By now, breastfeeding-shaming stories are so tediously common that you can probably guess the framework of this one. Every irritating, unbelievable and offensive tale of someone being asked to please put away their breasts has a set of common threads. Woman is feeding her baby with her breasts, per their intended use. Someone objects. Woman is told to stop. Shame and blame abound. Rinse, repeat.
So it is with the story of a mom in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, who was breastfeeding her 12-month-old at a Boy Scout meeting one of her sons was attending. She’d done it before without an issue, but this time was different. This time, her ludicrously provocative behavior warranted a tone-deaf letter that’s so out of touch, even we haven’t seen anything quite like it.
Jasmine Millar has been breastfeeding for a while now, so it’s probably safe to say that she’s one of those stealth ninja boob pros who can expertly maneuver a nursing bra clasp and get a perfect latch in seconds flat. She was nursing her youngest child at her son’s Boy Scout meeting using a two-shirt method (one shirt up, one shirt down), which makes it unlikely that any of her breast was actually showing.
Technically Tennessee women are allowed to breastfeed wherever they choose, and they could even whip their entire shirt off before getting down to business if they felt like it, but we mention Millar’s modesty because it makes the subsequent response that much more bizarre.
According to Millar, the female Scout leader told Millar repeatedly that she was making everyone uncomfortable and that she was being inappropriate. Breastfeeding is never inappropriate, of course, but nothing about Millar’s method suggests that she was being anything but discreet. If the story had ended there, it would be just one more in a series that keeps us shaking our heads. Then she got The Letter.
Sent to her by the director of field services himself, this tone-deaf masterpiece makes a WTF case for Millar’s discontinuation of feeding her kid at meetings because it makes other people uncomfortable and because younger Scouts might not understand what she’s doing.
It’s just so much overkill that ultimately comes to nothing, because actually enforcing some sort of arbitrary no-breastfeeding policy for just the Boy Scouts is in direct opposition to Tennessee law, which — again — says that a mother can breastfeed anywhere as long as she has a right to be there. And yes, that might end up making some Tennesseans with a warped idea about modesty uncomfortable, but the thing about that is, so what?
If the sight of a woman feeding her baby distresses a Weebelo, that is absolutely irrelevant. If it’s your Weebelo getting upset, it’s definitely not that woman’s problem. It’s officially your problem.
The whole thing about life is that occasionally people are going to do things that make other people uncomfortable. As long as they aren’t doing something illegal, then you actually don’t get to throw a hissy fit to try to make them stop. Yeah, even if your hissy fit comes neatly printed on official letterhead.
If you have a family and you live on the planet, get used to explaining stuff you don’t want to explain. People do all kinds of stuff you might not want your kid exposed to, like smoking cigarettes or using loud profanity or wearing Ed Hardy T-shirts, and it is your singular pleasure to try to provide some context for that stuff with your kid.
Breastfeeding isn’t swearing, and it isn’t inappropriate. If children don’t understand what it is, then there’s an easy solution to that: Tell them. Dollars to doughnuts they won’t actually be scarred by learning that breasts feed babies. And considering that these are all boys, it might be even more beneficial, because maybe when they grow up and get their own official letterhead, they won’t use it to shame women for doing something they have a right and a biological inclination to do.
Alternatively you can buy a nice set of horse blinkers to ensure that your kids never have to see something as gross as a baby being fed. What you don’t get to do is try to make new rules because you’re too lazy to have what is literally a 15-second conversation with your kid.
If you’re one of the Murfreesboro Scout parents whose delicate sensibilities were assaulted by the threat of a breast being present, you’d better start practicing that speech, because a group of Nashville Mothers will soon be headed your way, breasts and all, for a nurse-in.