Breastfeeding Moms at the Oscars Were Forced to Pump-and-Dump in the Bathroom
Just steps away from the glitzy red carpet of the Academy Awards on Feb. 28, something far less glamorous was going on in the restrooms: Stars were pooping and peeing.
And also, apparently, they were pumping breast milk.
According to the Los Angeles Times, moms at the Oscars were forced to pump their breast milk in the bathroom, rather than doing it in a comfortable, semi-private place. Because why should an Oscars attendee who recently gave birth expect a clean, comfortable environment in which to peacefully nurse?
This revelation comes from The Revenant actor Tom Hardy, who at one point in the evening was seen anxiously pacing around the bathroom area by Los Angeles Times reporter Josh Rottenberg. When Rottenberg asked Hardy if he was nervous (he was up for best supporting actor), Hardy said that no, he was just waiting for his wife to finish pumping her breast milk for the couple's baby.
"I'm just waiting for my wife to finish breast pumping in the bathroom," he told the paper. "She has to do it every hour."
Pumping in the Oscars bathroom is hardly without precedent. Back in 2013, much-beloved chanteuse Adele told the Guardian that she, along with many other famous moms, had a whole system going on when they hauled ass to the ladies'.
"[I was] running to the toilet, between awards, to pump-and-dump," she said. "Which loads of people were doing, by the way. All these Hollywood superstars, lined up and breastfeeding in the ladies. No, I can't say who. Because I saw their tits."
So here's a question: Why are Hollywood's nursing moms relegated to toilets during what is one of their profession's most popular events?
Providing nursing moms with a place to to pump breast milk that's not a den of human waste seems like it might be a good idea. For employers in the United States, in fact, it's actually the law: Employers must provide break time and clean, private, non-bathroom spaces for women to pump breast milk in the office. (For more info, check out this v. exciting page about the Affordable Care Act.)
Of course, the Oscars isn't actually a workplace, which means it's probably not subject to such regulations. But many public events have provided women with comfortable, semi-private spaces where women can breastfeed. Even at football games, some stadiums have installed private breastfeeding pods (aka "lactation suites") for new moms — and we all know the NFL doesn't exactly have a great track record when it comes to supporting women.
Neither does Hollywood, for that matter: Over the past few months, there's been a growing conversation about gender inequality in Hollywood, with actresses like Jennifer Lawrence and Jessica Chastain speaking out against the industry pay gap and the lack of representation of women in leadership roles.
"There's no reason why [Lawrence] should be doing a film with other actors and get paid less than her male co-stars," Chastain told Variety in 2015. "It's completely unfair. It's not right. It's been happening for years and years and years. I think it's brave to talk about it. I think everyone should talk about it."
In light of the larger discussion around Hollywood sexism, it's hard not to see the lack of private, clean pump-and-dump areas for new moms in the industry as symptomatic of a larger issue. Perhaps next year the Academy will get the memo and hook the ladies up with some pods or something. But until then, let's just add #OscarsSoImpossibleToComfortablyPumpBreastmilkAt to the growing list of the award show's hashtags.