Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Breast-feeding protest at West Asheville Denny's

At left: Breastfeeding mother Crystal Everitt of Asheville, asked by West Asheville Denny's restaurant manager to cover herself or feed her 1-year-old son in the bathroom. Everitt declined and quoted the North Carolina law, which protects the rights of mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location. Denny's responded by calling police. Photo from Mountain Xpress.

Nurse-in ends in standoff
Mountain Xpress
February 22, 2009
by Jason Sandford

A group of about 25 protesters, including several breastfeeding mothers and chanting supporters, held a nurse-in outside the Denny’s restaurant off Patton Avenue in West Asheville on Sunday afternoon.

Outside the restaurant, a Denny’s official apologized to organizer Crystal Everitt regarding an incident two weeks ago that sparked the protest, but Everitt said his statement wasn’t enough.

Everitt says she was in the restaurant two weeks ago breast-feeding her 1-year-old son when she was asked by the restaurant’s manager to cover herself or move to the bathroom. Everitt says she declined, citing state law, which protects the rights of mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location.

Rick Pate, regional director of operations for the Asheville Denny’s franchise, said Denny’s “responsibility as a family restaurant is to provide a nonoffensive environment for all of our valued guests. Obviously, if any behavior or any practice that happened two weeks ago while she was in the restaurant — specifically us asking her to cover up — offended her in any way, we’re sincerely sorry for that. We apologize for that,” Pate said.

“My goal today was today was to come out and speak to everyone that was here to protest, with a desire to have them come in my restaurant and have lunch with us today,” Pate said, adding that breast-feeding mothers are always welcome.

Everitt said Pate’s statement wasn’t good enough. She said that the statement, which matches a statement she received from Denny’s corporate office, leaves it up to the discretion of the restaurant to determine what is nonoffensive.

“They’re putting in a discretion clause, and they might as well not have a policy at all,” Everitt said, while standing outside the restaurant and nursing her child. “Who is it that determines if I’m being discreet or not? ‘Discreet’ should not even be in there.”

“Their policy is not in line with the law, so it’s absolutely not OK,” she said. “They need to guarantee that moms will not be harassed.”

Standing alongside Regent Drive off Patton Avenue in a bracing wind, the group of protesters held signs that read “Breast feeding is not shameful” and chanted, “Breastfeeding’s not a crime. Why won’t you let babies dine?
In South Carolina, they probably would have actually taken her to jail!

Video of protest-organizer Everitt:

Comments? Are you shocked by public breast-feeding, or do you consider such laws sexist, as I do? What are the breast-feeding laws in your state or area?


Annie said...

Right. Because breasts are for titillating men-exclusively. Otherwise they are obscene. Does anyone else see the complete stupidity in this? Wow. Another indication of how lost we are, here in the Western World.

Black Man F.l.u.f.f. said...

Dear Daisy,

Thanks for posting this. Though, I feel it should be known that Facebook has had a far greater protest against it for deleting breastfeeding photos of Facebook members and declaring them obscene. The Raging Grannies showed up there and there have been thousands of virtual protests about it. However, many mainstream feminist don't highlight that story because they have facebook account and promote facebook all over their blogs. (I don't know if you have one but if you do, I'm not saying that to be rude.)

Here is an article I wrote about it. http://aworldbeyondcapitalism.org/index.php?pr=worthypurpose

Mostly Test version here:

This is my first comment here but keep up the great work. You have great comments on other blogs. Thanks for the story on the guy being beaten by the officer.

Thanks for the comments you made about the bigotry at fetch my axe.


Love for the people,

Mama Moretti said...


Jason B. said...

*sigh* You'd think that people would have gotten a clue by now, but apparently not. We had to deal with this soft of BS all the time when my wife was breastfeeding: No, it's NOT OKAY for you to say she has to go to the bathroom to feed. No, she's NOT causing a disturbance, YOU ARE. No, we will NOT leave. You'd think some of the people had never seen a breastfeeding woman before. Then again, given the aggressive marketing efforts of the infant formula industry, many of them likely haven't. *eyeroll*

Sungold said...

Hi Daisy - Great post. I'm confused by your last statement, though: that you feel such laws are sexist. Do you mean the laws themselves are sexist (and if so I'd be very curious why)? Or do you mean that the *need* for such laws in the first place betrays how sexist our society is - how hung up we are on boobs?

Personally, I think women and men should both be able to go topless for any reason (and they shouldn't have to say why). But given that restaurants have a no-shirt no-shoes no-service policy, I imagine there would still be a need to protect breastfeeding rights, specifically.

JoJo said...

Facebook has been unilaterally deleting photos of moms breastfeeding their kids. So a couple of months ago, there was a protest and many people used those pics for their Profile Picture as a fuck you to Facebook.

LarryE said...

The thing that pisses me about things like this is that I am freaking sick to death of non-apology apologies.

Real apologies involve admission of error. If they don't admit error, they're not apologies, they're either evasions or justifications.

All this "We're sorry if we offended you" crap we see now translates to "It's a shame you have such delicate sensibilities, you wuss." It is not an apology.

What Denny's should have said was something more along the lines of "We should not have asked her to cover up. It was wrong of us. It was a mistake. We're sorry and we'll take steps to see this doesn't happen again."

That would be an apology. What she got instead was corporate bullshit.

shadocat said...

Oh for godsake! What do these people think breasts are FOR?

Years ago, when I was a new mom, I was shopping at a mall, and my baby got hungry. I looked for a more "private" place to nurse, but there was no place that wasn't filthy. So I went to the food court, and fed my baby. A mall cop approached me and had the audacity to ask me why I wasn't doing this in the bathroom. I replied, "It's her lunchtime. Would you eat YOUR LUNCH sitting on a dirty toilet? I don't think so!" And to his credit, he backed off.

VeRonda said...

Wow! It's amazing what people in authority positions focus on. Forget about the drug dealers at the middle schools. Hilarious.

DaisyDeadhead said...

Welcome -T- ! And Sungold, I am in agreement with you.

I think any law about covering breasts is sexist, since men are allowed to show theirs any time they want. Why are women forced to cover up, simply due to (mostly) male sexual desire? They don't have to cover up due to OUR desire, you know?

Lets you know exactly who is running everything. ;)

John Powers said...

My sisters were older so I got introduced to being around breast feeding while still a teen. It really puzzles me what people find offensive. It's certainly not women baring breasts in public, the geometry is all wrong. More than that, at least for me, is how my attention turns to the babies anyway. I know not everyone is like the song "Stay up Late" by Talking Heads, but there are lots of us.

Generally I think it's better for babies not to get jostled around too much. There are lots of challenges that come up with babies on the go. But babies and children are going to be in public settings sometimes and feeding them is surely not offensive!

Pennsylvania has a law which protects the freedom to breast feed--I think similar to SC law. It was first written as a right, but Republicans didn't like that language.

yellowdog granny said...

people are so dumb THEY should be sited for indecency..jeeeeez!
I think nursing is about as natural a thing a woman can do and there shouldn't even have to be a law to cover it..my lord ..you see more boobies in a victoria secret ad then a woman shows nursing...

Mongrel Pup said...

Buffy Sainte Marie breast fed her son in the 1970's on Sesame Street!! Of course she was covered. It was presented in such a normal and beautiful way. I'll never forget it. GO GIRL!!

sheila said...

I didn't breastfeed, I don't know the laws in Ohio. I'm not offended by it.

I briefly heard a blurb about this, but didn't know the extent of the story so thanks for posting it. Very very cool story.

white rabbit said...

Denny’s “responsibility as a family restaurant is to provide a nonoffensive environment for all of our valued guests"

Oh for goodness sake...

Who cares about breastfeeding n public places?

And what were the police supposed to do about it when summoned by the restaurant? I'm having a surreal image...

'Back off cop! I'm a desperate woman! I've got a nipple and I'm not afraid to use it...'

Okay - pedantically two...

Sungold said...

White Rabbit, I'm picturing the cop standing right in the stream of milk that would occasionally jet out when one of my babies popped off the breast, mid-slurp ... and getting squirted smack-dab in the face.

See, breastfeeding mamas *are* a serious danger to society!

white rabbit said...

Sungold - I was thinking that too...

They'd probably use some piece of terrorism legislation to prosecute the lactating mother in that case.

You appear to have some cherry tomatoes stuck to your forehead by the way...

antiprincess said...

wish I had a car. I'd come down and nurse at that Denny's. and I am really not discreet at all.

there's all manner of human body showing.

but isn't that preferable to hearing a baby scream blue murder?

I've nursed on a city bus, on the Las Vegas strip, here-there-and-everywhere. I'm almost disappointed that no one's tried to stop me.

Natalia said...

It's almost like women who are breastfeeding should not be out in public at all. You know, THEY have to stay indoors so people who have weird issues about boobs may feel better or whatever.

How about examining said issues about boobs? Why is that so hard? Why should other people's problems be placed on the shoulders of mothers?

I'm sad this happened in my home state.

Sugarmag said...

Hey Now Daisy, Nice post. It's also nice to see that your readers are so supportive of breastfeeding. I have a lot of experience with breastfeeding in public and no one ever gave me a hard time about it so I like to think that one reason why it is news when someone does give a mom a hard time is because it doesn't usually happen. I don't know if that's true or not but I think that the more people see mothers nursing in public the more people will think of it as normal. Breastfeeding is normal.

Someone somewhere said, "If breastfeeding disturbs you, please feel free to place a blanket over your head."

Gina said...

I'm a little late to comment, but I was so pissed about this, and yet it happens again and again. I wrote my own post about it, in which I pointed out that nearly bare, tanned, oiled breasts are EVERYWHERE. They are used to sell everything from magazines to clothes to cars to beer. And yet, used as they are intended, they are offensive.

my3tots said...

in SC they might have Tried to take her to jail but state legislature (code 65-5-40) states as long as woman and child have a right to be there they may breastfeed in any public place. Tho when I did it in public I covered up with a blanket for my own comfort or used a "feeding room" if it was provided. I totally agree that it's not an offensive act so long as mom is discreet when bring baby to and away from the nipple. just my opinion.m

Anonymous said...

the kid looks a little old to still be nursing.