Annie Peguero and her nineteen-month-old daughter attended church last Sunday at Summit Church in Springfield, Virginia. During the service, Peguero’s baby became hungry, so she breast-fed her. Little did she know that she was surrounded by horny, weak, pathetic men who can’t control their sexuality when ‘forced” to view a breastfeeding mom’s partially exposed breast.
Annie Peguero was trying to soothe her agitated 19-month-old baby in church on Sunday when she did what she often does — she nursed her. But her efforts to calm her daughter caused a stir in the sanctuary of Summit Church in Springfield.
A woman promptly asked the Dumfries mother to decamp to a private room, she said. Peguero declined and was later told that the church does not allow breast-feeding without a cover because it could make men, teenagers or new churchgoers “uncomfortable,” she said. One woman told her the sermon was being live-streamed and that she would not want Peguero to be seen breast-feeding.
The mother of two left her seat in the back of the church and fled, embarrassed and in shock. The next day, she posted her own livestream video on Facebook — with her baby, Autumn, at her breast — telling viewers what happened and urging women to stand up for breast-feeding.
“I want you to know that breast-feeding is normal,” she said.
It is also a legally protected right in Virginia, where the legislature passed a 2015 law that says women have a right to breast-feed anywhere they have a legal right to be.
Peguero, a 42-year-old personal trainer and fitness and nutrition specialist, often posts live videos online with tips and advice about managing life with two young children. She talks about getting through the day when a spouse is deployed, drawing on her own experience as the wife of a Marine serving overseas.
The self-described “hippie mama” said she looked forward to breast-feeding long before she had children.
“I knew it was the very best thing for my baby,” she said. “I wanted to give them that gift for as long as I could, and that’s what I did.”
She nursed her older daughter — now 4 years old — until she was 8½ months pregnant with Autumn. In all that time, she never had a problem nursing in public, she said.
“I have breast-fed in a few different countries. I have breast-fed all over the place,” she said. “No one has ever said anything to me.”
Virginia was one of the last states to pass a law protecting a woman’s right to breast-feed in public.
Before passage, women in Virginia had the right to nurse their babies on state-owned property, but restaurants and other privately owned businesses that were open to the public could prohibit it.
Under identical bills brought by Del. David B. Albo (R-Fairfax) and Sen. Jennifer T. Wexton (D-Loudoun), mothers are permitted to breast-feed anywhere they are “lawfully present.” The measures cleared the Republican-controlled House and Senate without opposition and were signed into law by Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D).
Albo and Wexton were not familiar with the details of Peguero’s case but said the law clearly gives women the right to breast-feed anywhere they are otherwise allowed to be.
“Women don’t really have a choice,” Albo said. “If you have a kid, and the kid’s hungry, you have to feed ’em.”
Wexton said she brought her bill after hearing from a woman who had been told she could not nurse her baby in a hallway outside the children’s room at her gym. Employees said she could only breast-feed in the bathroom, Wexton said.
“The fact is, women just want to feed their babies. Women are very discreet about their breast-feeding. . . . It’s not in any way an indecent exposure situation,” she said.
Leave it to Evangelicals to have a big problem with a human natural process — breastfeeding. What’s more natural than a mother feeding her child using the mammary glands the good Lord gave her? The problem is that Evangelical men are deeply immersed in a culture where women’s breasts have been sexualized. And as with anything having to do with sex while the lights are on, Evangelical churches and pastors — at least as far as the keepers of male mental virginity at Summit Church are concerned — overreact and enact stupid policies and rules.
Sadly, a century of Evangelical obsession with sex has resulted in multiple generations of men being taught that they are not in control of their sexuality, and that women are seductresses out to bed them. Women are forced to cover up their bodies and mute their comeliness lest some horn-dog of a man cast a glance their way and feel some sort of sexual stirring. Evidently, the Holy Spirit living inside Evangelical men is not enough to keep them from lusting during their pastors’ sermons.
Non-Evangelicals read posts such as this one and snicker while shaking their heads. There is nothing sexual about women breastfeeding their children. Babies need to eat, end of discussion. As long as women are discreetly feeding their babies, I can’t think of one reason why their doing so should be a problem. My wife breastfed all six of our children. Rarely did she leave a church service to do so, and if she it did it was because the child was being fussy and she didn’t want to disrupt the service.
I pastored scores of breastfeeding women during the twenty-five years I spent in the ministry. I can think of only one time where a woman breastfeeding a child proved to be a distraction. One Sunday, as I was preaching away on the unsearchable riches of Christ, a church member sitting about three rows back unbuttoned her dress, pulled up her bra, and fully exposed her breast. She did this so her four-year old child could have a snack. Most church members had no idea what was going on in the third row, but unfortunately for me, I had a boobs’-eye view.
In many Evangelical churches, men are viewed as metaphorical infants, unable to control their desires. Women are repeatedly told that they must be the adults in the room, and for the sake of infantilized men, cover their bodies. What’s even more astounding, as in the story mentioned above, is that it is left to church women to police their ranks. Taught that they must be gatekeepers, church women make sure that no Jezebel tempts their men. Perhaps the real solution to the breastfeeding problem is for men to own their sexuality. Stop with all the silly rules that only serve to embarrass and demean women. To Evangelical women, I say, it’s time to rebel against thinking that reduces women to sex objects. Of course, such rebellion requires Evangelical women (and men) to stand against the patriarchal, anti-women bullshit that their pastors preach Sunday after Sunday. Sadly, I am not hopeful that church women will do so. The pressure to conform is so great, that only by leaving Fundamentalist churches can women truly be free.