Breastfeeding counsellors claim to be accused of bullying for using the word ‘mother’.
The Apology represented a formal acknowledgement that the forced removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children was based on racist policies that caused unspeakable harm to our communities.
Children were forced off their lands. They were disconnected from their kin, Country, traditional languages and culture.
Today on Sorry Day, 13 years since the Apology, our Elders, families and communities still grieve these losses. And many families are being repeatedly traumatised by contemporary child removal practices. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are nearly 10 times more likely than non-Indigenous children to be in out-of-home care.
What the Elders call for resonates with the concept of responsive regulation. This means that regulators — in this case the child protection authority — need to take into account the cultures, behaviours and environments of the people they are regulating.
Principles of responsive regulation and those developed by the Elders offer a counter-balance to the current formalistic approaches of child protection services, such as mandatory reporting, forensic investigations, court hearings, timelines for termination of parental rights, and the adoption of children in care.
The Australian newspaper reported on Saturday that the Australian Breastfeeding Association (ABA) had developed a booklet about chestfeeding, which triggered outrage on talkback radio.
Rainbow Families, the peak body supporting LGBTIQ+ parents, paid the ABA $20,000 to create an educational booklet about lactating and chestfeeding for its community.
“ABA is not changing our use of mother-to-mother language,” the organisation said in a Facebook post.
“We will not be erasing gendered language such as ‘mother’ or ‘mum’ or ‘mothering’ from our vocabulary, and we have no future plans to adopt the use of language such as ‘chestfeeding’ rather than ‘breastfeeding’ more generally within the Association.”
Labor’s spokeswoman for women Tanya Plibersek hosed down talk of changing the language around breastfeeding.
“I’m not sure that there’s a huge demand for this from the Australian public,” she told radio station 2GB on Tuesday night.
“For me, it’s going to be breastfeeding. I’m not changing what I call it.”
The end of humankind? It may be coming sooner than we think, thanks to hormone-disrupting chemicals that are decimating fertility at an alarming rate around the globe. A new book called Countdown, by Shanna Swan, an environmental and reproductive epidemiologist at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, finds that sperm counts have dropped almost 60% since 1973. Following the trajectory we are on, Swan’s research suggests sperm counts could reach zero by 2045. Zero. Let that sink in. That would mean no babies. No reproduction. No more humans. Forgive me for asking: why isn’t the UN calling an emergency meeting on this right now?
The chemicals to blame for this crisis are found in everything from plastic containers and food wrapping, to waterproof clothes and fragrances in cleaning products, to soaps and shampoos, to electronics and carpeting. Some of them, called PFAS, are known as “forever chemicals”, because they don’t breakdown in the environment or the human body. They just accumulate and accumulate – doing more and more damage, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. Now, it seems, humanity is reaching a breaking point.
As if this wasn’t terrifying enough, Swan’s research finds that these chemicals aren’t just dramatically reducing semen quality, they are also shrinking penis size and volume of the testes. This is nothing short of a full-scale emergency for humanity.
Given everything we know about these chemicals, why isn’t more being done? Right now, there is a paltry patchwork of inadequate legislation responding to this threat. Laws and regulations vary from country to country, region to region, and, in the United States, state to state. The European Union, for example, has restricted several phthalates in toys and sets limits on phthalates considered “reprotoxic” – meaning they harm the human reproductive capacities – in food production.
In the United States, a scientific study found phthalate exposure “widespread” in infants, and that the chemicals were found in the urine of babies who came into contact with baby shampoos, lotions and powders. Still, aggressive regulation is lacking, not least because of lobbying by chemical industry giants.
Data from the NHS Business Services Authority, which deals with prescription services in England, shows a large disparity in the number of women being given these drugs compared with men, with 761,641 women receiving painkiller prescriptions compared with 443,414 men, or 1.7 times, and the pattern is similar across broad age categories.
The women who reached out said they felt that they were often “fobbed off” with painkillers when their problems required medical investigation.
Perhaps you have seen one of the surrogacy puff-pieces already: a woman agrees to “give the gift of life to others” who are unable (or unwilling) to bear their own child, by carrying a child formed from a (sometimes very expensive) “donated” egg that has been fertilised in vitro by the sperm of one of the intended parents. This is gestational surrogacy – the most common form of the practice today. The surface picture presented is normally entirely positive and uncritical and it is either a contribution to mindless celebrity news, or else, in the case of gay parents, the trumpeting of another victory for “LGBT+ rights”. A glossy “happy families” portrait.
Or perhaps you have read one of the more recent LGBT+ media accounts about gay men having children via surrogacy, where the word “surrogacy” is banished from the page, together with any reference to the involvement of a woman in the process somewhere. The Ministry of Alphabetical Truth seems to like creating the illusion of men not needing women in order to produce children. Motherhood is erased, and perhaps we are to believe that it is replaced by obliging rainbow storks. Not a woman in sight.
Big Fertility, a multi-billion-dollar global industry, has been given a shot in the arm by the rainbow-washing of the LGBT+ lobby: a lobby that promotes “fertility equality” for gay men, (or perhaps the usual description these days is “LGBT+ men”, given the colonisation of the LGB identity by extreme gender ideology activists). However, so-called “fertility equality” comes at the cost of the rights and equality of women and children. Not only does surrogacy instrumentalise women and babies in a dehumanising way: it is also a physically dangerous process that can lead to serious illness, psychological trauma and death.
Apart from the potentially traumatic separation of a baby from her mother at birth, there is also the risk of “genealogical bewilderment”, where the child may feel a sense of abandonment and of not being properly anchored in the world as a result of not knowing the identity of one or both of her genetic parents, or of her birth mother. There is the challenge of coming to terms with having started life as a purchasable commodity, and of not knowing whether the mother who bore her is in need of help, or whether she had been compelled by financial circumstances or a coercive man to enter into the surrogacy arrangement that resulted in the child’s very existence. That can be a great deal for a child to process, and a great burden.
Gary Powell is a gay man and has been active in gay politics since 1980. He is the European Special Consultant to the Center for Bioethics and Culture.