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Bewbs, pervs and SF

by Nalini Haynes

Bewbs (aka breasts) are, for the uninitiated, MAMMARY GLANDS, also known as ‘milk factories’ for babies.

If you want laughs and no background, skip to the pic then read below the pic.  If you want background, read on…

For those not in Australia, scandal struck in sunny Queensland: a woman and her three kids were kicked out of a swimming pool because the woman breastfed her eleven-month old daughter while supervising her other two kids playing in the pool.  The Courier Mail relayed the story:

With her children Kylan, 6, and Jayda, 5, happily playing in the pool while she cooled her feet in the water, Ms Webster thought nothing of breastfeeding her 11-month-old daughter Rori.

“A staff member came up to me and told me I wasn’t allowed to feed there, that I had to refrain from feeding out in the open,” Ms Webster said…

The staff member offered alternatives to Ms Webster, including going to a changeroom or moving to the corner of the centre and covering her baby with a towel while she breastfed.

“I don’t need to stick a blanket on her head, especially when she would never accept a blanket and she just pushes it off. I’m not going to make her uncomfortable in the heat by doing that,” Ms Webster said.

But after a short argument, the 26-year-old mother left with her children in tears of embarrassment and humiliation.

[emphasis mine]

So.  Liana was being a good mum, SUPERVISING her kids RESPONSIBLY at the swimming pool, not having two bored and frustrated kids racing around in the change-rooms at risk of slipping in the water, whining and generally making life hell for everyone using the change-rooms while she breast fed the baby.  It was HOT as it gets in Bribie Island, Queensland.  I couldn’t find the temperature for the day in question, but the temperatures for that location this month have ranged between a low of 19.8 and a high of 32.5 degrees Celsius.  If someone tried to put a blanket over me in temperatures in excess of 22 degrees, I wouldn’t eat, I’d shove the blanket off and IT WOULD BE ON.

So why inflict this on a baby?

A Moreton Bay Regional Council spokesperson said staff at the Bribie Island Aquatic Leisure Centre had received a complaint about a mother breastfeeding in the pool from another family also in the pool.

Apparently the council responsible for the pool incident has now apologised, but it’s sparked debate.

I’m not sure if ANYTHING David Koch says AT ANY TIME could actually be sufficiently intelligent to be described as ‘debate’, but I’ll be magnanimous.

Kochie said

I totally agree with breastfeeding in public but I think you’ve got to be a bit classy about it.  Feet on the edge of the pool isn’t discrete enough.

I guess Kochie wants breastfeeding over in the corner where Liana couldn’t supervise her kids in the pool, covering herself and her baby with a blanket in the heat just to make matters worse.

To give Kochie’s comments some context: I don’t watch his breakfast show Sunrise.  The only time I have EVER watched Sunrise was when I went to a gym that inflicted Sunrise on patrons using the cardio equipment.  Over a period of months I was disgusted to see the reasonably intelligent women on the show dumbed down, playing to Kochie’s ‘superior male’ role that was obviously a prescribed facet of the show.

Many times Kochie made really stupid comments; the better poker players among the women managed to keep a straight face while waiting for the camera to move on (it is broadcast live for a given value of ‘live’), but the lesser poker players reacted with priceless facial expressions and body language before regaining control of themselves, allowing the show to continue limping along.

Kochie isn’t a shock jock, he plays the white middle-aged middle-class family-man, manly-man card, so his comments stirred up a shit-storm I’m sure he wanted to avoid.  Especially when the shit-storm hit home in the form of lots of nappy-wearers being breast-fed in a feed-in in the studios as part of the new class-y war.

breastfeeding vs bikini

A couple of days ago, science fiction author, blogger and general shit-stirrer John Birmingham was looking for blog-post ideas on social media.  Originally Birmo said he was not going to the breast-food mall for ideas (my interpretation of what he actually said), but I guess he didn’t garner sufficient inspiration because a day or two later he posted a Blunty Blog about breastfeeding.  (Note: when this was originally posted, there was a pic of a woman breastfeeding, so it showed up in Facebook’s post.  Now although the pic is still attached to Birmo’s Facebook post, it’s not on the Blunty page.  I guess a woman breastfeeding offended someone there, too…)

On Facebook, John Birmingham posted:

Milky boobs running wild public?! No! I will not have it! Hide your milk sacks, slatternly wench! http://t.co/zY1lur2z via @brisbanetimes

(Before you express your outrage, read the article.)

Me:  What still perplexes me is why it’s acceptable for men to expose their nipples but not for women to breastfeed. Not that I’m itching to strip off or anything, it just seems really hypocritical. #formerbreastfeeder

Perv who doesn’t appear to have ACTUALLY READ Birmo’s Blunty argues that breasts are a primary sex object therefore should not be visible in public

Me:  [@Perv] your response is eloquent in its support of the male gaze as the dominant and, by implication, ONLY point of view. Surely we’re living in the 21st Century now? I thought EQUALITY was supposed to have been discovered…

Perv: men’s nipples aren’t sexual, women’s nipples are.

Me: Myself I’m very partial to a muscular chest and a six pack…

Perv:  partial <–  SEE!  My point, exactly, you’re PARTIAL.  A man’s chest doesn’t turn you on like women’s breasts turn me on.  Men and lesbians find breasts arousing & distracting therefore NO BREASTFEEDING IN PUBLIC.

Me: so now you’re saying that because you find women’s breasts more sexually provocative than YOU THINK I find men’s chests & abs, that it’s ok to marginalise women & babies?

Perv:  nudity in public is illegal.  women breastfeeding = nudity.  Breastfeeding should not be done in public [adds link in failed attempt to justify claim]

Me:  I guess the difference between you & I, Perv, if there is a difference between our sexual attractions to the opposite sex, is that I tend NOT to objectify men while you objectify women as ‘things’ for your pleasure, including breasts to the point where you object to seeing women breastfeed.

I’m sorry but I’ve never seen a naked woman breastfeed other than in the hippy-esque lifestyle in which I grew up when living with my mother.

Perv: [continues arguing for the primacy of the male gaze and his ‘right’ to not be forced to endure visions of sexual titillation in the form of breast-feeding women.]

Me: I’m saying that the problem here is with your superior entitlement issues, double-standards between men and women all linking back to our patriarchal heritage.

Perv:  you’re marginalizing me with your spurious and objectionable arguments for equality and breastfeeding.

Me: Again, we have someone with superior entitlement issues accusing the feminist of marginalising him… This is the oldest tactic in the book, used in classic arguments like
‘women can’t have equal pay – IT’S DISCRIMINATING AGAINST MEN’

Me:  so. John Birmingham – laughing yet?

Perv:  You’re ATTACKING ME with your arguments.  [links wikipedia article ‘ad hominem’]  Personal attacks in arguments invalidate the argument, and you’re only attacking me personally BECAUSE YOU HAVE NO ARGUMENT.  I have no time for you.

Me: ROFLMAO. Don’t forget your club on your way out.  [inserted jpg, pictured below]



Perv then either deleted ALL HIS COMMENTS in the thread or blocked me – I think he deleted them because I was watching, they seemed to vanish ONE AT A TIME.

I suspect he might have actually READ Birmo’s article after I asked if Birmo was laughing yet, at which point the light would have dawned upon him that he was NOT in a forum where the manly men were putting women in their ‘rightful’ place as sex objects not to sully the public eye with their revolting and tantalising public displays of nudity.

Please note: I haven’t quoted ‘Perv’ because his posts were deleted before inspiration for this blog post finished percolating, I’ve put an interpretation of what he said.  Plus, obviously, he didn’t call himself Perv 😉

Meantime over on the twitterz….

This morning tweets embedded, all shiny-like.  This afternoon, not so much.  Here are the tweets with added words.  Today I hate wordpress *headdesk*

Dark Matter: anti-breastfeeder who claims male gaze as his authority communting on John Birmingham’s facebook feed. BREASTFEEDERS! WHERE ARE YOU???

Dark Matter: I feel bad now. Anti-breastfeeding man who gets too turned on by boobies told me he doesn’t have time for me then deleted ALL his comments

Dark Matter:  but not until after he accused me of marginalising him by arguing for equity and breastfeeding

DirtyHippyDalek:  Sounds like Stan from Life of Brian.
deltrimental: LOL *points finger at you* OPPRESSOR!
Dark Matter Media: <hangs head in shame> I confess!
Then the SF author-y types started chatting…

The four links below play out as the following conversation

J Courtenay Grimwood weird, different responses. In Paris. Woman breastfeeding at supermarket checkout this evening and no one turned a hair
Martin McGrath ‏ Perhaps he suffers from mastrophobia. I mean he’s probably just an idiot, but it’s possible…
Dark Matter Media:  huge scandal: woman & kids kicked out of public swimming pool bcos she breastfed youngest while supervising
Martin McGrath Okay, so not so funny. Weird.
J Courtenay Grimwood  that’s just perverse… Hope they apologised.
Dark Matter Media  No. The pro-breastfeeders are campaigning to protect women’s rights to bf & not be marginalised.
[My mistake – they did apologise after the pro-feeding campaign got underway.]

This is why

I <3 SF peeps!

I’d just like to point out that Jon Courtenay Grimwood has a trilogy, the Assassini trilogy, coming out.  The first two books are out, the third one is due for release this year I believe.  Not only is it a kick-ass action story with vampires and werewolves ripping the shit out of each other but it has a romance and a woman has a baby AND SHE BREASTFEEDS.  It’s set in Venice in an era when an aristocratic woman would usually have got a wet-nurse, but this woman wants to be a good, hands-on mum.

I don’t recall any breastfeeding going on in Birmo’s books because they’re unashamedly ‘splodey SF.

PRO-BREASTFEEDERS should support pro-breastfeeding authors.  😀

Just sayin’.

(not a promoted post, just an inspired one.)

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


  1. I have several friends who have breastfed more-or-less in public. Or at least in mixed company, myself included. It helped they all treated the process as entirely normal and just basically got on with it. No-one has any right to be offended by the practice; it’s not sexual, it’s not attention-seeking, it is everything working as nature made it.

    In fact, I was quietly applauding them for their courage, because it is courage they had.

    Too many people wrongly correlate the naked body with sexuality. Too many people also don’t understand their sexuality. Both of these because our society encourages these wrong stances. And most people don’t even know it.

    • YES. THIS. I can think of lots of things to say, leap-frogging off your comment, but that would get us into a few other conversations best had over coffee or alcohol in my opinion. WE COULD SOLVE THE PROBLEMS OF THE WORLD, one of my favourite past-times with friends. 😉

  2. Hey, man, the way they treated that mother was disgraceful. I admit that when a woman is breastfeeding and talking to me, I don’t know what the hell to do with my eyes, get a bit embarrassed, etc., but really, live and let live. Not a big deal. Why should my slight problem require a nursing mother to be pretty much locked away in her home? Pffft. People are asses.


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