Women are still routinely condemned for breastfeeding in public, and just this weekend, a mom was kicked out of an all-female gym for feeding her son. So, you can imagine what happened when a feminist porn director and actress decided to challenge the way people think about sex and motherhood with an art project about breastfeeding.
Shortly after giving birth this spring, Madison Young, a writer and sex educator who's directed and performed in hundreds of adult films, created an art exhibit titled "Becoming MILF." According to a description of the project, Young:
...Explores this journey as a New Breed of Breeder who embraces the Madonna and the Whore at the same time in her multi-media art exhibit that includes a baby quilt made of a juxtaposing combination of burp clothes & porn star panties, onesies printed with erotic photographs featuring Young, video and photo works melding images 60′s iconic mother Jackie Kennedy and iconic slut Marilyn Monroe into a single entity and much more ... Young will be enacting 30 Actions in 30 Hours to Becoming MILF including serving up Breast Milk Ice Cream in Milkshakes and working up a sweat to Jazzercise while simultaneously directing a Live Porn Scene.
It's not surprising that the event sparked a huge controversy, but the criticism didn't come from conservatives wielding picket signs (probably only because they don't keep tabs on the activities of feminist porn stars). Salon reports that Young was attacked by another porn star for the horrors she subjected her daughter to by feeding her while talking about the function of breasts. Tracy Clark-Flory writes:
Sex worker activist Furry Girl (presumably a stage name) took to Twitter to criticize Young for publicly breast-feeding — in a recent photograph, video blog and at a live event. She tweeted that only "creeps & pedophiles" are interested in seeing a porn star breast-feed and insinuated that exposing her child to such an audience was abusive: "It's funny to see how many feminist kinksters don't think consent matters when it comes to creating erotic art w/ a baby." She called Young "a revolting person" and dubbed her defenders "baby fetishists" and "pedos."
The activities that offended "Furry Girl" included the photo of Young breastfeeding as Marilyn Monroe, which obviously isn't pornographic (I know it when I don't see it), and a video she posted to her blog in which she breastfed while talking about an upcoming event where she would be speaking about breast health. Young replied via Twitter, "the only one sexualizing this image of me breastfeeding is you. Which makes me feel truly disgusted and violated."
The online controversy proved Young's point even better than her art project could. Since she sometimes uses her breasts for sexual purposes, they can't be desexualized when performing a different function. Of course, it isn't just sex workers' breasts that are unfit for public viewing, but all women's mammaries. Penny Montgomery-Schlanser says she was recently asked to leave a women's only gym in Houston because she breastfed her baby in the daycare area. The owner claims that she only asked Montgomery-Schlanser to move to a different area because there were other children, including an 11-year-old boy in the "Kids Club" at the time. We definitely don't want to live in a world where boys routinely see women breastfeeding. They might grow up with the idea that breasts exist for something other than their amusement.