So there was this story in the news, and I had ten seconds to spare…
Apparently, the west end cafe that asked a breastfeeding woman to disguise her child as a napkin does allow discreet breastfeeding. Just how flamboyant can it be?
I have heard rumours that spinning the child around like a catherine wheel causes rapid expression, though can lead to vomiting too.
Whenever one of these “woman told diners are puce and uncomfortable due to fear of millisecond teat exposure”, it just seems to cause a creasing of the face and a vaguely confused, “is this still really an issue”.
I rarely hear an argument against that doesn’t have me reaching for my Big Book of Sigmund Freud.
I do think there is a line to be drawn somewhere. I think if two mothers are frantically tugging at their mammary glands, attempting to have a food fight across the able with their own secretions, then the maitre d’ should intervene. As yet, I haven’t seen that, though I imagine it may make a neat scene should John Waters ever write another Pink Flamingos sequel.
Amongst the arguments I’ve hear against breastfeeding when not dressed in a surplice or beekeepers hood and garb is that it is not nice to look at when you are eating.
Stop looking then.
I find being stared at puts me off eating, so why keep looking at someone who is breastfeeding. If you are someone who keeps staring at other diners, maybe you are the issue.
I suppose there is some possibility of extraneous slurp noises disturbing your consomme, but public places are frequently echo chambers of slurps, snorts, sniffs and, curse them all, whistling. There are so many ways that humans can annoy me in public that breastfeeding is still in a chart position similar to a third d:ream single on my list of “why I try to avoid going out unless entirely necessary”. (Actually, I have vastly underestimated D:ream’s popularity, their third single, U R the Best Thing, charted at no.19).
What’s more, people are really going to have to up their table manners and eating dexterity before declaring babies have the worst table manners. I once saw a drunk man trying to eat a scotch egg. He was confused by the geometry of this ball of meat and hen dropping, unable to work out where he should begin, eventually, he thrust it at his mouth and mainly missed.
Someone once told me that they worried that other men may find it sexual. If we start asking for everything that may possibly be considered sexual to be performed behind a napkin, curtain, or closed door, we soon have derelict streets. Also, some people may find things done behind closed doors sexual, so then we have to put a curtain around the closed door, and then when someone finds that arousing…oh it goes on.
(reminding me of the lovely Jenny Eclair joke – “Dorothy Parker said ‘men don’t make passes at women who wear glasses’, I don’t know, most men I know would fuck a tree”)
I have not as yet met a man who has said with a wink and a curled lip (let’s add a waxed moustache too), “you know my favourite thing? You know when a woman has one of her breasts out, but it’s obscured by a baby’s skull, phwoar”.
It seems to me you have to go out of the way to find this offensive or disturbing, or still have issues with a nursemaid from an Oedipal nightmare of your youth. Perhaps for some, it is the fear that something so often used as ornament in mass culture is suddenly given purpose before your very eyes.
For all those that suggest the argument “it’s natural, just get used to it”, indubitably leads to “well pooing is natural, but you won’t catch me doing that in the John Lewis restaurant. What next, masturbating in Fortnum and Mason’s truffle corridor?”, well maybe they should just get on with it. Let them be the Rosa Parks of public pooing and supermarket onanism if they really feel that will improve their lives. Crap or get off Claridges dessert trolley.
I continue to tour, from Exeter to Edinburgh to Sydney to San Francisco – all details here http://www.robinince.com (also a series of London gigs with Brian Cox, Mary Beard, Stewart Lee, Josie Long and the like)
The brand new episode of the Vitriola music podcast with Michael Legge and I is here https://soundcloud.com/vitriolamusic/vitriola-10-my-favourite-wig and on itunes