Bill Maher: Boobies mine!

I didn’t catch Bill Maher’s “comic” tirade against breastfeeding the first time around, but thank goodness for YouTube.
You know, you have to love guys who really don’t want to think of breasts as anything other than sexual body parts for their own ogling. And I appreciate that there are a million frat boy jokes to be made at the idea of “boobs being sucked on!”, but come on now.
While Maher falls back on some predictable quips (“They say it’s natural–so is masturbating, but I generally don’t do that at Applebees!”) it’s the jokes-that-aren’t-jokes that are truly insulting.
“Look there’s no principle at work here other than being too lazy to either plan ahead or cover up…t’s not fighting for a right, it’s fighting for the spotlight.”
I don’t have a kid, so I’ll defer to Kelly Mills at Babble:

There he totally hit the nail on the head, didn’t he? I mean, I had no desire to actually get out of the house or anything when I ate in restaurants; I just wanted a little attention. In fact, that’s why I chose to feed my baby with my exposed tits in the first place. I mean, yes, it’s recommended by every doctor ever and it’s good for the kid, but of course that was secondary to my desire to have total strangers jump in my face and say, “Good job on the procreation!” Why, I know that when I walked into restaurants people looked thrilled to see me and my infant, and I’d hoist her onto my shoulders, whip out my boobs, and say, “Gimme some sugar, folks!”

This totally reminds me of a post Amanda did a while back on a column giving advice to married women to not breastfeed in front of their husbands (lest they be turned off by lactating):

The erotic nature of a wife’s body is one of the principal elements of attraction in marriage. When a husband ceases to see his wife as a woman, and begins to see her as “the mother of his children,� a negative trend has begun in his mind that can only subvert his erotic interest.

I have a feeling this is what’s at work with Maher and a lot of men who take issue with public breastfeeding. They resent that a woman’s public body–her exposed or partially exposed breast–could be there for someone other then them, for something other than sexual consumption. After all, if a woman is exposed in public it’s supposed to be because she’s flashing her tits for beads or taking money in a g-string–not for feeding babies. Because that’s unsexual, and therefore unacceptable.
UPDATE: By the way, we have a great piece from writer Sarah Thyre on this whole debacle after the jump. Check it out!


Don’t Suck My Tits, Bill Maher; Just Ignore Them, Thank You
By Sarah Thyre
I’m a fan of Real Time with Bill Maher. To my knowledge, there aren’t a lot of liberal-thinking, atheist talk show hosts on TV, so I stick with him. Friday night I watched the show and, as usual, enjoyed it. That is, up until Bill’s customary “New Rulesâ€? ending rant. He went on an anti-breastfeeding screed, telling women they shouldn’t be “too lazy to plan ahead” so they don’t have to breastfeed in public, that he’s not opposed to exposed tits in public as long as he’s paying for it, and tits and food “only go together at Hooters.â€?
Well, it made me so mad I yelled this at the TV:
“FUCK YOU, YOU FUCKING CHILDLESS FUCKER!!!!”
There’s a rather smarmy notion amongst the child-free: they think all us parents want them to pay attention to our children. No thank you, non-parents! Feel free to stop looking at me and my children! This attitude crosses party lines. That supposed bastion of liberalism, The New York Times, is one of the worst offenders: Bob Morris and Guy Trebay always writing about the tyranny of wailing infants on airplanes, etc. It all boils down to people being uncomfortable with neediness, and what’s more needy than a hungry baby? Well, guess what? That baby doesn’t need YOU, it needs me. So mind your own fucking business while I feed my child, creeps.
What Maher said is like male politicians telling women they can’t have abortions. I was surprised, because Bill’s always saying America needs to be more European and get over its puritanical shit. Hey Bill: not being able to see a boob outside of a sexual context is so American. Not being able to ignore a boob is so puritanical.
In the interests of full disclosure, I should mention that last Spring during my book tour, I was pre-interviewed to be a guest on Real Time. The show’s segment producer called me and we chatted for at least a half hour. She was a really nice lady. We ended up talking about motherhood and children and she said, “Well, Bill really doesn’t care about any of this.” And I said, “Yeah, I know.” They didn’t book me on the show, perhaps because I didn’t have a surprise conservative stance on anything (the producer kept asking if I did). I was actually relieved. I pictured myself cramming, walled in by stacks of the Wall Street Journal, National Review, and The Economist. I couldn’t pretend to be a policy wonk! Moreover, I didn’t want to be the dumb actor-type on the panel (you know who they are). I was happy to remain a viewer, to keep the show an enjoyable thing for myself. Sort the same reason I dropped out of a Masters’ program in Literary Theory: so I could stop deconstructing books, and simply read them.
I breastfed both of my babies when they were hungry, which could be every two hours, or every two minutes (so much for “planning ahead�). I did it in public, and neither of them was tolerant of a blanket over their head. Believe me, I tried covering up. I didn’t think whipping out a bare boob was an act of
civil disobedience. I didn’t enjoy people staring, or looking away red-faced, or muttering, or – sorry, sensitive guys! – being overly supportive. When my firstborn was three weeks’ old, on the subway in New York, the man sitting next to us asked me, “Tell me, are you breastfeeding him?� “Yes,� I answered. The dude leaned in close and panted, “Oh, how wonderful. It’s the best thing, you know.� I wasn’t breastfeeding my son right that minute, and there was something unnerving about his interest. I immediately wondered if he was the same guy who’d been calling up women all over Manhattan, asking if they were pregnant. If they said yes, he then attempted to initiate phone sex. It was the first indicator that men were going to have something to say about yet another thing – breastfeeding – that really has nothing to do with them.
A few months later, on a transcontinental flight with my son in my lap, nursing off and on – and not crying, by the way – the flight attendant completely ignored me. We were in first class, where usually they’re tempting you with all sorts of amuse-bouches and aperitifs, practically force-feeding you a three-course meal, topping you off with cookies and an ice cream sundae. I would’ve at least liked some
potable water, but in retrospect, perhaps I was lucky. Better to be ignored than be encouraged to dope my son with Benadryl, or have the flight attendant pulverizing some of his personal stash of Xanax and
sprinkling it on my nipples.
That flight brought me to Canada, where I lived for almost two months. I got spoiled there. The Canadian government protects a woman’s right to breastfeed, and areas are provided in public places to do so. Imagine: Canadians, more enlightened than we? Hmmmmmmm… gun control, anyone?
Like I said, I’m a fan. I watch Real Time religiously, if you’ll pardon the expression. I know Bill abhors traditional marriage and thinks having kids is an exercise in egotism. But, craving a cultural voice that somewhat approximates my own, I still watch his show. It’s an uneasy alliance, sort of like relying on Ted Kennedy to lead the fight for women’s rights in the Senate.
I watch enough to know that Bill’s always railing against junk food and the obesity epidemic in this country. Would it change his mind about breastfeeding to know that it’s a proven deterrent to obesity in both kids and adults? Them Canadians seemed pretty svelte to me.
Bill made a point of reminding mothers that making a baby isn’t anything special, because it’s “something a dog can do.� I watch enough Real Time to know Bill’s an animal rights’ activist, and on the board of PETA. Should animals stop nursing their young in public, too, lest their little canine and feline nips give the innocent beastiality practitioner an unwelcome stiffy?
I watch enough to know Bill enjoys himself a fine lady or two, or ten. What I think really gets Bill’s goat is the DE-sexualizing of the breast, for food purposes rather than titillation (I wonder if that word came from tit, or the other way around). Though he did equate breastfeeding with masturbating… Were that the case, I think you’d see a lot more women doing it.
Though I suppose it can be to some, I don’t think breastfeeding is particularly sexy. I accepted my husband’s saying so, even if I didn’t believe him. Breastfeeding’s a slavering, slurping, spraying thing. If I had my druthers, I would’ve done it in only the most sumptuous and private surroundings, preferably modeled after the inside of Jeannie’s bottle.
I’ve tolerated his snideness in the past, but this time, Bill stepped over the bottom line: breastfeeding sustains a baby, and a mother who’s nursing will stop at nothing to do it, nor should she. To suggest we do it for attention and praise is just astoundingly ignorant, and hints more at his own motives than ours.
Oh well. At least I’ve still got Howard Stern. He’s an atheist, supports gay rights, and is against the war in Iraq. Every once in a while, he’ll invite a female guest to strip naked and ride the Sybian, a real-life Orgasmatron. Howard’ll ogle her bouncing boobies, narrating for his radio audience the woman’s
journey toward a climax so earth-shattering she can barely walk afterwards. He also happens to be an outspoken supporter of breastfeeding. He’s enlightened enough to know the difference.
I’m a fan.
Sarah Thyre is an actor and the author of Dark at the Roots: A Memoir. Her website is www.sarahthyre.com.

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62 Comments

  1. Denelian
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 2:23 am | Permalink

    emjaybee: while everything that yoou are saying is true – the specific case that was quote (that you complained about, which is what got me to drop in) is an extreme case, where the wife refused to give any attention AT ALL – not just sex – to her husband. thats bound to screw up a marriage, and was one of the points.
    women are in that hard place right now – we know what we want, but the two goals (motherhood and equality in qork/politics/life) are so often in conflict, that most of us just sorta jump on anyone who says that its hard to do both and keep your marriage too.
    i was just pointing out that what you jumped on oenophile for was listing some of the negatives of breastfeeding. and while its wonderfully bonding and very very very good for the child, there ARE negatives – and not all of them are specifically social. heres one, that us poor people get; milk STAINS, you cant always get it out of you bras. and pumps HURT, if you wanna take time AWAY from the rappacious parasitical pooh maker (sorry, that was very tongue-in-cheek ;)
    i don’t care if a woman breastfeeds in public, other than a vague sorta “oh yeah, rub it in that i can’t” bit of feeling. on the OTHER hand – in places were it is illegal to go topless, i think no breastfeeding in public is fair (and smart – who wants to get arrested for indecent exposre, even if you cant see anything,erm, “naughty”), and places where you CAN be topless (like here in Columbus, OH) go for it

  2. Denelian
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 2:24 am | Permalink

    emjaybee: while everything that yoou are saying is true – the specific case that was quote (that you complained about, which is what got me to drop in) is an extreme case, where the wife refused to give any attention AT ALL – not just sex – to her husband. thats bound to screw up a marriage, and was one of the points.
    women are in that hard place right now – we know what we want, but the two goals (motherhood and equality in qork/politics/life) are so often in conflict, that most of us just sorta jump on anyone who says that its hard to do both and keep your marriage too.
    i was just pointing out that what you jumped on oenophile for was listing some of the negatives of breastfeeding. and while its wonderfully bonding and very very very good for the child, there ARE negatives – and not all of them are specifically social. heres one, that us poor people get; milk STAINS, you cant always get it out of you bras. and pumps HURT, if you wanna take time AWAY from the rappacious parasitical pooh maker (sorry, that was very tongue-in-cheek ;)
    i don’t care if a woman breastfeeds in public, other than a vague sorta “oh yeah, rub it in that i can’t” bit of feeling. on the OTHER hand – in places were it is illegal to go topless, i think no breastfeeding in public is fair (and smart – who wants to get arrested for indecent exposre, even if you cant see anything,erm, “naughty”), and places where you CAN be topless (like here in Columbus, OH) go for it

  3. Denelian
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 2:32 am | Permalink

    wow, how the hell did that post THREE times? some very nice mod, can we whittle it down to one post instead onf three? thanx!\
    ~Liz

  4. Seamus Begonia Smell
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 3:11 am | Permalink

    For you people who claim to be regular watchers, why do you act surprised?! There is not a show that goes by where he doesn’t proudly display his misogyny (which is why he’s a good fit for woman-hating HBO)! Did you really not notice it until an entire piece was focused on it?
    I criticized him on youtube awhile ago, but I had to delete my account because the misogynist commenters’ attacks were so vicious, and they started “following” me around the net via my old username.

  5. ShelbyWoo
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Denelian: i was just pointing out that what you jumped on oenophile for was listing some of the negatives of breastfeeding.
    Who was jumping on oenophile? I believe I am the only one that addressed oenophile’s post (emjaybee only addressed your post and did so politely, I might add). I did jump on the author of the column for making ridiculous assertions. I also pointed out that this is not a thread about bottle-feeding vs. breastfeeding. I’m sure they both have positives and negatives and there are plenty of blogs/threads to argue the benefits of one way over the other, but this isn’t one of them.
    This is about a woman being able to feed her child in the manner she has chosen at the time and place she needs/wants without backlash from misogynistic asshats. The points about the negatives of breastfeeding may indeed be valid; they are just not relevant to this post.

  6. AngryYoungFemme
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    Wow. This ‘daddy is jealous of baby’ thing is so ingrained in western culture that this is an ad for shaving cream, entitled “Fight for Kisses” that I found on youtube:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LuSBCIV1zuQ&feature=dir
    That this is an ad scares me. What the fuck? Babies and fathers have to fight in order to compete for Mommy’s attention?
    Let’s bet a man came up with this disturbing piece of marketing. Just…wow.

  7. flyinfur
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    “in places were it is illegal to go topless, i think no breastfeeding in public is fair (and smart – who wants to get arrested for indecent exposre, even if you cant see anything,erm, “naughty”), and places where you CAN be topless (like here in Columbus, OH) go for it”
    Oh, no. Breastfeeding is all about FEEDING BABIES, not “going topless”.

  8. Denelian
    Posted September 20, 2007 at 10:31 pm | Permalink

    ShelbyWoo – thank you, i had the wrong person :) and while you are correct, the negative issues of breastfeeding had little to do with Bill-y-boy and his stupid clip, i had actually gotten the impression [from the rest of the thread] that the discussion was also a bit more general.
    Flyinfur:
    i grant we live in a repressed, mysogonistic, totally fucked up country. people bitch all day that Britney Spears is now “fat” (at a what, size 4? with muscle?!?!?!) and i hear more about Condeleeza Rice’s BOOTS than about her political positions…
    and so on.
    the thing is, there is a line between “right” and “rights”. i dont always know where it goes. its damn blurry in way too many places. one the one had, you have the “rights” of an infant to feed, on the best thing (mother’s milk) in the best way (not suffocating). on the other hand, there is the “rights” of everyone around said infant to not be subjected to something they find offensive. and i don’t know any two people who think the same things are offensive. i personally don’t care if i see THIRTY women breastfeeding all at once – but i can see where others are coming from. and its all about dialogue, right? understand the “opponent”, and maybe a compromise is possible. i hear that women should be more than sex objects and mothers – and i agree! i am more than my uterus – but the argument over breastfeeding in public… look at it. women are arguing that they need to breastfeed everywhere. because we are MORE than just mothers, right? i think thats why i get very tongue-in-cheek about the whole thing

  9. bimama
    Posted August 3, 2008 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    I’m lucky to live in a state where nursing is legally protected and it’s illegal to interfere. When we make it moms responsibility to nurse ‘modestly’ we get gray fast. Is a blanket enough? What if kiddy is a bit of an exhibitionist? Is accidental exposure the same as going topless? (no)
    Nursing has health benefits for both, or rather formula has health detriments for both mom and baby. IQ, reduced risk of female cancers, etc. Putting public squeemishness above the welfare of the parties involved is inherently antichild and antiwoman. Nursing advocacy was actually my first feminist cause.
    Ill agree it aint no picnic. I went through over supply, under supply, milk blisters, thrush… About everything that could go wrong did but I fought like hell and gave my son 18 months of the food he was built for. That makes me rock in my book.
    Breasts – Not just for selling cars and beer anymore!

  10. Bee
    Posted August 3, 2008 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Amen. But please tell me you were just being sarcastic when you said “at least I still have Howard Stern.” Please?

  11. sparky17
    Posted August 7, 2009 at 3:40 pm | Permalink

    i agree with you totally :-)

  12. sparky17
    Posted August 9, 2009 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    is anyone else creeped out by the part with vanessa hudgens and britney spears? it seems like he thinks the teenage girl is hot for now while shes young and prepubecent-looking but as soon as she gets “old” and starts looking like a woman shes not attractive anymore. creepy old man.

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