If you are on Twitter and don't live under a rock, then you've probably seen http://www.minnesotajo.com/2010/08/what-not-to-do-during-world.html and the 'tweet heard around the world'. If you don't know what I'm talking about, click the links (in order) to see my original blog post and then the news story that accompanies it. (One of my tweets is quoted in the story. I won't lie - I squeeeeeeed when I saw that.)
Sadly, Brian the owner of The Double Shot has not redeemed himself. Instead, he went on the offense and basically said that we would not defend his rights to NOT have breastfeeding in his place and that we have no concern for any rights but our own. ("WE" being the breastfeeding moms of course.) He did say that he allows breastfeeding at The Double Shot but the message was likely lost in the shuffle of his other comments. (I'd like to make clear that I'm only seeing the part of his statement that the news station aired. I have no idea if there was more to the statement and if so what was said in the statement. If there was more I'd sure love to see it.)
I sent multiple tweets to him, basically begging him to try to make this right, giving him ideas on HOW to make it right and I even offered to buy and send him an International Breastfeeding Symbol sticker for his store window to show that he does not discriminate against breastfeeding but have yet to hear back.
In the course of this whole situation, I've had the opportunity to 'chat' via Twitter with some of his customers. They are staunch defenders of Brian as a person, assure me that he's NEVER refused service to someone who was breastfeeding and would not do so and let me know clearly that what he said was in jest and completely taken out of context. According to my sources, the woman who 'inspired' the tweets was in fact a regular customer and the whole situation was a joke. The offending tweets were said jokingly and directed at this regular (breastfeeding) customer. The customers/friends of Brian's shared their frustration with me that he's being painted as a horrible person when he doesn't deserve it. They also express frustration that only one side of the story is being heard.
I'm watching this unfold on Twitter and have been an active participant. I won't lie, I got pretty fired up. My LEGAL rights as a breastfeeding mother were potentially being denied and BY GOD I wasn't going to stand for it. I put up with too much crap in the way of dirty looks, being told that I can't 'do that here', being made to feel bad for only trying to do what was best for my children. I was not going to allow some jerk to tell moms that they couldn't do what they had a legal right to do to take care of their babies!
Brian became the representative of all of the people that made me feel uncomfortable. Brian became that grandma that made rude comments in the doctor's office waiting room when I was trying to nurse my newborn and feeling completely inept because I was still a rookie at it and the blanket kept slipping. Brian became the clerk at Babies R Us who asked her coworker loudly if I was 'allowed to do that' even though I made sure I stayed covered. Brian became the restaurant manager that asked that I go nurse in the restroom. Brian was the reason that I cried over and over because all I wanted to do was FEED MY BABY and it seemed that I was surrounded by people who thought it was inappropriate.
Unfortunately, I wasn't the only one. The lactivist mothers on Twitter went on high alert. Some have made valid points about the legality of his statements. Some have been respectful and have sent him links with information about breastfeeding and have tried to educate him. Unfortunately, a lot of the moms have gotten pretty out of hand. It seems it's always easier to let the claws out when you are in front of a computer screen.
My thought is this - I disagree STRONGLY with his statements. I am NOT defending his actions. Having said that, I will not be one of the ones who is hurling insults. I've done what I can do to educate. I've tried to help him understand how hard it is for nursing moms. I'm convinced that his views are based on truly just not being able to put himself in the position of someone who has gotten the crap that we have gotten as nursing mamas.
I truly hope that he's learned something from this situation and that he will treat breastfeeding moms with a little more respect in the future. If nothing else, he's learned that Twitter has a long reach and he will take care with the kind of jokes he makes.
If anyone sees this and chats with Brian on a regular basis, let him know that one nursing mama is willing to go to battle on his behalf. All he needs to do is acknowledge that he screwed up with the tweets. Sometimes (especially when dealing with women) the best thing a guy can do is apologize and just leave it at that. No excuses, no 'let me tell you why I'm right' - just an apology.
Probably wouldn't hurt to offer breastfeeding moms a discount for awhile either...