"Thank you for calling Citizens Against Breast-Feeding, a grassroots organization that persuades women to abolish this incestuous act of immoral perversion. We are privately financed and therefore not seeking donations. However, you may wish to apply for a position with one of our field offices in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles, now hiring. If so please leave your name, address and phone number after the beep." Actual recorded phone message
THERE ARE places in the world where breastfeeding a child in public is as unremarkable as a stroll in the park or chatting with a friend; where people aren't discomfited by the sight of a bared breast being employed for its natural purpose.
America is not one of those places.
Though opinion is virtually unanimous among health professionals that breast milk is healthier for children than bottled milk or formulas, studies show that the majority of American women do not breastfeed their babies after leaving the hospital, even in the privacy of their homes. Public breast-feeding is rarer still. Many Americans admit that the very idea of it makes them nervous.
Advocacy groups are trying to change all this by educating the public and pushing for clarification of state laws to protect women's right to breastfeed when and where they choose. Though no states prohibit breastfeeding per se, some have laws that could be construed as limiting that right. The La Leche League notes that oftentimes women are told to leave public places like malls and libraries on the grounds that breastfeeding is "indecent." This is not only a violation of their rights, says the League, it's an absurdity.
Enter a group called "Citizens Against Breast-Feeding."
Self-proclaimed members of this organization were first seen outside the recent Republican National Convention, handing out leaflets advocating a total ban on breastfeeding, public and private. An email tract began circulating around that same time laying out the "philosophy" behind the proposed ban:
REPUBLICAN CONVENTION MUST BAN BREASTFEEDING NOW: Over 200,000 American citizens have signed a petition urging Congress to declare breastfeeding unlawful. This primitive ritual has and continues to be a violation of babies' civil rights. It's an incestuous relationship with mothers leading to moral decay. Women enjoy an erotic experience that imposes oral gratification on innocent infants after birth. Their reprehensible behavior teaches children illicit sex, subsequently manifesting addiction to promiscuity. Repbulicans: choose a candidate who supports our cause!
Tess Hennessy, Founder-Director
Citizens Against Breast-Feeding
P.O. Box 55741
Phoenix, AZ 85078
New York Office: (212)330-7675
Though some who read this leaflet dismissed it immediately as a put-on, others actually dialed the number to learn more and heard a recorded message which not only reeaffirmed the existence of the group but solicited campaign workers (for all we know, a few people may have even applied).
But it was, in fact, a prank.
David Mikkelson, half of the husband-and-wife team that runs the ever-popular Urban Legends Reference Pages, smelled a hoax right off the bat and confirmed it quite easily by establishing that the phone number in the message was associated with Alan Abel, a notorious hoaxer who once headed up a campaign demanding that all animals should wear clothing "for the sake of decency."
To anyone interested in campaigning for breastfeeding rights or just learning more about them, I commend About.com's Guide to Breastfeeding, Melissa Kotlen Nagin. She's the real thing.