NASCAR, Kasey Kahne, Women and Breastfeeding

As was reported in the NY Times back in 2007, the NASCAR Harlequins have some specific rules by which they must abide: no sex, no crashes, no drugs, no alcohol use in the content of the story.

Back in 2007, Mark Dyer, VP of licensing for NASCAR, said in the article, 

“Look at our stats. Forty percent of our fans are women, and among younger fans it’s trending toward 50-50.” He added that according to Nascar surveys 72 percent of female fans enjoy reading and are more likely than nonfans to purchase books.


This is particularly interesting (and somewhat laughable) in light of Kasey Kahne's Tweetstream yesterday, in which he called a woman breast feeding “nasty”:

And in case you missed that last part, he then told @knittingrad, who told him he was being a douchebag, “Your a dumb bitch.”

All of these screen caps are courtesy of @scatx, who later called out Farmers Insurance, one of Kahne's sponsors, asking if they condoned his behavior.

Ok, first, I cannot let this opportunity pass:

Your: something that belongs to you.
You're: You are.

Let's try that in context!

You're being horribly sexist, Kasey Kahne, and your misogyny is really unattractive considering the number of female NASCAR fans.

If NASCAR is a family sport, one must assume some of those family members were breastfed.

And while I'm hanging out here, let me just take a paragraph and screech: Why is breastfeeding in public still a problem for so many people? What the hell? Do people stare at other diners in a restaurant, unable to look away as they eat? It's a breast. Get over it. You need to see some? Go look at a romance novel cover from the 80s. And some of the ones online.

And as someone who was unable to breastfeed, I hate the shaming and pressure I received to breastfeed (even though I couldn't), and I hate the pressure that those who choose to do so receive from people who can't mind their own damn business. The issue of breastfeeding is such a contentious battlefield. You'd think Mr. Kahne would have the smarts to not voice his rather dimwitted opinion on Twitter – which then fed directly to his Facebook page, where more people supported his comments than argued with him.

But back to Mr. Kahne.

Kahne's response was to delete the tweets and go back to talking about Christmas (I wonder if Santa was breastfed?) but screen caps and angry fans lit a stream of crank ass on KnittingRad and Scatx.

KnittingRad is taking it all in stride: 

Kahne tweeted later that he was “Glad everyone had a good Christmas! Thanks for all the feedback. I gained some new perspectives today.”

Wow, that's miles short of an apology, isn't it? I was waiting for the completely flaccid, “I'm sorry if anyone was offended” apology from Kahne. I'm almost disappointed. 

Makes me wonder about NASCAR and romance, though. Harlequin NASCARs have the no crashing, no drugs and alcohol, no sex rules. Does that also apply to breastfeeding? Good lord, maybe there's no breasts in NASCAR romance.

No, that can't be right. I've watched NASCAR. There's definitely breasts, both in the stands belonging to women fans, many of whom are mothers, and in the restricted areas, belonging to women hired to promote various products.

It's rather stunning to see misogyny and sexist comments about breastfeeding from a NASCAR driver, especially considering the percentage of female fans of the sport, and NASCAR's effort to reach them with branded products like Harlequin novels. Perhaps the solution is more breastfeeding in NASCAR novels, lots and lots of breastfeeding. 

Then we make Kasey Kahne read them all.

ETA: 9:38pmET. Via simba's comment below, Kasey Kahne has apologized for his Tweets via his Facebook page, saying “I understand that my comments regarding breastfeeding posted on Twitter were offensive to some people. For that, I apologize. It was in no way my intention to offend any mother who chooses to breastfeed her child, or, for that matter, anyone who supports breast feeding children.

In all honestly, I was surprised by what I saw in a grocery store…. I respect the mother's right to feed her child whenever and wherever she pleases.”


Ranty McRant

Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    Angela James says:

    We’re big Nascar fans in my house, and I’ve always kind of viewed Kasey Kahne as a harmless child. My view of him as a child certainly hasn’t changed. I hope his sponsors have a few words with him. The power of those who believe in breastfeeding is a little terrifying, and not inconsequential when gathered in righteous fury, so I suspect he’s in for a time of hearing about it in various formats.

    I think it’s bad enough that he made the original tweets, but frankly, calling someone a “dumb bitch” for calling him out is even worse. That really shows how his mind works.

  2. 2
    Karen H says:

    Of course sexist men don’t like to see women breastfeeding because it’s proof that breasts were not made just for their pleasure and men are not the center of the world.  That’s a difficult lesson to learn.

  3. 3
    Jane says:

    Perhaps then Nascar will move to ban breastfeeding in their books. My understanding is that the Nascar books are so restrictive you can’t even describe a person disrobing.  That’s far too scandalous.  So while Nascar can associate itself with Talladega Nights and its cursing, drinking, and boorish behavior, it will not allow Harlequin to publish books with romantic love expressed through sex.

  4. 4
    Avery Flynn says:

    Come on lady, let your child starve so you don’t offend delicate sensibilities. She obviously needed to adjust her priorities. *sarcasm*

  5. 5
    Annika says:

    Gaaaah! This upsets me so much! What an asshole!
    How can you be offended by something so natural?! I don’t get it! I remember reading an article in a newspaper about a young mother who was breastfeeding her baby at a restaurant in a big department store. The restaurant manager asked her to leave, she said she had to finish feeding her baby (who was screaming), the manager then called security who escorted her from the restaurant without letting her feed her baby first. I was appalled. Nobody forces you to look if a breast used in a non-sexual manor offends you that much (I mean come on, how much breast do you really see? You really have to look hard to see something to be offended about!), it’s not like women who breastfeed run around waving their boobs in peoples faces. Sometimes I think it is the fact that the boobs aren’t used in a sexual way that offends people!
    As you said Sarah, there is already too much pressure surrounding breastfeeding, if you don’t do it you are a bad mother, if you don’t do it long enough you are a bad mother, if you do it for too long you are a bad mother, this makes it really hard to live up to peoples expectations.
    Feeding your child is a wonderful and beautiful thing regardless of whether you are doing it with your breasts or a bottle, I think people should mind their own business and stop being offended by it.

  6. 6
    Nadia says:

    Well, that was entertaining reading on his Facebook.  Dude, do not piss off the lactavists, they are passionate and organized, LOL.  I met Kasey Kahne briefly years ago, my husband is a Nascar fan and my girls had a little crush on him so we found him for autographs at the track.  Cute boy.  Sad to see he’s still a boy.  At 31, he’s old enough be more mature than “Eww, boobies!”

    I laugh when I read all the “you should just go the bathroom!” “you should cover the baby up!” “you should bring a bottle!” commentary. Yeah, right, they should have to deal with a hungry baby who won’t take a bottle or a pacifier and hates a blanket on her head – I would take a few glares from feeding in public over inflicting myself and others with a screaming baby.  Sure, I tried to work outings around a schedule and find a quiet, private place for my own benefit, but babies don’t pay attention to our timetables, LOL!  And hey, my boobs looked better then than they do now seven years later, people should feel privileged they caught a glimpse of them in their prime. ;)

  7. 7
    Inez Kelley says:

    Face it, it wasn’t the bare boob that offended him. I’m sure he doesn’t go to the beach and complain about all the knockers in barely-there bikini tops. If some buxom beauty flashed him her double Ds with a ‘come on big boy’ look, he’d be all over that. No, it was the INFANT attached to that breast.

    What a dick.

  8. 8
    Amber says:

    I think Angela James hit the nail on the head: it’s childish. This is the sort of reaction you’d expect from someone in junior high. One of these days, he’ll grow up and probably be even more self-absorbed.

    And yes, OMG, is there shaming and pressure when you can’t breastfeed. From strangers, from parents, from doctors and lactation consultants. While we need to continue to push back against ignorance like Kasey’s, we also need some awareness and compassion for those who can’t breastfeed.

  9. 9

    I hate to say this, but seeing a woman breast feeding in public makes me uncomfortable.  That said, I would never ask a woman to stop, leave, or anything quite as ridiculous just because she happens to be doing it.  She has every right to breast feed in public and it is me that is the problem.  I think it is stupid to have a heart attack when someone is doing something natural (and apparently healthy for the baby).

  10. 10
    Liztalley says:

    Okay I’m fixing to no doubt piss a lot of people off, but here we go.

    I don’t watch NASCAR and I don’t know who this dude is, but many, many of the men where I live would have been offput by a woman breastfeeding (without being covered) in the grocery store…or any other public place. And this includes my husband. Why you may ask? Because I live in the deep rural South where people still tsk if you don’t wear a slip under your dress. Hypocrites abound, but it’s the way it is. Backwards? Maybe. Prudish? Certainly. But it’s really different down here. I live in an area that doesn’t recylce. Yeah, you read that right. And people who use midwives to birth their children are granola freaks. Here we carry guns in our trucks, environmentalists are nuisance tree-huggers, education is gained in life experience and wives still fix their husbands’ plates. And breastfeeding is way optional…and you don’t see anyone doing it in public.

    Now, I don’t know where this dude is from, but if he’s from the South, his response (other than the dumb bitch one) doesnt’ surprise me much.

    I breastfed my boys. I didn’t often do it in public and when I did, I covered myself with a cloth diaper. Wasn’t uncomfortable for my baby or any onlookers. If someone whipped a boob out and fed her baby, it wouldn’t bother me a bit, but here in North Louisiana, you’re going to get stared at. A lot. BUT, I think however you wish to feed your baby is your business. Raising your child is your business. No one should be made to feel guilty for not being able to breastfeed or not wanting to breastfeed or breastfeeding in public. None are a federal crime.

    Oh, and I’m not making excuses for the race car guy, just pointing out that where you live often affects the way you view things. And maybe he did gain some valuable perspective from his thoughtless comments.

  11. 11
    Julie M. says:

    I have never heard of Kasey Kahne. Which pleases me greatly. He does sounds like a little boy. He’s probably the kind who finds pregnant women replusive too. Sadly because he is known (by some) for his sport, he’ll be idealized and as Amber said, grow up and … be even more self-absorbed.

  12. 12
    snarkhunter says:

    Maybe the people who tell breastfeeding moms to go into the bathroom should just take *their* lunches into the bathroom.

    What, you don’t want to eat near a toilet? Then why should the baby?

  13. 13
    Alpha Lyra says:

    Wow, what a sexist asshat. I’d boycott NASCAR, but they already get none of my money.

  14. 14
    Julie M. says:

    Liztalley – I’m not from the south so I found your response very educational. Thanks!

  15. 15
    snarkhunter says:

    There are babies who, once they reach a certain age, will *refuse* to be covered while eating. I have known women whose babies would pull that blanket or diaper right off. Not newborns, obviously, but once they hit 5-6 months old? It’s not even worth the trouble for some women. (Plus, once the kid is that old, his or her head is covering the bulk of the breast, unless you’re *extremely* generously endowed.)

  16. 16
    snarkhunter says:

    Charming. And utterly unsurprising.

    I have had friends and relatives who couldn’t breastfeed, and I’ve known women who chose not to. As important as breastfeeding is, I get really freaking sick of the lactivists who get right up in women’s faces and shame them for being unwilling or unable to breastfeed. So I’m sorry that happened to you, Sarah. :/

  17. 17
    snarkhunter says:

    Also, no crashes and no alcohol? What the hell’s the POINT? If I read a story about a racecar driver, I want to see some crashes, damn it.

    (This is like when I watch NCIS:LA. My friend said, as we watched it, that it was becoming a very good show—lots of character development, for instance. I retorted that i watch that show b/c I like to see shit blow up. I don’t care about character development! Bring me explosions [and LL Cool J in t-shirts]! Shortly after my complaint three cars blew up so I felt better.)

  18. 18
    snarkhunter says:

    Also, I feel like it’s actually a lot less informed by region than you think it is. Bill Maher once famously went on about how hideous it was to see a baby hanging off of a breast (that was his emphasis, btw—the baby was the problem, not the breast), and he’s hardly from the South.

    I live in West Virginia, and while the attitudes you describe are common there, too, people’s attitudes are not homogeneous (not even in West Virginia), and you’re just as likely to find people grossed out by public breastfeeding in Washington State (where I’m from and where I am as I type this) as you are in WVa. As a nation, we’re disgusted by certain kinds of public displays of nudity—basically, we hate women using breasts for what they’re for, rather than for public entertainment. B/c I bet that in North Louisiana, just like in West Virginia, the men don’t have a problem with women in low-cut tops bouncing around cheering on their team or their favorite NASCAR driver. (Elderly ladies probably do.)

  19. 19
    Jeannie says:

    This is always going to be a hot button issue I’m afraid because everyone has differrent tolerances and viewpoints. Yes, it’s more frowned upon in the conservative south, like Liz said. I live in north central Florida in an area that’s predominantly redneck-ish. It’s okay for a woman to bounce around in a pair of shorts that show the cheeks of her butt and a bikini top that barely covers those boobs but let her attach a nursing child to one of them and oh boy, people start squirming. Not just men either.

    Mr. Kahne needs to learn the lesson a lot of other celebrities have…not every thought that pops into your head needs to cross your tongue. Think before you speak, or Tweet as the case may be. It’ll save you a lot of grief in the long run.

  20. 20
    Liztalley says:

    This is probably true, but I do think it’s more pervasive down here.

    After I typed this, I walked across the street to a neighbor’s house and did a little poll (very little since it was my husband and my female neighbor). I asked them what they thought about a woman breastfeeding at the grocery store. My husband’s first question was “What does she look like?” He was joking, of course. I think. My neighbor said she thought it was inappropriate and wouldn’t want her kids, especially her son, seeing a woman’s breasts exposed in public. My husband agreed and said it woudl be okay if she covered herself up. I said, “But it’s natural.” My husband countered, “So is urinating, but you don’t want a guy to whip out his penis in front of you, do you?” I said, “What does he look like?”

    My husband and neighbor are both intelligent, college educated people. Very traditionally Southern. In fact, after I said something about it being regional, my neighbor and I spent several minutes talking about how different we are in the South. One of her comments about touring Harvard was so funny. She said, “They don’t fix themselves up or wear makeup or anything. They all looked like homeless people. I just don’t get it,” and it reminded me of my grandmother making me go fix my hair and put on lipstick before we went to the grocery store.

    Okay, I’m off topic, but I agree that this attitude about breastfeeding covers the entire country, but I stick to my guns that in the South, it’s likely considered more wrong than in any other region…even if those same boobs are prominently displayed at races, football games and wrasslin matchs. :)

  21. 21

    Oddly, I find myself less disturbed by Mr Kahne’s breastfeeding remarks than by the fact that he lashed out and called a total stranger a dumb bitch. Regardless of what people may think of Nascar, he’s still a public figure and has a responsibility to act as such. His fans and followers raised him up, and they can bring him down just as quickly. His ability to continuously make left turns isn’t that impressive, after all.

  22. 22
    DreadPirateRachel says:

    I have to agree with the other posters who observe that people are offended by the fact that a woman is using her body for something other than their titillation (you knew somebody was going to go there, didn’t you?). To make a very broad generalization, in the U.S., women’s bodies are only considered attractive if they are being objectified; otherwise, they are dirty and shameful. Thus, breastfeeding is disgusting, but flashing your breasts at Mardi Gras is sexy. Pubic hair is icky and must be waxed, shaved, dyed, plucked—anything to make it less recognizable, unless you’re a porn star who specializes in hair fetishism. For that matter, a woman who pleasures herself is sinning, but a woman who poses nude for a man to pleasure himself is hot.* The double standard is breathtaking, and unfortunately all too familiar.

    *Please don’t read this as me attacking porn, because I’m not.

  23. 23
    Jill Sorenson says:

    I don’t think you’re saying that breastfeeding in public is like urinating in public. But I’m bothered by the comparison because there are designated places to urinate. Often there are not designated places to breastfeed. I’ve breastfed in a public restroom stall and it sucks, no pun intended. Especially if there’s no toilet lid. More often that not, I would feed my babies in the car because I loathed being stared at by strangers. But there are situations like long trips and visits to the mall in which options are limited. I wouldn’t pop out my boob at the grocery store, or any public place if I could avoid it, but sometimes going elsewhere is just impossible or inconvenient. And ditto the other comments about keeping the baby covered. Once they know how to grasp a blanket, good luck with that.

    I understand that nudity makes people uncomfortable, but I’d rather see a nursing baby than listen to a crying one.

  24. 24
    NatashaB says:

    I live in Northern Ireland and breastfeeding here is rare (but starting to get more common with the rising cost of formula milk). I breastfed both my children and got so much hassle for it, one woman told me that to her breastfeeding was akin to child abuse, while others were that the whole thing was disgusting, now I don’t admit to breastfeeding because of how irrational it makes people behave.

  25. 25
    MBZ says:

    People who equate breastfeeding with urinating are—regardless of education or socio-economic level—displaying exceptional ignorance. And I’d never, *ever* want to be served food by anyone who creates a false analogy between elimination and consumption. ::shudder::

  26. 26
    snarkhunter says:

    It’s possible, but I wonder if it’s partly a rural issue, too. If I took the same informal poll in eastern Montana or over in Idaho, I’d bet serious money I’d get the same responses. Where it might be really different is in Southern cities—people there might be more likely than in Northern or Western cities to object to public breastfeeding. I guess my theory is that, with the exception of the hippie-granola communes you sometimes find in the Pacific Northwest and a few other rural areas, rural America in general shares a mentality that is most commonly associated with the South?

  27. 27
    snarkhunter says:

    How strange. If you run afoul of the most ardent lactivists in the US or Canada, you get told that *not* breastfeeding is child abuse.

  28. 28
    Julieinduvall says:

    I’m wondering if Mr. Kahne’s management and sponsors know about his unfortunate comments on Twitter yesterday.

    I also wonder how Harlequin feels about THEIR brand being associated with the knuckle-dragging goodness that is (allegedly) Mr. Kahne.

    Sarah, you have two healthy, happy babies you obviously adore. Those who shame other women for things that are none of their business need to shut it.

  29. 29
    Laura T says:

    Who are his sponsors?  Can we email them links to this article?

  30. 30
    Liztalley says:

    I think this is probably on target. I actually live in a small city where there is some progressive thinking, especially in regards to raising children, but I grew up in a rural area where I still find a predominence of “yesteryear” thinking. Some of it’s good. Some of it is way off base.

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