One side effect of America’s growing prosperity and economic efficiency over the years is that we have a lot more leisure time than ever before. “Since the mid-1960s, the amount of time that the typical American spends working fell by almost eight hours per week,” the Heritage Foundation reported in 2007, “while the time spent on leisure activities rose by just under seven hours per week.”
The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics shows a similar trend. They’ve only been tracking leisure time with the American Time Use Survey since 2003, but since that date through 2014 the number of daily hours Americans spend on leisure has increased by nearly 4 percent. In 2014 the American spent, on average, 5.3 hours on leisure time daily.
What are spending all that extra time on? Based on my observations, obsessing over outrages that are sometimes real but more often imagined.
Case in point, controversy over a mother who was asked politely by workers at a city pool in Moorhead to maybe use a towel or something to cover up while breastfeeding.
Kayla Heller is a 28 year old mother who tells the Fargo Forum that it “was wrong for a staff member to tell her to cover up” while breastfeeding at the pool.
Heller, a Moorhead resident, said she was outside the pool with her children and waiting to walk to her vehicle when a staff member came over and whispered: “When you come tomorrow, could you please cover up?”
For what it’s worth, breastfeeding in public is explicitly legal in both North Dakota and Minnesota and Moorhead city officials have already apologized for the incident. But that’s not stopping activists who are planning a protest that will feature over a dozen moms brazenly breastfeeding for anyone who cares to come take a look, making me wonder if at least part of the motivation here isn’t maybe exhibitionism:
Heller’s story, shared on social media by her friend, outraged many. Now a group of breastfeeding advocates are holding a nurse-in — a group of women breastfeeding in protest — at the Moorhead pool at 1 p.m. Friday. …
Kristen Dodds of Moorhead, a breastfeeding advocate who helped organize today’s nurse-in, said many in the U.S. have an “irrational” negative reaction to breast-feeding in public, while in other places around the world, such as Europe, nobody bats an eye.
Being told to cover up while breastfeeding is not only illegal, but also hurtful and humiliating, she said.
Heller said she breastfeeds because “it’s convenient, I like the bond that we have, it’s free, and it’s always there. It has a lot of uses.”
I should note here that I grew up with four sisters, all of whom have children who were breastfed. I also have two children of my own, with a third expected next month, and they have all been (or will be) breast fed. I have no “irrational” fear of breastfeeding. I’ve seen plenty of it. It doesn’t bother me. I think people who go fainting into the bushes because a mom is breastfeeding are a little silly.
But I don’t understand the outrage over a reasonable and polite request to use a towel when breastfeeding in public. It makes some people uncomfortable, and using a blanket or something to cover up isn’t unreasonable. Such a request is not a shaming of a breastfeeding woman. It’s not an insult. It’s just an appeal for some discretion and consideration.
That a polite request to cover up while breastfeeding would be met with outrage and staged protests is an illustration that many Americans are at a loss for constructive ways to spend their free time.
On a related note, check out the clearly staged photo of mother-and-baby outside of the pool the Forum is running. They’re trying to cast this woman as some brave freedom fighter, when really she’s just somebody who got indignant and self righteous when someone politely asked her to maybe be a little less brazen with her breasts in public.