Today in Absurd And Outrageous Breastfeeding Comments: A New York police officer has allegedly compared a diplomat's breastfeeding wife to a terrorist.
According to the New York Post, Tom Neijens, his wife, Roseline Remans and their 4-month-old daughter, Luka, had lunch at a country club in White Plains on June 8th. Remans began to nurse her daughter at the table, then was asked by a staff member to continue in the bathroom. Soon, the police arrived.
A detective told the couple that other members feared they might be terrorists because of Neijen's black backpack and because, “In Sri Lanka, babies are used by terrorists.” The family was escorted out of the club.
Though breastfeeding is universally accepted as the healthiest option for baby, stories like Remans' are unfortunately not that unusual. The Huffington Post has reported on over a dozen incidents of moms who were shamed for breastfeeding in public -- at Target, Applebees, Hollister, in court, on Facebook -- the list goes on. Last February, a pastor in Georgia compared a mother to a stripper when she nursed her child in church.
All 50 states allow mothers to legally nurse in public, but that doesn't mean that society's perception of the act has caught up to the law.
In April, mom and breastfeeding activist, Katharine McKinney, blogged about the very issue. "If you don't support breastfeeding in public, you don't support breastfeeding," she wrote. She then debunked four commonly heard reasons women shouldn't nurse in public.
Like Remans, moms often hear that they should nurse in the restroom. To that, McKinney says:
Mothering is already an isolating, exhausting business and to tell a woman that for several hours a day she has to be sequestered is dehumanizing ... It's hard enough to be a mother without being told a laundry list of ways and places you can do something as simple as feeding your child without offending the sensitive masses. Especially when seeing something over and over is the best way to normalize it.
Clarification: An earlier version of this story stated that only 45 states allow women to breastfeed in public. All 50 do, but only 45 have have laws that specifically allow mothers to nurse in any public or private location.