We have been trying not to give much attention the more unhinged elements of the internet that have been grasping at QAnon conspiracy theories. We have to assume that most of you reading this do not believe there is a secret cabal of liberals who eat babies out there, nor that face masks are part of a mission to make it easier to kidnap children for sex-trafficking. But we saw a post today that made us decide to make sure everyone is on alert for just how far people will go to see everything as a sign of malicious intent against children: even breastfeeding.
Someone shared a screencap of a disturbing social media post to the Reddit forum Insaneparents that made the hair on the back of our necks rise.
“Not because feeding your child is rape, but because there are other ways to feed your child,” begins the post, which has no context so we can’t tell if it was part of a bigger conversation in public or private. “It’s called a bottle, and yes I do have children. I have a six month old that is fed breast milk from a bottle not directly from the breast. If you force your child to suck your nipples, you are molesting YOUR child. Making an infant suck on your breasts is a sexual act and you should be in prison for CHILD MOLESTATION.”
Is this a thing that people actually believe? Well, considering how often women are asked or told to cover up when breastfeeding, to do it in private, and to stop breastfeeding after their child is a certain age, it is clear that many people do think there’s something sexual or shameful about feeding your children the way all mammals do.
For anyone who has not breastfed, let us assure you that is it very much the opposite of a sexual act.
Though we’re not immediately alarmed that the “save the children” fanatics are going to start reporting nursing parents to child protective services, this attitude is concerning. Just a few months ago we laughed at the resurgence of Pizzagate comments on social media, but look at how quickly that spread to a full-scale harassment of Chrissy Teigen as she mourns her pregnancy loss. We can’t underestimate just how willing these people are to believe the unbelievable.
Whether or not this particular post is a real thing, whether or not it’s an attitude being adopted by QAnon types, we’ve got to do our part to make sure attitudes like this don’t take hold.
Are we creating a conspiracy theory about a conspiracy theory here? We hope that’s all this is, but previous generations rejected breastfeeding as something for the working class (in Victorian England) or for uneducated types who don’t believe in science (in the ’50s and ’60s here). We’ve made so much progress in getting our current society to accept breastfeeding as a natural, beautiful process that shouldn’t have anything to do with politics or religion — even the Pope called it “a language of love.” Going backward would be a shame, and a detriment to so many children’s health.
If you see or hear anyone speaking like this, consider it your duty as a human, as a mammal even, to speak up and shut it down.
These women at public breastfeeding demonstrations know what’s up.