Richard Lucas appears to suggest that the primary function of a woman’s breasts is sexual stimulation, so that it follows that using those breasts to feed her baby in public is offensive (Letters, 10 December).
I disagree, not because I’m a “dogmatic feminist”, merely a realistic woman.
He has a rather muddled idea of sexuality. The primary function of those appendages is to provide food for her babies. The primacy given to their secondary sexual function in the developed world has its origins in a complicated mix of social and psychological factors.
If a woman feels “self- conscious” when breast-feeding in public it’s because she’s responding to discomfort felt by others.
The negative association between public breastfeeding and undeveloped countries has its roots in our colonial past.
Sadly, this prejudice is now having an impact on women in developing countries, who are eschewing the safest, healthiest, and most natural method of feeding their babies in their eagerness to emulate the prudish West.
Encouraged, of course, by the cynical promotion of their products by baby food manufacturers.
The bond between a mother and her suckling baby can stir uncomfortable, barely conscious feelings of envy in some men. When public breast-feeding is repressed it removes that discomfort.
Babies don’t understand such delicacy of feeling, and just demand food whenever, and wherever, their hunger becomes a matter of urgency.