Vancouver activist Emma Kwasnica speaks up for breastfeeding moms
Emma Kwasnica says there is still a long way to go in the fight against intolerance toward public breastfeeding.
“[It is] 2012 and we’re still not at a place where it’s known by people that a woman has a legal right and it’s protected to breastfeed in public,” said Kwasnica, 33, a breastfeeding activist and mother of three from Vancouver.
“Many people don’t even know that and they think she could be charged with indecency or they think they have a right to say to her, ‘Oh, you really need to cover that up.’ [But] they absolutely do not,” she told the Straight by phone.
Kwasnica has been embroiled in a public dispute with Facebook over the removal of personal breastfeeding photos she posted on the social networking website.
After a flurry of media coverage on the conflict, she expressed dismay over the many negative comments about public breastfeeding that have appeared online.
“Obviously I’m outspoken and I’m not going to let this stuff get me down but I’m really concerned about some moms who are just at the point of maybe thinking they can go to Starbucks and have a coffee and nurse their infant if they need to,” Kwasnica said. “And now they’re going to see these public comments and go, ‘Wow! I am not supported by my society. I’m feeling ashamed and I will go to the car, nurse the baby in the car, or I will just stay home.’”
“[It is] really shocking. And then at the end of the day I’m like, ‘You know what? Not really’. Because I do know, in my heart, that we have a long way to go yet. We’re not there yet.”
Kwasnica blamed the negative attitude toward public breastfeeding on “the hyper-sexualization of the female breast”.
“Everywhere you look there’s billboards with cleavage spilling out. Boobs are used…to sell beer, to sell everything,” she said.
“I fully understand the sexualization of breasts, but what I’m saying is that along with that has to come it being OK to breastfeed, and that we have harmed women and children when the breasts are so exclusively sexual that we can’t even wrap our heads around the idea of a baby being at the end of the boob.”
Kwasnica suggested the more people see displays of breastfeeding, the more they will regard it as a normal practice.
“The more we see photos and women in real life who go out and beat the stigma down and they go and they breastfeed their kid in public, the more society’s going to accept it,” she said. “But if we hide away, and we shame women into thinking their breasts are not these life-giving, amazing things that they are, and no one ever sees breastfeeding, less and less women will do it.”