Is A “Nurse-In” An Effective Form of Protest?
12:30 pm, January 8th | by Colette McIntyre
Three Delaware women holding a nurse-in in a local mall say they were harassed by mall security guards and told to cover up or leave.
The trio of mothers — Diana Hitchens Autumn Murray, Jessica Hitchens — were participating in a nationwide nurse-in planned to support a Houston mother who was forced to leave a Hollister store’s premises after she began to nurse her seven-month-old. Information on the incident and the ensuing protest was disseminated through Facebook. The Delaware women planned to hold their demonstration at the Concord Mall in Wimington, and were breastfeeding inside a Hollister store, holding signs embellished with pro-breastfeeding slogans such as “Do you eat in public? Why shouldn’t our babies,” when two security guards threatened them, telling them that they would have to cover up or be thrown out. Despite being presented with passages of Delaware law that clearly stipulated that public breastfeeding is legal in the state, the guards maintained their stance, fetching a patrolling Delaware State Trooper when the women refused to stop nursing. “[The trooper] was asking if we were exposing ourselves saying that the security guards said we were exposing ourselves and that we could be kicked out of the mall if we didn’t cover up,” Murray said. Oh, boy.
The purpose behind a nurse-in is to highlight the ordinariness of breastfeeding and call attention to the absurdity in trying to ban it. I am wholeheartedly in support of that — who decided that the only breasts that can be displayed in public are ones contained in a bra from Victoria’s Secret? — but aren’t “nurse-ins” just a little silly? I mean, I don’t think that Martin Luther King, Jr. is shaking his fist in the heavens somewhere, admonishing himself for not having thought of this brilliant tactic first. The idea of a flash mob of mothers aggressively and indignantly nursing, DARING people to say anything to them, in order to convince bystanders that the act is totally natural seems a little bit weird to me.
Moreover, the fact that many nurse ins have taken place before, with very little efficacy aside from a flurry of media coverage, makes me wonder if the movement could benefit from a little more creativity. After all, seen one nurse-in, seem ‘em all, right? Although, I suppose, that is sort of the point. What do you think?