Breastfed in public today and I’m still trying to interpret all the social signals to see how appropriate it was. I went into a bar (usually frequented by girlfriends looking for boyfriends and vice versa, and the odd tourist group attracted by the terrace).
I sat in front of the TV, facing only the two bar women. I also covered myself up so no bit of breast was ever on show. However, I was aware this was unusual if nothing else. A young man came and sat down next to me afterwards without smiling once. Was this a classic Malagasy indirect way of saying that I shouldn’t be doing that? Or did he just want to look at the motor racing? So hard to tell.
Jean gulped when I told him but wouldn’t tell me it was actually wrong – not good though I’m guessing.
Malagasy women can be seen breastfeeding fairly often. I think a key difference is that women here take their children with them on errands a lot less than we do in England. The children are always left with someone else. And if women do have to be out of the house for a long time, they are usually relatively poor and selling either fruit from the market or bits of food by the side of the road. The other place I’ve seen it is outside the hospital when women are waiting all day if someone is sick.
So, maybe me breastfeeding in public doesn’t fit with my status as a white woman with a nice apartment not far away. And, from experience I’ve learnt that life is easier in Madagascar if my behaviours fit with people’s expectations of my status.