. The system of slavery functioned by removing all agency from black bodies.

When will our breasts finally be liberated from oppression and convention?

Anna Versteeg

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