Yes, that is a nipple on top of the truck, and no, it DOES need to be there. The nipple truck- also known as The Milk Truck is a brand new feature in Pittsburgh, where it’s part feminist protest, part art installation. The premise is shockingly simple- it’s a rescue van for women in a breastfeeding crisis. Though it’s not something I’ve experienced firsthand, I imagine that breastfeeding can be pretty awkward out and about. Do you want to get your jubblies out in front of everyone- or should you use the sketchy bathroom to feed your babe? Add to that, a general lack of understanding of compassion about why a woman breastfeeds (E.g. ‘can’t she wait till she’s at home? Answer:NO) and it’s clear we need to re-educate people.
This is the modus operandi behind the Milk Truck- sick of getting stares in restaurants or ordered to the bathroom by the managers, the Milk Truck makes an in your face statement (hence the giant nipple) about breastfeeding, as well as give women a sheltered area to for their business.
To contact the truck, you simply summon the Milk Truck (you can call them by Twitter if you wish), they rock up with the neon nipple flashing, you get in and have your baby time and then you wave goodbye. During this time the restaurant owner will become very aware of the scene they have helped create by asking you to go to the bathroom/ cover up and will no doubt be less inclined to ask somebody to do so next time due to the scene.
Carnegie Mellon University art professor Jill Miller (the brains behind the project) says, ‘We are using The Milk Truck to start a conversation in our community about a basic human right: feeding a baby.When a woman finds herself in a situation where she is discouraged, harassed, or unwelcome to breastfeed her baby in public, she summons The Milk Truck. The truck arrives to the location of the woman in need and provides her with a shelter for feeding her baby. The woman feeds her child, the shopkeeper who harassed her feels like a dweeb, and the truck does what it does best – creates a spectacle.’
The Milk Truck launched on the 17th Sept 2011 as part of the Pittsburgh Biennial at the Andy Warhol Museum, where it’s featured till December 10th. During the time it’s there it will make stops around the city and also appear at community events to offer women a refuge. Plans are to ideally keep this project going (if funding continues) and make some noise about the breastfeeding issue.
‘Picture this‘, Jill says. ‘A woman in a restaurant is nursing her baby at a dining table. Restaurant management ask her to stop creating a spectacle and use the bathroom for nursing, or leave the restaurant. The mother is in a dilemma – she simply wants to feed her baby in the same space where she is eating her food. Who wants to eat lunch in a bathroom? Not her baby! And she shouldn’t have to. The woman tweets to The Milk Truck her location and situational information. The Milk Truck posts the information to Facebook, Twitter, and The Milk Truck’s website. The Milk Truck (and supporters) arrive to the restaurant location, park in front of the establishment, and set up the mobile breastfeeding unit. The woman feeds her baby in the comfort of the truck’s cozy chairs and shaded canopy, and the restaurant owner is left to ponder the sense of making a woman feel uncomfortable for doing something as simple as feeding her baby. Thought the nursing mother created a spectacle? Meet the Milk Truck!’
Here Jill Miller elaborates on the concept in video format
In this manner the Milk Truck manages to combine its action packed social itinerary with some guerilla theatre action-and the odd bit of humour. They also support those who choose NOT to manually breastfeed- offering ‘Pump Routes’, so women can pump milk at work.
It’s a fun lighthearted way of humanizing a serious issue and it’s lovely to see people tackle breastfeeding with such a friendly approach, as often advocates can get a little scary. What The Milk Truck stands for is the right for a woman to have somewhere comfortable to feed her child and whether this is restaurants creating special feeding areas, adapting to the sight of a baby on a boob, or even 100 more Milk Trucks- who knows? It gets people thinking about the issue, and that’s as much as we can hope for as a beginning.
[Via the Trendy Girl]