The battle between breast-feeding “emporium” The Upper Breast Side and the once man-only “lodge”-cum-apartment building the Pythian is too perfect. The store, which sells pumps and outfits for new mothers and houses a unified safe space, charged its building owners with discrimination after they complained about an open door. The big brass gateway into the land of motherhood, owner Felina Rakoswki-Gallagher told the New York State Division of Human Rights, “was too heavy for pregnant women and stroller-pushing mothers to open safely.” And now it’s war!
The store’s owner calls it a “community facility,” which is more than a place for capitalism in her mind, while her landlords argue that it’s just a store:
“Your use of the unit is not permitted under the building’s certificate of occupancy, which authorizes only ‘doctors offices’ on the first floor,” reads a letter from the board’s president, Laura Hartstein. “The building is located within the R8B zoning district, a residential district, in which commercial/retail uses are not permitted.”
But since the state ruled that there was “sufficient evidence” to back Breast Side’s discrimination complaint, the whole thing will play out in public at a March 23 “settlement conference.”
The board of the building also does not like when the owner’s daughter draws on the chalk with sidewalk or the plant Rakoswki-Gallagher put out front. The nerve!
We’re totally into the drama, though, so we won’t even question the Times making a leap and declaring that “another front has opened in the breast-feeding wars, in which some stores and institutions have asked women to refrain from nursing publicly — only to suffer a backlash from a powerful consumer demographic — and in which some women have wondered whether the social pressure to breast-feed has become excessive.”
“Breast-feeding is, in general, enjoying a renaissance,” the newspaper argues.
But the problem for the Breast Side is that they sell expensive merchandise, like a store does, including “nursing bra that looks just like what Lady Gaga wears,” the owner says. But for her, it’s about being comfortable empowered and “normal,” so it’s a war we hope she wins.