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Nursing in Public May Be a Right, but Is There More at Stake?

May 10, 1999

In regard to "Nursing a Baby Shouldn't Be This Much of a Problem" by Kerry Madden-Lunsford, April 28:

Just when you think you've heard it all, you pick up the news only to discover that in the midst of Kosovo and Colorado, there is a woman (don't let my name fool you, I also am a woman) who is so self-centered and petty that she would call national media attention to herself because Borders, a public bookstore, told her they did not think it was in good taste for her to breast-feed her baby in the children's section of their store.

I don't wish to expose my 7-year-old son to some stranger's bare breast. I doubt seriously that my 13-year-old nephew's maternal instinct would have risen to the occasion.

Honey, where was your morality when you whipped out your bosom in front of the crowd? You did not stop to think of how anyone else in the room might have felt. Were they mortified? Horrified? Traumatized? In my opinion, you owe Borders the apology. They should be suing you for indecent exposure.

I agree that it is a mother's prerogative to feed her baby breast milk. When you know you are going to be out in public, use a pump and then bottle feed. That way you are giving your child breast milk without offending anyone. Why didn't you think of that?

Keep your blouse buttoned and quit being such a boob.

VINNIE GUADAGNO-WALKER

Newbury Park

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As a mom, I suffered through breast-feeding my first child in restrooms. By my second child, I smartened up and realized that if people have a problem with me discreetly nursing my son, it is truly their problem. What could possibly be a more natural, honest and vital act than nursing a baby?

I too will buy my books elsewhere.

MAXINE COLIN

Long Beach

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Concerning the "comfortability issue" of nursing in public, we need to ask why a female clerk would side with a patron's feelings that nursing is inappropriate in public, with children present. Breast-feeding in public brings the conflict of a woman's breasts as functional, rather than sexual, out into the open. The idea of functional breasts embraces the concept of breasts for nourishment. This stands in sharp contradiction to our cultural message of breasts as sex objects. As such, the breast is demeaned to the level of a toy existing only for a partner's pleasure. The greater awareness--breasts as life-giving--has been lost. At the heart of the matter, a breast-feeding woman represents true female power.

My children, who were breast-fed, react with tenderness and joy when they witness a nursing couple in public. It is sad, but not surprising, that so many in our culture who were never fed at the breast would feel uncomfortable to witness a bond of such strength.

CYNTHIA EPPS

Santa Monica

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Dear Ms. Madden-Lunsford: Please seek help for your 10-year-old son who is obsessed with Christopher Walken. I think that was the real problem expressed in your article.

JON CHRISTIANSEN

Via Internet

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