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The Controversy Over Breast-Feeding

June 13, 2005

Re "Lactivists, Chill Out!" Commentary, June 9: I think what is most important for women who are breast-feeding their babies to get a clue on is that the majority of us do not want to be near women who are breast-feeding.

I breast-fed two babies for nine months each and would never have dreamed of subjecting people near me, much less sitting 6 inches away, to something so private.

If you have to be in that situation, pump what you need. Pulling out a part of your body that is typically left covered is tacky, even if you are nourishing your baby.

I think what this boils down to is simple common courtesy.

Margaret McVey Thomas

Pasadena

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I nursed both of my children for a year and held down a demanding full-time job in journalism. California law requires employers to give nursing mothers time to express breast milk, and a clean and private space in which to do it.

It may be slightly inconvenient, but most of us can carve out 15 minutes two or three times a day to do the right thing for our children.

New mothers striving to strike the right balance in their lives have it hard enough without people like Professor Rosa Brooks forcing them to choose between nursing their babies and having a career.

Pam McFarland

San Diego

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All I know for sure is that the female breast is an object of titillation for the average guy and a place for chow for the infant. Is asking the mom to breast-feed the infant in a more modest setting or manner an unreasonable request? By what stretch of the imagination did breast-feeding become a spectator sport?

Robert F. Faller

West Covina

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I agree with Brooks' main point -- it is counterproductive for women to be condemning each other's choices regarding breast-feeding. I chose to breast-feed my children, and I encourage any prospective mother to do the same, but I would never scold someone who made a different choice.

However, I think Brooks misses the real problem. Feminists fought for women's choices, but too many women are now forced to work outside the home by the realities of corporate America, because families can't survive on one paycheck. Breast-feeding is impossible for these women precisely because they have to go back to work within weeks of giving birth, and their companies will provide neither the time nor the space for them to express milk for their babies.

Why should feminists or family advocates accept that this should be so?

By all means, let's drop the breast-feeding debate and talk about why family life in America should be sacrificed in the name of corporate profit.

Jennifer Brown

Sherman Oaks

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