Let me be clear, I am 100 percent an ally of any breastfeeding mom. I want mothers with hungry babies to have our respect, and a lovely place to breastfeed. Anyone who tries to shame or sexualize a woman trying to breastfeed in public is pretty much the worst. Most recently, a breastfeeding mom was kicked out of Bad Moms this weekend, and many people are rightfully pissed off. But I have to confess that I think the theater might have had a point.
According to the Fort Meyers News-Press, a Facebook group of about 50 moms got together for dinner and were all set for a 7:45 p.m. showing of Bad Moms when two of the mothers, both breastfeeding infants, were denied entry because of theater policy.
Bad Moms is rated R, meaning it's restricted for kids under 17, unless they're with a parent or guardian. But the theater, the Regal Belltower Stadium 20, has an additional policy that no children under 6 years old are allowed in a movie rated-R after 6:00 p.m., according to the News-Press.
So when Brooklyn Cahill and Juliana Valverde showed up with the group for Bad Moms with their babies, who were 4 weeks and 7 months old, they were denied entry and pointed to the latest Ice Age installment, the News-Press reported.
I spoke with one employee at the Fort Myers Regal Belltower Stadium 20 named Rene, who said he wasn't "allowed to give any information" about the incident at the theater and directed me to a media line that went straight to voicemail.
According to the report in the News-Press, the moms, after being told they weren't allowed in the movie, decided to sneak into Bad Moms with their babies, until the manager asked them to leave. Cahill told the paper:
They made me feel like a terrible person for bringing my child. I think that they have a right to have their rules for their theater, but I think it needs to be a little different with the age limit. Young babies are sleeping and being perfectly fine. If our babies are going to make a noise, we know how to handle this situation.
Making matters worse, as the manager was talking to Cahill and Valverde, they said once he realized Valverde was breastfeeding, he asked her to cover up.
"I am very modest about breastfeeding and, because of the fact I was doing it, I was even more embarrassed. I always have a blanket to cover," Valverde said, according to the News-Press.
No mother should be shamed like that for feeding a hungry baby. But I have to admit the idea of sitting through Bad Moms, billed as a raunchy comedy about motherhood, with a screaming baby in the background sounds horrible. There's a reason the theater has asked people not to bring small children to late-night, adult movies: they're disruptive. And even though both Cahill and Valverde argued they weren't bothering anyone, it sounds like the whole thing became a full-blown scene.
Then members of the group from Facebook noticed Valverde crying and more than 35 of them reportedly walked out of the movie and demanded a refund in protest, according to the News-Press.
Am I the only one who feels sorry for the moms who got babysitters, ponied up their hard earned money for a little grown-up comedy and a little time to themselves, and instead found themselves in the middle of this circus? Am I the only one who feels sorry for the poor theater employees who had to handle all these angry moms over a rule they themselves didn't make?
The women have now argued the theater needs to be more flexible. But maybe the moms should take their own advice. Yes, telling a breastfeeding mother to "cover up" is too far, but so is sneaking into a movie theater and breaking the rules..
For everyone's sake — moms especially — there need to be a few places that are just for adults. And although it's not ideal, that means breastfeeding moms might need to watch rated-R movies before 6 p.m. Because just as much as breastfeeding moms deserve respect, so do tired moms who just want to watch a dirty movie in peace.