By illegally ejecting a discreetly nursing mother from a courtroom, a female Connecticut marshal drove home the point that breastfeeding is a women’s issue often fought between women.
Connecticut is one of 45 states with a provision allowing women to breastfeed in public. Yet Danielle Gendron was ushered out of a Connecticut courtroom while she was discreetly nursing her 3-month-old son according to WTNH-TV in New London, Conn.
I worry about a society that’s fine with showing every kind of violence on television, yet can’t stand to witness a young mother discreetly nourishing her child.
As a mother who nursed four sons, I considered "discreetly" to usually mean sitting in the back of the room with the baby under a blanket or shawl which covered me more than the average bathing suit, with perhaps the very crown of baby’s head visible. Anything anyone thinks they saw while I nursed was most likely in their own imagination.
In light of Ms. Gendron’s experience it is fitting to note that a sizeable part of the nation’s population is currently prepping for a holiday that centers on the birth of a child.
While I am no archeologist or biblical historian, I can pretty much guarantee that Mary didn’t bottle feed her baby, nor did any wise man, shepherd, or woman blow the whistle on her for feeding her babe.
Perhaps now, in this season, we could take a moment to find the wonder at the gift women have to be able to nourish their children via this perfectly natural act.
When Ms. Gendron was perhaps age five, I was sitting in my car on Long Beach Island, NJ, discreetly nursing my first son under a shawl when a woman who was in her 50s began beating on my window demanding, “You stop that right now! That’s disgusting.”
The woman called police and, because there was no provision allowing public feeding at the time, I was politely asked to “Move along.”
What infuriated me then and seeing Gendron’s story now is that in both cases it was women who made such an issue of a woman’s issue.
I have marveled at this odd turning of woman against woman. The only thing I can imagine is that perhaps the women taking issue are those who themselves were deterred from breastfeeding in public spaces and convinced the act was lurid and “wrong.”
In my experience, men who see a woman breastfeeding either don’t recognize what they’re seeing, or are too uncomfortable to make a report.
The only time anyone ever came up to me to complain about seeing me feed the baby, which happened many times in various states of the union, it was always a woman.
Gendron has been initiated into the sorority of women outed by women.
“That's never happened to me, so I wasn't sure she was speaking to me at first, so I kind of looked around, and she was like, ‘Get out,’ ” Gendron tells WTNH about the female marshal.
The new mom was removed from family court on December 4. She was waiting her turn to testify in a case, according to WTNH.
“It almost makes you feel ashamed, which is terrible, because you shouldn't feel that way,” Gendron told WTNH.
It made Gendron feel “ashamed.” It made me feel humiliated and furious when it happened to me. Today it makes me feel sad because frankly, we’re better than this, as both a culture and a sex.
When Gendron’s story became public, the court apologized to Gendron's sister, who had called the court to complain, according to the TV station. As a result, reports Yahoo! Shine, “The marshal was instructed on the law, as were judicial marshals statewide.”