Last week, a mother visiting the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) named Katie Jane Hamilton was told by a guard that she'd need to "cover up" while breastfeeding. In response, the mom told the security guard that he'd made a big mistake, buster, because next week, she'll have over 100 breastfeeding moms, mammaries out, babies latched on right there in the museum, for freedom! The museum acknowledged the guard's misstep, apologized, and assured Katie Jane that there would be no more lactation shaming. But that wasn't enough! The protest will press on, as planned! Does this seem like overkill to anyone else?
This isn't to suggest that all nurse-ins are protest for the sake of protest. I'm in favor of women being able to breastfeed their children whenever and wherever, especially in front of Kasey Kahn as he attempts to shop for groceries. Boobs are multi-purpose body parts; I get that there's nothing indecent about using them for their intended purpose. I also understand that there are places in the US that still attempt to shame women out of breastfeeding there. I think those places should absolutely be protested.
Unfortunately for Hamilton and her protest, though, LACMA isn't one of those places. And her continuing to press on with a planned nurse-in that's been rendered moot by the Museum's apology seems, well, like a solution in search of a problem.
On the infamous B-Day (b for Boob, obviously), Hamilton says she was at the museum with her 21-month old daughter taking in the art like other patrons. When her daughter started getting fussy, she began to feed her. A guard came over to inform her that because a couple had complained, she'd have to cover up. Hamilton was understandably upset and complained to the guard's supervisor, and then filled out a comment card at LACMA's info desk. By her own admission, every employee who wasn't the guard who told her to cover up was exceedingly polite and apologetic to her. They gave her a free coffee table book. No one was shamey.
The museum followed that interaction up by offering its sincere apologies via Facebook, since that's where Hamilton had aired her grievances. Their statement, via LAist:
On behalf of LACMA, I want to take this opportunity to apologize for your experience this weekend.
Our policy when it comes to breastfeeding (and everything else) is absolutely to follow the letter of the law. The request made to you by our guard was the mistake of an individual who was ill-informed-it was not reflective of our institutional policy or family-friendly values.
That being said, it is my job to make sure our staff are properly informed, so we are talking to all of our guards and staff today to make sure they understand the law-and how very much we value our visiting families.
A sincere apology for wrongdoing, a clarification of policy, a proactive step to ensure that it won't happen again. Fine, right? Nope! Hamilton plans to go on with a nurse-in, anyway, and has even started a Facebook group to organize other enraged lactating ladies called (all caps are [sic]) HEY LACMA! BREASTFEEDING ISNT SHAMEFUL!.
Since LACMA's response wasn't sufficient for Hamilton, I'd be interesting in knowing what would have satisfied her and the other women who feel compelled to take time out of their undoubtedly busy kid-raising schedules to protest against an art museum that's already apologized. Maybe commission a giant portrait of Hamilton breastfeeding and hang it above the information desk? A day when all museum patrons who aren't breastfeeding mothers are kicked out?
Mothers deal with enough bullshit in their daily lives. Manufacturing new bullshit where there was none is unnecessary and makes other women who just want to breastfeed in peace look bad.