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Passionate mother of two wonderful children. Believe in people using their powers for good and not evil. Advocate for my kids. My eldest child is a talented, intelligent, socially aware, proud, young, androgynous person and my youngest is also talented, clever, loves the outdoors and has excellent problem solving skills, he also happens to have Down syndrome. As a family we love trips to the beach, park, shops and Maccas for the play equipment. I enjoy reading, writing, crochet and cooking.  I believe in equality and inclusion in all aspects of life for all. And I believe in justice. Hope you enjoy my blog :)

Monday, 21 January 2013

There’s more to the Boob than meets the eye …

In this latest climate of Human Rights, and in relation to where Babies have a right to eat, I have found myself becoming very involved in a debate around Breastfeeding, which really has never had much relevance in my life!  Why? I ask myself am I drawn to this?
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)
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.
Warmest regards,
Sandra xo

6 comments:

  1. I have to say I am so embarrassed about seeing breast feeding occur, or seeing baby bumps especially without any, even a weenie bit of fabric over the bump, or being near nappies being changed. I cringe to admit I am just not that cool. But! I would defend any women's right to do as she pleases, where she pleases, how she pleases and keep my thoughts to myself and most likely excuse myself. As I see it many women feel liberated during pregnancy and love the idea of showing off their baby body and enjoy feeding their baby or indeed they may not have a choice but to feed in the long queue on the way to the one open checkout where we, women mainly queue to put out our purchases for another women (probably underpaid, casual and without super, or a woman who has to get back to work because her youngest can make a slice of toast)checks it all out and packs our groceries and then we pay for that privilege!!! What is to really stop us all working out and thieving? I am beginning to rant.

    I will share on disability another day. But before I go sometimes I do think my little tank of oxygen could pack a good thwack on a bad day!

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    1. A woman after my own heart #ranting LOL Yes, I do appreciate we all have a different perspective on many of these issues it is because we are each individuals. Wouldn't it be a very boring world if we all just agreed? xo Would love to hear more of your comments, hope to see you here again :-)) Sandra

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  2. What a great angle to look at this from! Love it.

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  3. Thanks Sharon. I am sure there are lots of angles on this one. That is mine :o)

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  4. It must be better than expressing milk to take away? And heaps more convenient? And I know it's reputed to give the baby the healthiest start possible. I went to a forum on AIDS/HIV and a woman proudly claimed she fed her baby naturally and was really delighted to have been able to do so. Clearly it's a very deeply felt issue. Who has the right to judge?

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    1. Yes! The health benefits to a child are probably not really fully known. The same can probably be said for the mental health benefits for a Mum. I myself was not able to feed (no milk) my first son after 6 weeks and it was disappointing, and due to other complications around the birth of my second son, I never breastfeed him. I would have liked to, and yes, without judgement. It seems this is also one of those things that everyone has an opinion on and "you're damned if you do and you're damned if you don't!" Despite the fact the legal rights are in favour of the breastfeeding Mother. Sandra :0)

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