It’s Time for Men to Cover Up Their Nipples

baby breastfeedingbaby breastfeedingIs there anything sweeter or more precious than seeing a mother breastfeeding her baby?  It’s what the boobage is for.  Centuries of sexualizing breasts ended up this week in a young mother at a public pool to move to a changing room or more secluded area to breastfeed her baby.

The woman has three children and her two little boys were playing in the water and mum was waterside watching them when the baby decided it was time for the milk bar to open.  Now any of you who’ve heard a hungry baby cry know that there isn’t a mother around who’ll do nothing when this happens.

So as discreetly as possible she began to feed her baby while keeping her eye on her sons who are five and six years old. One of the pool staff told her that other patrons were offended by her breastfeeding and she’d have to move. Liana Webster told the pool employee that breastfeeding anywhere in Australia was completely legal but argument ensued and the employee told the woman that it was perfectly legal for pool staff to ask her to leave.

Liana began to cry, the baby began to cry and the little boys couldn’t understand why their mother was crying. They were at a pool where people wear next to nothing at all and folks objected to a baby getting a bit of milk from her mum?

Back to this sexualizing of breasts. What is it about our society that causes some people to assume our bodies are something to be ashamed of?  Just this week in response to what happened to Liana Webster, TV presenter David Koch said that breastfeeding is something that should be done away from a public area. Like maybe the ladies’ room?  Sure, everyone wants to go to the toilet to eat.

To be fair, it’s not just men who object to seeing a bit of boob – and I say a bit because the baby’s head covers most of it. I’ve seen much more on a local beach. It’s the fact that the baby is sucking on a breast that sexualizes it and both men and women can be offended.  So I think it’s time we covered men up. Men like to have their boobs sucked and many women find men’s nipples sexually attractive so I think they should have to cover their nipples.

Breastfeeding isn’t easy.  All the comments that breastfeeding women “flop their breasts out for everyone to gawk at,” is just not the case. Yes, the baby has to find the nipple and the mother has to drop everything no matter where she is and feed the hungry baby. When I had my first child very few women breastfed their babies.

“It’s so hard”

“You have to do it in the restroom”

“If you’re in public you have to cover the baby’s head with a blanket or towel, regardless of the temperature”

Then there was a huge surge in the promotion of breastfeeding as it was better for the baby and would end up with healthier, more intelligent babies which would result in less money being spent on health care. But… they still wanted us to cover up and not be seen. It reminded me of the olden days when women were deemed unclean during their time of the month and had to remove themselves from society.

Times need to change and people like Koch need to catch up. Feeding a baby is natural, normal and wonderful and anyone who has trouble with it needs to look in the mirror for a solution.  Men, cover your nipples.  After you do that, read these words from former US President Jimmy Carter. I respected him as President but after this I love him.  Losing My Religion for Equality

Women Haven’t Come Far Enough

stop violence against womenstop violence against womenWe’ve all heard the horrid stories of how commonplace rape is in India.  We saw the news articles about that young medical student who was so cruelly tortured and then tossed onto the pavement and left to die.  We read about how long it takes to prosecute a rapist in India – often 10 to 14 years.   We are sincere and solid in our condemnation on this heinous attack but often we think, that’s “over there” and it’s not like that here where I live.  And it’s not, but that’s not the end of the story.

In India, the government says they are doing all they can to fast track this one case but since that rape of the medical student there have been several other rapes, one of a  young school girl of only 12.  The opinion seems to be that any women walking around at night are fair game.  The medical student went to a movie escorted by a male friend.  One person interviewed said she shouldn’t have been out at night because only men had that right. India seems so far away from my home in Australia.

When violence against women occurs in Muslim countries, we think that there’s nothing we can do because their religion teaches them that men are better than women and women are to be beaten by their husbands if their wives don’t do as they are told.   The Qur’an states that men are the maintainers of women and if they don’t have sex with their husbands or if they want to leave it’s perfectly okay to beat them.  Beatings are appropriate and necessary to keep women in their place.  Not all Muslim men beat their wives, let me be clear about this, but Islam permits it. It’s not a crime to beat your wife under Islamic law. As long as a major religion says beating your wife is okay, what chance do women there have?

A bit closer to home at our nearest neighbour in Indonesia, a candidate for the Indonesian Supreme Court (maybe I should type that twice for emphasis) was being interviewed this week by politicians to determine his suitability for the position.  When asked if the death penalty should be given for rape, he joked that it should not because rape victims enjoy the rape as much as the perpetrator.  It’s okay to pick your teeth up off the floor now.

We look at the issues in India and we think, “many poorly educated men, improperly taught about the rights of women,” and we can understand where they’re coming from even while condemning their actions.  The jerk in Indonesia going for the top legal job in the country is well educated and well respected.  What does that say about how the upper levels of government there feel about women?  To them women are not equal to a man, they have few rights and are on this planet to serve men.  That’s how I view this.

Now back home in Australia.  A heavily pregnant woman and her husband and child went to a car park last week so they could pick up some potting mix.  The woman was really tired so she stayed in the car while her husband and little boy went into the shop.  While sitting her her car she heard a man shout and then she saw a woman running past her car.  Following the woman was a man that looked really angry and yelling, “Get back here,” and raising his fist.

Another woman saw the incident and she got out of her car and along with the pregnant woman tried to break up the fight – the man had grabbed his wife by the throat and had thrown her to the ground.  The perp saw the women coming after him and dragged his beaten wife into his car and drove away.

You might be thinking that these women are to be praised for trying to help and you’d be right but that’s not the whole story.  Standing around watching the guy beat his wife were several men who seemed to be watching the show as if that was a personal problem and none of their business.  The man owned the wife, right?   He can do what he wants with her and it’s none of our business, right?

Where do these notions come from and what do we as a nation have to do in order to change this culture?  It’s no wonder women are paid less than men for the same work when the assumption by men is that we are somehow worth less.  Violence against women is preventable but it will take all of us to do our part.

We women need to do more to assert our equality.





Allowing Ourselves to Be Happy

I'm moving to Happy StreetI wrote recently about how I want to change the words I use after I say, “I Am…”  Today I read a blog post from a woman I met at a blogging workshop in Brisbane last year.  She’s funny, creative, clever and terrific to sit next to at a workshop.

Debbish wrote a post yesterday titled “Getting Out of the Way” and it spoke to me.  I know you know what I mean about reading things just when you need them and how powerful they can be?  That’s the sort of post this was.  In a way it was like I felt when I read about changing what I say after I am.

She writes that nobody can give us permission to be happy but ourselves (and I believe nobody can take our happiness away unless we give them permission as well).  To get rid of what’s holding us back we need to challenge our assumptions and identify our underlying beliefs.

While my personal situation is much different from Deb’s, the self-doubt, the questioning of why I am where I am and do I deserve anything more than what I have already is very much the same.   Here’s one of her confessions:

“Although I don’t want to be fat and single forever and although I WANT to be attractive to the opposite sex, I overeat and binge-eat – making me fat. And single.” Ta da!”

The thing is, I’ve met Deb and I don’t see her the way she sees herself at all.  To me, she is smart, clever and funny, not to mention really attractive.  The weight?  She’s rounder than she’d like to be but that doesn’t stop anyone from finding someone fantastic to love.  She admits that she knows there are people like me who know she’s attractive and desirable but until SHE can feel that way, she’ll never reach out to a man.

Which brings me to the point of this post.  After reading about her self doubt and things she cannot seem to change — I asked myself, “Ddo WE have similar issues that are in our heads and not in any way real?”  I suspect we do.  These underlying beliefs keep us where we expect to stay, all the while yearning for something different.

For me, that’s where changing the words after “I am” hopefully will make a difference because I Am…  clever, compassionate, friendly, kind, intelligent, caring, thoughtful, attentive, respectful etc., etc.  No more will I buy into what my mother said about (and to) me when I was growing up.   I’ve lived a lifetime hearing in my head and also saying aloud,  I am not… living to my potential, a slut, a horrid writer, selfish, fat, undesirable, unlovable and more things that still hurt to think about.  After reading all that you’re only wondering why my mother told me I was a slut, right?   A group of friends were outside at our house when I was 18 (seriously) and the girls got on the boys’ shoulders and we tried to knock each other off.  I was slut because a boy’s head was between my legs.  Yes, now you know why I’m fucked in the head but see how far I’ve come!

Please visit Diet Schmiet and follow Deb.  She’s got a lot to say and I like it all.

Why Americans Are Loud

american aren't intentionally loudI know you’ve heard it said heaps of times and maybe you’ve even said it yourself, “Good Lord, those Americans are loud!”  Okay, I’ve said it too and well…  I’m an American as well as an Australian.  I know it’s fun to slam Americans when they’re silly and I do a fair amount of that myself.

We do have a rule in our house.  The words you and Americans can never be used together.  You can probably guess why.

At a recent dinner party, the host said something about meeting an American the day before and without thinking I said, “How loud was he?”

Andrew looked at me and said, “He wasn’t loud, he was American.”

I wrinkled up my face and said something really clever like, “huh?”  I’m really good friends with his wife but it was the first time I’d met Andrew and I’m sure I made a great impression.  Andrew lives in Sydney, has lived all over the world and as a young man spent a long time studying acting.

“Maureen, Americans aren’t “loud” it’s how you speak,” he said.

Even more confused than ever, I took my wine glass and my chair and moved so I could sit next to him and not be interrupted.  It seems that in acting school one of the things you need to learn are accents so you can qualify for all sorts of different roles.  I think I must have known this intuitively but when Andrew explained how it worked I was intrigued.

“Americans talk through the back of their mouths.  It’s why they have Rs and accents are not as important as HOW they speak.”

“Please explain?” I asked.

He went on in detail about how Australians talk through the front of their mouths.

“Notice how little our lips move and we talk rather softly because of that,” he told me, “and we’re used to this volume as it’s how everyone talked when we were kids.  We didn’t have Americans in our classrooms or in our homes.”

Americans speak from the backs of our mouths so we have, for lack of a better term, megaphone mouths.  We’re not talking loudly, we’re just talking and it comes out loud because of how we talk and it’s not that we’re turning up the volume.

I instantly felt better about all the times I’ve cringed in a restaurant when a group of Americans were talking over everyone.  They’re not yelling, they’re talking and they don’t realize they’re louder than people who talk from the fronts of their mouths.  They’re used to talking around other Americans who all talk the same way.

Now to be fair, I have no scientific knowledge if this is true but it makes really good sense when I think about it.  Andrew lived in the US for a while and he kept saying phrases with an American accent and then said the same thing with his normal Australian accent and the volume difference was striking.  He said he wasn’t increasing the volume, only changing where the sound came from.

Try it.  Talk with the front of your mouth and then open your mouth and talk from the back.  I’ll never bitch about a loud American again and I will be careful when in a crowd to talk from the front of my mouth.

I Am…

I am...   wonderfulI went walking at Point Cartwright this morning with my friend Madonna and during our conversation she said she’d come across a terrific post about the use of the words I Am.   When it comes to negative self-speak I think you’ll find I wear the crown.

Just today I heard myself say in my head:

“We’re so broke for the next two weeks.”
“I wish I could have afforded to go to the workshop last night.”
“Will my back pain EVER go away?”

Notice that there were no positive thoughts in there like:

“We’re earning more money and in a couple of weeks we’ll be fine.”
“My back feels a bit better today and it will get better as I walk more and lose a bit of weight.”
“Our creativity is amazing.  We’re getting so many new things launched.”

So nobody needed to hear about “I Am” more than I did today.   I could give you a library of I am nots.   If I do anything good for myself in 2013 it will be to overcome the vision I have of myself as I am NOT everything under the sun.  I need to listen to the voice inside me that knows I’m clever, friendly, giving and kind.   I plan to trust that voice again.

I can hear some of you say, “it’s taken you THIS long to get here?”  Yeah, well, sometimes I’m a slow learner and I’ve been getting my ass kicked by the universe for several years now and it’s time to take stock and listen.   I know I’m not alone in waiting a lifetime to learn these lessons and if I could tell someone much younger, this is what I’d say.

You are special and you are unique and you came into this existence with a plan but it’s gotten a bit fuzzy since you arrived.  You can find clarity and purpose but only when you get quiet and listen to that inner voice of yours.  It will never steer you wrong.

How do I know this?  I’ve proved it.  I lived a glorious life filled with love, laughter and money and then forgot how.  I’m working my way back but when I was on top I was meditating every day, visualizing just what I wanted in my life and I was grateful for everything I had.  Then I got grumpy and I stopped meditating and I stopped feeling grateful for what I considered to be nothing good in my life.

Yesterday I read an article by a blogging friend of mine who said that the world has never been better in its history, in spite of global warming, wars and threats of war, weather events and more.  I thought, “huh?” but what about all we read in the news or see on TV?   My friend wrote, “the truth is there are fewer people living in poverty than ever before in history, we have more gadgets to make life easier than ever before in history and we’re more connected now than ever before and no government will ever be able to stop us from speaking out because of that connection.”  So why are we always looking at the negative side?   Good news doesn’t sell.

If I need to stop watching the news to get to where I want to be by the end of 2013, then that’s what I’ll do because I’m committed to making 2013 the best year of my life.  I know I can do it and you can too.  Join me.  🙂

China to Overtake US Economy

China to Overtake US EconomicallyThat’s a recent headline on Fox News.  Yeah, Fox News so you know it has to be pretty serious when even they agree with the IMF predictions that China will overtake the US economy by 2016.   I thought the article was right but deep inside me I didn’t want to believe it.

I still believe in the American spirit of striving to be the best…  at least I did until I read a comment I received on my cooking blog today.  I had written a post many months ago about the best onion ring recipe in the world and I received this comment:

No one said math was going to be involved.  Here in the USA we use Fahrenheit.

Recipe looks fine but converting the oil temp will stop me in my tracks.  🙂

Seriously?  She can’t figure out how to convert a temperature?  People around the world who use Internet/blog recipes from the USA have to convert from Fahrenheit every day of the year and none of us finds it that difficult.

If this were the first comment like this I’d say it’s a once-off and not to worry but sadly it’s not.  Which brings me back to the original subject.  Have Americans lost their competitive spirit?  Maybe Romney was right about the 47% and too many people find competing all too hard?  The tertiary education in the US is widely regarded as being the best in the world so there are some pretty cluey people coming out of American universities but there seems to be a real split between those and the ones who can’t figure out how to convert a temperature.

Personally, I find it quite stressing.  This is where my children and grandchildren live and it’s not the same sort of place I grew up in.  Yeah, we were taught from kindergarten that the US was the best in the world and had everything and we didn’t need to ever leave the states to find anything better.  It didn’t exist, my 5th grade teacher said.  Mind you, she also said that Castro was a hero to the Cuban people and then had to turn around and say he was a bad Communist.

The US needs to control its debt, stop spending trillions fighting wars they can’t win and be a good global citizen who doesn’t go around telling other countries what they should do.  It doesn’t seem like such a monumental problem but there are so many special interest groups who must be listened to, it might be impossible to achieve a solution.


The In-laws Are Coming!

the oldsOkay, you’ve seen my photo and you know I’m older than dirt because I told you so.  Well, imagine ME having the in-laws coming to visit for two weeks for Chrismas.  Most people my age don’t have in-laws any more.  I found out today that they’re arriving on the 17th.

Don’t get me wrong, I really like my husband’s parents.  They are over 90 and are still living independently and get around better than I do if I admitted the truth.  Their social calendar is dwindling a bit since most of their contemporaries have passed on but they still go to the golf club for dinner a couple of times a week, attend functions in Melbourne for former university lecturers where they gab about holograms, still participate in charity work and clubs and they have a 5 acre garden that until recently they cared for by themselves.

These are NOT old people waiting to die.  My mother-in-law is the sexiest old woman I’ve ever met.  She will flirt with any man and I doubt she realises she’s doing it.

They are delightful people.  A few years ago we took them to Europe with us for nearly a month.  They have relatives in Scotland and they wanted to attend their grandson’s university graduation, plus they wanted to see Salzburg and Rome and Paris…  oh and London and Glasgow too.  They were in their very late 80s then and I was a bit worried about how they’d cope with all the walking around.

Remember what I said about them doing all their own gardening?  They had more energy than either John or I.  If I said, “would you like to have a rest for a few hours?” the answer was always no, they were ready to see something new.

The only problem we ever had and it wasn’t a real problem was that my father-in-law thought he should help to move the suitcases off the trains.  If you’ve been on European trains before you’d know you have about 90 seconds to get off (or on) a train.  No time for a 90 year old to fiddle with a suitcase.  “Dad, move out of the way, the suitcase will land on you,” John yelled once as he was tossing the bags to the platform.

I got on the next train and J’s dad said, “I don’t like it when John gets angry with me,” and I felt really bad for him.  John did apologise and explained (again) why we had to hurry and that he wasn’t angry.  His dad understood but didn’t appreciate hearing that he was nearly 90 and catching a 32 kilo suitcase being tossed from a train was not a good thing for him to be doing.

It was like taking children with you on holiday but you couldn’t spank them.

It was a wonderful holiday and I have memories I will treasure for a lifetime.  They live in country Victoria and the Victorian siblings think it’s time that “the olds” as we all fondly call them should move to a smaller place and one near public transport.  90 year olds with arthritis shouldn’t be driving.  Neither was a great driver when they were young but now we all worry.

The reason for the trip is for my husband, the baby of the family, to convince them that living up here on the Sunshine Coast is a good idea.  Whenever they visit I wait on them hand and foot and spend time entertaining them every day but I’ve never had them for 2 weeks straight.  Because I’ve spoiled them in the past with fancy breakfasts, lunches and dinners, they are going to expect the same and I don’t have the time I had before.

I’ve warned John that these are HIS parents and he’s going to have to help me get the house ready.  He decided we could afford to get some help to do that.  :eyeroll:  He hates housework more than I do.

Have you had to talk parents into assisted living situations?  We are not looking forward to it.  J’s brother, sister and sister-in-law are considered bullies by the olds for bringing up the idea of moving.  They aren’t ready but they live in the middle of nowhere and have no family close by.  We’ll have to be very gentle indeed.  Wish me luck.

We Should Pay for Online News

We should pay for online newsI know this subject isn’t going to be popular with some people but I’m convinced that with the number of small laptops, smart phones and tablets, the days of carrying a newspaper neatly tucked under our arms are nearly over.  I was having coffee with a friend the other day – a much much younger friend, I might add.

During our conversation I mentioned that I’d seen something in our local paper, the Sunshine Coast Daily that day and began talking about the article.

“You still read paper newspapers?” she asked.

“Don’t you?” I replied.

She shook her head and said, “It’s old news by the time it gets to me.”

Ever since CNN began 24/7 news coverage, the writing has been on the wall about print newspapers.  Is there a newspaper without an online presence?  I doubt it.  Their sales of advertising and newspaper copies reduces every year so how can we expect decent news if we’re not willing to pay for it.

Their writers won’t work for nothing, nor will their photographers, editors, or type setters/designers.  I asked my friend Cindy if she’d be willing to pay to read her local paper online or one of the major big city newspapers and she said absolutely not.  “Let them get their money from advertising,” she told me.

I knew I had a steep hill to climb on this issue but I persevered.

“Do you see many ads on the Internet newspapers you read?” I queried.

She thought for a moment and said she wasn’t even sure that they had any, so I asked her to look.  Sure enough there were ads all over it and she had no clue.

“If you are so numb to those ads, how much money do you suppose they’re making off people just like you?  If nobody is clicking and buying, they aren’t making much money off advertising.  Advertisers pay for results.”

After a bit of brow wrinkling and twitching in her seat she mumbled something about making better ads that she would notice.  I could tell by the volume and tone of her voice that even she didn’t believe what she was saying.

The bottom line is, do we want quality news about what’s going on in our community and around the country and the world?  If we’re satisfied with getting national snippets from inferior journalists, then the price we’re paying for online newspapers is just fine but it’s not good enough for me.  I’m not going to be satisfied with content that’s only gleaned from sources in another location or content provided by sponsors.  Sure, we all know that sponsored content happens even now but do we want nothing but sponsored articles?  Not me.

I want to know there are people with cameras and notebooks actively getting a good story.  For me, news isn’t about branded content.  That’s not news for me – it’s fluff, cash for comment sort of thing.  I acknowledge that newspapers both print and online need to have some of that just to pay the bills these days but come on, surely news is important enough to fork over a few dollars a month to pay for it.  It will make a huge difference to what we’ll be getting.

Sure, we can get our news off Twitter or Facebook but I’d prefer it from a local newspaper I trust.  I want to pick up my tablet and read the news while I’m getting my hair done or waiting to get a tyre changed or waiting for the dentist or doctor.  If we all contribute a little, we’ll get a better product.  Good writers are worth reading.

The Best of Intentions

spelling, or lack of itWe’re working on a new food website project and in order to create a searchable index of ingredients, my husband the programmer must parse recipes which will be included in the search.  You would be amazed at how many spelling errors there are in recipes on blogs.

I know there will be some who honestly don’t know any better but I believe the vast majority either have no clue that it’s important or are lazy.  Either way, routinely bad spelling or grammar will reduce a website’s reach.  With so many good blogs out there, why would you read a blog you have to struggle to understand?

My favourite from today is 3 bacon rashes.  or 2 tabelspons week tea.  or all purpoise flower.  Spelling like this makes creating a good search extremely difficult.  Yes, we crack up at some of the funny ones.  I thought I’d write a blog post on my food blog about it so that food bloggers would realise that even after a new post has been created, there are people still going to the older posts.  They’re found on Google or Yahoo! or other search engines, links from blogs or from social media.

If we want people to take us seriously, we need to be able to follow the recipe without scratching our heads.

Anyway…  I ended up really pissing off a woman I like who’s a non-native English speaker.  For some reason she felt that I was attacking people who try to write an English blog when it’s not their native language.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The truth is, it’s the English speakers who are too lazy to proofread their blogs.

Honestly, if someone reads their recipe and doesn’t catch glaring errors, I can’t take their blog seriously.  That said, we ALL make typos and we all miss things.  If you miss something 3 times proofreading, you’re never going to find it.

I felt really bad that I hurt my friend’s feelings and I regret making the post even though I got a huge amount of comments on the post from people who feel the same way I do. I’m not an unkind person and would not have posted my views if I thought it would cause discomfort.  I have apologised and hopefully our virtual friendship can continue.  If not, it’s my loss.

Have you ever written something that someone thought you were picking on them about?

We’re all responsible for the words we write.  We aren’t responsible for how someone else’s perspective views them.