Poking a Stick at a Hornet’s Nest –
A few days ago my friend and fellow commentator on Doppler, Dale Peacock, posted an opinion piece about natural childbirth and breast feeding. The response was astounding and at times cruel. Now Dale does not need me to defend her. She can do that very well on her own.
However, there are a few takeaways from the column that Dale posted that need to be addressed. Some of my family are visiting this Labour Day weekend and they have advised me to stay away from all of this. I tried, but I can’t.
First of all I was surprised at the vitriol of some of the comments; blasting Doppler for posting the article and ridiculing the author for writing it. They of course are entitled to their opinion and that really is what this is all about and why Doppler posted their comments. But that is not a one way street.
Let’s start with Doppler. Part of what we do is to expose people to different viewpoints and provide a forum for reasoned debate. The views expressed in commentary on Doppler are those of the people who write them, whether it be me, Dale Peacock, Laura McLean, or anyone else. Short of libel or personal character assassination, management does not interfere. We would be derelict if we did so. Instead, we leave it to our readers to decide what they agree with and what they do not. We encourage diverse opinion and healthy debate. We do not suppress it.
Second, I was also initially surprised by what Dale Peacock wrote. I didn’t expect it from her. She is a strong feminist and a huge advocate when it comes to women’s issues. At first blush I thought she had stepped away from this role, as did obviously some of the folks who responded to her article. But having read the article again (several times) I conclude that she has taken a much braver stand FOR women by encouraging them to do what they believe is right for them and their situation and not be pressured by others who think they know best. Far from “shaming” women, I fell she was telling them NOT to be ashamed for doing what they believed was in their best interest and that of their family. She was not, in my view, criticizing natural childbirth or breast feeding but rather pointing out that some women make other choices for whatever reasons and should not be ‘put down’ by others for doing so. As I said, a brave stance.
My own view on all of this is simple and it is that women have the right to control their own body. When it comes to a family, hopefully partners or spouses are part of the decision-making process but at the end of the day it is a woman’s choice. It is her decision as to whether she becomes pregnant or whether she does not and it is her ultimate decision how to give birth and how to feed her baby. Hopefully, these are informed decisions, but they should not be subject to pressure groups, by whatever name you wish to call them, telling women what to do or what is best for them. If a woman finds for whatever reason, that a natural birth or breastfeeding is not for them, then that is her business. Period.
So now I have poked my stick firmly in the hornet’s nest! But I have a right to my own opinion and a right to express it. I also enjoy listening to and learning from other people’s opinion. I am not one of those people who tolerates no opinion other than their own. I cherish the debate and from that perspective, welcome the hornet’s nest!
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