On a Saturday afternoon, I go for coffee with my sister and my 8-month-old baby. We haven’t done this in a long while thanks to a virus…But all is good. We sit at a small table. The baby gets her own little chair to my right.
We have our coffees and some dessert. We talk. My baby is fine. She is playing with a napkin. Creating a mess. The whole floor is covered in white pieces of napkin. But who cares? She is happy. I’ll pick it up after. However, I am aware of the people around us. They notice us, but don’t stare. I feel safe here.
My baby is getting more uneasy. I pick her up. I breastfeed my baby. She is hungry and immediately starts feeding. My breast is covered. I am still dressed and the baby’s head is covering the rest. My sister and I continue our conversation. Everything is light, happy. An old white man walks to the restroom. He is about 84 years old I guess. He passes our table, looks at me. He says “I am hungry, too!”.
An old white man walks to the restroom. He is about 84 years old I guess. He passes our table, looks at me. He says “I am hungry, too!”.
I turn away. Confusion. Shock. Not understanding. I can’t look at him or anyone. Can’t say anything. I look at my sister. The expression on her face is disgust, fear, pain, helplessness… My sister is a really strong woman. Seeing her like this is doing something to me.
We recover slowly and talk about the situation. We talk about other strong women. I remember one of my favorite feminists Deborah Francis-White saying “not cool” whenever she is harassed. I used it as some kind of a mantra from time to time. But we don’t feel strong right now. We feel wrong. This is wrong!
We decide to leave. We don’t feel welcome here anymore. He made this place toxic. I don’t finish my coffee. It’s his place now. We pack our things. I don’t finish feeding my baby. She will get more in the car. We walk out of the restaurant.
I see the man leaving the restroom. I open the restaurant door again and I say “Your behavior was not ok! When I am breastfeeding my baby, it is not an invitation for you to suck on my breasts too.” I talk loudly. I am being heard. Everyone at the restaurant hears me. The man looks confused and old, very old. He wasn’t expecting my reaction. I wasn’t expecting it. But somehow my baby and my sister’s pain gave me strength. I am not shouting, not emotional. I am strong, loud, empowered, and stating the facts.
We leave. My head is hot and red. I sweat. I can’t believe that it’s 2022 and these things are still happening. Breastfeeding is beautiful. It is not sexual. It is food. It is the most natural thing in the world. A breastfeeding relationship is special and no, it doesn’t give me sexual pleasure to nurse my baby girl!
I can’t believe that it’s 2022 and these things are still happening. Breastfeeding is beautiful. It is not sexual. It is food. It is the most natural thing in the world.
Did the man not only sexualize me, but also do the same to her? A breast is too often seen as a sexual pleasure plaything. I am disgusted!
I am totally overwhelmed with myself. I reacted. Before in the restaurant, I was sure I couldn’t, wouldn’t say anything. I admired everyone who did or would have. But at that moment everything was right. He was there. I was already leaving. I took my place back!
I wanted to share my story, so that everyone sees the disgusting reality, but also feels empowered to do something about it. Take your place back!!
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