In some cultures women are expected to hide their bodies. Other cultures do not follow these illogical customs.
Within the culture, women can be the strongest voices in continuing the practice. They demand that other women cover up and claim they are themselves more comfortable covering up, as they feel immodest otherwise. They claim it is their right to choose.
Right to choose
The burka causes worldwide debate. When the entire female body is a sexual advance to men, can we achieve equal respect between the sexes (as is our aim in the western world)?
Yet for most of the western world, women's breasts are also required to be hidden. Puritan, Victorian, Muslim...the shame is the same. This is so accepted as to be invisible.
The price of shame
There are many costs, but one is fundamental. Too many women are so ashamed to show their breasts that they are crippled when breastfeeding their own babies. Baby burka, anyone?
Breastfeeding has become so darn discreet that some girls and women never see it. Others see it as weird, icky, funny...anything but natural and normal. They believe that feeding artificial baby milk from a bottle is probably just as good.
Here's a recent and dangerous myth: breastfeeding is only for small babies and not children who can walk and talk. People in other cultures and times benefit from natural weaning after years of breastfeeding. In our culture, despite formal medical recommendations, the very idea is shameful or even abusive.
A healthy breastfeeding relationship is the soundest base for a child to begin a healthy vegan diet. With worldwide concerns over children's weight and health, (NZ and wider) this is vital.
The real shame
A culture fixated on sex and money owns our bodies and our babies' birthright.
Breastfeeding mothers, will your children learn comfort or shame in breastfeeding?