Chick-Fil-A, Breast-Feeding and A Whole-Lotta First-Amendment Bad-Assery

Zac - Breast Correspondent

Zac - Breast Correspondent

By: Zac Papantoniou

While en route to check-off another item on my epic list of neglected errands thrown to the wayside while studying for the state bar exam I just took, I happened to catch a story being discussed on a local talk-radio station (yes, I listen to talk radio while driving . . . obsessively). They mid-morning show (The Buckethead Show) on 104.1 FM happened to be discussing a story involving two subjects I take interest in . . . protesting and breasts. Apparently, around noon today, a “nurse-in” was going to be held at a Chick-Fil-A not far from where I was; what’s a “nurse-in,” you ask? Well, hell if I know, but the back story goes a little something like this:

This past Tuesday, while breastfeeding her 6-month-old baby inside the Chick-Fil-A on University Rd. and Forsyth (that’s in Winter Park, FL, for those folks not familiar with my current stomping grounds), 27-year old mom Chylain Krivensky was asked to cover up, by the store’s manager. Krivensky explained, “The manager came up and introduced herself and told me she believed in what I was doing, but asked me if I could cover up cause there were children around.” Already feeling humiliated by the request, Krivensky’s feelings worsened when the manager handed her a kitchen towel to put over the feeding baby’s head. “My thought was, no one would put a towel over their head to eat it’s the same thing with a blanket I don’t put a blanket over her head to eat, covering somebody up to eat is ludicrous,” Krivensky exclaimed (on this point alone, I completely disagree with the young mother; on more than one occasion I have been known to play a little game I like to call “Treasure Hunt,” which involves a box of lucky charms, a bottle of Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, and a giant “American Tail” comforter I’ve had since I was the age of five, complete with life-size renderings of Fievel Mousekewitz on it . . . I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination). Krivensky asked the people sitting around her table if they felt uncomfortable with the feeding, to which she received no replies in the affirmative. Quickly thereafter Krivensky left the Chick-Fil-A, went home, and told her online friends about her ordeal. After complaining to Chick-Fil-A’s corporate office, the group of women organized what they decided to call a “nurse-in,” to quietly protest the wrong they believed had been done to Krivensky. (source)

Krivensky, was in the right; Florida Statute 383.015(1) states:

The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values, and in furtherance of this goal . . . A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding. (source)

The First Amendment in action, babies and breast-feeding moms, what more could I ask for out of a lunch-time, first-person documented, Satyricon blog-post topic? I made a quick U-turn and proceeded to make my way to the Chick-Fil-A, so that I could be up-close and personal to what I thought was going to be the oddest protest these young eye’s had ever seen. I expected chanting women, screaming babies and a heated battle taking place, between frazzled moms on the receiving end of long nights spent awake created by the round-the-clock care needed to appease newborns and the cold-hearted fast-food corporate managers who always seem to have a psycho-analytical complex which can only be described as falling somewhere between the characteristics displayed between God and Napoleon Bonaparte . . . what I found upon my arrival at the Chick-Fil-A was anything but.

What occurred in my presence was a situation, rarely witnessed, when it comes to unhappy protestors and fast-food conglomerates; I saw the owner, managers, and employees of that Chick-Fil-A acknowledging that they were wrong and doing their darndest to turn a negative situation into a positive learning experience. Unbeknownst to me, after Krivensky complained to Chick-Fil-A’s corporate office, the same manager who offered her a kitchen towel on Tuesday invited her to fill the restaurant with mothers and babies this afternoon. “When I spoke with her yesterday she was mortified,” Krivensky said. “She had no idea there was a law. She’s the reason this has turned out so wonderful. It is not her fault that she was not educated about the law.” The manager said the idea to show support for breastfeeding came after the women complained. The manager and owner also offered to comp the women’s meals during the event, but most of the women did not accept.

The owner, managers and owner were walking around not only doing interviews with the local news stations, but also explaining the situation to other mystified patrons, who had no idea what was going on. I spoke to an Assistant Manager, while eating a delicious chicken sandwich, named Tonya who told me, “[we] were wrong, and we’re happy, to not only have been educated on the law, but to also be able to give these women a forum to express their fundamental rights. We’re now trying to do our best to educate all of our employees, working at this store, on the law.” This heart-warming moment was then cut short by a giant cow mascot handing out toys to kids, and other people needing Tonya’s attention. Tonya told me to have a nice day, and as I headed out the door, I smiled at the thought of at least one corporate store, who seems to be doing things right. That’s why, Chick-Fil-A on Goldenrod and University, in Winter Park, FL, gets my vote for “First-Amendment Bad-Ass of the Week.”

22 Responses to Chick-Fil-A, Breast-Feeding and A Whole-Lotta First-Amendment Bad-Assery

  1. Tatiana says:

    This is an awesome post, Zac! In Germany we had one woman in town who’d pull out her breasts everywhere. I recall my daughter was a bit perplexed and I told her to just get over it and get used to it. When one eliminates the whole freak out nipple thing as it’s apparently so sexual in nature, one can realize such a view is man made. The nipples weren’t meant for men or sex. They were meant for babies. Whatever happened after Mother Nature’s intent is man’s (and women’s) doing. Nice to see Chick-Fil-A hasn’t gone Facebook bonkers.

  2. [...] In this hour we discussed Famous Fat Guys, Ross’s Dapper Makeover, and An Incident at Chick-Fil-A. [...]

  3. Tamara says:

    I must admit, I was a bit apprehensive when I first saw your blog as to how you would interpret the “nurse-in”. As a breast-feeding mom, I’m constantly amazed at how uneducated people are when it comes to breastfeeding, and the rights that moms have to breastfeed.

    It is great to hear that the management and owners quickly educated themselves and made amends for the situation.

    Thank you for your impartial viewpoint. I always find it interesting to see how other people react.

  4. Was the delicious chicken sandwich really named Tonya?

  5. Rachel says:

    I applaud the actions of Chick-Fil-A to make amends to moms everywhere. I breastfeed my baby but I make sure I cover up. I’m sorry I have a friend who pops out her breasts for her kid to eat everywhere. I do not care to see her or any ones saggy boobs especially when I have just about to enjoy a meal.

  6. Carl says:

    Fascinating that a law is necessary for a woman to do a normal and natural thing, feed her baby in the way her body was made to perform the function. Perky breasts and nipples are welcome just about anywhere-popping out of blouses as cleavage, teasingly behind transparent garments, it’s just okay. But, let a woman choose to do the healthiest thing for her baby and we’re in an uproar. And let’s say that someone finds it offensive or doesn’t feel like eating because of it. Am I the only one who has been in a restaurant or at a dinner table where someone’s manner of eating has been disgusting, making me loose my appetite? While I may have been happy if I could have, I can’t imagine asking them to leave because I’m uncomfortable? Where do we live, in the USSR?

  7. jayzee says:

    Really, I am fully supportive of breast feeding, but to put a blanket or towel over your child while feeding is not asking alot or saying it is not a beautiful thing…just common courtesy.

    • My wife uses a cover, but really I don’t think women should have to. What’s “courteous” about it? The only reason it is deemed “courteous” is because erotophobes are so freaked out about tits.

    • Mark says:

      not a common courtesy to the baby. covering up teaches shame very early on. ain’t nothing to be ashamed of ladies. feed your babies.

      also, i’ve yet to see a breastfeeding woman who is less than discreet without a cover up.

  8. Jamie says:

    Breastfeeding is just as natural as the fat guy sitting next to me eating with his mouth wide open, but doesn’t anyone ask him to through a blanket over his face? No,we look the other way! Why can’t people do that when I am feeding my son? Because its a boob? I cover up out of courtesy for other people, but maybe people should stop staring at me out of courtesy for me, all I am doing is feeding my son!!! Women have been breastfeeding since the dawn of time, yet we can’t evolve to accept this fact of life, we just want to see it as a sexual thing. Maybe I should through a towel over your face!

  9. Thank you for the kind words, Tatiana and Tamara, they’re much appreciated.

    This began as a tough subject to cover (unbiasedly) because when I first heard the story over the radio, before heading over to the CFA, I was wondering the same thing that some commenters’ to this post seem to wonder . . . why didn’t Chylain just cover the baby’s head? Well, the reason she gave seemed logical but I, like many, was missing the bigger picture; the law in FL states that it’s unnecessary to do so, period.

    Now, I don’t have kids of my own, but I hope to someday (in the far future after I’ve paid off the law school loans, lol) and if my wife is comfortable enough to feed our kid in a public setting, and it’s allowed by law, then she should damn-well be able to without worrying about someone else’s fragile concept of morality and what constitutes perversion. That said, if someone is getting their jollies by watching this act, they can expect that an obstacle may notice this and wander into their line of sight (a 6’3″, 250 lb., obstacle with heavy hands and a good chin). But seriously, when I checked out the scene for myself, I realized that there was nothing the nursing moms’ would have been showing anyways, there is no visible amount of skin shown while breastfeeding, it’s covered by clothes and the babies mouth! So unless someone is really trying to see something, or mom is a bored exhibitionist with no intent of actually feeding her child and just wants to show off some post-baby skin, no one is seeing anything.

    Finally, to respond to Marc’s question; yes, the delicious chicken sandwich was named Tonya . . . I name all the food I’m about to put down my gullet with female names, this way I can feel sexy when I eat. I stick to female names, because I once named a steak I was about to eat “Joe” and that led me to wonder if by eating and enjoying the steak, I would be teased by my friends for loving “man-meat;” not that there’s anything wrong with that, but as you can tell from my writing “voice,” I have a fragile sexual ego . . .

  10. jfischer1975 says:

    If it was my restaurant, I would tell her to get out, which is perfectly permissible under the statute (i.e., exercise the right to refuse service, thereby removing her “authorization” to be there). There’s a time and place, and I’m no “erotophobe.” I like boobs as much as the next guy (probably more). Pissing is just as “important” or “basic,” but that doesn’t mean that it’s not rude for me to whip it out and water the bushes at McDonald’s. Breastfeeding in public is about as socially acceptable (to me, anyway) as having one public restroom to be shared by both men and women. Where’s the feminist movement to get that one done?

    • Lawminatrix says:

      McDonald’s (like every other restaurant and most stores) has public bathrooms, designed specifically so you can piss. These places do not provide sanitary nursing facilities for breastfeeding mothers to feed their babies. If they did, many women would use them, rather than endure stares and rude comments from the peanut gallery. And please don’t suggest that she take her baby into the germ-ridden, filthy restroom to feed him — unless you’re planning to plant your butt on the toilet, with your McShake on the TP dispenser, and down your Big Mac.

      And please keep in mind, you’re usually not seeing anything when a woman is breastfeeding except the back of the baby’s head and possibly an inch or two of tummy because her shirt is pulled up. It’s amazing to me that this is such a point of contention.

    • jfischer1975 says:

      Clarification: I’m not suggesting that women should have to feed their babies in the bathroom. I’m just pointing out that “pissing” is another “basic” and “important” function (using the language of the statute) that human beings engage in. No one wants to watch me piss while eating. I recognize that it would be rude to insist that people watch me piss while eating.

  11. David Schwartz says:

    What does this have to do with the first amendment?

  12. Chance says:

    The analogy jfischer draws between nursing and urinating is hardly applicable. Urine is waste, breastmilk is food. The bushes at McDonald’s are not where waste ought to go, but a baby’s mouth is where breastmilk ought to go.
    Babies do not operate on a set schedule. Either the baby gets fed, or it cries to its mother to indicate that it is hungry. To jfischer and all other critics of breastfeeding mothers, I want to pose one question to you: would you prefer a crying baby, a distraction that you cannot ignore, or a breastfeeding mother, a “distraction” that you have the choice to ignore?

  13. lookingforsomethingtofind says:

    If I am eating somewhere, I do not want to see some baby breast feeding. In fact, if it involves bodily fluids, or brandishing a body part that should be clothed, do it somewhere else. Also it is not the same as eating, the baby is sucking on someone breasts, not munching on a sandwich. Get over breast feeding is beautiful. Sex is great, but I don’t drop my trousers in a diner now do I. I got to the bathroom when I have to urinate. It also doesn’t seem very sanitary. Why not carry a baby bottle with you, so you can feed it, and not have the rest of us have to witness you infant sucking away. I would prefer a crying baby, I’m a New Yorker, I am used to loud noises, sirens, car alarms, crazy people yelling. I don’t want to have to ponder if that stain on the table is breast milk, or just some spilled coffee cream.

  14. charlene says:

    breastfeeding your babies is likely very helpful for the babies development..

  15. andrews says:

    ) I would prefer a crying baby, I’m
    ) a New Yorker
    Yeah, that explains a lot.

    • I don’t think that being a New Yorker has anything to do with it. There are plenty of well-adjusted New Yorkers. It probably has to do with you having a very screwed up mentality toward sexual matters or some kind of deep seated misogyny. Otherwise, I’m just not sure how a well adjusted person who wasn’t fucked up the ass by a priest, while looking at a picture of his mother, could possibly have a problem with a breast feeding baby.

      But, I’m no shrink, so maybe I’m wrong.

      • lookingforsomethingtofind says:

        I pointed out the New Yorker to say I am used to loud noise. No I was never fucked up the ass by a priest or anything or anyone else for that matter. Sexuality is not for public display, if that makes me a prude so be it. Neither is breast feeding. My attitude towards sex is appropriate, I never show public displays of affection, what you, my friend consider a healthy attitude is just being crude and uncivilized.

        I have no problem with breast feeding, only in public. The thought of human milk being on a surface that my plate and utensils are on is disgusting. Feed the child in the bathroom, or cover it up, I saw the towel solution as more than fair. In fact, I would kick someone out of any eatery if I was the manager for being shirtless.How does that have to do with sexism, all it has to do with is etiquette and cleanliness.

  16. [...] breastfeeding does not render one exempt to parking regulations (shame that)? Luckily there is no law against buying junk food whilst breastfeeding (or I’d have withered away to a mere stick many months ago). However, whilst breastfeeding at [...]

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