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The Great Toronto Bra-Haha

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The Great Toronto Bra-Haha

Old 02-19-05, 06:38 PM
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The Great Toronto Bra-Haha

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servl...tional/Toronto

The bra-haha that went global
A mom nurses in public and discovers some folks don't think breast is always best

By JULIE TRAVES

Saturday, February 19, 2005 Updated at 6:36 PM EST

When Erika Ross lifted her shirt and unsnapped her bra to nurse her newborn daughter last month in Dufferin Grove Park, she never expected that people across Canada, the United States and even Finland would end up weighing in on it.

But the innocent gesture unwittingly drew her and others in her community-minded Dufferin-and-Bloor neighbourhood into a passionate international debate on breastfeeding in public. During the past six weeks, moms and "lactivists" from around the world have weighed in, using e-mail and on-line message boards. There's also talk of activists across North America planning a rally in Toronto during World Breastfeeding Week this August, possibly at the park where the bra-haha began.

Dufferin Grove is normally the kind of park that urban activists dream about. In the summer, there's a giant sandbox, a farmers market, and dance and theatre festivals. In the winter, the ethnically and economically diverse residents mingle over organic meals at the park's rink house.

Recreation turned to recrimination on Jan. 7, when Ms. Ross and her husband brought their baby and toddler to the park's Friday Night Supper program. It was their first outing with their 12-day-old newborn and they enjoyed munching vegan food by a wood stove and catching up with friends.

Then Ms. Ross, 33, pulled up her shirt and opened one cup of her nursing bra to breastfeed -- inadvertently flashing the room (including a few men lacing up for shinny) for a moment when her baby didn't latch on to her nipple right away.

Park volunteer Jutta Mason rushed over and asked Ms. Ross to move to the washroom. "She was standing up and appeared to be taking her shirt off over one side of her head," Ms. Mason says. "She had most of her upper body exposed. The question was: Where was it going?"

The answer is probably not what 57-year-old Ms. Mason expected.

Ms. Ross was humiliated and angered by the interference. The next day, the grad student e-mailed a complaint to the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park website. She asked for an apology from Ms. Mason and wanted park staff and volunteers to be better educated about women's right to breastfeed.

What Ms. Ross didn't know is that Ms. Mason is the driving force behind Friends of Dufferin Grove and editor of the website. She posted Ms. Ross's note to the Friends message board -- along with comments in her defence. Vehement typing from all quarters ensued.

"The thing just exploded. This is a very leftist group, a very activist group, so people really ran with it," Ms. Ross says of the Friends.

Besides concerned onlookers in the park and neighbourhood residents, La Leche League, the Topfree Equal Rights Association, Moms for Milk and bra company Bravado Designs also had a say.

For those on Ms. Ross's side, Ms. Mason's meddling was not only a human-rights offence, it smacked of moralistic prudery. "I don't think one lactating breast will cause the ultimate downfall of anyone's moral code," wrote one of Ms. Ross's supporters. "I'm in Georgia, good ole' U-S of A, where exposing your breasts for any reason is considered a mortal sin by half the residents, so I feel your pain!" e-mailed another.

Those in Ms. Mason's camp championed her desire for modesty in a community setting. One wrote that the situation reminded him of Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," though this time he blamed the left for imposing their moral values on the community instead of the right. Many residents trumpeted Ms. Mason's 13 years as a park volunteer and history as a La Leche League leader herself.

As for the city, its policy is clear: Women have the right to breastfeed any time, anywhere, in accordance with Ontario's Human Rights Code. "Unfortunately, this isn't really debatable," says city councillor Adam Giambrone. So the parks department issued an apology to Ms. Ross.

Ms. Mason still refuses to do the same. In fact, she's now requesting the city launch an investigation into the incident. Following rumours of activists planning to stage a "nurse-in" at a Friday Night Supper, she has also cancelled the program until spring. Getting what she calls "hate mail" has taken its toll on her personally as well, she says.

And the mom whose nipple started it all? "Having my breasts discussed worldwide at length is pretty disconcerting," Ms. Ross says. Yet she stands by her rights. "I'm disappointed in a handful of people who have tried to reduce the incident to a simple case of hurt feelings. Yes, my feelings were hurt. Rosa Parks probably had some hurt feelings too when she refused to sit in the back of the bus."
Sounds like Ms. Mason needs a nice beat-down for being such an ass.
Old 02-19-05, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by JustinS
Sounds like Ms. Mason needs a nice beat-down for being such an ass.
Sounds like Ms. Ross needs a nice beat-down for comparing herself to Rosa Parks D
Old 02-19-05, 07:04 PM
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Still no request for pics?
Old 02-19-05, 07:08 PM
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"lactivists"
Old 02-19-05, 07:15 PM
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Response on the "friends of the park" website, possibly written by Ms. Mason herself:

http://dufferinpark.ca/editor/editorarchive05.html

Breastfeeding at the rink
posted January 31, 2004

Contrary to the impression that some readers of this newsletter may have got from NOW Magazine [ed. read the article] or the dufferingrovefriends list serve recently, breastfeeding is (and always has been) as welcome at Dufferin Rink as breathing, talking, or any other basic human activity. For the record: Dufferin Rink is probably the most family and baby-friendly rink in Toronto. Where there are lots of babies, there are lots of babies being breastfed. Mothers can, and do, nurse their babies on the rocking chair by the rink wood stove, at the checkers table while playing a game with another child, out at the side of the rink while watching their family skate, during the farmers' market - anywhere, anytime. It's the rare mother who chooses to cover herself with a blanket while she's breastfeeding at the rink - why should she? She and her baby are part of the colourful quilt of all that goes on in the rink clubhouse, all that makes it beautiful. Often there's so much else going on, nobody notices the babies being fed anyway. And if a baby is very fussy or the rink house is too crowded, and a mother wants to withdraw into a quieter, more private place, there's a comfortable wicker chair in the sink area of the women's washroom. That sink area is also, incidentally, the cleanest part of the rink house. (Our park budget doesn't include a CUPE Local 416 janitor-cleaner, despite the very large numbers of people who come to the rink house every week. So the clubhouse section gets rather dusty.)

Once in a while, a breastfeeding mother exposes more of herself than usual, perhaps forgetting that she's not in her living room, but rather in a mixed-age/ mixed-gender/ mixed-culture/ mixed-income rink house. Jutta Mason recently asked a mother to cover up more of her upper body, as she was preparing to breastfeed just after Friday Night Supper. The mother was very unhappy about the request. She reported Jutta to the city councillor and to the Friends of Dufferin Grove Park, saying that her "comments constitute gender harrassment and are a violation of the Ontario Human Rights Code." This action started an e-mail flurry on the park list serve, spreading out to NOW Magazine and then being passed to several breastfeeding list-serve forums elsewhere in North America. Our local elected representative, Councillor Adam Giambrone, worked with the City of Toronto Parks Department and a Saskatchewan advocacy group called Breastfeeding News to create a city breastfeeding policy. The policy is very cutting-edge. It exempts breastfeeding mothers from any clothing restrictions whatsoever, and broadens parts of Human Rights Commissions "guidelines" (not yet tested in the courts) to interpret even the drawing of a privacy curtain near an unclothed mother as an unlawful interference in the delicate process of feeding a baby.
On the other hand, a respondent pointed out:

As you are probably aware, many American states have recently passed pro- breastfeeding laws that do not tell a mother how she must perform that act. Some make it a crime to interfere with breastfeeding of any sort. Strictly, Ontario needs no such laws, because it is legal for a woman to be completely barebreasted nearly any time, including in the rink should she wish, for no evident purpose at all. I refer you to the appeal of Jacob v. R., decided in the appellant's favour on December 9, 1996 in the Ontario Court of Appeal.

Women in general are unlikely to be able to breastfeed in the best way possible, which is however they freely choose to do so, as long as others lay claim to controlling those breasts. In addition, North American cultures would lose their obsession with the sexuality of women's breasts if children could observe them being used for the life-giving purpose they are designed for.
Old 02-19-05, 07:17 PM
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Originally Posted by movieking
Still no request for pics?
Well, here's a pic of Jutta Mason:



But this wasn't the one you wanted a pic of, was it?
Old 02-19-05, 08:10 PM
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I wonder if they'd let you squeeze some into your coffee in Starbucks?
Old 02-19-05, 09:30 PM
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I nursed both my boys at home, at the mall, pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Of course I was smart enough to inverst in some nursing shirts so I didn't flash anyone.

I only had a few people complain about my choice to nurse in public. I ususally threatened to squirt them with breast milk if they didn't get the fuck out of my face.
Old 02-19-05, 09:32 PM
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Originally Posted by D.Pham00
"lactivists"
W...T...F?!
Old 02-19-05, 10:55 PM
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I'm all for a women's right to breast feed in public and all,but one time I was at work talking to a lady about a TV set, you know going through the features, and she just whips out a boob for her baby as nonchalantly as could be. No excuse me or anything. Now don't get me wrong I am pro-tit, but I was so shocked I just turned around and walked away. BTW before anyone asks (you know someone will) she was nowhere near attractive, but I don't think my reaction would of changed if she were. I get a little creeped out over breast feeding, something I've always seen as a sexual object being used for nuturing just weirds me out. Besides it's not fair that that baby gets to suck a boob just cause he's a baby, and for me it takes so much work.
Old 02-20-05, 02:49 PM
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What ridiculous tit for tat.
Old 02-20-05, 04:30 PM
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Originally Posted by Kittydreamer
I nursed both my boys at home, at the mall, pretty much anywhere and everywhere. Of course I was smart enough to inverst in some nursing shirts so I didn't flash anyone.

I only had a few people complain about my choice to nurse in public. I ususally threatened to squirt them with breast milk if they didn't get the fuck out of my face.
Me too.
Old 02-20-05, 04:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Blotto
I get a little creeped out over breast feeding, something I've always seen as a sexual object being used for nuturing just weirds me out. Besides it's not fair that that baby gets to suck a boob just cause he's a baby, and for me it takes so much work.
I get a little creeped out by posts like this....when an object designed for and being used as an object for nurturing and feeding can't be separated from sexual connotations. It's a baby for god's sake. This country's moral compass is so out of whack it's mind-boggling....
Old 02-20-05, 04:45 PM
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Strictly, Ontario needs no such laws, because it is legal for a woman to be completely barebreasted nearly any time, including in the rink should she wish, for no evident purpose at all. I refer you to the appeal of Jacob v. R., decided in the appellant's favour on December 9, 1996 in the Ontario Court of Appeal.
This is what I was going to bring up. Breast feeding or not, women are allowed to be topless in public in Ontario. I'm assuming the park would be considered public property.
Old 02-20-05, 04:52 PM
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I didn't see any topless women in Toronto when I was there I guess next time I'll have to go in the summer
Old 02-20-05, 04:56 PM
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Based on what I've seen (or rather, haven't seen) it really is sad that few hot Ontario women take advantage of their freedoms. (maybe I gotta go to the beach?)
Old 02-20-05, 06:01 PM
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But but but....I thought those non-progressive thoughts only happen in America!!?!?!?
Old 02-20-05, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by Kittydreamer

I only had a few people complain about my choice to nurse in public. I ususally threatened to squirt them with breast milk if they didn't get the fuck out of my face.



I don't know what hotter, an angry chick with her tit out in public or an angry chick with her tit out in public offering milk facials.....
Old 02-20-05, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by JustinS
Well, here's a pic of Jutta Mason:



But this wasn't the one you wanted a pic of, was it?

Figures.....
Old 02-20-05, 06:54 PM
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Originally Posted by Blotto
I get a little creeped out over breast feeding, something I've always seen as a sexual object being used for nuturing just weirds me out. Besides it's not fair that that baby gets to suck a boob just cause he's a baby, and for me it takes so much work.
As a friend of mine said after his wife had their first child: "It's like my entertainment center was turned into a juice bar overhight, and I'm not invited."
Old 02-20-05, 06:57 PM
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Originally Posted by brizz
This country's moral compass is so out of whack it's mind-boggling....
No, this country's "moral compass" is just fine. It's the country's sense of humor that needs work.

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