Friday, 11 May 2012

Write and Thank the BBC

Penny Smith
I'm getting a lot of good feed back for the BBC London interview I did this morning, on the TIME cover controversy.

Now, as you know, I've had some difficulties at times, on radio interviews, including being thrown off the World Service.

And many of you have complained, endlessly, and ceaselessly, about media bias and bigotry about women, mothers, and breastfeeding.  You've written, phone, emailed and blogged your outrage and demand higher quality from both the BBC, and their journalists.

Well, today you have a brilliant opportunity, to write in and thank them for just that - excellent quality and an excellent journalist.

Penny Smith, who conducted my interview today, is responsible for how good it was.  The research team at BBC London, who phoned me this morning at 8.05am, are responsible for how good it was.

Good journalism.  An excellent intro by Penny Smith, and her letting me speak without attacking, belittling, taking exception or holding me and other women up to ridicule.

This is EXACTLY the standard we look for from the BBC.  And if we want to see more of it, we need to make our voices heard.  It's easy to be the one that always complains.  It's harder to be the one to take the time and effort to say 'Well Done".  It easy to pick up the phone and rant, when you are inflamed.  It's easy to email, when you're in a temper.  The temper drives you.

Finding time to sit down and say "Great" in a busy day is harder.  Please try and find that time.

The interview can be heard HERE.  Go to 1.29 on the cursor.  The item starts at 1.29 and finishes at 1.40.

Please email Penny Smith and say 'Thank You'.  Please email the Vanessa Feltz Show, and say "Penny was great this morning."

Please email BBC London, and say "Great Job" for Penny Smith this morning.  10.30 am, BBC London, Friday May 11th.

AND  (Really Important)

Please email, write or phone the BBC central line, and do the same.  If you want to see better coverage, real journalism, and good interviews, you have to tell them when they did it right!  Please?  Now?  Thank you!


Phone This Number:  03700 100 222*

03700 100 212* (textphone)

*24 hours, charged as 01/02 geographic numbers

The Standard of Journalism You Get, Is In Your Hands!  

Thursday, 10 May 2012

And We Keep On Winning!,16641,20120521,00.html  May 21. 2012

Slightly annoyed the boy is wearing combat trousers.  But I do understand that boy's clothes are difficult to buy.  It probably didn't occur to anyone, to juxtaposition the 'feeding child' in combat gear, to undercut/underline the grown up male aspect.


So want this framed and on the wall!  :-)

And yes, it does say 'driven to extremes' and it's unlikely that the article is going to be a good one.  But it's mainstream, folks.  The agenda is out there, up front, and being taken seriously.  Winning is in the little things changing in the press, not expecting it all to be perfect and exactly like you'd want it to be if you wrote it.

But let me do just say in advance: don't read the comments!  Just look at the picture on the newsstands, and smile.

What's even more awesome, this is also an adoptive mother.  Yes, an adoptive mother breastfeeding on the cover of Time and talking about it inside!   :-)

The article the cover relates to, can be found here:,9171,2114427,00.html?xid=fblike

Article with the Mum in photo above:

Wednesday, 9 May 2012

New Book

Goodreads Link
Just to let you know I've published a new fiction book.  It's a collection of short stories, well, it's two short stories, and one novella.  Both the shorts are horror, and the novella is an occult thriller.

One of the shorts is about mothering.  Badly.  In my opinion.  I thought you might be interested in seeing an excerpt from it.  Trigger warning, therefore, on those who might have experienced stringent, routine driven mothering, that involved crying it out and other delightful ideas about How To Train A Child.

Alma Mater

            ‘What is that stench, how can she make such a foul odour?’ 
            Although quiet, and polite, Alma’s husband could hear the repulsion in her tone: could hear her muscles clenching and her body turning to piano wire as she spoke.
            ‘Don’t speak like that in front of Catherine, she can hear you.’  Acutely aware of his wife’s moods, his own words were muted and light, with an attempt at humour.  He smiled down at three week old Catherine, and rubbed her belly with a light tickle.
            ‘Oh don’t do that, she doesn’t want a poo-ey hand touching her.  Haven’t you finished?’
            James had indeed finished changing the nappy.  Poor Catherine had seemed a little constipated, and had squealed and cried and turned bright red as she howled.  He’d come home from work to be greeted by the shrieks from the pram in the outer porch whilst Alma had been finishing making dinner in the kitchen.
            Alma liked dinner to be on the table in front of him as he walked in the door at 6.15.  The screeching from Catherine had been matched by the icy silence from Alma, as he entered at 5.55.  Prior to his daughter’s birth, he’d have hung around at the train station until he could walk in the door at the correct moment.  Now, his desire to hold his daughter in his arms, lift her up and cuddle her, and have that bit more time with her before she was sentenced to the bedroom at 7.15, over rode other considerations.
            Alma was furious on two counts.  One, he’d come home ‘early’ and two, dinner wasn’t nearly ready.  Catherine, it transpired, had been an absolute nightmare all day.  Crying, refusing to sleep, refusing to swallow all her bottle, and deliberately vomiting up her milk on her nice clean clothes.
            ‘Honestly James, she is just like you.  She never listens and does exactly what she wants.’  Alma had stirred the bolognaise sauce she was working on with such speed it slopped out onto the cooker.
            ‘Now look what she’s made me do!’  Alma took the saucepan off the ring and washed down the cooker top before putting it back on and continuing the frantic swirling.
            James had smiled a smile of consolation and comfort, picked up Catherine and taken her upstairs.  Twenty minutes later, with her tummy rubbed and her legs bicycled up and down, she’d finally managed to get rid of the thing that was hurting her, and had stopped crying.  James had cleaned her up and was just about to put the new nappy on, when Alma had arrived to comment on the smell, and to state that dinner was on the table.  James thanked his wife and carried Catherine back down the stairs.  He placed her in the little Moses basket his mother had given them, and watched her look around as he ate his spaghetti.
            ‘I wish you wouldn’t keep looking at her like that, she’ll get spoiled.  She has to learn she’s not the centre of the Universe.’
            James smiled and carried on eating, carried on gazing at his beloved Catherine.


            The shrieks were ear piercing.  James felt his nerve begin to break.  He’d been pacing the living room for over an hour, despite Alma’s promises that it wouldn’t go on for more than ten minutes.  So far he’d kept to his side of the bargain: not to interfere, not to intrude on her authority as the mother.  But the feeling of his skin searing off his body, and fear knotting up his stomach, was becoming impossible to ignore.  Every one of Catherine’s screams and wails was killing him.  He could feel his heart jumping in response.  He gave in to his instincts and went upstairs.
            Alma was sitting outside the nursery, reading her Women’s Weekly.  She’d put her chair in front of the door, barring the way.  She looked up at him as he emerged onto the landing.  Her eyes rolled and the magazine was put down with a huff.
            ‘Oh for goodness sake, James!  She’s perfectly all right!’ 
            ‘She doesn’t sound all right.’  He’d had to raise his voice to be heard above the cries.
            ‘She is warm, well fed, safe and comfortable.  I double filled her bottle to get her through the night and her nappy is dry.  There is nothing wrong with her.’
            ‘She’s lonely!’  His voice raised until it was almost matching Alma’s extortions.
            ‘She’s in a TEMPER.  You don’t propose to raise a spoilt brat, do you?’
            ‘She’s six months old, how can she be spoiled?’
            ‘Easily, with you around.  Always picking her up, cuddling her, telling her what a good girl she is.  Always rushing to her for the slightest whimper.  You’ve caused this!’
            James stared at his wife.  The schism that existed in their world had never seemed so great, so profound.
            ‘How can you bear to hear her in pain like this?’
            ‘She is not in pain.  She’s in a temper, and heaven knows, if we don’t control it now, we’ll have worse to come.’  Alma seemed not to hear the pain in James’s voice.  ‘She has to learn to sleep, and this is how she’ll do it.  Not by being mollycoddled by you.’
            Alma picked the magazine back up and purposely stared at the pages.  James had been dismissed.  Short of physically pushing her out of the chair to get to the nursery, there was nothing he could do.  He stormed back down the stairs, pulled his coat off the hook, and left.
            ‘Another night at the pub whilst I do the hard work.’ Alma spoke out loud, as if addressing the baby through the door.
            ‘Now see what you have done...’

            James opened the door at 6.13.  ‘I’m home!’
            Alma smiled her greeting, and her thanks, as she placed the dinner out on the table.
            ‘Smells good!’ said James, as he hung up his coat.  ‘I’ll just wash my hands.’  He ducked into the down stairs toilet that Alma had had installed under the stairs.  She was immensely pleased with this civilised addition to the house.  James would have preferred... well, quite a lot of things, actually, but it was keeping Alma happy.
            Alma was settling Catherine into the high chair, as he seated himself.  Beef Cobbler was one of his favourites: once again, Alma was showing her thanks for him giving in on the extension.
            ‘Well, how have my girls been today?’
            Frost formed in the air as Alma launched into her tirade of how trying her day had been.  James tried to tune it out, and concentrate on Catherine, who was playing with a rattle he’d bought for her, but it was difficult.
            ‘...And then she spit up all over her new bib.  I’d starched it too, when I ironed it, and she got bits in the little embroidery roses.  I’ll never get them looking that good again...’
            ‘Tut,’ said James, quietly.  He winked at Catherine.  Alma didn’t pause for breath.
            ‘... so I tried the new banana one, and she spat that out too.  I mean, what child doesn’t like mashed banana?  It took me an hour to get that jar into her.  I was exhausted by the time for her nap, and then she threw up all over her clean bedding, so I had to re-feed her and do the bed linen...’
            James spooned down his dinner, trying to juggle his attention between the women in his life.  Alma would erupt if she felt she wasn’t getting enough, or that Catherine was getting too much.  All he wanted was to beam and smile at Catherine, and talk to her in little whispers and tickle her until she started to hiccup with laughter.  He nodded and smiled at Alma enough times to keep her mollified whilst giving Catherine his secret smile and pulling faces that Alma couldn’t see.  Catherine giggled.  Alma droned on...
            ‘Claire was round, and she said little Emily never spits out her food, and every scrap is taken from the jar...and heaven knows Emily doesn’t manage to stink out the room every time she breathes...’
            Catherine dropped the rattle on the floor as she squealed in laughter. 
            ‘That’s it, that’s the third time today.’ As James had leaned down to pick up the rattle, Alma swooped up Catherine.  A sharp slap and a sharper cry rent the air, and James’s heart.
            ‘Never, never, never, do that again.’  On each ‘never’, Alma slapped the back of Catherine’s hand hard.  Catherine’s howls became screams, as Alma whisked her up the stairs.  ‘When will you learn?’
            James looked at his beef congealing into the gravy, as he heard the uproar upstairs as Catherine was stripped of her clothes, pushed and pulled into a sleep suit, and the door firmly closed on her cries.  By the time Alma came back downstairs he was in the pub.

Buy This eBook 
From Publisher - With Extra Content


Thursday, 22 March 2012

Deleted By Google - Farce Doesn't Cover It

Having gone through all my posts, I've found that all these images have been deleted out by Blogger/Google.

No notifications.  No warnings.  Nothing.  Found by accident.  One post deleted entirely.  I'll leave you to decide what's wrong with all these....
(I put it back!)

Hey Blogger - delete this one, go on, I dare you!!!!

Censored.... by Google.

This post, from 28th December, 2008, has been DELETED by Google.   Under the 'banned' images, I will show you what they banned.  Then they stopped the link working.



Censored By Facebook

This photo is obscene. So obscene, it was deleted off my Facebook profile photo album, and I was issued with a warning. Does this photo, clearly part of a Government/health agency campaign to protect breastfeeding, look obscene to you?
Does the mother look obscene to you? Engaging in a sex act? Evoking an erotic response?
Does this one...?
She hasn't been deleted, as of yet.
EDIT: Jan 2009. The Virgin Mary was then deleted! If you check the Tera site, you'll find close up of two Virgin Mary paintings, including this one, was deleted by Facebook as obscene...
Why was the first mother deleted? She was deleted as Facebook have stated that photos showing aureole or nipple, are obscene. A full breast shot it obscene. Regardless of context. There has been a huge protest about this, as Facebook have been deleting family photos out of personal albums on Facebook, with no warning. The protest was organised by mothers who had had their pictures removed. There was an online virtual nurse-in yesterday, on Facebook, and a physical one outside the Facebook headquarters in California.
Online, people were asked to post breastfeeding photos in their profile, and to add the status line "Hey Facebook, breastfeeding is not obscene."
Many of us online, ended up in free and frank exchanges of views with our own online friends, and in the protest forums. Free and frank exchanges of view aren't a problem. Most lactavists, remember when they too thought breastfeeding was a lifestyle choice, and formula was benign and held no health risks to infants. We remember being duped by the hegemony too! And how hard it is to unthink formula dominant culture.
Also, during the day, interesting things happened. Posted comments started to appear without their profile photo, and accounts had been frozen. In short, photos were being deleted off accounts, by Facebook, as the day progressed.
When I'd started posting, I'd had a series of about 5 photos, I was cycling through. The first one above, was one of them. Then, I read the link that Facebook had stated that it was aureole, or full breast that was offensive. I changed by photo to number two up there - the Virgin Mary with a fully naked breast. Commissioned by the Catholic Church, to hang in a Catholic Church.
I left this one there. Unchanged, for the rest of the day. Still there, in fact, as I type this.
I didn't think they'd delete the Virgin Mary, and I felt that made a point.
So, you can imagine my surprise, when logging back in today, I found that the first picture above, had been deleted out of my profile album. The first picture above, shows LESS breast than the second one.
What's the difference between them? Why is one still up, and the other in the rubbish basket?
Because someone complained about photo one, and no one has complained about photo two.
Now, let's think about that for a moment. A *huge* number of breastfeeding photos were deleted off Facebook yesterday and today. *HUGE* One might imagine all of them following a complaint...
Who was complaining?
Who, on a protest against censorship of breastfeeding, has gone around and complained, vigorously, about breastfeeding photos. Answer: quite a lot of people. (To judge by the amount of deletions.)
Lactaphobes. Misogynists. Mean as skimmed milk morons who get their kicks by acting important and feeling powerful... by complaining about a breastfeeding photo!
But that's not what really worries me. World is full of sad and inadequate people, trying their best to feel validated in any small way. Not to mention stupid and small minded ones.
It's the internet. You expect morons and inadequates.
What worries me about this... is that Facebook is standing by such bullying. Lactaphobia is a prejudice. An unreasonable, knee jerk reaction, to a specific set of people. It's harassment, and bullying.
And Facebook is not only condoning it, it's carrying it out on behalf of its account holders. It's set mothers and babies up for discrimination, and then acted out on the base impulses of its user group.
"Nothing to do with us!" they will say. "Photo broke rules, someone complained, we deleted it."
No matter what it was, and how clearly it is not obscene.
And the surge in deletions, no doubt from a surge in complaints, on the day of a protest against censorship, has no bearing, Facebook? Just like the fact that the photo you deleted is clearly a health education poster? Huh? .
Blind prejudice.
Blind lactaphobia.
At an online community near you.
Being enforced by the company making money from social networking. Using their profits, to pay people, to bully those seeking to protect breastfeeding.
Wouldn't it be sweet, if that poster up there, suddenly appeared everywhere on Facebook? It's still on several profiles, and in several albums. Only my personally complained about one is gone. Got a Facebook account....? Click and save on the above image! :-)
On another note - do you recognise the poster? Any idea where it came from? It looks like a scan from a print source, so it may be quite old. If you have any idea where this one is from, and who produced it, which country it appeared in, please contact me.  (EDIT - from Argentina!  How to breastfeed leaflet.)
I aim to let Facebook know exactly who they deleted, and which Government (likely) sponsored it.
This one, just as obscene, was sponsored by the Norwegian Government:

Go Norway!
Now, how can we persuade Norway to open up a Facebook account and post a profile picture...?

Edit: This is the photograph that was deleted from Facebook in 2007, that started the entire protest.
Can you see a fully exposed breast? Or can you just see the lactaphobe, lurking in the background, with their finger on the all powerful 'delete' button?

Saturday, 7 January 2012

I Could See It In Her Eyes...

One of this things I detested, and still detest, about raising a child, is when other people state "I could see it in his eyes."  The first time this was actually used about my child, was when he'd been jumping on a couch, age 3.  A family member had asked him not to jump on the couch.  He'd never been asked not to jump on the couch before.  He was 3.  He carried on jumping on the couch.  When I came in, I took him aside and explained clearly that the rule in the house we were in, was that you didn't jump on the couch.  He looked at me and nodded, and didn't jump on the couch.

At home, I let him jump on the couch.  So he had been really confused by the request not to.

The family member who observed me discuss this with him, then lambasted me for being too soft.  When I explained to her that he hadn't actually understood what she meant, she laughed.  "He's much smarter than you think.  He understood everything I said.  He just knew he could ignore me.  I saw it in his eyes... "

This phrase "I saw it in her/his eyes..." haunted my childhood.  I well remember adults - parents, teachers, family members - berating me for something and seeing my response, in my eyes.  I was rebellious, cheeky, conniving, manipulative, lying... all could be discerned by the look in my eyes.  Confused, was never a feature.

I spent a lot of my childhood confused.  About arbitrary rules and dictates, unreliable rules and guidance and completely confusing messages.  My confusion was never mirrored by the adults, however.  They always knew what I was really thinking and feeling.  They would regularly inform me, they could "see it in my eyes..."

It's such a catch 22.  You can't defend against it, as you are saying the person looking at you is wrong.  And as you are rarely in a pleasant and easy place when this pronouncement has been made.  People rarely say "You are a lovely person, who understands what's going on so clearly, I can see it in your eyes... "  Such statements are usually reserved for the tense, awkward, accusatory silences.  For the moments of mis-communication between people.

For the moment when the other person, is imposing on us, their world view.

For when they speak, they speak what they fear you are thinking.  It's very, very rarely, what's actually going on.  It's that the face you are showing without speech... is being written upon by the other person.  They are writing out their own feelings,. and thoughts, and fear, on you.  Every school child knows this, when they are told to "wipe the smile off your face..."  It's a natural human instinct to smile in certain situations of fear and tension: to try and look innocent and nonthreatening.  How many times were you told to wipe the smile off your face, and to stop smirking, when you were shaking in your boots?  Me too.

The human propensity for reading meaning into an expressionless face has been well known for some time.  In the 1920s, Lev Kuleshov, a Soviet film maker, did a series of experiments that proved insight into this phenomenon.  He filmed human faces, in a bland, non-meaningful stance.  He then inter-cut the same image, on a montage, a sequence, of other objects.   A bowl of soup, a funeral casket etc.  Without exception, the audience raved about the emotional power of the actor.  The same face, inter-cut with different images, was applauded as the face that portrayed hunger, sadness, grief, anger, fear... the face image had not changed.  All that had changed, was the context that face was put in, by the images then put around the face.

The audience would take the clues, and read into the face, what they wanted to see.

The audience would do the work.  All the while, saying how wonderfully the actor had portrayed the emotions.

Truth, is in the eye of the beholder.  Especially when nothing is actually said.  Give a face, even a blank face, and do not speak... and the person looking at you, will say "I knew what that face was saying... I saw it in the eyes...."

Which brings us to this:

I see the breastfeeding mothers watching me as I rummage in my changing bag for the ready-made carton of formula. Those looks speak a thousand words, most of which boil down to, "How could you? We're doing the best for our baby, why aren't you?"
I feel as if they're judging me, looking at me as a lesser mother than they are just because I'm giving my baby formula. Do they feel superior to me? Certainly I feel that I have to defend my decision to bottle-feed, justify my choices so they'll accept me.
They sit at the postnatal groups with their beady eyes peeking over their breastfeeding aprons as my son gulps down his 5fl oz. But I can't help noticing how their looks change – a bit of envy maybe? – when I start to bottle-feed. My guess is they're thinking,"That looks a lot more efficient than breastfeeding." You're right, I want to tell them.
I can almost hear the deafening mental processing in those staid church halls: "She won't have cracked nipples, mastitis, thrush or leaking milk. And her partner probably helps with the night feeds."
But I don't want to fall into the trap of judging them too harshly, either. I'd like to have tried breastfeeding, but medical complications took the choice out of my hands. Now that I bottle-feed, I see the advantages. I'd even choose it again next time. It's really not so bad, I want to tell them, you should try it some time.
It's even anonymous!  How perfect.  A painful and self-contained rant about how those nasty breast-feeders condemn you with their eyes.

Not their mouths.  Not their words.  Not in their actions.  But by their eyes...

In a world where bottle feeding is the norm - the breast-feeder is condemning you.  In a world where breastfeeding support services are abysmal, the breast-feeder is automatically assuming you are a selfish cow, who didn't have any problems.  In a world where bottle feeding is normal, the breast-feeder is outraged you didn't do the thing the least amount of people do...

You know the thing that really drives me wild about this?  It's not the assumption that a woman who breastfeeds has never had any problems.  That they had a free pass on those leaking nipples, the mastitis and the night feeds.  (Note how breastfeeding is so much more work than bottle feeding.)  It's not that the breastfeeding mothers are looking over their aprons.. wtf?

It's not even the silence, as not one person has said one thing to this person.

What REALLY drives me wild about this.... is that the reality of a mother breast-feeding in a room with another mother who is bottle feeding... is far more likely to be...

"OMG, She's bottle feeding.  She's gonna call me a NAZI!"

Because in this world, we go on action, on words, on deeds, as opposed to silent thoughts that are written on faces... in the world of looking at actions/words/doing... we are not in a world where the breastfeeding mother is the oppressor.

She's the invader.  The abnormal one.  The freak.

And by goodness, do we let her know about it.  After all, we know what's she thinking... it's written in her eyes.

Those looks of absolute blankness do speak a thousand words.  They say "Don't hate me because I'm breastfeeding."

And, usually, the next thought is "Oh my gosh, I wonder if she had crap help at the hospital, and she's really upset about it all...."

And the third thought is usually "Oh gosh, I better look over to the door, and not look or smile at her, in case she has a go at me, and thinks I'm condemning her..."

Not to mention that for most of us, the thought would be "Thank goodness she knows to use ready made when out and about, that's fabulous."

And very often it's ... "Gosh, what a pretty baby, and isn't that a lovely top, wonder where she got it..?"

And quite often it's "I wonder if I paid the gas bill on time..."

Prejudice comes from words, actions, deeds.  Not telepathic reading of the eyes.  Of knowing 'what that look means'.

No matter how insecure you are feeling: you need to actually check out the reality you are in, without your fears at play.  And you certainly can't condemn everyone around you for the LOOK you are seeing in their eyes.

And I'm fed up apologising for breast-feeding.  I suspect you are too.  :-)

ps  Don't let the 3 year old jump on the couch.  The 6 year old will destroy it.  :-)