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Whipping it Out

Not everyone is comfortable with breastfeeding in public. I understand people have varying degrees of exposure to the act and art of breastfeeding. I fully respect other viewpoints when they are made respectfully and thoughtfully.

However, I find myself bristling when I hear the following from people who are on the anti side of nursing in public:

~ Comparisons of breast milk to other bodily fluids or nursing to other bodily functions

~ Musings that breastfeeding is a private bonding moment too special/precious/sacred for the general public to witness

~ Directing mothers to “just pump” before they go out

~ Suggestions that the baby or toddler could eat in a bathroom or car

Recently at Twitter, I was happy to see @babysteph address one of my biggest pet-peeves about people who think nursing in public is shameful: The phrase whip boobs out.

I’m nursing for the eighth time around. Teddy is 11 months old. He gets 95% of his liquid nourishment directly from me. We are both happy.

I think he would have been scared off long ago if my breasts made a cracking noise when I unsnap the flap. You know, when I whip my boobs out. Imagine the possibilities! I could whip out the flames on cigarettes like in a sideshow circus act. I could swing across chasms, drive a team of oxen across the prairie pulling a schooner, tame a lion, pull people out of quicksand and snakepits.

See the scar on my chin? Wink wink.

There have been moms in big hurries to nurse because hungry babies scream. At that moment, the baby is her #1 concern. I promise you, her breast isn’t something she wields to make others uncomfortable, to shock, to flash around, or to cause scandal. It’s not like a man whipping it out to drunkenly pee on an alley wall or flash patrons of the library.

In fact, The Urban Dictionary has defined whipping it out as a distinctly rude, sexual, and aggressive. I contend it’s no accident that so many anti-breastfeeding folks like to use the phrase. The connotations are strong.

To chide nursing moms for whipping out their breasts is to equate them with exhibitionists. It suggests callous disregard and a lack of care.

It’s simply untrue.

I quickly gathered a sample of stupid (and graphic) comments that bemoan moms with mammary whips:

Drape yourself…period. I’ve been in public places and seen women casually drape themselves, and suckle their infants and for the most part, no one complains. It’s when you whip out an engorged tit in full view of the public that people get pissed off.

Mombies: it might seem “completely natural” to you to feed your child in public, but many of us see it as your free-reign to whip out your boob in public.

(How charming to be called a Mombie. My Mombie impression, “I’m going to eat your Ar-cher Farms Tof-fee Scooonnnes! I’m going to eat your scooonnes!”)


Like someone else said, peeing is also natural, but people would FREAK if someone did that in public. And a man is perfectly capable of whipping it out and peeing without it being seen…

I think breast feeding babies is wonderful, but at the same time, I get disqusted when someone whips their breast out in a public place to feed their baby. I think breast feeding needs to be done privately with a coverlet so we are not all looking at the boobs. My daughter in law whipped her boob out at a public pool. For crying out loud, if she thinks its that wonderful, then why even wear a bikini top to the pool. Let it all hang out sister!! No point in any of us wearing a shirt or bra.

The arguement that’ it’s natural is no arguement (sic). Urinating is natural, sometimes you have to go NOW but we don’t urinate in public. I’ve had women sit at my desk in a public office and whip out their boob to start breastfeed­ing. I’m sure my face was horror stricken.

Horror stricken?!

There are efforts to turn “whip it out” into a positive. It can be a rallying cry for some breastfeeding moms. An Alaska mom hopes to raise awareness of breastfeeding rights though her Whip it Out campaign. She collected photos of nursing moms and created an exhibit in memory of her son, who died at the age of 14 months. She hopes her collection of photos will encourage moms to be proud of nursing and will educate the public about what nursing looks like.

Some breastfeeding moms use the phrase as well, usually as they share stories of frantic babies and how they were calmed in 1.7 seconds thanks to skilled whippage. Here’s where I fully admit my hypocrisy: This is okay, but still not my favorite way to express how fast a mom got babe to breast. The context of the situation, the authority of the speaker as an actual breastfeeding mom, and the sometimes-comical scenarios we find ourselves in as nursing moms take the bite out of the phrase. A bit.

When breastfeeding moms use whip it out it isn’t wielded to shame, describe horror, disgust, or exhibitionism. However, I think it’s best to avoid propagating the idea lactating women are thoughtlessly crude show-offs with zero regard for other people’s sensibilities. When Teddy is hungry, he’s my #1 concern. I’m not whipping anything out but my smile. Or my brain, if it’s in the middle of the night and I was just dreaming about toffee scones.


What do you think? Are you a whipper? I still puffy-heart my pals who admit to whip. I’m a popper, as in “I popped the baby on…”

13 comments to Whipping it Out

  • jenni

    I TOTALLY AGREE. My own brother, who claims to support breastfeeding, uses the even WORSE term “FLOP it out” when he is deriding women who do not cover it up. To make it 1000 times more hypocritical, he is a boob man who never misses an opportunity to laud the mammary glands as long as they are being flaunted for men’s eyes only. Ugh.

  • Until reading this whipping it out had never really phased me, either way. It was always just an expression that I paid little attention to. But I think you are right. So right. Saying that a mom whipped her breast out to feed her baby is sort of demeaning and does make it seem rude. There is nothing rude about breast feeding, just as there is nothing rude about feeding your baby with a spoon or bottle.

  • Well said, my dear. VERY well said.

  • I hate the expression! And honestly in all my years of scrambling to feed a hungry baby, I still quietly and gently got them latched on somehow. It’s crazy how nature manages to work itself out. If only some of the naysayers would take a pause and consider… and have mercy.


  • Amy

    What’s saddest about this whole discussion is that it seems that those who would deride breastfeeding are men who would prefer that breasts be preserved for a man’s sexual pleasure ONLY, and women who have been long taught to be uncomfortable in their own skin. I could easily climb up onto my soapbox right now to rant about all the unhealthy ways women have learned to misuse, abuse, and perceive their own bodies, but it’s just too hot today to be that angry. 🙂

  • edj

    I simply can not understand why breastfeeding offends people. Even if you do “whip it out” who cares? Why do we have mammary glands? Do we care about future human beings? Why aren’t people just as upset, more upset, about the tackiness of many magazine covers that are ostentatiously displayed at each and every supermarket?? GRRRR. This makes me spitting mad!

    However, I will say that all American women I know, including myself, are very subtle breastfeeders. I found it less noticable to not use a blanket, but instead to drape myself with my tshirt up to the baby’s head. I am currently teaching an ESL class of Iraqi women. We have childcare in the same building and we can’t get through a two-hour class without a screaming baby (let me add, an adorable but very sad baby) being brought in. The mom is not what I would call subtle, but no one is bothered. Everyone is happy that the baby is being fed, having her needs met, etc. I lived overseas and I noticed that people there have managed to hold on to the fact that breasts are created for breastfeeding, and no one is worried at the occasional glimpse–even in strict Muslim countries! And yet our freedom-loving individualistic society has fits about possible seeing a nipple that isn’t on a Hollywood star? Whatever. I’m disgusted.

  • Amen.

    And as someone currently breastfeeding and ravenous most of the time, I think I may need to stumble out in search of some toffee scones…

  • So true – and I agree about the phrase – largely used by people uncomfortable with the concept. Most Moms don’t really have a deep desire to expose themselves, but seriously how many of them really do? Most nursing Moms I know are pretty demure about using a coverlet – but it’s also sometimes to hot or a lot or practical things like that.

  • I was never coordinated or smooth enough to “whip it out.” I needed a cover when I nursed a baby because I was terrible at being discreet. The cover was for MY comfort though, not anyone else’s. I agree that the phrase is unsavory and it makes nursing seem like a combative exercise. Thanks for writing this post.

  • Natalie

    I hate how negatively people view breastfeeding! I’m currently, yes right at this minute, breastfeeding my 4 1/2 month old daughter. She’s my third and I love breastfeeding! I’ll admit I do cover up for my own comfort, but I’m certainly not offended by those who don’t. People who are offended need to learn not to stare, that would surly improve their comfort level. And all those comparisons and phrases people use are crude, not the act they’re meaning to belittle.

  • Jamie

    I loathe the phrase. I have never in my life seen someone “whip it out” to nurse. I finally realized that to the general public, “whip it out” is analogous to “breastfeeding.” Anyone who breastfeeds is “whipping it out.” It’s the dumbest thing to equate the two.

  • I really enjoyed this post. I might even have used the phrase “whip it out” before in reference to myself, but i never really thought about its sexual connotations. So no more!! And those quotes you got from the internet!! I mean – to compare public breastfeeding to urinating in public! That’s insane.

    I preferred to cover up in public, but more for my comfort. Anyway….excellent thoughts. I wish more people understood how beneficial breastfeeding is for babies. Not that there is anything wrong with formula, but there are so many reasons to breastfeed – and why should moms have to stay quarantined inside the house??

  • This is one of the most brilliant posts I’ve ever read. Love, love, love.

    I agree with Elizabeth. Does everyone who gets raving mad about catching a glimpse of fresh get just as mad at the magazine covers at the check-out stand? There is such a double-standard.

    As for me, I worshiped when I breastfed my babies. I was acutely aware that this is what I was made to do, this is how God designed it. He does all things well.

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