There’s been a flurry of articles recently about the extreme or bullying lengths some health professionals are apparently going to in order to make parents breastfeed rather than formula feed.
I am absolutely sure that some people are dickheads about this – every “health” cause has its unwavering zealots who refuse to understand that not everyone can be crowbarred into their worldview.
But as someone noted on Twitter some days ago, whenever an issue like breast vs formula suddenly becomes THE HUGE ISSUE OF THE DAY you may find yourself wondering where these stories are suddenly coming from. And what clever person at which PR firm coined the term “Breastapo“.
It’s definitely not okay for anyone to feel bullied – and especially triply not okay for infants to go hungry – over this issue.
But it’s definitely interesting how not a single story on the matter has even hinted at why we have placed emphasis and resource into encouraging breastfeeding.
Not a single story has covered the fairly shitty history of the formula industry. None have mentioned the ongoing Nestle boycott, for example. None have so much as said, “These policies have come out of the fact that a lot of people who could breastfeed their babies were pressured not to, even to the extent of formula companies giving them free samples which leave them dependent on formula once their milk dries up.”
We do have words for people who get you hooked with free samples of their product, after all.
But no. Every story, every reporter, has just acted like out of nowhere, the Ministry of Health and nurses and midwives all got together one dark Sabbat night and said “let’s shit on new parents! Let’s make their lives harder! Fuck yeah, they’ll do what’s good for them and they’ll like it!”
Like I’ve said, I have absolutely no doubt that there are bullies and zealots and people who are fucked-up enough to harass new parents.
All I want to know is why this just now became the big issue. And why none of our so-called “journalists” seem to have asked any actual questions about it, or put it in any kind of context, or given their readers and viewers any kind of background.
Besides the obvious “because they just copypasted a PR release from a formula company”.*
Meanwhile, the formula industry’s stellar ethics are on display (not that anyone held a gun to our PM’s head and made him sign a can of formula and pose with it for the cameras).
*After all, that privilege only gets extended to Bendon.
Australia is moving towards legislating that all cigarettes be sold in “plain” packaging, and various New Zealand groups are all in favour. So are a few dudes I normally line up with on social issues.
Please don’t get me wrong, I’m not about to launch into some grand Liberty For All Against The Dark Forces Of The Nanny State argument, like Stephen Berry there. I’m completely on board with concerns about the health effects of smoking, of secondhand smoke, the fact that younger people and Maori are more likely to be smokers, and of course, the fact that when you’re talking about highly addictive substances it’s a bit fucking stupid to pretend doing it is the equivalent of not eating raw fish or only buying pink tech accessories.
The problem I have is that I have no idea how this is meant to achieve what it’s claimed it’s meant to achieve.
Put it this way: we’re going to stop young people smoking … by making it more illicit, more Something Your Parents Do Not Approve Of, more exactly-what-appeals-to-disengaged-young-folk?
We’re going to stop Maori smoking by saying “hey, you know that addictive habit we white people introduced, along with alcohol and syphillis, to your culture, which you may be using as an aid to get through the day, a way to socialise during work? Well you should be ashamed of yourselves, and thank the nice white powers that be for getting you hooked in the first place and now punishing you for it.”
Yes, smoking rates are trending downwards in demographic groups like young Maori women, but this probably has a lot more to do with continuous increases in the price of cigarettes forcing them to space out their smokos than with any actual attitude change towards smoking.
And you know, I realise they’re completely motivated by self-interest, but if BAT and PM are right about the potential to create a black market in knock-off ciggies, that trend could quite happily reverse on itself.
Especially with the above-mentioned “ooh, your mum will hate this!” added vibe.
Add to that a mainstream culture where some of the top-rated shows are about criminals with hearts of gold (Sons of Anarchy), the inevitability of prohibition failing because people like mind-altering chemicals (Boardwalk Empire), and big sexy challenges (Mad Men) to the current push by ASH and similar organisations to pretend that smoking was never cool, never ever, not even in the 70s-pretending-to-be-the-50s.
And what is this all meant to achieve? Well, it’s part of the much-touted aspiration set by our government, at the behest of their coalition deal with the Maori Party, to make NZ “smoke free” by 2025.
An aspiration that I frankly have a lot of problems with.
Key one? If you really want to make NZ smokefree, have the fucking guts to just ban tobacco, maybe on some kind of phasing-out process, pour some money into addiction programmes (because it might just pay to remember that people may start smoking for reasons we think are stupid but they probably continue because it’s addictive), stand by your principles and make it happen. Otherwise, frankly, you’re just a part of the problem, expecting to have your smoking-is-disgusting-and-bad-and-killing-our-kids cake and eating it with a but-we-can-let-another-generation-of-kids-get-hooked fork.
No (foreseeable) government is ever going to just ban smoking, and thus no government is ever going to make New Zealand nominally smoke-free (I say nominally because as we all know, Prohibition was a total success.) It’s just going to be aspirational, and a lot of people will get to feel superior to those Poor Stupid Smokers (including people who are smokers, like Stephen Berry, but seem to take some kind of perverse pride in their dependency).
Even before you take into account the massive resources of the tobacco industry, the fact is that smokers can probably be broken down into two key groups: (a) people who are addicted to nicotine and feel a bit down on themselves for ever starting the stupid habit and have maybe already got the message just a little bit that it’s bad for them and are a bit fucking over being talked to like they’re six years old*, and (b) people who started because it was rebellious and cool and are already pissed off they can’t have a smoke with their after-work beers** and will definitely be a tad unimpressed at having a bunch of preachy no-fun people taking away their heretofore normal-part-of-Western-culture-for-about-400-plus-years vice.
There’s also (c) “social smokers” who can happily go without a puff for ages, but then just assume the normal proportion of them are against it on various principles of freedom/liberty/free markets/etc.
Another thing that grinds my gears? Phrases like this:
Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said yesterday that the Cabinet had agreed to introduce plain packaging … but only after public consultation.
Boy, I sure have faith in that democratic process. It totally bolsters my faith in our political system when politicians show they really want to weigh everything up and debate the pros and cons before implementing exactly what they’d already decided to implement.
Enough from me. Have some damn funny smokers.
*Yes, you may now play a game of spot-who-has-dated-several-smokers.
**This should not be read as condemnation of the ban on smoking in pubs, I love it.
A Rolling Stone article from February has been doing the rounds – and should carry many big, clear trigger warnings for suicide, self-harm, homophobia, and hate speech (reported). This post on its contents likewise.
It’s entitled “One Town’s War on Gay Teens“, and it was a bit of an eye-opener to me.
It certainly wasn’t a revelation to me that there are truly hateful people in this world, that bullies get away with horrific abuse, that people are honestly so afraid of pointing out that there are a lot of self-proclaimed Christians in this world whom Jesus would absolutely tear strips off that they let them get away with encoding prejudice and bigotry into our society and schools and communities.
The revelation was this: I really haven’t taken my gloves off with these people, and I need to.
Despite being a shrieking swearing ranty bitchy PMS-ing monster truck of feminist blogging, I do moderate myself (you may pause to snort, if you will.) I do refrain from Jesus-would-slap-the-shit-out-of-you comments like the above. I do have this niggling little part of my brain that says there’s a line I shouldn’t cross, a line about faith and how people define their own, a line between pointing out the hypocrisy and horrific consequences without pointing too hard at the person behind them. Just as I’ve always objected to cheap shots about Gerry Brownlee’s weight or Cameron Slater’s mental health, I’ve felt that telling a person that it’s not their belief system that’s evil, it’s actually them, was … cheap. Dirty. Unbecoming. Something like that.
And then I read that Rolling Stone article. And while yes, like I’ve said, it wasn’t a surprise to me that fundy wankers have attempted to eradicate the existence of homosexuality from their communities (perhaps I should say, the communities burdened with their residence) and it wasn’t a surprise to me that this had caused some kids to take their own lives, something broke in my brain. Something clicked together. Something aligned, possibly the stars, and I realised in that moment a sad, terrible, huge, but ultimately truthy truth:
You fuckers are just, simply, fucking evil and if there is a Hell it will be too fucking good for you.
You shat on these kids.
You didn’t even tell them they, personally, were evil – you didn’t have to. You just removed any option they had of figuring out the world for themselves, because in your heads “choice” is just fine and dandy as long as the choices presented are all fundy-Christian-approved ones.
You let them get beaten up and harassed, and you threatened the adults in the best position to protect them with the loss of their job, maybe their career, if they dared to stop it.
You demonised the people who actually understand what compassion means and could have saved these kids.
In the wake of the suicides, the fundy asshats blame gay rights groups for the suicides. Because apparently telling kids that their feelings were valid “locked them” into a “lifestyle” etc etc.
Not, “telling kids their feelings were invalid and letting bullies attack them at their most vulnerable with no reprieve or protection from authority figures.” Not, “denying children even the acknowledgement of homosexuality by letting them know there was a policy outlawing acknowledgement of homosexuality.”
You trapped teenagers in a world where they could not even examine their feelings, much less acknowledge them, much less talk about them with anyone because you created a culture which made saying “I think I like people of my own gender” basically the equivalent of “I come from Mars and have acid for blood” and you fucking dare to say that homosexuality gave them no fucking options?
You actually think bullying is okay.
Michele Bachmann has a great point when she says bullying is wrong.
It’s only slightly ruined by the fact she said it to cover her ass after arguing that shutting down bullying was basically the end of free speech (ironic!) and would inevitably lead to “boys [being] girls”.
Because bullying isn’t wrong, apparently. Well, it is, it’s just that beating up a small, quiet guy for not being sufficiently manly isn’t really bullying, and constantly harassing a girl for wearing baggy sweatshirts isn’t either. They’re just basic social correction, bringing the deviants back into line so nothing threatens the established hetero social order. And those schoolyard bullies learnt it from you.
Let me tell you, people: Jesus was all about eliminating people’s differences and trampling on their individuality. Fo sho.
You are utter fucking hypocrites.
For people who think sex is a robotic process which married hetero cis couples should only ever engage in for the purposes of bring more little schoolyard thugs into the world, you are seriously fucking obsessed with sex, and “deviant” forms of it in particular.
Labelling Gay Straight Alliance clubs as “sex clubs”? I’d say “are you fucking high” but let’s remember: you’re not honest people. You’re not sincere. You’re half-driven to distraction by a lifetime of denying basic sexual urges, half-making shit up to scare the people who aren’t as evil as you but also aren’t particularly political, particularly engaged with broader social issues, who are susceptible to the bullshit you spin because you’re a Pillar of the Community.
You are, in fact, fucking evil.
You are entirely willing to destroy people’s lives if it maintains the dominance of your belief system. You will do whatever it takes to keep other people, other ideas, other ways of living in the shadows and bullying teens to the point of suicide is pretty much just hunky-fucking dory to you.
I do not believe that fundy shitstains actually think gayness is a choice. I do not believe they think it’s a genetic mutation. I think they do not care. It’s a threat to their natural order, so say and do whatever it takes to get rid of it, right?
Demonise teenagers. Pretend to be acting in their best interests when you say “oh, but they’re so confused at that age” with one Jesus-shaped sock puppet but scream “they’re evil and trying to destroy us!” with the other. Play on your fucked-up narrow-minded cultural paranoia, primed through decades of Yellow Peril and Red Peril and War on Terror, and turn it against your children because you’d actually prefer to see them dead than gay and at peace with themselves.
Fuck drawing lines in the sand with you cretins. There is blood on your hands. Your “faith” and behaviour bears absolutely zero relationship to the shit Jesus actually preached (gayness and abortion: not actually his favourite topics.)
But do you even have the faith you claim? I’m in serious doubt here. If you’d been born in any other country or time, would you just be the same hateful, demonic little fucks, waving whatever religion of convenience, whatever writings of whatever prophet, you could find to justify your self-centred bigotry?
You are fucking evil. And I’m pretty much decided right here right now that it is my life’s goal to fucking destroy you.
~A note to you other fuckers out there~
If you have read that Rolling Stone article, and you side with those people, and it offends you that I feel entirely justified in labelling those “Christians” as absolutely unmitigatedly evil people? You can go fuck yourself, because kids are dead and your buddies over there caused it.
Family Fist have ushered in 2012 with a poll of teenagers on sex ed. It’s fairly predictable, so my response is in bullet point format:
- LOL, Curia “Market Research”.
- Apparently we should teach values, which currently aren’t being taught, but shouldn’t teach things like “it’s okay to play with a person’s privates if they consent”, which isn’t a value.
- Majority of teens felt parents “should be told”. This obviously means “doctors must violate patient confidentiality” and not, say, that the majority of teens who get pregnant would tell their parents – I mean, that’s only what we filthy prochoicers have always said usually happens anyway.
- Teenagers’ views largely reflect their parents’. TRULY THIS IS SHOCKING. I mean, it’s not like parents are in any position to influence their children’s views or anything.
But I’m sure some intern at Stuff will get paid to write this all up like it’s relevant, accurate, reliable, or news.
Nothing like being called “evil” to warm my heart on a freezing Wellington night.
But there’s something that keeps cropping up that I need to address.
It’s this notion:
Even women who believe in abortion would know down deep what they’re doing and try to block out that side of it.
Women are in denial, people (or the more common alternative, women don’t realise it’s a Baby(TM)).
Women just don’t know – or pretend not to know – that what’s growing inside them (and using their bodily resources and permanently altering their body and potentially damaging their health or even killing them) is a precious rosy-cheeked infant just waiting to compose symphonies and cure cancer.
Women, you see, are a bit thick.*
Maybe women do actually know It’s A Baby.
Maybe that’s why they want a fucking abortion.
Maybe that Baby is the result of rape. Maybe that Future Beethoven will forever connect her to an abuser and give him another weapon to use – heck, another victim. Maybe that Precious Life is going to kill her. Maybe that Gift From God is going to take resources and energy to raise which she can’t give – oh, and fuck off especially on this one, fundies, unless you have honestly never bitched about women getting welfare to raise the children you want to force them to have.
Maybe she really, really wants this child, has planned for this child, has prayed for this child, and there are complications which mean its life will be nasty brutish and short. Or she gets diagnosed with cancer and if she doesn’t get chemo they’ll both die. Or she has a family history of illness that she doesn’t want to pass on. Maybe this is the most fucking heartwrenching horrible decision she has ever made, and yes! Yes, spucwits, maybe she WILL regret it, and feel terrible, and hate herself, and feel like she thoroughly deserves the harsh judgment you so like to pretend you’re not passing out. And yeah, she probably doesn’t want to think about The Horror She Is Committing.
But she still knows it’s a fucking Baby(TM). She still knows it would, with time and frankly luck on the health front, be born and become an autonomous human being. She knows that by having an abortion she will stop that Innocent Potential from ever being fulfilled.
The only thing that is certain, when people start saying “women hide the truth from themselves” and “women need to understand It’s A Life Growing Inside Her [against her will]”? Is that those people think women are stupid and thus denying them choice is a-okay.
When women seek an abortion, they know they have a Baby(TM) growing inside them. They’d like it to stop. That’s why they want an abortion.
PS. Chris Trotter seems oddly defensive about me commenting on his post, with that whole “OH I AM SO HONOURED YOUR MAJESTY” shtick (oh man, don’t I qualify as a “Comrade”?). Dude, you quoted me. That’s how these Internets work.
And he still doesn’t understand this “numbers without context are meaningless” concept. Did y’all know that in the past two years my salary has doubled? Quick Chris! Draw conclusions about the economy and state of NZ workers’ rights without bothering to find out if it’s because I finished uni and changed jobs, that’d get in the way of soulful rhetorical questions!
Also (dammit woman, get some impulse control) apparently Chris’ post could not possibly contribute to stigmatizing abortion. This is because Chris is a pansy effeminate bitch, and in saying that I cannot possibly have contributed to societal discourse which devalues the non-masculine because society already does that.
PPS. I also love the way some people have reacted entirely predictably to my shits-and-giggles comment. It’s hard to pick what’s really funny about “abortion images” though; is it the obviously fake stories attached (the doctor put it in the microwave and drank it through a straw!!!)? Is it the way that a smudge of jelly really fails to make the antichoicers’ “it’s a BABY!!!! With feet and an appendix!” arguments? Is it the fact that, in the age of Saw movies, even real-looking gore doesn’t really pack a punch – thus revealing the images’ creators for the out-of-touch privileged old wankers they are?
*And isn’t it fucking amazing how yet again, the reactionary forces of privilege use the same bloody arguments in every single issue? See also, “fat people don’t realise they’re fat.” Because they live in basements, apparently, with no access to mass media.
… when it’s forcing me to defend Pauline Hanson.
I mean, it’s bloody Sarah Palin all over again.
Attack her policies. Attack her actions. Attack her statements. But for the love of fuck, stop attacking her because she’s a woman. Stop attacking her in ways only women (and gay men feminized for the occasion) get attacked.
An Australian newspaper, which no, I’m not linking to, has allegedly received sexual/nude photos allegedly of Pauline Hanson from, allegedly, over thirty fucking years ago.
Cue every fucking media outlet covering the story, not to add anything, not to comment on the political situation around her or her recent activities as a politician*, but just so they can fucking splash those photos around as much as possible. Fuck, they’re probably even telling themselves it has something to do with The Public’s Right To Know.
Does the public have a right to know that at some point a young woman who may or may not be Pauline Hanson posed for nude photos? And if so, why?
Is it because using any excuse to call a woman a slut – especially a powerful/influential/high-profile/older woman – is a good excuse? Or because the easiest way to attack a woman’s credibility is to bandy about the notion that at some point in her life she may have done it with boys and, Gods forbid, enjoyed herself? Clearly signs of an immoral personality who shouldn’t be allowed any kind of power – why, forget that you might find her actual policies or ideology reprehensible or anything, she might just be too busy having it off to even show up!
God, this shit gets tiring some times. So I’m going to leave you with the words of the fantastic, sadly fictional, Laine Hanson (creepy synchronicity!):
I just wouldn’t be using sex as leverage if I were you. Because, you know, there’s one thing you don’t want. It’s a woman with her finger on the button who isn’t getting laid.
*I specifically note “as a politician”, because of course the TV media, never sated by static images, naturally grabbed footage of her stint on Australian Dancing With The Stars and overdubbed it, “She certainly had no objection to squeezing into black lycra on television” – absolving themselves from responsibility for flashing the photos up on screen time and time again BECAUSE THE SLUT WAS ASKING FOR IT, YOU SEE. Rape myths: they’re not just for sexual assault any more!
Related Post: Clem at The Dawn Chorus commends Pauline Hanson’s reaction to the ZOMGSCANDAL. Laine would be proud.
Update: and now this has hit the blogosphere in force, there’s also a round-up of posts at The Hand Mirror, in addition to what I’ve garnered at the end of this post.
And it’s kind of, do-I-laugh-or-do-I-cry:
In a review of the workings of the Abortion Supervisory Committee, initiated by Right To Life New Zealand, Justice Forrest Miller said there was a reason to doubt the lawfulness of many abortions.
Here’s the deal in the liberal hippie communist paradise of the South Pacific, bastion of human rights and progressive thinking (see also Women’s Suffrage, Abyssinia, nukes, Georgina Beyer):
I don’t really have words, at this point. I can’t believe these things need to be said. I can’t believe multiple organisations are still trying to claim that this isn’t victim-blaming.
Background: ALAC, the Alcohol Advisory Council of NZ, have launched a campaign called “Had Enough?”
Two of their ads feature men getting drunk, acting like dicks, doing awful things and then feeling like shit afterwards.
Which makes total sense.
The third ad, on the other hand, features a woman getting drunk, acting drunk … and being dragged down a dark alleyway by a seedy-looking guy. As her increasingly panicked shrieks ring forth from the television, ALAC points out that THE DEMON DRINK IS BAD, Y’ALL.
All three can be viewed here.
Those of you used to discussing feminist and/or sexual assault issues in any forum will of course be utterly unsurprised just how much people are willing to say that there isn’t a qualitative difference between those advertisements.
It was nearly three weeks ago, and I’m still so bloody mad about this.
One of my vicious pet hates is the fascinatingly obvious hypocrisy of people. Middle-class white woman in Hummer driving the littlies to private school is snapped by speed camera? MY GOD, IT’S A BLIGHT ON SOCIETY, IT’S JUST A REVENUE-GATHERING EXERCISE. Asian student in Mercedes is snapped by speed camera? GET THESE FOREIGN DEVILS OFF THE ROADS, THEY’RE ENDANGERING THE KIDDIES.
But truly nothing in my two-decades-plus-some on this planet ever really prepared me for this: