Lactivism is the name of a new movement intending to make breast-feeding acceptable essentially wherever the woman can legally be. To bring it into the wider society. To point out that this is the way babies get their nutrition and that it's a little silly to force mothers to hide in public toilets in order to feed their babies.
Those who are opposed to public breast-feeding are opposed to the idea of bared breasts, mostly. Breasts are a sexual part of the body and should not be exposed publicly. Why not? Because they will affect some observers sexually? Or because they will upset children? Yet breasts are the organ which makes milk for infants, and we are told by various health experts that breast-feeding is beneficial.
Much of the embarrassment with public breast-feeding is caused by cultural traditions. The culture in the U.S. focuses on the sexual nature of breasts and demands them to be hidden except when they are used sexually. Like in ads and on tv and in porn. In fact, breasts are on show an awful lot, just not in the process of producing milk. My guess is that when public breast-feeding becomes more and more common we will forget all about the embarrassment.
This is an interesting dilemma for certain types of wingnuts who very much wish to see women focus on children but who also very much wish to ban anything sexual. Which way would they go on the desirability of public breast-feeding? They'd probably advocate that lactating women stay at home "where they belong". In fact, there are faint echoes in all this of the reasons for sexual segregation in some muslim countries: so much simpler and easier not to have to face evidence of difference anywhere.
Just so that you don't forget what we are ultimately talking about here: power, I'm ending this post with a quote from a troll poster on Eschaton on this topic:
I have a different position.
I think righteous women's studies types flaunt their boobiness when breastfeeding.
So I just stare...and stare...and drool...
We'll see how has the power as I imagine my spooge mingling with the dripping milk.
Go ahead...breast feed, little momma. Breast feed.
I stole the idea for this post from Atrios.