As parents, we multitask just like everyone else except we have children often hanging on us while we do it. Literally. Enter the baby carrier, aka another set of arms to help you carry your kid. Now imagine if you are with your 4-month-old baby in the carrier and your 2-year-old doing some grocery shopping when you are suddenly approached by the manager who asks you to stop what you are doing or leave. I bet you can guess what this mother was doing. She was breastfeeding. Apparently the manager of the Schofield Barracks commissary in Hawaii respects the fact that Tamara Algots' husband is an information technology specialist with the 25th Infantry Division, but she cannot respect that a baby needs to eat. She perhaps felt pressure from a complaining costumer who couldn't handle knowing that a woman's breasts aren't sexual when it comes to breastfeeding.
This is why there are so many stories of moms asked to stop breastfeeding in public when it is within our rights to do so.
The Algots live on base and has been in that grocery store countless times -- she's even nursed her newborn there on other occasions. Algots told the Army Times that a female employee of the commissary told her that she "can't do that here" and what Tamara assumed "that" was was shop, so she reached for her military dependent ID to show that she could. The employee then told her that another shopper complained and she would have to stop or leave. Algots said:
I couldn’t believe it. I’ve nursed him in public hundreds of times — including at the commissary — and I’ve never, ever had anyone approach me about it.
Last year there the world freaked out over two moms photographed breastfeeding their babies while in their military uniforms. I suppose some saw this as a disgrace. I saw it as beautiful and fantastic that the women who serve our country are also making sure they give their babies the best. Taking time for family and country. That is admirable.
But Algots was just shopping with her kids, and her newborn preemie was hungry. Tamara's breast wasn't fully exposed. She had baby in an Ergo and was holding baby to her chest to nurse. She checked with the base and learned it was her right to breastfeed in public. But much of the public had their own thoughts on what she should do. Some felt she should have just went to the commissary's nursing room, but Tamara said it's a stuffy, windowless room and it would be difficult to occupy her toddler when nursing her infant in there. Why couldn't she cover up, others wonder. Babies shouldn't have to be forced to eat while under a blanket. A mother's nipples aren't showing while breastfeeding. People need to respect mothers who are breastfeeding. It's that simple. This is discrimination.
But the worst comment came from a woman, Jessica Shelton, on the Garrison barrack's Town Hall Facebook page. Shelton wrote:
I do not believe women should walk around a commissary filled with young men fresh out of basic training and living in the barracks, young boys who are just hitting puberty, etc., nursing her child without a cover.
It's hard for me to believe we are in the year 2013 and this is what people are thinking. But it is. We live in a culture that condemns women when we are doing something "bad" and also when we are doing something good. Far too often we are not respected, not even by fellow women. Breastfeeding isn't a flaunting of breasts. And boys/men shouldn't be walking around not able to handle the sight of a woman breastfeeding. Algots also revealed that someone emailed her saying they would smash their car into hers if they saw her at the commissary.
All of this because she was breastfeeding her baby. It's sad. The fear that people have over seeing a little bit of breast when a baby is nursing is unbelievable. You see more skin watching any celebrity red carpet event. You see more skin on the covers of the tabloids sold at the grocery store checkout. And those are images of women trying to be sexy. A mother breastfeeding her child is just a mother feeding her baby. There is a difference.
Do you think a mother should have the right to breastfeeding in public without anyone telling her to stop? What do you think of this story? Have you ever been told to stop nursing your baby or leave?
Image via Newtown grafitti/Flickr