A mom named Aidan Johnson posted an open letter on Facebook yesterday to share her humiliating experience of being attacked for breastfeeding at the gym, and her experience will make you really, really angry. "Today I was confronted with something that has confirmed to me why nursing in public is something I need to continue to do for the sake of other mothers," wrote Johnson, a mom of two from Ohio, after the gym manager asked her to "cover up" while she was feeding her child. Here's the post, which has been shared over 300 times:
I’ve been breastfeeding now for a total of 31 months. It’s been up and down with challenges, frustrations, lots of cuddles, and I’m ultimately proud of what I’ve done for my 2 kids. I’ve had a lot of support over these 31 months, and have been lucky enough that no one has ever had any negative comments to make (to my face at least!). However, today I was confronted with something that has confirmed to me why nursing in public is something I need to continue to do for the sake of other mothers.
I was having a meeting at the café of my local gym, Premier on Sawmill. The café is down some stairs and at the end of a hall, so really out of the way and not visible (not that that matters, anyway, but still). There were a couple other people in the bistro, including the worker. I was nursing my 8 month old son (with only the top of my breast visible from my shirt- pretty sure the numerous naked women walking in the locker room should be more of a concern!) when someone from HR approached me. She began saying that the gym supports breastfeeding and she “understands” because she breastfed. They “just wanted to make sure I was accommodated” so I could go up to the kids area which is private or I could go into another room which wasn’t occupied until the afternoon. Over and over she kept saying how much she “understood” and how they just wanted to “accommodate me”. I said “no thanks, I’m fine and clearly my sleeping son is too”.
Leaving, I was very upset and called my husband. He decided to go and talk to them today instead of waiting until tomorrow. If it had ended here I would have been upset but moved on. Instead, his conversation has just blown my mind. He spoke with the GM, Jim. Jim said that I was being a victim and that my husband was being a victim. He said that he went down to the bistro, saw me nursing, and saw “all the people staring and making comments” so he sent HR down to talk to me. My husband said “so your main objective was to have her move or cover up” and he said “yes”. He said numerous times that I needed to meet them halfway because they have many other gym members to worry about. He said that if I wasn’t the type to meet them halfway, maybe we should find another gym. He repeated multiple times that I was just acting like a victim. When my husband mentioned Ohio breastfeeding law and that I’m legally allowed to nurse, he said “well I’m legally allowed to ask her to cover up.” My husband’s biggest frustration came from the fact that this man started off many sentences with “well if she’s the type of person….”
I’m hurt, sad, embarrassed, and ANGRY. Why should feeding my son be a concern to anyone? People get so offended by breastfeeding advocates. By why are there advocates to begin with? Because there has to be. I’d love to have continued on my day never thinking twice about being at the gym. But instead, I’m faced with this. It needs to change. I know by making this post public I'll get some backlash. And guess what? I don't really care. Feeding my kids is most important and until everyone in the world understands that, I'll stand up for what I believe in.
Victim-blaming plus breastfeeding-shaming: it's an anti-women twofer!