It would be easy to file under ‘Nitpicking’ the story of the woman asked to stop breastfeeding her baby at Cambridge’s Parkside Swimming Pool because it breached the Pool’s ‘no food or drink’ rule.
I mean, come on, Parkside, even if such a request were still legal, think this through. Why do we have such bans? Because of the litter. Because the smell of someone’s hot food isn’t always welcome among people who aren’t themselves eating at the time. Because having the remnants of a bacon butty brush your face during a 50m freestyle isn’t the greatest way to enhance your Parkside ‘experience’.
But breastfeeding? Chalk up one more strike against the rules > common sense mentality.
There’s something bigger, here, though. These stories are by no means rare. A woman breastfeeds in public and the world’s suddenly up in arms and flailing about for any old rule on which to hang its indignation.
What the hell is the matter with us in Britain? So much of our trashed modern culture revolves around sex and sexuality. So much of our anger is expressed by name-calling that equates its target with a sex organ. And yet when we are faced with something that is part and parcel of the reproductive cycle in all its innocence – the breastfeeding of a child – we can’t handle it. We are suddenly prim Victorians who “don’t think that sort of thing’s right”.
And don’t even get us started on naturism.
It’s a strange land where “get yer tits out for the lads” is a Saturday-night mantra beloved of beered-up men everywhere and yet when a woman does precisely that, she is met with sniffy outrage.
We need to make our minds up. And maybe grow up a little in the process.