Annie @ PhDinParenting has produced a video version of her blog post, "covering up is a feminist issue." In some ways, it reminds me of the Vagina Monologues bit entitled "My short skirt"--applied to breastfeeding. And in some sense, that's right: it seems that part of the motivation for the video includes recent comments about women avoiding rape by not dressing like sluts. But it's the more direct public square commentary, often from other women, about how "inappropriate" it is to "NIP" (that's nurse-in-public, for the uninitiated) or to do so without hiding yourself and baby under some kind of massive tent-like cover, that's the real issue. What the video does is connect these, as well as throw in a visual cue that there are other cultural and religious standards at play as well (early in the video, you see a burka), and draw the conclusion that the more general problem is that standards of dress are imposed externally on women, in all sorts of contexts and for all sorts of reasons. Breastfeeding in public is just one of those.
One of the more subtle points in the video happens right up front, in the pairing of conflicting cultural messages to Western women--"cover up"/"strip down." While the video doesn't spell this out, this highlights the way in which women's breasts, in our culture, have become public objects in sexual contexts--but stick a baby on there, and suddenly it's gross. So we're left with a situation where cleavage is fine, but God forbid you let a curve show if you're a mom with a hungry babe.
Personally, one of the many gains I experienced as a woman finally loving and appreciating my body through experiencing pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood was learning to see my body as functional and vital--and part of that happened through redefining my breasts, not as sort of pointless objects on the front of my chest that other people seem to enjoy for some unfathomable reason, but as a necessary, important and life-giving functional part of my amazing body. This meant thinking of them as special and awesome--while at the same time, thinking of them as something akin to my elbow--just there for a reason, because I needed them to do their milk-making thing. Not just hang there and look, I guess, pretty.
I loved nursing Clare, at home, in church, on trains, wherever. She hated being under a cover and so I didn't use one--and nursing tops make them, IMO, unnecessary. Clare's big ol' beautiful baby head completely blocked whatever wasn't covered by the nursing top. And I'm looking forward to nursing Baby Z...and reinforcing with Clare that breasts are awesome milk-making things and she's right to look forward to the day when hers get great big--so she can feed her babies.