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Posted at 12:20 PM ET, 02/12/2011

Hirshhorn 'nurse-in' draws about 100

By Ovetta Wiggins

About 100 parents and babies gathered Saturday morning at the Hirshhorn Museum to bring awareness to a mother's federally-protected right to breastfeed in public.

The grassroots event, which drew mothers from across the Washington region, was organized after a nursing mother from Rockville was told last month by a Smithsonian guard to leave a bench and go to a women's restroom.

Noriko Aita, who received an apology from the museum, said Saturday that she hoped the event not only would raise awareness but that it would ensure that other mothers don't have the same experience.

"I didn't know the law," Aita said. "This can never happen again ... I don't want my daughter to have this trouble."

The organizers of the event said the "nurse-in" should not be characterized as a protest. Instead most of the women said they wanted to support the benefits of breastfeeding and to remove the stigma associated with it.

protest

Natalie Miller, of Takoma Park, holds a breastfeeding sign with her daughter, Bija. (Sarah L. Voisin/Post)

By Ovetta Wiggins  | February 12, 2011; 12:20 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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Comments

I really don't want to see your boob in public...let's keep the nursing thing in the women's restroom! I guess the next thing you'll want is to be able to fornicate in public.

Posted by: dmbeaver | February 12, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

If you equate breastfeeding with sex, then I feel sorry for you.

Posted by: tfj1211 | February 12, 2011 5:31 PM | Report abuse

We criticize Dan Snyder for protin beer sales in the men's room at the stadium, but nursing Mom's are supposed to sit on the toilet to nurse? C'mon.
And nobody's making you look, dmbeaver. Nice name.

Posted by: saymyname | February 12, 2011 5:51 PM | Report abuse

dmbeaver--we don't expect adults or children to eat in the restroom, and the same should be true for infants.

It's your problem if you're mired in the uniquely American ideology that overly sexualizes the breast and can only see it as a sex symbol, seeing breastfeeding as some sort of aberration. Breasts are designed for nursing, and if you don't want to see the beauty that is nursing, don't look. Breasts can be sexual and maternal, and if you can't appreciate that duality, that's your loss.

Regardless of whether you want to see it or not, the law protects nursing mothers, so your opinion is moot. I attended the nurse-in to help raise awareness of our existing rights however, and to help normalize breastfeeding. Our culture has strayed so far that people see breastfeeding as gross or sexual. If a woman can and wants to breastfeed, she should have every support possible.

Posted by: gdesed | February 12, 2011 7:22 PM | Report abuse

dmbeaver--we don't expect adults or children to eat in the restroom, and the same should be true for infants.

It's your problem if you're mired in the uniquely American ideology that overly sexualizes the breast and can only see it as a sex symbol, seeing breastfeeding as some sort of aberration. Breasts are designed for nursing, and if you don't want to see the beauty that is nursing, don't look. Breasts can be sexual and maternal, and if you can't appreciate that duality, that's your loss.

Regardless of whether you want to see it or not, the law protects nursing mothers, so your opinion is moot. I attended the nurse-in to help raise awareness of our existing rights however, and to help normalize breastfeeding. Our culture has strayed so far that people see breastfeeding as gross or sexual. If a woman can and wants to breastfeed, she should have every support possible.

Posted by: gdesed | February 12, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

Personally, I never wanted to breastfeed my babies in public. Even if I was among family, I would go into another room. It had nothing to do with my rights ... but it was a personal, private time for me. If we went out to a restaurant, I pumped milk before going.

Posted by: gitouttahere | February 12, 2011 7:23 PM | Report abuse

I brought approximately 275 Breastfeeding Rights cards with me. For the first 60 or so groups, I distributed 2 cards to each group (not individual people, but families as they arrived). After that, I gave out one card per group. To 5 or 6 different people I gave out 4-10 cards (only 2 people received 10). I now have *2* cards remaining. 100 people? You do the math. Way to minimize it, Washington Post. I *personally* greeted over 100 people, and I arrived a few minutes late (when there were numerous people already inside) and only covered one doorway -- the one that does NOT allow stroller access. Maybe 100 FAMILIES is more like it.

As for the photo -- I was there when it was taken, standing about 5 feet away. That was the ONLY person to come prepared to treat this as a protest, and her sign was NOT allowed inside the museum. I kindly kept her sign with my own belongings while she went in, but (when I needed to go inside myself) eventually threw it away. This article is not just somewhat misleading, but factually incorrect.

Posted by: jmyrna | February 12, 2011 8:15 PM | Report abuse

I found a site where you can get coupons for restaurant called "printapons" they are on all over the news, search online

Posted by: dawnryles | February 13, 2011 3:23 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I don't really see how feeding a baby equates to a sexually act. Do you eat your meals in the toilet dumbeaver?

Kudos to the mothers and fathers for asserting their rights to protect the rights of other. I would hope, but not expect, the museum to do more than ensure their security staff were aware of the federal law. They should take disciplinary action against the security guard who chose to create their own rules rather than being bothered to learn what is actually the law.

Posted by: LMarie1 | February 13, 2011 9:43 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, I don't really see how feeding a baby equates to a sexually act. Do you eat your meals in the toilet dumbeaver?

Kudos to the mothers and fathers for asserting their rights to protect the rights of other. I would hope, but not expect, the museum to do more than ensure their security staff were aware of the federal law. They should take disciplinary action against the security guard who chose to create their own rules rather than being bothered to learn what is actually the law.

Posted by: LMarie1 | February 13, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

What a great, positive event!
When seeing women use their breasts to nourish their children becomes as normal as seeing women use plastic breast imitations to feed their children the milk of another species, or chemical milk engineered from plants, we might begin to see healthier adults and a more productive society.
Breastfeeding IS normal!

Posted by: LLGWright | February 13, 2011 11:06 AM | Report abuse

The Washington Post is DEAD.WRONG. here. This is why people mistrust journalists and believe that they're all liars.

I covered this event. I personally counted at 11:20 86 nursing babies on the three levels of the Hirshhorn. I imagine I may have missed a few nursing toddlers or babies being changed in private spaces.

In a town known for protests, you'd think a legitimate journalist would know one when she saw it. This was the farthest thing from a protest.

These were families standing up for and exercising their rights to love, protect and FEED their babies. Moms, dads, siblings, grandmothers (I didn't personally meet any granddads) and friends came out to nurse and look at the art and to support other mothers who were choosing to do the same thing.

The Washington Post has clearly fired/laid off far too many of their editors and their talented writers.

I hope this piece of birdcage liner was written by an intern who grasps the understanding that she's got much more to learn.

Posted by: HeathenMommy | February 13, 2011 1:42 PM | Report abuse

I am so sick of Neanderthals who think nursing in public involves indiscreet flashing of breast. I nurse in public all of the time and, I assure you, show very little skin. Nor do I wish to because -- frankly -- it's cold and indiscreet.

Posted by: mrw7 | February 14, 2011 10:33 AM | Report abuse

HeathenMommy:
Where in the article does the author call it a protest? Did I miss something?
In my reading, she labels it a "grassroots event," and states explicitly that "organizers of the event said the "nurse-in" should not be characterized as a protest."
Other than mischaracterizing-- or rather underestimating-- the number of people who attended, I thought it was a good, albeit short, article.
I didn't think the sign made it seem like a "protest" or that including it as part of the article took away anything from the event itself. And I LOVE the sentiment of the sign.
BTW, I BFed both of my kids until they were each 2.5 years-- wherever and whenever they were hungry/needing that level of comfort. Thankfully, I never received anything but supportive comments from others.

Posted by: abajak | February 14, 2011 2:38 PM | Report abuse

HeathenMommy, I'm sure I met you there. :) I did see a couple of granddads, but many more grandmas.

That said, I think you're being a LITTLE harsh on the Post. I believe that the estimations have been downplayed deliberately by most news sources (showing how effective nurse-ins are would risk encouraging further "demonstrations," so minimizing the events is preferable to many). And I do believe that the implication was that the event was a protest. But I'm not convinced that the reporter acted *maliciously*. I was more pleased with the follow up article (125 *families* is much more realistic, although I still think an underestimation), which was co-written by the same reporter.

Posted by: jmyrna | February 15, 2011 11:35 PM | Report abuse

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