Breastfeeding, decency and Ann Widdecombe

A woman breastfeeding her baby on the bus was chuck off by the bus driver because of a complaint (‘indecent exposure’!). She ended up having to spend money on a cab to get home.

“The driver told me someone had said I was indecently exposing myself and said, ‘stop or get off my bus’. It was like he was suggesting I was doing horrendous things.

“But I was being quite discreet. I explained I was only feeding my baby and the driver said, ‘can you get off my bus, please’. I felt completely humiliated because it was a packed bus.”

Thankfully the bus company is investigating the matter but this incident highlights how repressed and screwed-up people are when it comes to breastfeeding. No wonder the woman felt humiliated. This also shows sexism but also contradictory notions of a woman’s body, sexually provocative one minute disgusting the next especially the basic human functions such as breastfeeding. Harriet Harman said the new Equality Bill would make it an offence to stop a woman breastfeeding a baby up to 6 months whilst Ann Widdecombe has this to say:

I think in this instance the bus driver was within his rights to ask the mother to get off.

I do think the argument that women should be allowed to breastfeed wherever they like has gone a bit too far. It’s a question of decency and other people’s feelings. Our parents’ generation got by perfectly well without needing to breastfeed in public.

Decency? Oh, Ann Widdecombe knows all about decency…. Oh the hypocrisy! Oh yes back in the mists of time when she was prisons minister she defended the policy of pregnant women prisoners being shackled while they gave birth. Degrading, humiliating, brutal, and inhuman…. that’s what Tories like Widdecombe defended…

And there’s a FB group defending breastfeeding.

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11 thoughts on “Breastfeeding, decency and Ann Widdecombe

  1. Obviously the current situation is improved by the Equalities Bill, but why the arbitrary six month cut-off point? Having a cut-off point at all seems to reinforce the idea that breast-feeding is lewd, just that we should all tolerate the lewdness for the sake of a young baby who can’t wait to be fed. If we want to demonstrate that breastfeeding has nothing to do with sex, it should be legal in any situation with no cut-off point, surely?

  2. So we can have breasts in our newspapers, large portions of breasts revealed by clothing, but not breasts put to their natural use,
    “nowt natural please -we’re British!”

    Mind you, I’m personally going to start a campaign to outlaw the display of belly buttons,
    With or without metal attachments,
    And especially in Winter.

    But meanwhile, Ann Widdicombe. Doris Karloff.
    (Why do I feel guilty calling her that when she personifies intolerance?)
    If you put her in a book or film, as bullying prison boss or mother superior,
    You’d be accused of a crude stereotype,
    But she plays her part in public life,
    without risk of being psycho-analysed,
    not that it needs much.
    And millions will be spent to bring her boss-man.

  3. Great post Louise. As a woman who breast fed till my daughter was two, I know all about dirty looks and comments, as well as people behaving as if they have a right to tell me what to do with my body. Public property eh! The World Health Organisation recommends breast feeding for at least a year, and encourages longer term breast feeding for those mums who can (given the absurdity of work and modern life), so where the six months comes from is anybody’s guess. It certainly isn’t based on what’s best for the mother or child. It is outrageous that this woman was kicked off that bus. If it had been me I would have refused to leave (and have done) but I understand that not everyone is that up for a confrontation. Are they going to ask for baby ID to prove the infant’s age next??

    There are so many reasons why this is so in the UK. Not least because there are no positive images of women breast feeding in the media or TV. Its always a bottle fed baby – soaps, adverts, even the bloody nappy packs. In the interests of ‘decency’ (and formula promotion) the breast is absent. Breast feeding should be a visible part of every day life in all communities. The other negative effect of such ridiculous laws, is it makes the next generation of mothers think twice about breastfeeding their child.

    Thanks for this post. It is very important.

  4. Thanks for that Sara, I agree with you. It is a joke especially this idea of ‘decency’ coming from Widdecombe. Indeed I am sure it will make women think twice about breastfeeding.

  5. and again:

    Tory Ann Widdecombe said requiring MPs to travel standard-class was “spiteful rather than sensible”.

    Pointing out that she had written two books almost entirely while travelling on first-class tickets, she added: “Second class being more of a thoroughfare, interruption and engagement in conversation is a great deal more frequent.”

    let’s stop her from writing more books!

  6. I think a nice colletive of breast feeding mums in her carriage should sort this out. Perhaps if they could also engage in rowdy conversations too we can be sure they’ll be no more of her books around for a long time!

  7. “let’s stop her from writing more books!”

    LOL!! :)

    Sara, indeed a nice collective of breast feeding mums in her carriage along with rowdy conversations should indeed put her off writing!!
    :)

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