Sunday, February 19, 2012

Taking a Stand Against Breastfeeding Discrimination

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine shared an experience with us on Facebook. She had attended an informational meeting at a public elementary school here in South Carolina with her baby. While she was breastfeeding her baby at the back of the room under a cover (!!!), she and another breastfeeding lady were asked to move. The ladies moved to a lounge in the school and continued feeding their babies, when a male school sheriff walked by and said, referring to the breastfeeding: “I’m next!”
Since this entire event makes me very upset, I won’t go into detail about my personal opinion of the people my friend had to deal with. Let’s just say that if it had been me, the school sheriff would be lucky to still have a job after I was done with my complaints.
However, I would rather focus on the issue of breastfeeding discrimination in general. I don’t think people are aware of how much damage situations like these in which the breastfeeding mother is subjected to discriminatory behavior against her can cause. If women must experience such embarrassing scenarios, they will become more reluctant to nurse in public. If they become uncomfortable nursing in public, it will be harder for them to breastfeed successfully. If women don’t nurse in public anymore, people will start to think of breastfeeding in a negative light (indecent, abnormal, etc.) The more people have a negative association with breastfeeding, the fewer mothers will be able to breastfeed their babies successfully. Taking breastfeeding out of the public eye will also take it out of the public’s mind and heart, which could have dire consequences.
Standing up against breastfeeding discrimination is crucial for all of us! Be knowledgeable of the breastfeeding laws in place in your state. In South Carolina, legislation protects the nursing woman as follows:
S.C. Code Ann. §63-5-40 reads:

(A) A woman may breastfeed her child in any location where the mother and her child are authorized to be.

(B) Breastfeeding a child in a location where the mother is authorized to be is not considered indecent exposure.

Don’t leave it up to the breastfeeding mother to defend herself! Speak up for her. Tell the person who is harassing the mother that this is not acceptable and educate him/her on the laws in place.

Most importantly, if you are a nursing mother yourself, please breastfeed in public. Show people that there is nothing wrong or indecent about feeding your child the way it was intended. Bring breastfeeding back into people’s minds so that they view it as something normal again.

If the breastfeeding mother is not protected by the laws in your state, let your representatives know that legislation must be passed in order to ensure that babies can be fed in the best possible way. Georgia, for example, does not currently have such laws in place. There is a group who is now fighting for mothers to be shielded by the law. If you would like to find out more, visit their Facebook page and join the statewide nurse-in on 03/05/2012.

Some of you may be wondering why you should care how other people’s babies are fed. Besides the many benefits that most people are aware of, it cannot be ignored that a recent study found that as many as 900 babies’ lives could be saved every year if 90% of women breastfed exclusively for the first six months of life. It’s up to us to make women more comfortable breastfeeding their babies when they are not at home- let’s make it happen! I simple smile can work wonders…

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Hate Potty Training

My daughter R is almost three years old and not yet potty trained. Not a big deal in my opinion and I haven’t been rushing her. Recently, she has started showing interest in using the potty. I know most of you moms would be super excited, but I just hate this!!! I feel as though my life already revolves around urine and excrement removal, so any additional time I have to spend on this subject has me feeling a bit unhappy.
I guess it would be different had R figured the whole potty thing out. However, she is just experimenting with it for now. She wants to pee in the potty, but only when she feels like it. She won’t wear panties and insists on being in a diaper of some sort. Therefore, I have to deal with potty clean up as well as diaper changing. No fun for me.
I have horror visions of future trips to public restrooms with both of my children. Juggling a fat little toddler boy while trying to explain to my daughter that the Target toilet brush is actually not meant to be used for brushing her hair just doesn’t have any appeal to me. And from what I can tell, R is going to be one of those girls who has to go to the bathroom at least ever y half hour.
Maybe I am also somewhat reluctant to see my children growing up so fast. My daughter blows me away with her wit and intelligence every day. Once we conquer potty training there will be no stopping her- she’ll be moved out of the house before I even know what’s going on…

Sunday, February 12, 2012

My Thoughts on the Laptop-Shooting Father

Disclaimer: I have used a few not so polite words in this post. Please excuse my language!
I have been coming across the same video a lot lately on Facebook. It is of a father who, upset about a Facebook post that his daughter put on her page complaining about him and her mother, shoots multiple bullets into the girl’s laptop. I had been reluctant to watch it, fearing that I would come across something that I disapproved of. However, as the repostings got more frequent, I became too curious not to see the video for myself. If you have not seen it, you can watch it here.
First of all, I understand the father’s anger and frustration. I understand that reading his daughter’s words of disapproval probably hurt his feelings. Teenagers are sometimes difficult to identify with and deal with and it can be emotionally challenging for all parties involved.
However, I also understand the daughter’s anger and frustration. She obviously feels that she is not being shown enough respect and love in her home. She must also not feel comfortable discussing her feelings with her parents, or else she would have done so instead of writing a Facebook post.
I think the father’s reaction was ridiculously childish. Instead of being a rational adult and dealing with his feelings in an appropriate way, he let his anger take over his actions. He could have used his daughter’s message as an opportunity to reach out to her, but chose to do the opposite. He could have ‘taught her a lesson’ in a funny or witty way, but chose to go with aggression.
I find his actions in the video despicable. What he is doing is being a big bully. Using a gun to resolve any issue just  shows poor judgment and inability to communicate with others. The funny thing is that I’m sure he felt like such a badass shooting his daughter’s laptop. The truth is that any idiot can shoot a few bullets into a stationary object at close proximity- it doesn’t require any skill or thought. My 93 year old granny could have done the same thing without any issue! He made himself look like a total douchebag.
Furthermore, I find it disgusting that he needlessly destroys property. Absolutely unnecessary and juvenile. The only thing he has shown his daughter is that he cannot control his emotions and that her feelings are not as valid as his own.
Most people seem to view their children as their property until they reach the age at which they are legally an adult. What parents forget is that every human being- regardless of age- wants to feel like they are worth something and that they have at least partial control of their own lives. Destroying their property is mean and disrespectful.
From what the father said about his own childhood, he had a hard time. It sounded like his adolescence was rough and far from enjoyable. He may not have learned what parental love and respect feels like. I wish people would just take a minute to remember what it felt like to be a child, to be powerless. Maybe they would react differently to their children.
I hope that this father has not alienated his daughter beyond repair. I hope that they will one day be able to sit down together and openly talk to each other about their feelings.
To all of you who commended this father for ‘showing her who’s boss’: I hope you would never react in this way yourselves. I don’t think violence (and yes, the destruction of property with a gun is violence) is ever an acceptable solution, but I especially do not think it is the way to go when dealing with your own children.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

On Becoming Color Blind

One of the things that has always been most difficult for me to understand is racism. Especially here in the southern US, it is just so strange to me that people of different ‘races’ live with each other and hate each other. There are so many biases, so many prejudices.
The very first time I visited the US we drove through downtown Indianapolis. My boyfriend at the time, who had a few days prior given me a long speech about how racial equality existed and how it was unfounded for anyone to be upset about racism, was showing me the city. We drove down a street that looked very nice, with well-kept houses and stores. Suddenly, on that same street, the houses started to look more and more run down. I was told that we were now in a ‘dangerous’ part of town. My boyfriend explained that only black people lived on this run-down part of the street. It used to be a very nice area, but then black people started moving in, which made the property value drop, which then caused poorer people to move in, and in some crazy downward spiral, everything started to deteriorate. It was the most bizarre thing I had ever heard!
Unfortunately, this was American reality. Equality exists on paper before the law, but true equality is far from being here. A lot of people like to ignore this fact, but if we are completely honest, there is still so much major discrimination based on race that it makes it hard not to laugh at people who say equality is real.
My major at university was American Studies. I have come across the issue of racism extensively in my studies. I won’t bore you with the statistics and facts. Let’s just say that the situation isn’t great. However, there is no need to look at research papers, etc. to find examples of racism. Just take a look around you and you will find it every day, in almost every place you look more closely.
I love people who tell me that they are “not a racist, but…”, followed by some anecdote about how someone of a different color/origin did something to them that they disapproved of. Or people who say that “the blacks should get over slavery”- I am still actually not quite sure what they are even referring to, as I have 1. Never heard anyone complaining about slavery; and 2. Nobody every tells e.g. the Jews to “get over the Holocaust” because that would just be ridiculous- you can’t “get over” history.
I frequently like to remind people that segregation was only officially ended a little over 50 years ago. A lot of people still remember that! Quite honestly, if it were me, I don’t think I would forgive something like that and I would continue to hold a grudge. Surprisingly, most people who lived through that time don’t seem to be angry about it…
Why am I writing about all this? Because I had a profound realization that I would like to share. I have finally understood that true color blindness is impossible UNLESS you understand one thing: there is no us and there is no them. Seeing people as belonging into categories or groups, such as race, nationality, etc, just doesn’t work. I am not like every other “white” person- there is no common identity. Sharing a similar skin tone does not make anyone a kindred spirit.
You may have come to this conclusion a long time ago, but I feel enlightened. I am finally able to see beyond boundaries that were artificially created. Let’s face it: the categories in question were all formed in a feeble human attempt to make sense of the world in which they live. Then at some point, a few white men decided that their group was superior to all others. But actually, they have no real group. Sharing skin color is not common ground. I am of the same ‘race’ as Newt Gingrich, yet I have not one thing in common with him.
I am trying to free my mind. I believe I am on the way to truly becoming color blind. Maybe Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream isn’t completely lost yet…
"Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. Hate multiplies hate, violence multiplies violence, and toughness multiplies toughness in a descending spiral of destruction...The chain reaction of evil -- hate begetting hate, wars producing more wars -- must be broken, or we shall be plunged into the dark abyss of annihilation." Martin Luther King Jr., Strength To Love, 1963