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Photo of breastfeeding Guardswomen stirs debate

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Haggis

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An interesting story shared with the ususl disclaimers.

"Two members of the U.S. National Guard photographed breastfeeding in uniform are not expected to face discipline in spite of rules forbidding the use of uniforms to promote a cause, a military spokesman said on Saturday.  Instead, the incident will be used as a “teachable moment” to make clear the U.S. military is not opposed to breastfeeding, Washington National Guard spokesman Keith Kosik said.

“I believe recent events are being viewed as an educational opportunity and I do not anticipate the citizen-airmen in question will receive formal disciplinary action,” Kosik said.

National Guardswomen Terran Echegoyen-McCabe and Christina Luna were photographed breastfeeding their babies at Fairchild Air Force in Washington State, by Mom2Mom, a breastfeeding support group.  The images, which show the women in camouflage uniforms, were intended to promote August’s World Breastfeeding Week. They went viral on the Internet, stirring up a seemingly endless debate in the United States about the propriety of women breastfeeding in public.

Breastfeeding is promoted by several agencies in the U.S. government, but Kosik said military regulations prohibited the use of uniforms to promote a cause. 

“Our issue is not, and has never been about breastfeeding,” Kosik said. “Our issue is that the uniform was used by an outside entity to further their cause - and with all of the attention this has received, it appears that they succeeded.”

On its Facebook page, Mom2Mom  said it supported the military “110 percent,” and added: “The military photographs were NEVER meant to exploit, promote or to use the uniform to help our group. These were for our local community to raise awareness for World Breastfeeding Week in August.”

One of the women was contacted by a local newspaper but said she had been ordered by her superiors not to talk to the media.

Comments on the Mom2Mom Facebook page were largely supportive, although there were some negative comments.

Francisco A. Cappas wrote, “This is an inappropriate display while wearing the military uniform on-duty and in public,” while Karen Noble said: “Breastfeeding is not a public spectator sport.”

Most comments, however, were similar to one posted by Stephanie Vogel, who wrote: “What a beautiful image! ... I think it’s utterly inspiring to see women dedicated to their careers and their babies!”


After having read this, my RSM brain, focussed on dress, discipline and protecting the reputation of the profession of arms is in conflict with my 21 century common sense brain that says this is a simple fact of life and we shouild get over it.  The photo, taken in uniform, looks like a clear cut case of "good plan - poorly executed" to me.

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Jarnhamar

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I think it's an inappropriate picture.  Seems to me like it's exploiting the uniform angle 'for a cause' even though I have zero issues with said cause.
 

Lockbo

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I am sure, like most pers with many years in the Army, this is a road that our military probably does not want to go down. So much for professional image and conduct but today a baby still has to be fed...... :-X
 

George Wallace

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These are photos that both the stiff shirted puritanical Christians and Muslems will find offensive, while other European, African and South American cultures may find as a 'norm'.
 
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jollyjacktar

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George Wallace said:
These are photos that both the stiff shirted puritanical Christians and Muslems will find offensive, while other European, African and South American cultures may find as a 'norm'.
It's a natural evolution and beneficial to the health of both mother and child.  The US forces have a golden opportunity to take something which can easily become a non event by showing some leadership and promoting the health of their troops and families.  Setting up breast feeding stations can easily be accomplished in a tasteful manner which will allow the feeding of the children and save the poor overtaxed retinas of the Cromwellian/Sassanian forces members who must find offense at every little thing.  Perhaps they need to modernize their MATAPATA policies which would allow these new Mums to stay at home longer until they're on solid foods.  I saw these photos days ago.  The sun still keeps rising and the world is still turning... meh!
 
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fraserdw

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No objection, women are a fact of life in the military and they are bearers of our next generation.  I find this to be healthy and positive and an excellent opportunity to stand for the values that make Western civilization great.
 

Strike

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Really, this is something that you're less likely to see in the CF, simply because of the amount of time available to Canadian women for Maternity and Parental leave.  We can take up to one year, by which time many women have either reduced how often they breast feed and will leave it to before and after work, or have stopped altogether.

In the US, their leave policies after giving birth are nowhere near as generous, meaning many women would have to visit the daycare to take care of business throughout the day if they want to breast feed religiously, especially if they are only given 3 months off.
 

navymich

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Strike said:
...especially if they are only given 3 months off.

The RCAF USAF that I have worked with here in Canada only get 5 weeks!  That is barely enough time to heal physically let alone emotionally.  And definitely too early to be leaving a newborn with a stranger, IF you are lucky enough to find someone who will take a baby that young.

As for the whole breastfeeding in public issue: I agree that it is a natural act and is required and that there isn't always a place to be able to have privacy.  But I still think that it isn't a show for everyone to see.  Easy enough to drape a blanket and be discreet.  There doesn't need to be skin and a latched child shown to prove a point about rights.

edited because I'm too tired to put words together much less acronyms.  Thanks for the catch Strike!
 

navymich

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And that's what I get for posting during a night shift with little sleep beforehand!  I meant USAF.  :-\
 

Strike

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airmich said:
And that's what I get for posting during a night shift with little sleep beforehand!  I meant USAF.  :-\

It goes state by state for how long people get.  I think the most progressive states give 3 months.
 

Sub_Guy

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I am sick of these photographs, that are clearly taken to start a debate.  Who cares?

Breast feeding is a natural thing, if you don't like it don't look.  Feel free to express your opinions, because the women in this particular photograph fight for that right.
 

Maxadia

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Nothing wrong with breastfeeding whatsoever.

But these pictures are completely political.  What's next, female members in uniform on billboards taking part in the abortion debate?

Keep the uniform apolitical as much as possible.
 

armyvern

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Cool. I breastfed my kids. Should I have changed out of my uniform to feed them, then got back into it after feeding them? Let there be no doubt, breastfeeding of children occurs by working women every day of the year. It's normal and natural. The length of time of the maternity leave is irrelevant. I hope that no one is suggesting that a military female shouldn't be allowed to return to work (ie: working and wearing her uniform again) while still breastfeeding.

Maternity leave is for "up to" 1 year; many return to work earlier than that and while still breastfeeding. I have no issues with the pics either. A McDo's uniform, or a nurse's, or an executive suit is OK to be photographed breastfeeding in, but a military uniform is not? Hello Houston ... reality check --- it happens every day.

I think this whole schmoozle is silly over what amounts to be a fact of reality of life.
 

Maxadia

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Ok, some clarification is needed here. 

From what I understood in the article, the advocacy group didn't just happen to take photos of mothers in uniform breastfeeding, but rather that they took the pictures of the uniformed members breastfeeding IN ORDER to use them as advocacy for their program.

Is that correct?





Nothing wrong with feeding in uniform.....but if the pictures were in fact take for a political purpose with the member's full knowledge, that IMO crosses the line from innocent to political.
 

armyvern

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RDJP said:
Ok, some clarification is needed here. 

From what I understood in the article, the advocacy group didn't just happen to take photos of mothers in uniform breastfeeding, but rather that they took the pictures of the uniformed members breastfeeding IN ORDER to use them as advocacy for their program.

Is that correct?





Nothing wrong with feeding in uniform.....but if the pictures were in fact take for a political purpose with the member's full knowledge, that IMO crosses the line from innocent to political.

Breastfeeding is a "political or fundraising" purpose? Since when? Breastfeeding advocacy is all about encouraging women TO breastfeed their children (proven to be the healthiest start in life for kids) and to encourage the many places that disallow it from occurring to allow to occur. Believe it or not, there are parks, business', malls etc out there that do not allow breastfeeding on their property. It's not about politics and it's certainly not about bringing in money.

Funny coming from a bunch of Canuks who are so used to being hit up in uniform and outwardly and proudly "soliciting funds" in uniform and from pers in uniform to support the United Way (aka: the Government of Canada Charitable Workplace Campaign). And proudly photograph and publish such images.

Interesting (2) standards to be seen there IMO.
 

Maxadia

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ArmyVern said:
Funny coming from a bunch of Canuks who are so used to being hit up in uniform and outwardly and proudly "soliciting funds" in uniform and from pers in uniform to support the United Way (aka: the Government of Canada Charitable Workplace Campaign). And proudly photograph and publish such images.

Interesting (2) standards to be seen there IMO.

At this point, I'm not in uniform - I'm just an applicant. 

You might want to put away the big paintbrush.
 

Strike

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Vern,  it becomes an issue if the state in question did not have any type of legislation allowing for a women to breastfeed in public, as some states do.  It would be inappropriate for a person in uniform to have their image used for a political reason, especially if it goes against a federal or state law. M2M promotes breast feeding and works to encourage all states to pass legislation allowing women to breast feed in public, which is why this photo has caused some controversy.  It can be taken as political in nature.
 

Maxadia

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ArmyVern said:
Believe it or not, there are parks, business', malls etc out there that do not allow breastfeeding on their property.

And if there are places that do not allow that, how would that be changed?

Probably by laws, I would think.  And who creates laws?  Politicians, if I remember my high school social studies classes.

Wouldn't that make it political?

I think you need to step away from looking at this as a personal attack on breastfeeding, and more as a comment on keeping the uniform from being used to press an agenda of any type.  You might be surprised at what I've advocated for in the past....and more than 20 years ago.
 
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