members of the Air National Guard at workAttention, my fellow Americans! May isn't even over yet, and we've got the second controversy over a photo of a mom (or in this case moms) nursing for the month. This time two military moms breastfeeding while wearing their Air National Guard uniforms were snapped by a photographer working on a breastfeeding awareness campaign, and the typical "eww, boobies" folks were joined in the chorus by military folks who are all a flutter.
It seems seeing Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Christina Luna feeding their kids is a problem for military folks specifically because they wore their uniforms. They're calling them unprofessional. So I have a word for the people on both sides of this argument to consider: reality.
When is the last time you actually saw a baby tagging along for National Guard duty? Gotcha, huh.
Just on its own merits, the photo itself is kind of ... silly.
I don't mean to denigrate what these particular moms or the women behind Mom2Mom -- the group that set up the photo shoot for its breastfeeding awareness campaign -- were trying to do here. As far as I can tell, they had the best intentions. They just wanted to show lots of moms, different moms, doing what moms do. They feed their kids, and it's a beautiful thing. I commend their good intentions.
But here's the thing. The debate over breastfeeding in the military that this photo has dredged up is really moot. Many moms serve our country and breastfeed. But how often are they doing them at the exact same time?
Lactating military moms may pump while they're on the job to bring the milk back home, but if they're on duty, they do not bring their babies along with them. They're at work, and the military workspace is not one that is conducive to bringing your kids to work. In that sense, it's like many jobs in America. I was a reporter for a small town newspaper when my daughter was an infant. I couldn't bring her to municipal board meetings either.
A military mom may breastfeed her child while wearing her uniform before going to work. Or maybe she'll do it on her lunch break. Maybe she'll still be in uniform after work. But by and large, babies aren't spending time in the business part of a military base, making breastfeeding in uniform rather ... un-related to the military at all.
So let's revisit this photo. It's very sweet. But what does it really SAY about breastfeeding, motherhood, and the military?
Image via AN HONORABLE GERMAN/Flickr