Read Jill DeLorenzo’s story. Her big “offense” was breastfeeding her child in Gold’s Gym. Note that Jill was a paying member of the gym, and had breastfed there before. But apparently on this occasion, doing so was an “offense.” Some unnamed person at the gym was offended that Jill was so bold as to feed her own children from a body part that is designed for that purpose, and so two high-ranking members of the gym administration (including the executive vice president of the management company) told Jill to move. Although they could have suggested that the complainant shift his or her gaze in a different direction, gym leadership chose to act in favor of that party’s feelings rather thanJill’s right to breastfeed.
All too often, people in positions of authority think they can strong-arm a mother with such tactics as intimidation, threats of legal action, and references to an un-posted (and likely nonexistent) policy about breastfeeding in public. In Jill’s case, the vice president noted that since the gym “is private property, we can do what we want to here.” He dodges Jill’s question about how he feels about breastfeeding in public, noting that “I’m protecting rights for our members—and how our staff feels as well.”
Without question, it would have been easier for Jill to relocate to the women’s locker room to continue breastfeeding. But she didn’t. It wasn’t convenient for her, since she had two children along—and, anyway, she knew that she shouldn’t be shamed for breastfeeding her child. She remained glued to the chair and fought for every minute her baby needed to feed. When she left the gym, she didn’t quit fighting; she took the fight to a bigger stage! She joined efforts to push for legislation to protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in the state of Virginia.
I hope every woman understands that it is not illegal to breastfeed in any US state, and nearly all states have laws specifically protecting a woman’s right to breastfeed. Personally, I think it’s silly that we need a law to protect the right to breastfeed—generations of Americans breastfed without them!—but obviously, we do need such a law!
Change can and does happen with each woman who refuses to be intimidated. Join me on the show while Jill is my guest, and find out you how to help women in the US to have their right to breastfeeding protected.
National Conference of State Legislatures: Breastfeeding State Laws
Women’s Law Project: Breastfeeding and Pumping Laws
Normalize Breastfeeding: A Breastfeeding Awareness Media Campaign