The scantily dressed bikini model or the allure the latest agent provocateur commercial are deemed as sexy and accepted, but when a mother subtlety opens her shirt to feed a small human being, there are looks of shame and embarrassment.
So why doesn’t America love all boobs, all the time? This from the nation that leads the way in producing more porn and erotica than any country in the world!
Has the U.S. lost the breastfeeding instinct and is society playing a role in that?
Eva Contis is the writer and director of the upcoming movie “Breasts.” Contis, a film Editor for over ten years, based the film on some of her experiences as a mom trying to work with a 12-week-old baby.
According to National Institutes of Health (NIH) three-quarters of American women start out breastfeeding, but less than half continue the practice through the first six months. Many mothers cite social pressure being the reason they stopped.
“The character in the film is hit with a sexual harassment complaint after pumping milk while at work. It puts the character in the position that as a mother she has to do what’s best for corporate policy and not for her newborn. The film helps to reveal what working mothers go through, in many cases we are seen as a liability. A man can leave work early, and people will say ‘what a great dad’ a woman leaves and people say ‘there she goes again I told you we couldn’t count on her’ why are we still living these double standards?” says Contis.
While employers are not allowed to ask prying questions about a woman and kids the sad fact is that they are.
“There is still in 2017 a weird double standard when it comes to women and men in the workplace. Not many people are aware of the protection the Affordable Care Act (AFA) offers women who are pumping and breastfeeding in the workplace, we may soon lose that protection. That protection is a milestone for females. This film is about educating men and women on motherhood. As mothers, we are still explaining, apologizing and adjusting our lives to be parents. Any story or film that touches on breastfeeding is framed around humor, but it’s a reality, and we need to look at it in a dramatic sense that understands how extraordinary women are and how we can achieve so much. It’s not a weakness it’s strength! We are super human beings.” Adds Contis.
So do women need to adjust for parenting?
Contis adds, “There are two thoughts when you are a working mother that is exclusive to working woman– we think we are not good parents or good workers anymore. I was so used to excelling, and I couldn’t shine anymore, and I had to come to terms with as a mom I always felt like my job was at risk, which is why I became a freelancer. I went off on my own and did my own thing, as I was always concerned about my job. You need money to be a good parent, and so work comes before parenting sometimes. Sacrifices are made– someone else raises you kids, and I wasn’t able to breastfeed anymore, so I had to give my child formula, some sacrifices need to be made.”
Diana Jackson is co-producing the film along with “Walking Dead” Actress Kerry Cahill. Jackson says the message of the movie is simple. Mothers need more support as they make their way back into the workplace.
“We have a lot of work still to do as far as the movie is concerned, but we reached our fundraising goal so now we can shoot the film and send a strong message. It’s a timely topic in America; women need to vocalize what they need and be comfortable with speaking out as the head back into the workplace. There are so many grassroots campaigns that are currently underway and also some great things happening within the film industry that hopefully will lead to change. Cannes film festival came under scrutiny this year for not being more supportive of breastfeeding mothers. The film industry is a hard profession to go into when you had a child,” says Jackson.
Sadly, today’s formula is a convenience for mothers who work outside the home. According to the latest Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers, the labor force participation rate for mothers with infants is 57%, up from 53% in 2004. While federal law gives women a time and place to pump breast milk, work often makes it difficult.
“As a whole, most companies shy away from providing the right amount of time and space mothers need; they feel like they are pitted against co –workers just because they may require a few extra breaks for a mother to pump. I don’t think it’s financial for corporations. I believe that it’s a social issue. We lack in support and legislation. I love America, but if you look at other countries, you see how supportive and progressive they are. Now, some companies in America offer lots of support, but there are so many that don’t. I couldn’t figure out how to pump and work a 16 hour day it’s tough,” says Jackson.
Jackson adds, “Breastfeeding a child is the most natural thing a woman can do. This film is not about forcing women to breastfeed. That is a personal choice. The movie is about removing the stigma and the hurdles for working women who want to breastfeed. We want women to be supported in the workplace. We are okay with seeing breasts in a sexual way we are desensitized to that. So why do people recoil when they see mothers doing such a natural act? We have to start showing people what breasts are for – feeding. ”
While the number of women who chose to breastfeed varies significantly across age, race, and socio-economic reasons, the same issues arise in each category. Women are opting not to fight the work pump grind. Many employers make it difficult by not offering enough breaks or providing a private space according to a recent survey in USAtoday.com.
Jackson adds, “ I had to pump in bathrooms and my car, and we need to support these qualified women in the workforce, or we will lose more of them.”
“I am thrilled to bring this story to life,” says Kerry Cahill.
Cahill says this story and others like it is the reason she started her production company, to tell the stories many male producers weren’t telling.
“We talk about putting more women back to work and especially in the film industry we need to stop talking about it- we have to pull the trigger and do it! So that’s one of the reasons it’s so important to me- stories like this don’t get told because the women who write them don’t get in the room. I don’t expect the average 50-year-old man to write this story or realize the difficulties, although we have lots of male supporters for this project. I have been in 40 films, and women only directed the last 5 or 6. I want to produce purposefully, the fact that women still have to fight at work to pump at work is ridiculous- there is not a movie out there that tells this story,” says Kerry Cahill.
Cahill remembers a recent event that supports why this movie is so important to her. “We recently had a reading for the film, and one of the actresses said it was tough for her to make it as she had no one to look after her kids. I said– ‘bring them with you,’ it’s a safe environment they will have lots of adult supervision there is no cursing or violence in this movie, so this is a child-safe zone. This is the reason I want this story to be heard. There are times when there are not kid friendly places, but most environments can be adapted.”
“I do think society is changing I have noticed a lot more breastfeeding pods at airports. I think the people who are getting offended are just getting too much attention. It’s hard for me to understand people who get offended as I grew up with mothers and children and breastfeeding. People are happy with breasts on a hot 22 -year -old and its sexy but boobs breastfeeding is uncomfortable. We have become a sterile environment, and babies don’t always fit into that and society struggles with that. We are ok with extreme violence on nightly television people killing each other, and that is somehow more acceptable, but people are outraged with a woman who is breastfeeding.” adds Cahill.
“The best and most successful companies are making the right decisions and keeping great employees. It’s simple if you don’t treat your employees well –you lose them.”
So are the decisions made by employers and corporations social or financial?
” I think both. It’s so much easier now to have a flexible schedule people can work many jobs from home, but companies also have habits. Change is tough – they don’t think that way. ”
Cahill adds, “We are aiming to get the movie ready for release in October, and I am thrilled to be a part of this project.”
“Let’s stop shaming women for using boobs for the purpose they were designed for – feeding a child.” Says Contis.