Quizzically Musing

Watching the madness

Archive for March 2011

Breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding

A friend feeding her baby son

This photo was originally posted on facebook in protest at the banning, by facebook, of breastfeeding photos taken by a wonderful photographer, Christopher Rimmer.  That caused quite an international media storm! My friend has given permission for the photo to be used here.  You can see some of Christopher’s stunning work here.

Breasts.  What are they for? For FEEDING babies.  Yesterday the following status was floating around facebook (I’ve just noticed there are no capital letters in facebook, so that is not a typo 🙂 ) and I was reminded that in 2011 it seems we are still freaked out about a woman doing the most natural thing in the world – feeding a child.  The status was:

So I was on the toilet this morning, eating toast with Vegemite and a bowl of muesli and…What? You think there’s something wrong with eating in the toilet? Did that irk you a little? Then why do people suggest breastfeeding mothers feed their babies in the toilet? If you’re a fan of brestfeeders’ rights, I DARE you to put this up as your status.

Why all the hullabaloo about women feeding their children where ever it is necessary?  Sex.  Western civilisation particularly has this “thing” about breasts almost being classed as genitals.  They aren’t.  Do people get aroused over the sight of a cow’s udder?  No?  Human breasts are for the SAME purpose.  To produce milk to feed offspring.  Yet from all the hype around the topic of where and when it is appropriate to feed a child, one would think this was an insult to humankind.  Or an invitation to have sex.  I do not get it.

If anything, the situation seems to have got worse, rather than better, in the years since I had babies (over 30 years ago).  I remember a fuss over women breastfeeding on planes in the USA just last year.  So are mothers supposed to starve their children while flying?  I’ve yet to see any breastfeeding mother actually flaunt her breasts while feeding.  Miranda Kerr posted a photo of her feeding her new baby and congratulations to her for doing so.  Other celebrity mothers have done similar recently.  We need more of it.  Yet they cop criticism for doing so.  I applaud them for raising the profile of the debate.

Debate?  There should be no debate.  Strangely for me, I haven’t researched if trying to restrict breastfeeding is in contravention of any human or civil rights international conventions or convenants, but morally it certainly is.

Surely feeding a child is a basic, almost THE most basic, human right.  It should most certainly be a civil right.  I’d love to see a precedent case!

Breast milk is the most appropriate food for a baby.  Some women can’t breastfeed and have no option but to bottle feed.  We certainly should not be almost criminalising those mothers who do breastfeed.  I could cite a string of articles about the benefits of breastfeeding, but you can all Google as well as I can and I’m sure if you are reading this, you already have an interest, one way or the other, in the topic.  I’m simply looking at the question from the perspective of human and civil rights.

I’m almost sorry I am not going to be breastfeeding any more children, because I’d love to give some of the anti-breastfeeding brigade a run for their money.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 31, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Religion in public schools – NO!

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All I wanted to do was check the footy results.  Unfortunately I stumbled across an article in The Age reporting the Victorian Education Department is forcing public primary schools to teach christian religion.  I am astounded!  In Victoria we have a Liberal government.  One of the foundation principles of the Liberal party is freedom of the individual!

From the party’s web site:

We believe in the inalienable rights and freedoms of all peoples; and we work towards a lean government that minimises interference in our daily lives; and maximises individual and private sector initiative.

Forcing my children to learn christian religion, or ANY religion, is denying my rights and freedoms.  Forcing my children into religious education is certainly NOT minimising interference in my daily life!  This all seems to stem from 2006, when we did not have a Liberal government, so I hope the Victorian Government acts and acts NOW on this issue that is so against the principles of the party.

We are also supposed to have freedom of religion in this country.  This issue has caused me to change my vote once before at a federal level.  This time I will voice my disapproval more strongly!

The Humanist Society has set up a website to “garner views on the issue” and is taking legal action against the Education Department.

Australia is a country of people from many different lands, many different cultures and many different religions.  We are are multicultural society and forcing christianity into schools is NOT the Australian way.  Read the article and see what it is suggested the children who opt out of the classes are going to be doing:  according to the article, they must not do any other classwork.

I am shocked.  Very shocked.  I am still embroiled in a civil rights fight with a federal government department and now I must look at particpating in a fight against a state government department.  I have four children about to enter the Victorian education system.  As a parent this is not what I want for my children.  Clearly I am not the only one, given the  Humanist Society website states:

12:30 – We are also aware that the Humanist Society of Victoria’s website has been so inundated with people wanting to access it that it has crashed. This speaks volumes on just how many people care and want to learn more. Future information will come from FIRIS so be sure to subscribe to the newsletter.

EDIT:

In the spirit of “if you want to change something, suggest an alternative”, resulting from a discussion with someone else, my suggestion would be introduce Cultural Intelligence classes and within that framework touch on all religions to provide awareness, rather than indoctrinate in one.  We need Cultural Intelligence training, so why not start early?

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 27, 2011 at 1:00 pm

Boardroom Quotas?

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Those of you who browsed The Age today, probably other media as well, will have noticed our Governor-General Quentin Bryce suggested we introduce affirmative action to get more women on the boards of companies.  While towards the end of the article, Quentin admitted she wasn’t in favour of quotas, quotas were indeed mentioned.

I’m not a fan of quotas.  I’m a woman (in case you hadn’t noticed), so I feel I am at least slightly qualified to comment!  I’ve never been in favour of quotas.

Definitely, definitely support equal rights, equal pay and equal opportunity.  I’m just not sure we achieve any of these things in a real way by legislating for a certain percentage of boards of companies (as an example) to be female. 

My biggest concern is that we may well end up with token appointments and that does no-one any good, least of all the reputation of women.  I am a woman who could have taken that path, had I wanted to.  I have the qualifications and the intelligence.  I CHOSE, very specifically, to do what I do because I enjoy it.  I have no desire to be the CEO of one of the major banks either.

I consciously stepped back into the sort of role I have now because I like doing the work I do. I personally believe there are a lot of women who are similar.  Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we want to.  I have met men who are of a similar mind – it is not just women who choose enjoyment over a larger pay packet.  I just think more women make such choices than men do.  While I would possibly consider a role in an organisation I was passionate about, such as an NGO or a hospital, my motivation comes from enjoying what I do, not having the corner office on the 40th floor.  I’ll admit first class air travel is attractive though!

So before I could support quotas, I would want to be assured that there are enough appropriately skilled women out there who WANT to take on those roles, otherwise we’ll get those token appointments I mentioned.

I would like to see us find other ways to encourage companies to  include more women on their boards and appoint women to senior management positions.  A reward system may work better that waving a big legislative stick.  Businesses know that over 50% (in many cases) of their customers are women.  Women control a VERY large chuck of not only the family budget but also discretionary spending.  We are good for business at ALL levels.  Just let’s keep our choices open!

If you are a woman reading this, would you want to be the CEO of the ANZ, NAB or some similar organisation?  Would you want to be on a few boards?  80 – 90 hour work weeks in some cases.  A lot of travel in others – or both.  I’d rather have more time with my family.  Maybe that is just me.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 8, 2011 at 7:14 pm

The news is annoying me…

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I’ve been watching/reading the media and can’t really find anything to get my teeth into.  Maybe I’m just jet lagged still.

I am about over Charlie Sheen’s antics (isn’t everyone?).  Northwestern University’s Professor J. Michael Bailey arranged for the demonstration of a sex toy in a tutorial, causing quite a stir: in fact far too much of a stir when there are far more important things to worry about.  Too many police have searched through the details of the St Kilda young lady saga, so we are told.  This is surprising why?  Kevin Rudd is trying to rule the world or at least make sure he leaves a sizeable carbon footprint.

The unrest in the middle east continues and while this situation is of global importance and the loss of life terrible sad, it is not an issue I really want to delve into.  I was a little to close for comfort recently when protests started in Oman while I was in Qatar.  Seems I missed meeting up with Kevin in Abu Dhabi by a day.

I see an article about the Victorian Government allegedly blackmailing Melbourne University and decide I really do not want to know – someone else can take that on board.

Lady Gaga has, thankfully, taken legal action against the makers of breast milk ice cream, but only for the name – the ice cream will probably stay.

Will the media PLEASE stop referring to Julia’s partner as First Bloke?  I don’t care what side of politics any of us are on, this is our NATION we are talking about here and frankly I think we can come up with a better title that doesn’t make US all look like country yokels on the world stage. 

I’ll almost be glad when the real footy season starts – at least the front pages will be predictable, if nothing else.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 6, 2011 at 6:35 pm

Xenophobia

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As many readers may know, I have been out of the country visiting my husband.  This article is therefore several days old, but it was brought to my attention upon my return by themoleblogger.

Ross Gittins raises some very interesting points about the asylum seeker debate, looking specifically at the reactions of people and how those reactions can be manipulated by politicians and the media.

What we need are more members of the media speaking out clearly.  We need to acknowledge the problems and challenge the moral panic that seems to be gripping this country.  We need to find our humanity again.

Ross says, “…in their efforts to gratify and exploit public resentment of ”illegals”, governments of both colours have given the highest priority to preventing individual asylum seekers from telling their stories to the media. They must continue to be seen as monstrous invaders, never as flesh and blood.”

It is time we, the people, took a stand.  We must make it clear we will not be manipulated for political advantage.  Or are you happy to be a tool of unhumanity?  The choice is yours.

Written by Robyn Dunphy

March 3, 2011 at 1:58 pm