Breastfeeding In Public And On Comic Covers

So, some comic book artist I’ve never heard of complained about Brian K. Vaughan’s upcoming comic Saga because the cover has a woman breastfeeding her baby on it. He didn’t really make a solid point as to why he found this offensive, but he did say that the cover means he can’t read the book along with his 7 year old. At one point, I thought he was saying that the image was somehow using breastfeeding as a way to draw controversy, then I thought he’s just a close-minded fool who can’t distinguish between a basic human function and sexy time. I admit, I didn’t read his entire post and only read the segment that was copied over on Robot 6 yesterday, so I might not have the full story, but it’s a good jumping off point for a post.

First off, I’ve interviewed Brian K. Vaughan about this comic and I’m not entirely sure it’s supposed to be all-ages anyway, so the very building block of one possible argument is faulty at best. It’s a sci-fi/fantasy story about a new family trying to survive in a world that’s less than safe. If you click through that link, you’ll see preview pages from the first issue showing a baby very soon after birth in all its goopy glory. So, no, this probably isn’t an all ages comic (though it could easily be argued that children should not be kept in the dark about the reproductive process). Besides, I don’t think he’s the kind of creator who would use an image like this to shock people. I haven’t read the issue, but I’m guessing it’s a very vivid representation of the world the comic is taking place in. Not only is she breastfeeding, but she’s doing so while walking next to her husband who’s got a weapon of some kind on his hip. This is a dangerous world–one that probably doesn’t have formula anyway as one of the Robot 6 comments noted–and these basic needs need to be taken care of on the fly.

More importantly and more indicative of the off-balance society we live in, breast feeding should be the least offensive thing in the world. It’s food, plain and simple. And, it’s food specifically made for your baby, that’s how it works. If the mom is sick or the baby has picked up germs, there’s a kind of physiological communication between mother and child that provides the appropriate antibodies so the child doesn’t get sick. It’s pretty amazing stuff. So, what’s the big deal? Well, it’s no secret that breasts have been sexualized beyond belief, but that doesn’t mean their true, basic purpose should be something so widely misunderstood and sometimes feared. Also, real quick, the argument that there are other basic bodily functions that don’t need to be seen in public is ludicrous. If it makes you uncomfortable that’s you’re problem, not the mother feeding her child.

I’ll admit, I was uncomfortable with the whole breastfeeding in public thing when our daughter was first born. It’s in my nature to be generally reserved, but several amazing talks with my wife on the subject really opened my eyes. It’s food. Why should a breast fed baby be neglected their nutrition out in public because it makes people uncomfortable. It helps that my wife is like a ninja with this stuff. She’s got a whole system of shirts and latches that I don’t fully understand, but she makes it work and doesn’t make a big deal of the process. But even that’s because that’s what she’s comfortable with. I think each woman should figure out what she’s comfortable with and go with that. I do think the purpose of the process should be kept in mind though, you’re supposed to be feeding your kid, not making a statement.



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