Watch out, Target! The mamas are coming for you.

In the last 24 hours, I’ve received Facebook invitations to *more than 40* nurse-in events all taking place simultaneously tomorrow at Target stores across the country.  What did Target do to gain the wrath of the mama-sphere, you ask?

From an online group about the incident that started it all:

Recently a mama was nursing her babe in a local Houston area Target. When she was asked to move to a private location, she refused, and was harassed and humiliated by three separate employees. She then called Target’s corporate customer service number and was told by a representative, and then her supervisor that they were aware of the laws, but …that just because something is lawful doesn’t mean its acceptable in their store.

Let’s show them just how many mamas they’ve offended. We have a right to shop and meet our babies’ needs while doing so. Public humiliation for doing so will not be tolerated.

These lactivists have called for an international nurse-in event today at Target stores around the globe.  So if you’re near a Target, grab your babe and head on over for a snack.  And if you’re not lactating, grab a doll and pretend.

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7 responses to “Watch out, Target! The mamas are coming for you.

  1. I just googled “Target Nurse-In Minneapolis” to see if there was anything going on in my neck of the woods (and home to Target’s corp. hq). I found this five year old article about a similar incident: http://thelactivist.blogspot.com/2006/06/target-makes-public-statement-on.html

    So, apparently they have a well-defined corporate policy. Is that being discussed by folks doing this action? Obviously, a policy isn’t useful if it’s ignored, but… Since Target already has the policy it seems like the focus should be on asking them to better define it and include it in their trainings, yes?

  2. I agree. Target has said over and over again that they support breastfeeding and that it is allowed in their stores. With over 2000 stores and hundreds of employees at each store, there is bound to be times where the training does not get through. This is not okay. But, the lactivist community lashes out with an all out internet-campaign against Target and I don’t think that is right either. I am appalled at the lack of integrity of many blogs and sites that have done absolutely no follow-up or research on this story. We are to take this woman’s word and then not listen to anything Target has been saying.

    I am all about breastfeeding and nursing in public, but I can’t get on board with this one.

  3. @NickeyRobo Yes’m! Folks on the FB organizing group organizing are definitely aware of Target’s pro-breastfeeding corporate policy. The issue, I think, is exactly what you said–what good is a policy if it’s being ignored? According to the original mama’s complaint, she encountered 5 separate Target employees who disregarded the official policy.

    @Renae There’s no lack of research here–I don’t see this nurse-in campaign as aimed at Target’s corporate structure, but rather at the actual people working inside Target stores. The point of a nurse-in is to make the physical act of breastfeeding visible to people, and in this case those people are the store staff rather than the policy-makers.

    When I dealt with a similar situation here locally (http://blog.cuntastic.org/2011/09/20/how-we-went-from-go-nurse-in-the-bathroom-to-major-media-coverage-policy-change/) our noisy response made every Parks & Rec Department employee aware of Colorado state law. So while Target may have a policy, their employees are either (A) not aware of it or (B) haven’t been given the impression that’s it’s important to abide by. Hopefully they’ll have that understanding after today. At the very least, a mama or two may become empowered to breastfeed in public by seeing or participating in this event.

    At the same time, I also see how this has been more of a viral-event rather than an intentional campaign with a clear message. The FB organizing group has mostly been a string of event planning dialogue, rather than a discourse on goals and how to achieve them.

  4. Hmm, wouldn’t it be more useful to target (har har) the corporate structure, and ask them to clarify and strengthen their policy? (i.e. All employees must undergo training on the breastfeeding policy and those who intimidate or harass patrons are subject to disciplinary action.) Target is a retail business and has a high rate of turnover, so while the current employees will now be aware of the policy (which is great!), I fear this won’t have any long term benefit when there is a whole new crew within a year or two.

  5. I work at a Target store. All employees are trained in this, as well as how to deal with service animals, guests with disabilities, etc… The problem seems to be particular stores or employees who most likely just never deal with this and don’t remember the policy. If you go to Target’s facebook page, they will answer any questions on the policy. Do you remember every policy that you were trained in during orientation?

    The articles are mostly incorrect because they use old quotes from different scenarios and piece together what they think Target’s policy is, rather than going to Target in 2011, and asking.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think Nurse-ins can be a great way to normalize public breastfeeding, but what bothers me is the anger and the blindly following the lactivist leader mentality. I am a big fan of cooperative problem-solving, and it seems that most of this information is one-sided and frankly, a little hard for me to believe.

  6. proudbreastfeedingmama

    From what I have read, the original story has changed many times. I can’t quite follow what really happened because there are so many accounts of the original story. If mama and baby were wronged, then PLEASE stand up for yourself! But in the same manner, PLEASE don’t blow something up in the name of breastfeeding.

  7. A really good answer, full of raotinaltiy!

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