Expressing milk? Call the cops!

I can barely see through my anger and disgust right now. I’m going to let the story speak for itself.

“Express delivery furore”

The mother of a five-month-old baby was followed and questioned by police and security guards after she used a parents’ room at Westfield Marion to express breast milk, earlier this month.

Sharleen Salmon, who works at Marion, said she felt harassed and was embarrassed after a woman and a female cleaner at the shopping centre complained to police and centre security about her using the room during her half-hour lunch break.

The young mum, who has recently returned to work in the hair and beauty industry, to support her family, said “I was in a private area (in the parents room) behind the curtain and this cleaner just walked in on me and watched what I was doing.

“She told me the parents room was for parents and breastfeeding only – and that I wasn’t allowed to eat lunch in there.”


Ms Salmon, who expresses milk once a day, said she was followed back to work by a security guard and a police officer, who said a formal complaint had been made to centre management.

“They told me that a little kid had been running around in the parents room and had briefly seen what I was doing and had complained to its mum,” she said.

“The mum then complained to security and the cleaner came in to inspect what I was doing.

“They told me the complaint was that there was a topless woman eating her lunch in the parents room. It’s tough enough that I have to do this during my break, but for a complaint to be made about me doing it, is really upsetting.”

What. The. Fuck.

Categories: gender & feminism, law & order, social justice, work and family

Tags: , , , , , , ,

21 replies

  1. Shock, horror, woman eats her lunch while expressing milk during her lunch hour. Where else do they expect her to express milk? The food court?
    Someone needs to sit down the the cleaner and explain to her that walking in on someone expressing milk is not on, it’s none of her business if someone is expressing milk and if she’s so worried about people eating their lunch in the parents room, why doesn’t she station herself outside and stop everyone who comes in to heat up their lunch in the microwave?
    Also, someone needs to tell the person who complained to mind their own F’in business. If they are worried about their child seeing boobies in the parents room then never take them shopping. FFS.

  2. I understand that stopping a little kid running around a room is not always easy, but if a little kid goes behind a privacy curtain and sees something private, that’s not the fault of the person sitting behind the curtain!

  3. Word, tigtog. I always told my little curious one to not look under curtains, not because I was worried about what he would see – he could see me breastfeeding so I wasn’t worried if he could see someone else – but that the other person might feel uncomfortable. Why that kid’s mother didn’t tell him not to look I don’t understand, and then to complain, that really takes the cake.

  4. What can we do to upset someone about this? Letters to Marion Westfield? Anything else any one would suggest?

  5. If you follow the link you can put a comment on the media website. Vast majority of the comments are supportive of the Mum.

  6. Comments on the original article – a great idea. Letters to Westfield wouldn’t go astray, perhaps encouraging them to train ALL staff appropriately. If a woman has been harassed by a cleaner and security guard for expressing behind a curtain, it is likely there are broader issues of harassment of breastfeeding women in general within their walls.
    I’ll be interested to hear what the EOC has to say, and I want to know who called the police.

  7. If you google Westfield Marion, you get their street address.
    I also found this interesting (emphasis mine)

    Parent Rooms
    For your convenience we have Parents Rooms equipped with bottle warmers, change tables, private feeding rooms, nappy dispensers and microwave ovens. Dads, you are also welcome in all our Parents Rooms.

  8. Also, if you go to the Westfield Marion website, right down the bottom is a Contact us tab, where you can email them direct.

  9. This is really sad. Shock-horror, a woman exposed her breast in a private place and everyone goes insane. I hope she doesn’t lose her job over this.
    Angies last blog post..Fabulous Feminist Photos From Flickr

  10. I’m concerned by the implication that expressing isn’t a legitimate feeding activity (presumably no complaints would be made if there was a baby attached but then again, maybe I’m being too ‘generous’), which in turn implies that working mothers should either only use formula or stay at home and look after their kids. It’s another example of the failure to really acknowledge what it means to be a mother and a worker at the same time.
    I remember breastfeeding and expressing in public places as very vulnerable experiences, largely because of my fear of these types of reactions. Regardless of the outcome, it’s so horrible that someone should have that sense of attack and shame imposed on them.
    kriss last blog post..Babies and rhubarb

  11. It’s another example of the failure to really acknowledge what it means to be a mother and a worker at the same time.

    kris: Absolutely. There is one commenter on the original article who exemplifies this view, “hannah”, who wrote:

    she chose to go back to work and leave her baby at home she shouldnt get special treatment. there might have been a mum who needed to feed an actual baby rather than just express who wanted to use that room. She chose to go back to work so stuff her she shouldn’t whinge if she wants to continue breast feeding.

    “An actual baby”. I think that makes it pretty clear that the writer considers expressing to be something the mother does (for fun?), rather than a way of feeding a baby.

    I remember breastfeeding and expressing in public places as very vulnerable experiences, largely because of my fear of these types of reactions.

    I remember feeling that way, but because I was expressing full-time, I had to make a decision to get over it – the only other option being to basically give up my life for the duration. I was lucky, though; even though I’ve expressed (covered up, but not hiding what I was doing) out in the open in cafes, airplanes, and so forth, I’ve never had the cops called. And there would have been hell to fucking pay if I had. I’m glad this mum has laid a complaint, and really, really sorry that she had to in the first place.

  12. I’m gobsmacked by the fact that the complainer spoke of a “topless woman in the parents’ room”. “Topless” is such a commonly used word in the gutter media, to denote Girls Gone Wild / FHM type material. What a stark reminder of the prevailing idea of what breasts are for!

  13. Topless woman behind curtain? Goodness, what would they think of a communal change room?
    Nice work on hannah’s part (as quoted by Lauredhel). That just shows such depth and insight. I’d love to hear her opinions on cross cultural marriage and same-sex adoption.
    Arianes last blog post..A note to anyone organising a business competition

  14. feed an actual baby

    What her child, a potted plant? *facepalms*

  15. Wait, so a woman is expressing milk in a place set aside specifically for the act, on her personal time to do so, and was walked in on by some random person and she’s in trouble?! WUT.
    If anything, the person should apologise for likely making her really uncomfortable.

  16. What is it with the world? I am having serious difficulty seeing the problem here, the reason this poor woman is in trouble. She was in a private space, for feeding, expressing milk for the purpose of feeding a baby. FFS.

  17. Un.Believe.Able.

    And good for her for taking it to the Commission (not that she should have to).

    Writing e-mail to Westfield as we speak.

  18. Huh. I guess non-sexualized breasts are really disgusting. It’s certainly lucky the police had nothing better to do that day…who knows how many innocents would have been exposed to the offensive breast?

  19. So she’s in a private area, and is eating lunch (only half an hour for her break hence the need to eat and express simultaneously)… perhaps the centre staff thought she had her tits out for her own amusement?
    It’s not like anyone choosing to breast feed a baby could possibly be working of course … will be interested to see whether the centre tries to argue that parents room facilities are meant for customers only. Or is that too clearly discrimination?


  1. Feeding a child? Call the police! …again. — Hoyden About Town
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