Free to be You and Me

I feel like I have just walked into the twilight zone. Translation: I am walking into unchartered territory. I know this will not be the last time this happens to me but I wonder why it has to happen in the first place. I had to have a confrontation with a “friend” regarding a social and cultural issue –frankly, an issue that permeates in our society and ends up being a balancing act between personal choice and respect of others. Breastfeeding in public is a contentious issue. There are state laws in some states which protect the woman’s right to publicly breastfeed while other state laws are silent on the subject. There are countless blogs devoted to this topic and you will often find women on all sides of the issue – pro, militant, anti, and so conservative about it, they will pray for you if you do it. You get my point. The issue is contentious because we live in a male-dominated world but more than that, we live in a society which still seems to be conservative about nudity in public. For example, in Europe, a breast will be displayed like it is no big deal during a deodorant commercial. I know, I used to live there and a body wash commercial, well, you may get a peak at all body parts. It is just something open and out there. In Europe and Asia, you can catch a glimpse of men urinating on a wall or on a street side, but you rarely witness any of the above here in prudish America. It is a product of the society we live in and the culture does not promote that. Obviously, as times change, things will become more comfortable although I still hope to never see a man pulled over near my office building peeing on the brick building – yikers!

Needless to say, this friend told me how strongly she believes in public breastfeeding that if she knew she were invited to an “unfriendly” breastfeeding home (mind you, private not a public place) for a child’s party, she would not have attended in the first place. Fair enough. I guess I do not freely visit Afghanistan because frankly, I could not stand covering my head and my legs, and see women being mistreated. I would not choose to go to Iran either and personal choices should be respected. So, that is the issue really isn’t it? When did Sara and Jessica stop being free to be Sara and Jessica? Why is Jessica being judged because Sara does not agree with her? I am not sure why women bring these issues upon themselves – why are there hurt feelings because Jessica does not agree with Sara? It is once again, an interesting phenomenon in modern America where some women with infants choose to work and others choose to stay at home. Is one decision right and the other wrong? Or, are they both right, in their own way? Why can’t we celebrate the choices our counterparts make instead of judging them and why is everything a battle? I know I will face many of these issues as I continue down this road – parenting, etc., but I wonder why our society does not simply respect the balance between personal choices and the respect of others’ choices. Needless to say, this incident has opened my eyes to many things but mainly to knowing that sometimes what I may do or say has consequences. Also, it has taught me to be more self-aware and understanding of others. Could it be that Jessica has to breastfeed in public because it gives her pride? Could it be that Sara does not because she was raised to not show her body parts in public? Why is it always about taking a stance or being anti-woman? I know for me entering the twilight zone in this confrontation with my friend was very awkward but I think I came out of it much more enlightened about how I treat and judge others especially women. I guess I should be looking forward to that next awkward confrontation not because of just resolving the situation at hand but the bigger picture and what I may learn from it.

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