On a Mission to End the Preoccupation with Breasts

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A teacher from Poyen High School, a small rural town in Arkansas, has gotten into hot water after a student complained about her bringing her infant to school and breast-feeding the baby in front of students

Dr. Ashton had a few words about the controversial topic of public breast-feeding, and the role of breasts.

Q: What do you think of this teacher? Was it inappropriate for her to breast-feed her baby in a high school classroom?
A: Any new working mom understands the intrinsic difficulty of having to both be a mom and do their jobs. I applaud the school and the teacher for trying to make it all work. It’s not ideal, but it’s real life. She was covered up.

Q: What about the fact that the female student who photographed the teacher said it was distracting to students because there were teen boys in the class?
A: I’m the mom of a 16-year-old boy, and I’ve tried to raise him to understand that there’s nothing to be embarrassed about, and the act of breast-feeding is simply not sexual. It’s normal. In my experience, people assume that teen boys take things to that place. If they haven’t been taught that breast-feeding isn’t a sexual act, but a necessity, then this was a ‘teachable moment.’

Q: Would you or did you breast-feed your children in public?
A: I was uncomfortable about it. In front of relatives, I was uncomfortable. Let’s not assume the teacher was comfortable — it was something she obviously had to do.

Q: So, you think everyone should just chill on the poor mom, just trying to feed junior?
A: I think we need to uncouple the thinking about the breast as simply a sexual part. It’s a body part. In other countries it’s not such a big deal. It’s 2014, for goodness sake — can’t we move past it? I’m not saying every woman has to or should breast-feed; it’s a mother’s choice and not for every woman. But whatever you’re "feeling" when you witness a woman breast-feeding, check it at the door.

There are a number of students at Poyen High School who are in complete support of the teacher. The school's superintendent refused to comment on the complaints, saying it was a "personnel issue" and that worried parents or students could talk directly to him.

Whatever a person’s views are on breast-feeding, Dr. Ashton is unequivocal: "It drives me crazy when I hear about people getting all worked up about this!"

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