I have a problem with women who breast-feed in public.
I hasten to add that I also have a problem with people who leave shrieking messages on my voice mail.
Operators are standing by.
Now that I have jabbed a stick in this particular hornet’s nest, I hope you will hear me out.
It is not that I find breastfeeding either suggestive or repulsive. In fact, it seems to me a very tender, intimate act between mother and child.
So what’s my problem?
I had dinner at a Gilbert restaurant Wednesday night, and as I was leaving I encountered a woman who was breast-feeding a child as she sat in the waiting area near the entrance. Our eyes met.
Where I’m from, when you make eye contact with someone, you are obliged to greet them. But does that apply when a woman is breastfeeding a child? I didn’t know.
Somehow, I felt as though speaking to her would be invading her privacy. I did not know how she would react if I were to say, "Hi, how are you?’’ Would it make her uncomfortable?
On the other hand, if I said nothing or looked away, would I make her feel as though she were doing something I judged inappropriate?
Here’s how I handled this delicate situation: I looked down at my watch, said, "Man, look at the time!’’ and hustled out the door.
I asked some moms what I should have done, but there didn’t seem to be a consensus.
A Chandler task force set up to form a policy on public breast-feeding also failed to reach a consensus on any city ordinance governing this act. This has been a hot topic in Chandler ever since an employee at a city pool told breast-feeding mom Amy Milliron to go to the ladies room to perform the task.
But after numerous meetings, the group still hasn’t finished the job.
Milliron said 40 other states have laws protecting the rights of breast-feeding women. Milliron, a mother of two, started breast-feeding seven years ago. The incident at the pool was the first time anyone told her she could not perform this function in a public place, which begs the question: Do we really need ordinances or laws governing something that happens so infrequently?
This issue is really more cultural than legal. Let’s face it: It is impossible to legislate away everything that makes us uncomfortable.
Maybe a better approach to these sorts of issues is to return to that rather antiquated concept called courtesy. You remember courtesy, right? It means asking yourself how the other person might feel, then acting accordingly.
This is not a popular concept today, I realize.
Like I said, operators are standing by.