At first I thought it was just simply the annoyance of the fact that legislation already exists to allow Mothers to Breastfeed where and when they need to, which you can read here, therefore, it is not a debate that should be had at all! It is legal. So that's that … RIGHT?
So what is it that has piqued my interest on this one?
After reading the "SEX DISCRIMINATION ACT 1984 - SECT 7AA", the issue for me lay in the fact that the point is being missed!
It is actually ILLEGAL to discriminate against a Mother who is feeding her child in a public place, in which she is entitled to be with or without a baby. The debate has been about the Mums "offending others" where in fact, legally, the onus is the other way around!
If a woman is sitting by a pool, or at a Cafe', or in the line at Coles, as long as the only other thing she is doing is Breastfeeding (other than using the facilities in each place legally) then she is to be treated equally as any other person in those places doing the same things. Unless any of those people are committing a crime.
So, it seems it comes down to the spectator. Which then raised the question for me ... Is there more to the Boob than meets the eye?
The fact is, History shows people are attracted to look at things that are different, hell, they used to pay money to go to travelling shows to see things that were different! (We still do, in less inhumane ways.) What is it about having to look?
I have a son who happens to have Down syndrome, so I can tell you a little of people having to look. Down syndrome, for those who are unaware, brings with it a range of characteristics, some physical and quite obvious, some intellectual and not so obvious. There are also some behaviours that are of higher incidence in people who have Down syndrome. One such behaviour is what is referred to as "Self Talk" or "Monologuing".
BORING ALERT - SORRY SOME TECHNICAL INFORMATION. Self Talk for people with Down syndrome (and sometimes people without) actually serves several purposes. When LJ talks to himself it can be because he is trying to engage with the people around him (get attention), he can be acting out a scene from a DVD he has just watched, he can be trying to process or make sense of a situation that may have occurred by recounting it or he may simply be bored and trying to entertain himself. BORING STUFF FINISHED.
Makes sense when you spell it our like that RIGHT??? But if you are at the Pool, or in a Cafe' or standing in the line at Coles and you saw this, you would stare or you would be trying NOT to stare, because it is different, it is something you are not used to seeing, you would be wondering "What is wrong with that kid?", "Is he OK?" you may even become a little distressed yourself. Sadly, it is also extremely apparent by some of the comments that have been made to me, it is offensive to some people and I should try to "tone it down". Well I can tell you ... I AM OFFENDED EVERY TIME SOMEONE STARES AT MY CHILD BUT THERE IS NO LEGISLATION TO PREVENT THAT!
Now as I say, LJ has some apparent physical characteristics that make it very quickly obvious he has a disability ... What if this was a child who has Autism and was having a sensory response to their environment? (Which could be mistaken for a tantrum) What if this was a child with Epilepsy and he was fitting? (Also could be mistaken for a tantrum) What if this was a teenager with his undies hanging out of the top of his pants that were around his knees? (Possibly be mistaken as a tantrum) What if this was a boy child dressed as a girl? Or a Mother Breastfeeding? These are all things that some people will not have seen before and may find a bit odd, unsettling, strange etc., describe it as you may, but these situations are not a grand plan to make you feel that way! If that is what you think, dillusional is a word that comes to mind.
If you are seeing something you don't see everyday, it may well be a bit unsettling as it is unfamiliar or you may simply not understand it (particularly the teenage pants thing?), but it does not mean we have the right to SUGGEST CHANGE or CHANGE anything about any of these situations, because none of these people are breaking the law ... and if you feel you must intervene, then you are being discriminatory. You must give them the same legal right to be as you are in public ... left to your own devices, unless you are breaking the law. Looking at them with a disapproving or a disgusted look on your face will not help either ... THAT to the guy in Coles the other week!
THERE IS SOMETHING YOU COULD DO: You might try being considerate! You could offer some reassurance to the parent of the fitting child, you could offer to hold the groceries of the parent of the child with Autism while they soothe their child, you could even offer to shield the Mother who is Breastfeeding so to give HER SOME PRIVACY! None of which may be required, but you could try to be kind.
When did our standards get to the point where our own well being was based on how strangers conduct themselves in their own attempts to get about their day? Are we that shallow that we have no consideration of people's differences? Well it seems we are, that is why we need ANTI DISCRIMINATION laws to guide us.
Our standards should be about how WE behave, the example WE set our kids.
Be more sensitive to others, embrace differences, offer your support or walk away if you can't or won't help. Don't hang around to tell someone what they are doing wrong (by your standards) or how it offended you or what they can do next time so it does not offend you.
People are just trying to get on with managing their day based on their own set of circumstances and who they are (Homeless, Disabled, GLBTIQ, Working, Unemployed, Carer, Australian, NESB Australians, Indigenous Australian, Man, Woman, Mother, Father, Child etc *), just the same as you.
A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference.
A. A. Milne (Winnie-The-Pooh)
A. A. Milne (Winnie-The-Pooh)
Let's commit to making a positive contribution, or getting out of the way so someone else can ...
Sounds like another Happy Ending to me!
What have you done to support a person who just needed a helping hand?
* My apologies for any incorrect terminology or omissions - feel free to add or correct in the comments if you wish to.