Posts Tagged ‘Queensland’


I Have Breasts – And I’m Not Afraid To Use Them!

January 20, 2013

If you are offended, look away now.

If you are offended, look away now.

After a Queensland mother was discriminated against at a local pool for – shock, horror – feeding her baby, Sunrise’s David Koch waded into rather hotter water by suggesting it was fair enough that she be asked to move.

Speaking on the Channel 7 programme, Koch said that Liana Webster should not have fed her baby in a “high traffic” area and that mothers should be more discreet when feeding their babies. I wonder what it is that he thinks will happen if someone catches a glimpse of nipple for a nanosecond. Women have been feeding their babies for thousands of years without social meltdown ensuing – does he think Australians are really so precious as to be unable to cope with seeing breasts used as intended?

Perhaps Koch might want to familiarise himself with the legislation of this century. He would then be aware that the law prevents discrimination against women on the basis of breastfeeding. Women may breastfeed wherever their baby needs them to.

While updating his legal knowledge, Koch may need to update his attitude towards women. He seems to be under the impression that the purpose of breasts is to promote products on behalf of advertisers. It would be good to think that Koch has developed beyond seeing women solely as vessels for sexual gratification, there to serve male whims. On the plus side, Koch’s co-presenters (embarrassingly labelled ‘Kochie’s Angels) did make clear their disagreement.

Like around 50% of the adult population, having breasts has absolutely no bearing on my IQ, or my ability to do my job. They’ve done a great job in giving my child a great start in life, with all the health benefits that brings – and yes, sometimes they have been the source of much fun as well. I am not offended if someone thinks they are pleasant to look at (I like to look sometimes myself for that matter) but if they prefer to look the other way, that’s fine too.

There is a serious side to Koch’s comments as well though. By perpetuating the belief that breastfeeding is something smutty, sexual, to be hidden, he influences public opinion. This increases the discrimination mothers face while performing a basic, everyday parenting task. Imagine if a necessary part of your working day was deemed inappropriate and something to be hide.

The World Health Organisation recommends breastfeeding babies exclusively until the age of six months where possible, then supplementing with solid foods until at least 12 months old. A 2004 study funded by the Australian government found that by one week, only 80% are breastfed, with the number reducing by the month. Only 14% are exclusively breastfed for six months.

While mothers cease breastfeeding for a number of reasons and not solely to avoid offending the likes of Koch, public attitudes are certainly influential. Breastfeeding is often far from easy and is one of those skills that becomes far more difficult when feeling embarrassed or uncomfortable. Having a mainstream media figure promoting such attitudes is shameful.

Perhaps if Koch spent less time concerning himself with what other people’s babies have in their mouths and more time removing his foot from his own, he may be better able to do his own job. Until then, how about letting mothers get on with what they do best – nurturing their babies.


Why Every Parent, Aunt, Uncle, Grandparent Should Support Gay Marriage – Straight or Not

February 27, 2012

I always believed gay marriage should be legal, in a passive, what-harm-does-it-do-to-anyone kind of way. I never really saw why people committing to cherish one another aroused such hysteria and the usual protestations of making a mockery of marriage made me smirk. Its not like I, with my record of divorce and single parenthood, am in a position to judge on that score after all. There is, after all, some amusement value in the flawed logic and the fire and brimstone lot do have a certain train-wreck quality when they get going on this topic. Still, it was never really personal until something happened today that got me thinking.

“Mum….sob…Oh Mum.. sob… I’m so sad.”

Pretty typical words from my nearly four year old. At least once a day she is in floods of tears and inconsolable about something. Quite often involving restrictions on chocolate for breakfast. Today, though, was something else.

“Mum, I want to marry you and I won’t ever be allowed and you’re the only person I want to marry ever, I won’t EVER want to marry a boy and I won’t be allowed to marry a girl. I only want to marry a girl.”

Not an early case of protesting an outdated and unfair law but I had one of those moments. One of those big, fat what-ifs that slammed into my consciousness.

What if, in 20 years time, she were crying over the same thing. Not the bit about marrying me of course, laws aside, she’ll have been a teenager by then and learned to hate me enough to go completely off that idea. But what if, some day, she falls in love with someone who happens to be the same gender? Contrary to one of the most hackneyed arguments, being gay is not a lifestyle choice (that one always cracks me up just a bit because it makes it sound like something you buy from Ikea alongside the bookcases and storage units). I have no reason to believe someone can choose to be attracted to the same gender any more than I can choose to be attracted to the opposite sex.

A couple of years ago, I was chatting with a psychologist who worked for the court system. I’d said something about trying to be the best parent I can and she laughed at what I’d said. What a child really needs, more than any amount of effort from her parents, is to know that she is unconditionally loved. That I can do. There may have been moments (many) that I have been driven up the wall by the relentless demands and dramas (the Miss Happy knickers tantrum coming to mind in particular) but I can say without hesitation that, unlike my sense of humour, my love has never wavered.

Unconditional means loving someone for who they are, not for who we want them to be. I want my daughter to know that her mum helped to push for the freedom that, by the time she is old enough, she can enjoy should she wish. That I love her no matter what. And for her to be happy – whoever she chooses that happiness to be with.

Queensland recently passed a law allowing same sex civil unions. One of the two main parties has vowed to repeal this law if at all possible.