Let’s set the record straight on my opinion piece, ‘It’s time to normalise breastfeeding in South Africa.’


Right, so it was pointed out to me by a good friend that if one Googled ‘Normalise Breastfeeding in South Africa’ , the first thing you’re hit with is my opinion piece published to News 24 opinion on 13 April 2015. Here’s the link: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0CB0QFjAAahUKEwjH2vbF57LHAhVKHB4KHbVLB2E&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.news24.com%2FMyNews24%2FIts-time-to-normalise-breastfeeding-in-South-Africa-20150413&ei=rzzTVYfHIcq4eLWXnYgG&usg=AFQjCNGCdGhhJ59amdEyQcI6wqk4DMMkAA&sig2=_pvack9R5_eu4f53hSXVWQ

Sigh. This is very unfortunate. The piece was edited by the good feminists at 24, you see. I’ll explain:

I joined the FB group ‘South African Feminists’ a while back and got into big fights there from the get-go. It’s a small group of colleagues from Media 24 who started up the group and admin (read that as gatekeep) what falls within their specific margin of acceptable feminist behaviour. My first argument was sparked by mansplaining of feminist issues. So were the rest, mainly. Having offended a male feminist view by commenting that ‘women can stop having babies at any time if men refuse to come to the party’, one of the Media 24 girls refered to me as Valerie Solanas. My dystopian comment was flagged and I was threatened with expulsion if I didn’t apologise and the Solanas commentator was not required to apologise.

This went on for some time. The part where I left the group was when another male Media 24 ‘feminist’ posted about how women ought to shave their girl bits. My response was that paedophilia is a very real threat when women are expected to have vaginas smooth as seal pups. The inbox threats of expulsion in lieu of an immediate apology started again and I bid that lot adieu. So ridiculous. ADMIN: ‘Anel Olsson, check your other inbox please’ always preceding a sermon on how my ass is so almost out of this particular fold.

Who has time for this? Not me.

I forgot all about the ‘feminists’ and got involved in breastfeeding activism in the beginning of April and when I hit ‘send’ on my first opinion piece, did not connect the particular dots of why my piece was butchered to a point of being completely illogical reading material. Until another good friend at 24 joked I shouldn’t have pissed off those feminists.

Anyway, sane adult readers – here’s what I wrote (and sent off for publication, News 24 ‘feminists’) Pffft.

“It’s time to normalise breastfeeding in South Africa.

Becoming a mother is a massive collapse of ego. Your previously familiar biological self is often unrecognisable. You’re trying to do the best for the huge new responsibility/ies in your life. You may have had to face one or many complications around birth. Your hormones are raging with love, nurture and at time fear responses. Add to that sleep deprivation. It’s a huge adjustment.

And if you are lucky, you are well supported as a new mother. If you are very lucky, you grew up learning the reed dance, so breastfeeding freely is already a completely normal part of your culture. This is an aspiration for the rest of us.

Very often, modern living sends you back to work after 90 days. So if you’re going for gold and exclusively feeding your baby breast milk, you’ll be expressing milk or relying on expressed donor milk to nurture your hungry little bundle.

And at no point is it ok for someone else to attempt to humiliate you by likening your efforts to livestock being milked. Especially if those individuals have huge audiences, they have agency and are opinion leaders.

I’m speaking to you, Gareth Cliff. And you, Rian van Heerden.

As a mother, life as usual does carry on. You go out. You take your baby out with you. A baby will ask for food when and where they need it. And as you know, a hunger makes you angry and upset. Is this how you would like us to treat our babies?

At no point is it ok for anyone to harass you for feeding your hungry baby.

I’m speaking to you Martin Bester. And you Roger Goode. You Cliff, van Heerden and your female co-hosts who chime in to your Calvinistic sermons. I’m speaking to the public who call in to radio stations harassing nursing mothers. The internet trolls. The lactation support specialist who goes on air, telling nursing mothers they must consider others when feeding their hungry young. And then suggests we face a wall in a restaurant while nursing.

Media men, it’s not funny to refer to a breast as a ‘pram.’ Nor play audio clips of cows mooing, while interviewing a champion of promoting breastfeeding. Nor suggest we nurse where baby diapers get disposed of. Nor ask if we can’t just sit under the table to nurse, when in a restaurant.

Roger Goode’s mother going on air and chewing him out publically for his misogynist rant and demanding a retraction, which we got– now that is hilarious.

It’s very simple, guys and dolls. A child’s right to optimum nutrition is enshrined in our constitution. Not your hungry baby? None of your business. You don’t get a vote.

However, if you’d like to be a support, a social movement to normalise breastfeeding is flourishing, in light of this recent spate of vitriol aimed at nursing mothers. It’s time for us to dismantle this particular construct of the patriarchal discourse, too. Let’s do it for the future babies who deserve the best nurture, nature has to offer.

Let’s normalise breastfeeding.”

This is what I wrote and requested you update and got ignored for, mmkay News 24 staff? GROW UP.

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