6/01/2012

Military Moms Breastfeeding





There is a photo of two moms breastfeeding their babies that is causing a bit of controversy.  Now, ordinarily, its just a normal topic of conversation that doesn't result in much debate.  I have no problem with a woman breastfeeding in a public place.  In fact, I wish women would expose their breasts even more (just joking there...a little bit)!  But, the photo shows two women in military uniform breastfeeding their babies, including one woman feeding her twin daughters.  Terran Echegoyen-McCabe, a member of the Air National Guard, has stated she is surprised by the reaction to the photos.   "I have breastfed in our lobby, in my car, in the park ... and I pump, usually in the locker room..."  said Echegoyen-McCabe.  Both women, including Christina Luna, have been heavily criticized for doing this in military uniform.  The Air Force has not, in any way, shape, manner or form, endorsed this photo.  The breastfeeding picture was meant to bring awareness to breastfeeding.  But, with the Time Magazine cover many are starting to wonder just what is the real purpose of all of this sudden interest in breastfeeding in public.  I had always thought this was something a mother preferred to do in private.  The military mom in the picture feeding her twins has both breasts exposed.  The only reason she wasn't arrested is that her nipples weren't exposed (obviously).

Like it or not, the military uniform has always been considered as a symbol of strength of this nation.  Women want to be treated as equals, even if that means fighting alongside men in combat, in the armed forces of the United States.  A woman in military uniform breastfeeding a baby in public does not exactly give one the feeling she is combat ready.  Now, breastfeeding a baby may have nothing to do with being combat ready.  I grant you that.  But, symbolism means a great deal to the military.  When I was in uniform, I got chewed out by a Chief Petty Officer because I was drinking a coke in front of a bathroom on base!  He told me that eating and drinking in public, while in uniform, was a disgrace to the uniform.  I even got scolded because I was chewing gum in uniform waiting at a bus stop on base once.  The military takes their image very seriously.  If women want to be a part of this military environment, then they have to accept military tradition, warts and all. Is it disrespecting the uniform?  In some respects, I can see why one would say that.  There is a time and place for everything.  If a military mom feels it is imperative that she breastfeed in public (for whatever reason), then she should consider changing into civilian clothing.  Call me old-fashioned, call me Neanderthal.  I don't care.  I feel the women were just wanting attention.  They got it.

2 comments:

Would it be acceptable for a woman in military uniform to bottle-feed her baby in public? If so, there is no reason she should not be able to breastfeed in her uniform in public.

If the issue is with feeding a baby in uniform in general, then that is one thing, but if it is with breastfeeding specifically, that is not okay. Bottle-feeding should not be preferred over breastfeeding in public policy.

No, it is not considered appropriate to bottle-feed a baby in uniform. Just as my examples, I was simply chewing gum at a bus stop on base and was reprimanded for it. As I stated, the military is about tradition. It is about symbolism of strength conveyed by wearing that uniform. There are strict rules in place to ensure that uniform is not desecrated in any way.

Women want to be treated as the equal of men in uniform. I'm all for that. But, you cannot expect preferential treatment because of your gender while in that uniform. If a man is reprimanded for simply chewing gum in uniform, then a woman should be reprimanded for breastfeeding in uniform. There can not be a double standard. Does this answer your questions?

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