a weekly briefing on the mother tongue
Stanley Siegelman returns to the Forward with his inimitable genius in choice of subject matter, and his sparkling sense of humor. He calls his bundle of fun a “booby” mayse. As an introduction to this poem, he notes: “Mothers are campaigning nationwide for the right to breast-feed their babies in public. The movement has been dubbed ‘lactivism.’ To date, some six states have passed laws giving them that right. Recently some 200 women protesters staged a public “nurse-in” outside NBC’s New York City headquarters after TV commentator Barbara Walters made remarks on her show that disparaged public breast-feeding.
A Booby Mayse
Yetst mir hobn nokh an “ism”
Herst? Es ruft zikh Lactivism.
Vayber viln beybis“nursin”
In di gasn — yo! In droysn
Mit geshrey un mit “hurrah”
Nemen zey avek dem bra
Far der gantser velt in d’oygn
Bavayzn zey vi tsu zoygn
Dos bay zey iz demokratish
(Nor iz es oykh gants balebatish?)
In gas, zey geyen on a stanik —
Aza geshrey! Gevalt! A “panic”
Kukt nor on di balabuste
Vi zi vayst ir nakete brust, eh!
Hobn mir shoyn itst fargesn
Vi m’git a beybi esn?
Nit shemevdik iz zeyr “protest”
“Di beste milkh kumt funem “breast”
Mener take, hobn kheyshek
Kukndik oyf vayber fleyshik
Milkhiks ober, iz di zakh
Vos meynt tsu ale layt a sakh.
Here is the English version.
Is this the new fanaticism?
Something known as “lactivism?”
Women who without ado
Are nursing kids in public view?
They doff their bras and then assay
To feed their children nature’s way.
Does giving succor in this mode
Defy a standard moral code?
Their “lactivism” wives contend
Must vapid modesty transcend
They cherish their inherent right
To nourish babes whene’er they might
And why should folks express disgust
At such exposure of the bust?
Perhaps they’re just mean spirited
Disliking tots and how they’re fed
Proactively the moms protest
And promptly beat and bare the breast
(Men folk, it’s true, all think romance
Resides in that protuberance)
Around the moms let’s coalesce
And wish ’em luck and much suck-cess.