herald

Tuesday 28 January 2020

Colette Fitzpatrick: Don't want to see a mum breastfeeding? Then just look away

Louise Burns almost burst into tears when the waiter rushed in with a napkin
Louise Burns almost burst into tears when the waiter rushed in with a napkin
Enda Kenny in PantiBar.
Madonna.

IF I was in Claridges Hotel in London and I found it offensive to look at men having lunch with women that were quite clearly their mistresses, would a waiter drape a napkin over them?

Or if someone came in a low cut top, or short skirt, would she be asked to cover up?

Or is it just a baby feeding at a breast that this high-end hotel finds offensive?

The latter, probably. Mum Louise Burns was asked to cover up when she breastfed her baby at the hotel this week.

I didn't breastfeed either of my children but believe any woman has the right to be able to breastfeed her child in public without fear of being told she's offending people or it's something to be ashamed of.

We need to get over the bizarre belief that something about breastfeeding is gross.

The irony is that as a society we're perfectly accepting of breasts used to sell cars, alcohol, clothes, just about everything.

Our society is hypersexualised and yet we're uptight about the natural functions a woman's body performs.

The arguments against breast feeding in public sometimes include, "if it's natural, well, so is spitting and peeing and we don't do that in public".

But milk is not actually a bodily waste product. It's also being delivered into a hungry child and not spilled all over the street.

Another ludicrous argument against breastfeeding in public is the "male gaze - breasts are sexytime" argument i.e that some men find it arousing.

Honestly if they do, that's their problem. Some people find school uniforms arousing, or nurses' uniforms, or short skirts.

Some find knees, ears or necks arousing. And yet we don't ask people to cover up those.

It's sort of, Person A finds Person B to be sexually appealing in Setting C, therefore Setting C should be banned.

uncomfortable

If for some reason you do feel uncomfortable when you see someone breastfeeding, why insist that it is you who is not discommoded?

How about forgetting about what you feel and just putting a baby's needs first? They are, after all, just following an instinct to survive, utterly unaware of society's contradictory disgust and worship of women's bodies.

Why not just discreetly look away?

And if you find breastfeeding offensive or you can't control yourseIf around a breastfeeding woman, I suggest you never switch on the TV, open a paper or a magazine or indeed go outside the front door.

Because breasts are everywhere.

 

Glad to see you enjoyed your night Enda, but when's the referendum?

So it turns out gay people vote too. At least that's the sort of conversation you imagine politician's advisers having.

Let's be honest. Every bean fest and hen fight that any politician from any party goes to is a potential vote getting event.

Who'll be there? And have they a vote? There are places to be seen, people to impress and votes to be secured. A good weekend in political terms is how many funerals you managed to get in.

A lot of events that Enda or Michael or Joan attend are all highly choreographed, reaching out to as many different types of people as possible.

It's to make sure that groups and communities believe that the politician or party is on their side and understand their pressures and challenges; that they're listening and have their best interests at heart.

In 2014, it should hardly be notable that a politician would go into a gay bar. Of course it is though, because here in Ireland no Taoiseach has ever been in a gay bar - that I'm aware of.

So when Enda Kenny turned up at PantiBar in Dublin this week for the LGBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) Christmas drinks, the internet nearly convulsed with minute-by-minute tweets from those on the scene, accompanied by dozens of pictures.

There he was. With James Reilly and Jerry Buttimer.

There'll always be those saying it was cynical optics and an exercise in trying to exploit the hopes of gay people to have equal rights.

Was it a stunt? Should we be giving Enda a pat on the back for something that really isn't a big deal, at all?

After all the key question for many still remains unanswered: just when will Enda Kenny announce a date for a referendum on gay marriage?

Madge shoot  has missed the point entirely

* I GET it that Madonna is trying to make a point about society and how ageist it is with her new topless photoshoot. But surely if the point is accepting that older women look a certain way and we need to stop glorifying youth, you don't need to enlist an army of stylists, photographers etc in a bid to look younger? And because Madonna is such an innovator, wouldn't it actually be more ground-breaking to do something other than taking her clothes off? How about posing with no soft lighting and no brightening? Now that would actually be trailblazing.

* I'M Really looking forward to curling up with Emma Hannigan's latest book, The Heart Of Winter. Emma is the queen of Irish women's fiction and this book is a tale of a family who appears to have it all but underneath the surface they have lots of problems and heartache. It looks like it's an ideal Christmas read and will go perfectly with a mug of hot chocolate or a glass of mulled wine beside the fire.

* Victoria's Secret held their fashion show in London this week with the models known as 'angels' (uuuggggghhh) stomping down the runway, allegedly selling lingerie to 'real' women. But I'm still trying to figure out why such a sexist medium is used in the first place, to sell something meant for and bought by women.

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