A Houston area mother, who says she felt “harassed” for nursing in the women’s department of a Webster Target, sparked a national Nurse-in. The event was scheduled to take place December 28, 2011, at 10 a.m. at Target stores across the country.
Michelle Hickman’s tale of harassment is hardly harrowing, even by her own account. As she told Best for Babes Foundation:
“I was Christmas shopping with a basket full of items when my infant woke up hungry, so I found a remote area of the store in the ladies clothing department close to the fitting rooms and sat Indian style on the floor next to my basket and a display of jeans and nursed my hungry baby with a blanket completely covering him. Briefly I will say that 2 female employees came and verbally asked me to move. The 2nd one told me that Target employees had been told/trained to interrupt nursing and to redirect mothers to the fitting rooms. Even after I informed the 2nd employee of my legal right to nurse in public she still suggested me moving closer to the jean display, turning to face another direction, and also turn my basket a certain way which would have put me practically underneath the jean display and totally barricaded me in. Employee #2 even hinted in a threatening way “you can get a ticket and be reported for indecent exposure” when nothing was being exposed and there was more boob showing from low cut shirts several shoppers were wearing that night. This does not include the other 3-4 employees besides the 2 verbal ones who were all watching and making a spectacle of my nursing by standing around pretending to do something and giving me mean looks and shaking their heads no back and forth. In a side note not a single non-employee customer ever saw the incident so I’m not sure why the employees were trying to act like I was offending “the public” and that it was their job to step in.”
So Hickman’s harassment consisted of employees attempting to help her be more discreet and giving her “mean” looks.
It is true the employees of Target could have treated her more graciously, but their behavior doesn’t to rise to the level of bullying. She was not forced to move into another area, she was not told she had to stop feeding her child and she certainly wasn’t escorted out of the store.
Most states and federal laws do allow women to breast feed in public, but what these nursing nags forget is that people also have the right to feel uncomfortable and react awkwardly when a woman pulls her breast out in public.
For someone who is so demanding that people be more understanding and accepting of what she’s doing, Hickman has shown a surprising lack of understanding and acceptance for people’s discomfort.