You may have seen the post on Army Times about the new Cards Against Humanity (CAH) style game, Disgruntled Decks, the hilarious — and at times *very* offensive — brainchild of 1st Lt. Matthew Coble. He wanted to adapt Cards Against Humanity for a military audience, so he set about forming a community online from whom he got many ideas for the cards; and after conferring with CAH a representative to avoid copyright issues, this past Tuesday he launched a Kickstarter campaign to put at least 500 packs into production. He has already surpassed his original goal of $15,000 (the campaign is currently sitting at $105,00 with 26 days to go).
A side note for those not familiar with CAH. It’s a party game in the style of Apples to Apples, a type of word association game. One player asks a question from the black (prompt) card, and everyone else answers from a white (response) card. In CAH the question and answer cards are offensive, dirty, and vulgar. Given that Disgruntled Decks is made for a military audience, not known for being PC at all, you can imagine that this version will be even *more* offensive, dirty and vulgar.
CAH is obnoxious and offensive, that’s the idea of the game right, so what’s the problem? The problem is one of the cards used in the game is “Breastfeeding in uniform” and while that may seem as though it is only joking or making light of breastfeeding in uniform, really it furthers the idea that it is ok to shame it. And that is NOT ok. Listen, I play CAH all the time. I know how offensive it is and I find it hilarious. But as a champion of breastfeeding in uniform and in the military, and as one who has been supporting women to be successful for over a decade, I see this card is one more slap in the face to both myself *and* to all the women out there who are breastfeeding while serving.
Let’s face it, breastfeeding is still a delicate issue in the military. Take a look at the comments on Army, Navy, or Air Force Times or even more mainstream news outlets like CNN anytime an article about breastfeeding in uniform (or the military in general) is posted. The vast majority are all about how disgraceful and disrespectful breastfeeding in uniform is, and that the military is for killing people, not for feeding babies. If you want even more ‘in your face comments’ about how the troops really feel about all the policies that have been implemented recently regarding breastfeeding in the military (and in uniform) take a look at the FB Pages W.T.F. Moments in the Army or Sh*t My LPO Says. Breastfeeding is NOT supported by the vast majority of those serving in the military. Instead women who are trying to do their jobs in the military and provide their breastmilk for their infants are shamed and ridiculed, most often (and loudly) by other military members.
Breastfeeding in the military is already made fun of enough without this. Without throwing more fuel on the fire by including a card that incites even more ridicule and shaming of women for a normal, biological function that provides food for their infants. This is fundamentally different than making fun of latrines in the 130 degree heat of the Afghanistan desert, or how awful the claims process is at the VA. We are talking about creating an even more unsupportive environment for women who are doing their very best against some pretty big challenges to be successful at breastfeeding while serving their country. I can’t tell you how many women have reached out to me after being stopped by someone at the PX, medical/dental, or the CDC for breastfeeding in uniform. Sometimes they are let off with a warning, other times they are put on report. And let’s not even get into the comments surrounding the photos that have hit airwaves of women in uniform breastfeeding (from all the way back in 2012 to just this past September). In a nutshell, if you thought breastfeeding in public was still taboo, breastfeeding in uniform is even more taboo. The inclusion of this card is not going to help dispel that notion any time soon.
In defense of the creator of Disgruntled Decks he does say that, “Even though some cards are really vulgar, I don’t want just the shock humor that makes people gasp,” Coble said. “It gets people talking about their time in service, bringing up subjects they aren’t comfortable bringing up. It’s a way to bring people together and talk about their shared experiences.” Some fans of our BFinCB FB Page have mentioned that because breastfeeding in uniform is included in the game, maybe it has become mainstream or normalized enough to be made fun of. While others have stated that they like that is included in the game because now maybe people *will* talk about it as the creator of the game suggests. I hope that they are correct, but pessimist that I am, I foresee this as just one more way that a bunch of soldiers at a party can make fun of breastfeeding; and unfortunately when they are back on duty that unsupportive attitude may spill over on to an unsuspecting breastfeeding mother just trying to do her job.
**UPDATED (Feb 6, 2016) – I reached out to the creator of Disgruntled Decks and here is what the team behind the cards had to say:
Here’s a little insight into how our cards are categorized. The deck is made up of several different types of cards: cards with no particular humor by themselves; cards which are inherently funny or crass; cards containing combat-related themes which hopefully will facilitate conversation about subjects that some Veterans find difficult to discuss, and; cards about current events/topics.
The latter category is where the “Breastfeeding in uniform” card fits. This card was not meant to be disparaging towards women who must pump or feed while on duty, but was meant to facilitate conversation about a subject that, oddly, many people find issue with. Being in the position that you’re in, we’re certain that you’ve seen the ridiculous comments made towards the subject like “if they want to be a mom maybe they should just get out” and other such ridiculous statements.
Not surprisingly, many people are going to have issues with some of the cards in the deck; this we understand. However, as stated in The Army Times article, the game is meant to touch on difficult and sometimes taboo subjects, even ones like breastfeeding in uniform that shouldn’t be any more taboo than holding your baby in uniform.
This generation, and the military as a whole, is much more socially progressive than it was 10 years ago. Because of this, we’re hopeful that controversial issues like breastfeeding on duty, gays serving openly, and women in combat roles will no longer be considered controversial in another 10 years. Our children will cock their heads and ask what all the fuss was about.
We hope this provides some clarification. Thank you for supporting women in uniform and keep doing the awesome things that you do.
Interestingly enough when I posted the link to Army Times article about this on the BFinCB FB Page, it received a large number of very negative comments along the lines of why would I post this to a support page, that I was creating controversy where none exists, and that I was being too sensitive. I find it ironic that in trying to show how this card is NOT supportive of breastfeeding in the military, on a breastfeeding in the military support page, I was called out for being not supportive….?
What are your thoughts? Do you think the inclusion of the breastfeeding card is offensive? Or will it create discussion of a touchy subject? Leave a comment below!