Have you ever been out in public, seen a woman start to breastfeed and then thought to yourself, “Ew. That’s so offensive to my delicate eyeballs that I need to call her a whore and then go find an adult to back me up”?
No? Us either. Unfortunately, just such a thing ran through this one dude’s mind while he was out at Target. Then the words actually came out of his mouth hole, and then he went to go find a Target employee for a refund. What he got instead was a righteous verbal smackdown and a red polo’d human wall between himself and the target of his abuse. The best part? She got it all on camera.
In the video, Jessie Maher, a Connecticut mother, films while the world’s most entitled jerk harangues her for breastfeeding in the store café. Maher says that before the tape started rolling, he told her she was “fucking disgusting” and called her a whore.
Eventually a fellow Target-goer speaks up to tell him to go ahead and step off and invites the man to look away if he feels disrespected, which he claims he did. Maher is audibly choked up as she thanks the woman, who continues to engage the man so that Maher doesn’t have to. Then come the Target employees.
Target, as we all know, is the department store that keeps pissing off people, most recently because it decided to stop serving Haterade it doesn’t care which toilet you use as long as you get it all in the bowl. So it stands to reason that when charming Mr. Grumps stomps up and demands a refund for the great pains he’s suffered as a witness to so graphically unacceptable an event as breastfeeding, the Target employees are like, “LOL BYE” instead.
Target’s own handbook instructs employees to be cool about breastfeeding with the following policy:
- Target’s policy supports breastfeeding in any area of our stores, including our fitting rooms, even if others are waiting.
- If you see a guest breastfeeding in our stores, do not approach her.
- If she approaches and asks you for a location to breastfeed, offer the fitting room (do not offer the restroom as an option).
So that poor, put-upon jerk didn’t really even stand a chance.
Really, we love Target, and we could sing its praises all day long, but let’s also give an enthusiastic and satisfying high-five to the lady who steps in first. Confrontation is never fun (unless you’re the type of person that thrives on engaging with unhinged people near the hot dog roller at a department store), and it’s infinitely less so with a baby in your arms. Maher shakes and her voice cracks as she thanks the woman for standing up for her. She’s awed by the kindness of these strangers, and that’s an important takeaway.
For a lot of people, witnessing such a thing might inspire discomfort or sympathy, but many of us are more likely to watch the whole thing blow over and then run home to write open letters on our blogs. “Dear breastfeeding mother at Target who was beset upon by a verbally abusive baggy denim troll: An apology.”
When in truth it is better to say something than nothing. If the party on the receiving end of the abuse prefers to be left alone to weather barely coherent insults in peace, well, then at least you know you’ve done all you can. But more often than not, someone like Maher needs an ally and not a bystander, and it’s so awesome that she got that from a group of people who weren’t content to just let someone else handle it.