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Australia: Lactivists Demonstrate for Public Breastfeeding

Lactivists have taken to social media and the streets to protect the right to breastfeeding in public in Australia. Two demonstrations have taken place following the ejection of Liana Webster, a mother breastfeeding at a public pool on 12 January 2013. As the local media reported:

SUNSHINE Coast mothers have staged a mass breastfeeding to send a clear message that nursing a child in public is their legal right. Mothers with hungry children in tow converged on the Bribie Island Aquatic and Leisure Centre yesterday for the peaceful protest.

The second protest had a national TV audience following comments by a morning show presenter:

About 50 women and children gathered outside the Channel Seven television studios in Sydney's Martin Place this morning, protesting against comments made by TV host David Koch about breastfeeding.

You can view the original Seven Sunrise item here. The online support for breastfeeding in public is indicated by the extent of activity at the Sunrise Nurse-in Facebook event and a related one started by Liana Webster A mother's right to breastfeed – Whenever, wherever, however. Sunrise Nurse-in explained that the protest was not a vendetta:

Just wanted to remind everyone, this event is not a hate campaign against David Koch, more of an educational exercise. I'd really love it if his attitude towards nursing changed.

The Little Leaf gives a good summary of the issues, following Kochie’s call to be “more discreet”. Her view:

It doesn't matter how well-intentioned or benign Kochie's comments were in his own mind. Outwardly, what he said was critical of breastfeeding in public. His suggestions that a woman be “discreet” or “a bit classy” confirm the misguided viewpoint that breastfeeding should be hidden.

On January 21, Seven Sunrise posted video of an interview with Breastfeeding advocate Amy Ahearn while the Nurse-in was taking place outside. There were over 2,200 comments by the afternoon. This comment and other likes it show that it’s not a one-sided debate:

How dare she inflict her boob on unsuspecting members of the public. Breastfeeding mother should express and use a bottle when out…. And for all of you people saying “if you don't like it, don't look”…when I squat and take a dump on your nature strip, if you don't like it, don't look

Anti-sexism group Destroy the Joint have been active in supporting Liana Webster. Their mission: ‘This page is for people who are sick of the sexism dished out to women in Australia, whether they be our Prime Minister or any other woman’. They created a collage of photographs of breastfeeding supporters, which has nearly one thousand Likes so far.

Nurse in Destroy the Linot

Nurse-in collage. Image courtesy Destroy the Joint facebook page

Mia Freedom, publisher of popular women’s website Mamamia, encouraged people to attend the Nurse-in.

It’s never a bad thing to remind people of the olden days, when men were men and women were……mostly invisible. When the only depiction of breasts that was acceptable was the sexy kind. When the idea of a woman using her bosom to feed her baby was….you know….yucky. …Viva la boobies.

It has been just a busy on Twitter. Try this hashtag #kochie to get the full flavour.

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