This video shows scenes from a public social experiment conducted by blogger Joey Salads that shows how women are shamed for breastfeeding in public, yet are accepted if they are revealing just as much of their breasts when dressed “sexy” and wearing tops that show cleavage. In the video, Salads shows passersby’s reactions to a woman discretely breastfeeding her baby, and compares them with reactions to a woman dressed in sexually revealing clothing. The video shows no one approaching the sexily dressed model sitting on a mall bench for an hour, except for one man who hits on her. When the breastfeeding mother sat on the same bench by herself, men and women walking by chastised her directly, saying things like, “that’s disgusting” or “you shouldn’t do that in public.” When the two women sat side-by-side outside on another bench, a man approached saying he didn’t appreciate how “gross” it was that “her tits are out.” When asked about the woman next to her who is actually showing more of her breasts, he said, “that’s different…that’s just how her shirt is.” Another man comes up and says that the breastfeeding mother is disgusting, whereas the sexily dressed woman is “hot.”
What is the purpose of this “social experiment”? Do you think it was successful in proving its point? Why or why not?
If you were to see the sexily dressed woman, would you think twice about it? Would the revealingness of her clothing offend you? Why do you think this may be?
If you saw a woman breastfeeding, would it catch your eye? Do you think it is indecent for women to breastfeed in public? Why or Why not?
Why are men’s chests treated differently than women’s chests?
We have become accustomed to images portraying breasts as hyper-sexualized objects of desire, especially for heterosexual men. Breastfeeding challenges this idea of the breast’s primary function being for sexual pleasure. Why do you think people react so negatively and judgmentally when they see someone breastfeeding in public? Why are the passersby in the video expressing disgust? How do you think breastfeeding mothers feel when people say these things to them?
What image is more frequently perpetuated by the media, a woman wearing sexually revealing clothing or a woman breastfeeding? What role do you believe media representation plays in society’s acceptance of either representation? What other societal institutions or systems impact these representations and understandings of what is socially acceptable or unacceptable?
How does breastfeeding in public relate to women’s rights and gender inequality? Consider a woman’s power to control her own body and how breastfeeding and maternal care may affect her career, perceived value, relationship expectations, and other everyday experiences.