Breast-feeding request brings out the worst in people… by Steve Safran

All Kara Sassone wants is a place for women to breastfeed or pump at Gillette Stadium. As any lactating mom will tell you, even if you don’t bring your tiny child to the game, you’ll probably need to pump by halftime. So, Kara started a petition online. WBZ (the CBS affiliate in Boston) picked up the story and ran it on the news, which I expected would garner lots of support. Maybe some knuckle-dragging men would balk, but surely the women would support this, right? Even a “portable pod” accommodation without need for any substatial stadium real estate could be an easy, affordable solution. Providing a safe, clean spot for a breast-feeding mom hardly distracts from the entertainment at hand. Other stadiums have made this accommodation, after all. It’s not a major request, right? RIGHT?

Except that it is.

At this point, I should disclose that Kara is my friend, and I’m surprised and saddened that her pro-family, pro-Patriots, pro-breast-feeding request would inspire hate mail and nastygram posts. Kara is a kind person. She is also a mother of twins, a great mom, and a huge sports fan. She is fun, funny, and not the sort of person who demands stuff just because she’s the only mom who ever existed. There’s my bias. But if you met her, it would be yours as well.

The obvious, less vitriolic counterpoint to Kara’s request is that football games at Gillette are no place for babes at the breast. There’s some truth to that– I won’t even bring my young teens. It’s become a nasty place with some chance of witnessing drunken brawls, vomiting, and filthy language. But first of all, our sporting venues aren’t really in the business of policing parenting styles. Second, even moms who left babies at home with a sitter might need to pump during the game. Third, there are plenty of “family friendly” events at Gillette besides football games. Fourth, there are likely Gillette employees who might benefit from a private place to feed or pump. Fifth, OH MY GOD, THERE ARE TOO MANY REASONS WHY IT’S A GREAT IDEA THAT HARMS NO ONE.

Many of the responses to Kara’s request are, at worst, so awful they will make you hate mankind. Womankind, too. And there is the surprising part for me, a guy. I might expect the sports radio call-in types to be jackasses. But women are being pretty vicious, too. To what end?

Take a look at the Facebook post.

Here’s a sampling of comments from both genders:

Marybeth Michaelson: Stay home selfish mother and care for your infant, the infant deserves a calm, peaceful, comfortable home environment. Bringing an infant to Gillette for any reason, DCF should be investigating (you)…

Steve Link: What’s next tranny bathrooms?

Cindy Burns: I nursed both of my kids and never pumped, never had any of these issues, didn’t try to bring them places they didn’t belong.

Patrick Moore: Maybe if you decide to have kids you should be able to deal with the fact that you won’t be able to do all of the things you used to do and just stay home

Sally Donaldson Taylor: The world does not need to bow to you as if you were the first and only woman to give birth…. Suck it up Buttercup

And so on. Yes, there are messages of support…

Wendi Ankney: Such misogynistic hate in this comment section. We were all born from a woman… The baby doesn’t have to be AT THE GAME. Women who breastfeed have to pump on a schedule. It’s illegal to force the use of a restroom to do so.

Stephen Tuck Jr.: YES!!! Every stadium in the country should have one.

Matthew Baughn: Why wouldn’t you cater to the ones who use your facilities? If you (host) events that encourage mothers with young children to attend, you’d better make their experience safe and healthy.

However, you really need to cherry pick the comments to find the supportive mentions. The comments I selected from naysayers were the least offensive, to be honest. And, mind you, these are people posting under their real names.

I have to believe this nonsense falls under the greater category of “breasts make people crazy.”  Note how bananas people get about breastfeeding in public. Note how social media will censor pictures of breastfeeding women. Note how even a quick flash of a breast (or, gasp, a baby feeding there) will bump up a movie’s rating.

Kara Sassone wants a place to feed and pump while she’s at the stadium. Football has been vicious to women this year. Robert Kraft, on the other hand, is a generous and thoughtful person. Get this done.

Even teeny Pats fans get hungry at the game...

Even teeny Pats fans get hungry at the game…

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6 responses

  1. Breasts are so complicated, right? I agree with every single thing you’ve written here, in addition to the fact that we don’t bring our tween-agers to Gillette, either. Bernie has felt like it’s almost dangerous, and after a drunken lunk almost puked on Brodie last time, we’re saving money on Pats tix until these guys are in college. But that’s us. EVERY WOMAN DESERVES A PLACE TO FUCKING BREASTFEED! This is largely the impetus behind the Free the Nipple Movement. Of course, for those of us without them, any sort of naked boob movement is just another shitty reminder that we’ve been mutilated in order to try to survive. Seeing women brazenly baring their nipples in order to effect some social change just makes me sigh with a “good for her… isn’t she lucky to have boobs to show.” More cancer fallout.

    The knee jerk reaction to shame these moms for leaving the house or wanting to breastfeed in public smacks of the Mommy Wars earlier this decade. You gotta love the comments that follow the lines of, “For the love of God, where will it end?” As if providing a safe, clean place for moms to pump or feed a baby is going to start a movement wherein entitled women will RUIN EVERYTHING FOR EVERYONE. It’s bizarre and misogynistic and mean.

    The comments are so telling about how our society still sees women. And it’s scary.

  2. Hrummmph! I find it unreal that in this day and age, there is any discussion of this at all. Here in Canada, it is a given that women can nurse anywhere they want – in fact I was at Ottawa City Hall a few weeks ago and it was striking that there was a big sign on the entrance door saying exactly that and adding that private rooms are available for those who prefer.

    Unreal that anyone would even think to object. I have a friend Penny who has 6 kids and is a teacher. She has always taken her kids anyplace she has gone – I think it is important that kids see their Moms in daily real life. And it has been proven over and over again that the more visual and other sensory stimulation that babies get, the smarter and healthier they are.

    I’ll tell you how to get their attention Steve – follow the money. The “Gillette” name is owned by Proctor and Gamble – a multi-national who make a lot of their money off products for babies (not the least of which is Pampers diapers). Write to them and and ask them “What’s up? You hate babies or something? Maybe I should be buying from another company” Ha! Good Luck (I really can’t believe anyone is still that backwards. Hey, You now, long story, but I once worked a Patriots game as a cable puller for a Kansas match at Foxboro – the old stadium. I was trucking at the time and had a girlfriend in Boston who was a sports TV producer and she invited me along to a game she was working and one of her employees didn’t show up so she drafted me and I spent the game on the field. Patriots won 😀 )

    • Of course they won!

      Aren’t we totally backwards? Even though I champion women and their right to breast-feed anywhere, I totally deleted the giant picture of the breast and happy Gerber baby. (Though I will fight for women tirelessly, I prefer not to see their bits every time I log onto this page… I hope you understand, Paul!) Again, the Free the Nipple thing is fraught for those of us without them.

      But I hope this story gets traction and that Kara gets her signatures and that Gillette stadium is outfitted with a place for breast-feeding Pats fans!

      xoxo

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