Oh For Fuck’s Sake of the Day: “Natural or Nasty?”

I was just pointing some fellow twitterers to this rather decent article at the Age, “Standing up for the ones who have to sit“. (Check it out.)

Hellonhairylegs asked me:

Did you see the picture for the breastfeeding article at the bottom of the page?

I had seen the article earlier today on Essential Baby, “Natural or nasty? Breast debate rages“, but not the Age’s pointer to it.

Here it is.

Essential Baby: Debate rages: Natural, nasty? Two images, one of young baby feeding, other a soft-porn headless boob shot of a woman in black lingerie

The article, by the way, is about a breastfeeding guest teacher from the Australian Breastfeeding Association being refused ‘permission’ to breastfeed her four month old baby during a class on the life cycle and caring for babies. Apparently the Hume Central Secondary College principal thinkgs that year 8 students need parental consent before they’re allowed to be in the same room with such corrupting depravity.

Categories: gender & feminism

Tags: , ,

21 replies

  1. Yes, they love that pic on the left, I’ve seen it in the SMH as a pointer to an article on women’s health…because anyone science minded knows that to check your health a doctor only needs to see you’ve got some pert white cleavage.

  2. And in this context…which is meant to be ‘natural’ and which ‘nasty’?

  3. I suspect that the Principal took the easy way out and decided to dodge the ‘pile on from unenlightened parents who are horrified that their children might actually see a breast’ rather than because he or she thought breast feeding was a bad thing. I could be wrong, of course, but with the potential for media beatups and parental complaints to A Current Affair etc I can see why they would do it (if this is indeed the case). I’m not going to say you’d probably be surprised by what some people would complain about, because you probably wouldn’t.
    Before I forget, a friend bought in the ABA mag to work yesterday and on the front cover, among a host of other pictures, was a picture of a boy breastfeeding his beloved transformer doll. Nice work ABA.

  4. Mindy: The principal needs to stop and think for a moment, because discrimination on the ground of sex or parenting responsibilities is illegal. She’s teaching a class, she’ll have her four month old baby there, and a cuefed four month old is likely to need a feed during that class. Banning breastfeeding on school grounds is as dodgy as all get-out.
    Maybe the principal feels like they’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, but that means that a moment to stop and think about the actual issues is in order, instead of knee-jerk bowing to the bigots.
    Excluding breastfeeding from _a class about caring for babies_ just boggles my mind. I’m guessing the principal wouldn’t take a similar stance banning bottle-feeding in the class without parental consent, and that difference exemplifies everything that is 100% wrong with societal discourse around infant feeding and education.

  5. Absolutely and 100% fail on failing to notify parents it was going to take place.

  6. and 100% fail on failing to notify parents it was going to take place.

    Sorry, you’ve lost me!

  7. If the Principal and/or teacher had told parents that a demonstration of breastfeeding would take place in the class then this whole mess could have been avoided. It’s not like the Principal wasn’t aware that the woman was intending to breastfeed, nor by her own comment was she unaware of how some parents might react. Since this whole thing would have been planned weeks in advance, it’s peculiar that it didn’t occur to them to notify parents who could then request that their child not attend that part of the class if they had an issue with it.

  8. Why should notification be required? We don’t notify when multiplication is going to be demonstrated or World War I discussed or or Romeo and Juliet read.
    Breastfeeding is not sensitive, obscene, or inappropriate for children to be around. That’s my entire point.

  9. I would think that notification was thought necessary at that school because of the many Muslim children attending it.

  10. But Muslims ALSO breastfeed – the whole point is that this ISN’T a sexual act, it’s a woman using her breasts for the purpose (dare I say it) that God intended them to have. Visiting a public pool in London, Muslim mothers seemed to be dragging their boys into the women’s changing rooms with them up to the age of about ten, despite the acute discomfort of the rest of us. Chances of seeing bare female breastage … pretty high, so no obvious religious issue there.
    “This is such a normal and natural thing … that we need to get special permission from your parents to let you see it.”
    Beyond-epic Fail. Intergalactic Fail more like.

  11. I understand your point, Lauredhel, and believe me I wholeheartedly agree with you. But having been a teacher I can also understand the perfect shitstorm that the Principal would have had to deal with from parents who think it’s not appropriate. That’s why I said they should have notified the parents. That way the message would have gotten through to the kids that the school sees this as a natural part of raising a child and any issues would have been the parents’ issues to explain. It could have and should have been handled better.

  12. Deus, I am well aware that Muslim women breastfeed, indeed breastfeeding is a key determinant of which men are and are not allowed to see a woman without hijab. I also don’t think non-Muslims are in a position to say what is a valid and genuine religious issue and what isn’t. I’m not defending it, mind, since I think the whole principle of hijab is oppressive. I’m just pointing out that the probable reasoning behind this is a bit more complicated than ‘omg boobs bad’. And what Mindy said.

  13. Can someone point me to the evidence that Muslim people have a bigger problem with public breastfeeding than people from a Christian/Anglo background?
    Because that is not congruent with what I’ve read in multiple places.

  14. Yeah Christians, in my extensive and varied experience in a range of different ‘types’ of churches have some whacky views on the female body I have to say. To whit my sister’s work where they must cover their shoulders and the women discuss how they’d never bare their shoulders/wear skirts above the knees – they’re looking after their ‘brothers’ and don’t want to lead them astray – that’s some overestimation of your shoulders I think. And yet the menfolk are allowed to make jokes that revolve around boobs/bum/sex teehee and it’s expected men will ogle and leer at other women. (?)
    Also there is a generic Anglo prudishness about school kids knowing anything about bodies and how they work that seems bizarrely superstitious, like if they know how bodies work they’ll become underage sex fiends, and yet the same parents seem to find tv/movies/pop culture and it’s ‘sex haw haw’ stuff fine and in no way leading kids astray.
    I thought for a while we were talking kindy kids (not that it made *sense* even then). But I’m flabbergasted that this is early high school. These kids watch tv/ movies right? And pop culture goes unchallenged? So BOOBS BOOBS EVERYWHERE but not a drop to drink is the message?

  15. Muslims encourage breastfeeding and in some Muslim places it’s okay to breastfeed in public (but not in SAE or Afghanistan). What’s not okay is breastfeedign where the breast is visibly exposed. It’s all got to happen out of sight. That’s hijab / modesty.

  16. As the article states, the woman wasn’t planning to hang her breast out, and she was wearing a special-purpose nursing shirt to that end.

  17. The class was on “life-cycle and the caring of babies”. Perhaps the principal should also send home warning letters when science class does a module on evolution – just in case there are creationist parents in the PTA who might get offended.

  18. DEM: Not to mention the term “sexual reproduction”. Maybe they should stick to studying yeast-budding in biology until specific permission is obtained.

  19. I’m one of those parents that thinks its inappropriate when my child’s school reinforces the bottle feeding message – which, they do all the time. In my DD’s class on “life-cycle and the caring of babies” the expected answer to the question “what do newborns need to eat?” was “infant formula “. A booklet on animls failed to state lactation as the defining characteristic of mammals. A maths unit asked whether litres or millilitres would be used as the measurement on the side of a feeding bottle. I’m well aware that schools can’t please everyone. But most governments and Health Ministries play lip service to promoting breastfeeding, so, schools that recieve public funding should have no problem falling within that party line.
    The truth is, public schools often only magnify the perceptions of the mainstream. It’s easier that way. No perfect shitstorms to contend with if everyone is encouraged and expected to share the same narrow world view. Certainly no one in support of all that mindless bottle feeding propaganda was considering insulting our sensibilites as a breastfeeding family.

  20. (I hope that this isn’t derailing the thread too much), but the SMH is doing the same thing as the Age that earnt it this FFS button. At the bottom of this article http://www.smh.com.au/technology/technology-news/multicultural-radio-presenter-linked-to-antiimmigration-facebook-groups-20090702-d61l.html
    is an Essential Baby link, showing a heavily pregnant woman’s body reclining on a lounge wearing sexy underwear with the tag line “3 trimester bikini strut”. The actual Essential Baby story is really about the horrendous pressure women are under to jump back into their “lives” as though pregnancy and birth didn’t happen. The picture on the SMH is horribly objectifying and fetishising of the pregnant body. I don’t think that I going to far in calling it pregnancy porn.

  21. Hmmm… I’m thinking that this issue might benefit from a ”critical mass”-style series of group ‘feed-ins’ in conspicuous public places.

%d bloggers like this: