There isn't much as enraging as a man who has a strong opinion on breastfeeding moms. But when that man is the CEO of a major company that likely employs thousands of women throughout the US, then it's even more discouraging. Tom Stemberg, the co-founder of Staples, has come down against breastfeeding moms, accusing Democrats (and President Obama, in particular) of wanting to force every company to provide “lactation chambers.”
Because apparently providing a safe space for a working breastfeeding mom to pump or nurse her baby is obscenely expensive and costs productivity. Good move, Stemberg. I feel for his female employees.
In case you were worried, you shouldn't be, really. After all, Stemberg’s wife breastfed. Now, isn't that comforting? He said:
Do you want [farming retailer] Tractor Supply to open stores or would you rather they take their capital and do what Obamacare and its 2,700 pages dictates -- which is to open a lactation chamber at every single store that they have?
Why is taking care of existing employees such a hard thing for Stemberg to believe? The fact is, Stemberg is complaining about the Affordable Care Act, which is part of the health care overhaul. In it, employers are required to give lactating mothers “reasonable break time” to nurse their child. They are also required to provide a space, other than a bathroom. Is that really such an obscene thing to request?
Personally, as a breastfeeding mom who is excessively modest (to a fault), I would have been thrilled during the four years I breastfed to have a single private space in which to do so (other than at Babies R’ Us). It's the way babies are fed. Get with the program Stemberg.
As long as men like him exist, women will continue to have to fight for comfortable working situations that allow them to be both mothers and employees. Not every mom wants to stay home with her children. And not every mom can afford to do so. So really, with CEOs like this, they basically have to decide NOT to breastfeed unless they're willing to do so while sitting on the toilet. It's unconscionable.
If Stemberg can’t get with the program and realize that times are changing and the status quo has made it very hard for working moms to keep up, then he needs to step aside. There is simply no excuse for such ignorance.
HIS wife breastfed because she had the luxury of his income to support them. NOT all women have such comforts. Stemberg’s condemnation of these efforts proves he has no sense of what it means to be a working mom or a mom who is forced to choose between her career and her children. And why should he? He never had to make such choices. And neither has his wife.
The women who DO have to make such choices deserve better. They deserve employers who recognize the hard choices they make and don’t force them or their children to further sacrifice.
Does this anger you?
Image via edenpictures/Flickr