It’s not every day governments make a move to stand up for breastfeeding moms. In fact, it’s not even most days, or even like once a year. So, brace yourselves because this one might excite you: according to Bustle, the city of Sao Paulo, Brazil, is expected to pass legislation this week that will impose a $150 fine on businesses who shame breastfeeding moms. Go ahead and give them a round of applause. I’ll wait.
The legislation will include both public and private businesses and came about after a number of high-profile incidents of public breastfeeding shame that led to protests and public nurse-ins. Despite breastfeeding rates generally being much higher in Brazil, breastfeeding women still deal with the same discrimination and sexist garbage as American moms:
“For instance, model Priscila Navarro Bueno was reprimanded by a security guard for breastfeeding at a museum. She pointed out the absurdity of the situation, saying, ‘Unfortunately society is still very puritanical. During Carnival, women can show their breasts, but it is not permitted to do so to give milk to your child. It is absurd that women have to breastfeed in a hidden room.’”
Women deal with this sexist double standard every day, all over the world, and it’s encouraging to see government officials actually paying attention and addressing the problem. If passed as predicted, the legislation will be the first of its kind and will go into effect in 20 days. Also worth noting, all fines levied will go towards national health policies that encourage breastfeeding.
Though it’s unlikely, it’d be great to see something like this in the United States. Forcing women into hiding because we’e a bunch of 12-year-olds who can’t handle boobs is a national pastime that really needs to be addressed. Sure, breastfeeding shame makes headlines all the time, but that has obviously done little to change attitudes toward public breastfeeding or to prevent women from facing continued discrimination since it keeps happening over and over again.
With luck, what’s happening in Sao Paulo will catch on and lead to changes elsewhere that support and protect the rights of breastfeeding moms. It’s beyond time for a change and for legislation that makes nourishing babies easier. People obviously think their personal beliefs about women’s bodies trump the rights of hungry babies, and that’s a problem that requires some official recognition. Despite persistent ‘puritanical’ beliefs that seem to plague the entire globe, breasts were intended to feed children and there’s nothing inappropriate or controversial about it.