Yesterday at Catholic Dads, Matthew from Play the Dad? No, Be the Dad! posted an entry on breastfeeding in public titled "Obscene? Indecent? Scandalous? Nope!" that I think was very much on target.
I posted this comment:
Some very good points here, Matthew.
I may be shooting from the hip on this one, but I'm of the opinion that nursing in public is often perceived to be indecent because it is (and has been for quite some time) done relatively rarely, thanks to the recommendations of the Herd of Indepdendent Thinkers who decided in the middle of the last century that the idea that babies should be fed formula somehow marked a crowning achievement for human civilization.
I say "relatively rarely" in reference to the portrayal of women's breasts exclusively as sexual, which is surely the norm in our pornified culture.
In essence, then, to the modern mind, the "real"—i. e., the belief that women's breasts are primarily for nursing her children—has been replaced by the "counterfeit"—i. e., the belief that women's breasts are primarily, if not exclusively, sexual.
(As an aside: Much the same can be said of contraception and its impact on people's attitudes toward sex. To the modern mind, the "real"—i. e., the belief that openness to having a child is an essential component of sex—has been replaced by the "counterfeit"—i. e., the belief that contraceptive sex is the norm.)
It follows that those of us who believe the opposite—that the real is actually the counterfeit and vice versa—are often considered daft.
My sense is that were public nursing to be done ubiquitously, this wacky popular notion that it is indecent would wane.