Should movie theaters bend their rules for breastfeeding moms if they’re watching a movie about women just like them? Women trying to juggle work, relationships and kids — and take some precious time to watch a funny movie, Goddammit?
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That’s the question we’re asking ourselves following two separate news reports of moms being kicked out of Bad Moms screenings because they had their babies in tow. At Lincoln, Nebraska’s East Park Cinema, seven moms were ejected from the movie because one of the moms had her 9-month-old baby with her. And a similar thing happened at a Fort Myers movie theater in Florida when a large group of moms bought presale tickets for the Bad Moms premiere. Two moms out of the 50-strong group took their babies with them because they were breastfeeding.
In both cases, the moms were informed by staff that it was against company policy to allow children younger than 6 years old to watch an R-rated movie, even in the presence of a parent.
At East Park Cinema, the mom was told that staff “were concerned with the content [her] child would be viewing,” and she alleges that she was told repeatedly that if she didn’t take the baby out, the police would be called. At the Fort Myers theater, the breastfeeding moms were told upon arrival at the theater that they couldn’t take their babies into the movie with them. However — possibly feeling some of the Bad Moms vibe before even taking their seats — they were undeterred and managed to sneak their sleeping tots into the theater. They weren’t too bad, however, as they made sure they took aisle seats to let them slip out if their babies began to fuss. Alas, their plan was foiled by management and after some heated discussion, 35 of the 50 moms in the group walked out of the theater in protest.
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It totally makes sense for cinemas to have a policy against letting young kids in to watch R-rated movies. Of course, it’s unlikely an infant would have any clue what was going on — if, indeed, they were awake for any of it — but it’s much easier simply to have a blanket policy for all kids up to a certain age. Plus there’s no denying that babies do fuss and cry — and parents who’ve left their kids at home don’t really want to hear other people’s noisy children during an adult movie night. From that perspective, we can totally see where the staff at both theaters was coming from. They have to enforce policies, whether customers agree with them or not. Certain places and occasions simply aren’t suitable for very young children, and that’s not the same as discriminating against moms.
Regarding the breastfeeding moms, however, there’s some confusion over whether they were being discriminated against because they were breastfeeding. One of the moms allegedly began to nurse her baby in the lobby and was told by the manager, “You can’t go to the movie, you’re going to have cover up or you’re going to have to leave.”
It goes without saying that a woman should be allowed to breastfeed in public without feeling ashamed or humiliated. In Florida, state law permits breastfeeding in any public or private location, so nursing her baby in the theater lobby was well within this particular mom’s rights.
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But while we love the irony of a cinema screening a movie about moms juggling work, relationships, kids and a social life not allowing real-life moms to do just that, we can’t help but feel that the real issue here is moms getting admonished for breaking cinema rules that apply to everyone. Real-life bad moms, take a bow! But don’t say you’ve been discriminated against unless that’s really the case.
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