Breastfeeding On The Battlefield (Literally?)

I said I wasn’t going to blog about breastfeeding. It’s the proverbial dead horse, drug out in the street being beaten with sticks. Then, right after I posted that Time magazine came out with their ridiculous cover an article on extended breast feeding and attachment parenting. The cover was ridiculous, not the article, I didn’t read it. And the cover was only absurd because it was so obviously staged to be as dramatic and shocking as possible. The mother looked angry, the boy looked bored. I still managed to get away with simply reposting a few clever blogs about other opinions on the subject. Then this.

These women are breastfeeding their babies while wearing a uniform, in case, like me, you are wondering what you are looking at that is supposed to be such a big damn deal. It’s the uniform.

I wanted to leave this one alone, too, but the comments are everywhere and they are beyond misguided and insulting. The Time article featured something a little harder for me to grasp, extended breast feeding, so it was easier to ignore. I don’t know the “right” age to stop breastfeeding and I am glad it’s not up to me to decide. I know I would have quit before my kids went to school but that is me and my family, I don’t know when anyone else should quit. My thoughts on extended breast feeding begin and end with, “I don’t care what anyone else does with their breasts as long as they aren’t doing it with my family.” Show ’em off for money, whip ’em out at parties, reserve them for mealtime until your kid is 10, none of it matters to me as long as you don’t breastfeed my kid or stick them in my boyfriend’s face.

This “controversy” though, annoys the hell out of me. I don’t know a more eloquent way to say it. Above is a photo of two women feeding three babies. We should all be commenting on the fact that she is feeding two babies at once, because I find that pretty cool, or that they look amazing even with very young children and careers. I mean in general, not their breasts, but I’m not going to claim I didn’t notice. There is a lot to be said about this picture and none of it has anything to do with what they are wearing. It has a lot more to do with what they are not wearing. They are not draping blankets over their babies or hiding in a restroom stall to feed them. To quote my wonderful sister in law:

“As I understand this article, the women were part of a larger group and were doing and wearing what they normally do and wear when nursing their children. The controversy can be distracting but it can also illustrate just how much more work needs to be done for this society to understand that the function of breasts is to feed a baby, no matter when, where or how, there is no reason to hide or be ashamed.”

So, suck it, haters. <— That’s all me, that’s really not her style.

I read several articles, forums and Facebook conversations about this photo last night. People are comparing breastfeeding in a military uniform to urinating or defecating in it. These would probably be the same people that think mothers should breastfeed in the bathroom.  Others suggest it is a disgrace to the country. I can handle these haters, not because I agree, but because I think they are morons and I have no reason to respond.

The statements that spurred a response were from intelligent, well spoken women, many were advocates of breastfeeding. The following are all real quotes from women that I had conversations with on Facebook in the last 24 hours.

“Women in the military have unique situations and positions we are put into. If we let the whole world see our boobs guess what the men will be thinking about instead of following orders or working together in combat.”

I am not suggesting you should breastfeed during combat.  If your breasts are so sexy that they are still distracting men from combat days, weeks, or even months later, then yes, please keep them covered. And seriously, if you know any men that see you breastfeeding and are suddenly too horny to follow orders there should be someone you can report them to. That is their problem and they may need help.

“And as far as men being distracted by breast feeding it’s different in the military world versus civilian.”

No. I was a married to a man in the military and even though I am a mere civilian, I have known a few others. They are all pretty equally fascinated, indifferent or disgusted about breastfeeding and it varies more by their maturity level and general feelings about children and women than it does by career.

If anything, men in the military should be more disciplined and better able to show restraint.

“And men by nature are always going to see boobs and think sex. Unfortunately it’s the world we live in and I don’t see that changing anytime soon. “

Not as long as we keep saying it’s okay for them to decided when and where we breastfeed because they can’t handle watching us nourish our babies without all the blood flowing to their wieners and subsequently losing the war.

“You can’t expect a man to see boobs and not get distracted from battle.”

What are all these babies doing on the battlefield?!?

“The military is no place for breastfeeding mothers, though. They should be at home.”

… making me a sandwich.

Why are we constantly lowering the bar for men? Why do we set the standard so low and how do we expect them to improve if we just assume they can’t even handle a little flesh? I remember when Stepson was about 4 and wouldn’t flush the toilet. A friend said, “Oh, boys do that, even grown up boys.”  The hell they do, not in my house. In my house everyone flushes the toilet, even if they have a penis. If you hold the opinion, “boys do that so it’s ok” then boys will think it is okay and continue to do it. I hold this in the same reguard as, “She had it coming, did you see how she was dressed?” It is the basic idea that men are not responsible for their actions, we are.

I have never been rendered useless at my job by a shirtless man, even if he was attempting to be sexy and not just feeding a baby. (I would probably find a hot, shirtless guy bottle feeding a baby way sexier than just posing, but that might just be me… I’d still get my job done.) It’s time we start sending that message, too. Men do actually have the same capacity for self control as women. Men, we expect you to protect eachother in battle, even if you did glance a little side boob yesterday.

And since we are on the topic of breast feeding… I think we can all agree breast is best. You already know the facts or you can Google it yourself. The controversy over public breastfeeding will probably take quite some time to die down but I’d like to see the breastfeeding controversy evaporate for one simple reason. I didn’t breastfeed and I’m tired of hearing how my children are somehow less than children who were breastfed. I have two teenage daughters that are not obese. They are gifted. They never get sick. the only reason they ever miss school is because I let them take a “mental health day” when they need one. I expect the boys to follow a similar pattern, or if not I expect it will have little to do with how they are fed. Breastfeeding didn’t work for our family but my formula fed babies are perfect.

There ya go, everything I never wanted to have to say about breast feeding. Be kind to eachother in the inevitable debate. May the odds be ever in your favor.

And GO:


6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Vanessa
    May 31, 2012 @ 19:23:27

    I too am wondering why there are babies needing to be breastfed on the battlefield. My guess is these women are not in combat, they are most likely soldiers working on base who decided to feed their babies while on lunch. Some people can be so small minded. I believe that the when, where, and how you breastfeed your child should be left up to you as an individual.


  2. Lornez Inez
    May 31, 2012 @ 20:13:49

    Men in uniform are photographed and filmed doing all kinds of terrible things, but women being nuturing and loving towards their offspring? The horror!


  3. War sucks
    May 31, 2012 @ 21:33:39

    ^ Exactly, seeing women being nuturting and loving to their offspring is a reminder that they are killing women being nuturing toward their offspring and it makes them question what they are doing. Though obviously they aren’t looking at it that way. They are getting defensive because they have been trained so intensely to follow orders that they cannot think deeply or even feel deeply. The biggest concern for me with this picture is that people are engaging in war. Pointless, loathsome, despicable war. If we spent a very small percentage of our defense budget on feeding the world we would never need to fight another war. How can their be fighting when their are full bellies?
    Okay that is a VERY simplified version of how to stop the war machine but I have a baby who needs me to nuture her.


  4. dana
    Jun 01, 2012 @ 00:07:44

    That’s going a little far.. Comparing breast feeding to pissing and what have you. It’s like blaming Veterans for bleeding. Or for sweating.. Not just Veterans, but people in service everywhere. Silliness. Good writing, Jenny. 🙂 I feel like I was able to read the article.
    PS. That chick feeding TWO babies, is not just amazing for her mothering skills, but for serving her country as well. And she has lovely breasts.


  5. Melissa Limasse
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 03:05:30

    Consequently, many soldiers in battle do urinate and defecate in their uniforms. But I guess that’s somehow better because it’s in battle.


  6. Melissa Limasse
    Jun 14, 2012 @ 03:08:27

    Reblogged this on Ambrosia and commented:

    Because apparently you can’t be a mother and a soldier at the same time. I’ve been working on a post on this myself for quite some time, never able to quite find the right words.


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