I don't watch The View, and I don't know much about the people who do, but I can't imagine they've got many breastfeeding moms tuning in. That's because every now and then, the women at that televised table say something not just closed-minded but also degrading toward their fellow females — particularly about their discomfort with public nursing.
A while back, they caused a stir for imploring women who openly breastfeed to wear "hooter hiders" (Elisabeth Hasselbeck's words, not mine) and that celebrities like Beyoncé should "think twice" about drawing attention to themselves by nursing in public because of men who "sexualize" their bodies.
I wasn't yet a mom when those controversial segments made their way to my news feed, so I let the woman-on-woman shaming go with the understanding that it was just these particular people's opinions. Sherri Shepherd and Whoopi Goldberg and Joy Behar had a right to be uncomfortable with public breastfeeding. Sure, it was somewhat strange that they broadcasted their thoughts on the matter so frequently on daytime TV, but they nonetheless had every right to do so.
This morning, I heard that the cohosts of The View were at it again, discussing a "hot topic" in which two moms helped to nurse each other's babies. I normally wouldn't have given it much thought, but now that I am a mom, I felt a bit defensive. I watched the segment.
Of course, they all seemed to find the concept of wet nursing absolutely insane and they all managed to tangentially steer the conversation toward their personal grievances with breastfeeding, but that's not what struck me.
What caught me off guard was what Whoopi Goldberg said:
"If they're old enough to have teeth, they should not be breastfeeding."
Now, I'm not a militant Le Leche League member. I've very rarely been spotted nursing in public, and I'll be the first to admit to doing a double-take when I see a grade-schooler in the act of breastfeeding. And although I don't love how one of the cohosts kept calling it "booby milk," I support that it's her choice to do so.
But Whoopi's statement — followed by applause and a defiant "Good God!" — wasn't a joke I could brush aside. It wasn't an opinion, because opinions denote that there's a lack of certainty on the matter. Hers was a proclamation, even if off-the-cuff, even if granular, and it was a bold-faced lie, right on national television.
Considering some babies get their first teeth as early as three months of age and that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that babies be exclusively breastfed for the first six months of life, Whoopi's flippant words were not just patently wrong, they were dangerous.
Again, I don't know much about The View's audience, but if they were to actually listen to these cohosts (save for Paula Faris, the only one who seemed to consider breastfeeding to be perfectly normal), they'd be making a decision based on someone else's ignorance or — worse — based on a false fact disguised as someone else's "opinion."
If a woman chooses not to breastfeed, or can't for a host of perfectly understandable reasons, it's her choice and it's very likely the right one for her and her family. But if she happened to tune in to this week's episode of The View and believed those arrogant, high-paid hosts had something meaningful to say about what she should and shouldn't do with her body or her baby, that's a true loss.