Public nursing: Legalize it!

After the ousting of a nursing mom from a Victoria's Secret this summer, advocates rally for breast-feeding rights.

Topics: Broadsheet, Motherhood, Love and Sex,

You may remember the fracas this summer when one Lori Rueger asked to breast-feed her 10-week-old daughter in a Victoria’s Secret dressing room in a mall in Point Pleasant, S.C. A store clerk told her to take her nasty nursing to a public restroom, a request that Rueger found pretty nasty herself.

“Would you want to eat in the same room where someone was defecating?” Rueger asked a reporter from the Charleston Post and Courier at the time of the incident. The store clerk later alleged that Rueger “became combative” when asked not to nurse in the dressing room. A couple of dozen women later staged a “nurse-in” under a Victoria’s Secret awning.

It all went down in June, but has not been forgotten. Tonight, protesters are meeting in Rock Hill, S.C., in support of writing breast-feeding rights legislation into state law. According to the Charlotte Observer, 38 states including North Carolina and Georgia protect a woman’s right to breast-feed in public. The proposed South Carolina bill is modeled after Georgia’s, and reads in part that “a mother may breast-feed her child in any location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be.”

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It remains to be seen why, in a nation that prizes the innocence of infancy above almost every other form of human life, anyone objects to the notion of nourishing infants.

Rebecca Traister
Rebecca Traister writes for Salon. She is the author of "Big Girls Don't Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women" (Free Press). Follow @rtraister on Twitter.

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