An All Black boob debate

3:50pm Thursday 9th February 2012

By Emma Mackie

I was treading a fine line of consciousness this week, it was hard to decipher what was real.

I’ve been getting irate over an All Black boob debate.

Okay, that’s potentially misleading. It wasn’t about a rugby player with man boobs. It was about the battle of breast versus bottle feeding.

The mighty media brought to light the shocking revelation that an anti-smoking TV advertisement, starring the nation’s rugby darling Piri Weepu, had been edited to remove images of the formidable All Black bottle-feeding his baby daughter.

Presumably he didn’t have a breast to feed her with.

No big deal, right?

Apparently, a very big deal. The breast feeding extremists spat their dummies (they probably hate dummies too) and said the public should not be exposed to pictures of the heroic Mr Weepu bottle-feeding his baby, because it might make us all think it’s okay to bottle feed.

Stop the world, I want to get off.

It IS okay to bottle feed! It’s not child abuse for goodness sake.

And what is better than a father who nurtures his children?

I can’t get my head around it. I’m fuming.

One of the objections came from La Leche League. According to its website, this organisation was established by “seven women who wanted to make breast feeding easier and more rewarding for both mothers and children”.

So it’s up to them to decide what images we should be exposed to. It sounds like they’re highly qualified.

Or not.

Perhaps it’s just me, but this outdated lobbying seems rather old fashioned. Not only is it demeaning to women to assume they can’t make their own decisions, but to men too - men who have been inadvertently told that nurturing your child with a bottle-feed is in some way harmful.

The planned advertisement is part of an anti-smoking campaign, so if we’re going to start making value judgements then I have to ask, what’s more important – not smoking; or breast feeding?

We’ve been told for decades that breast is best; well not when it’s shoved down your throat.

The crazy objection to Piri being a good dad was misdirected. The league of know-all women was attempting to make a stand about how women should be free to breast feed wherever they want.

Well I don’t argue with that. If a mum needs and wants to breast feed her baby she should be able to do it wherever she is.

God knows when a baby won’t stop crying you should be entitled to a little exposure to give the child what it needs. I’d be likely to show more than a boob should that particular shoe be on my foot.

But I don’t need my media filtered for me to make that decision.

Anyway it turned out to be a right old PR faux pas for the breast brigade and it continues to haunt them, with anger spilling out from every corner of this normally laid-back country.

And deservedly so.

I should mention that Piri is the man who almost single-handedly saved New Zealand’s 2011 World Cup campaign in the quarter-final against Argentina. The country went mad with Piri pleasure for the rest of the tournament.

But perhaps the people of La Leche League aren’t big rugby fans, they weren’t aware they were picking on the wrong man.

Warrington Guardian: An All Black boob debate

But this is about all men having the right and being encouraged to be equal in the parenting game, in every way. If babies are breast-only territory we’re just shoving men further out of the equation.

So Monday should have been known as Piri Weepu Day, but this week it marked New Zealand’s real national holiday, Waitangi Day.

Commemorating the 6 February 1840, the day when New Zealand’s founding document was signed between Maori and the British Crown.

But while kiwis in London celebrated with a district line pub crawl, New Zealand marked the occasion in the same way it has done for years - with political humiliation.

It should be called “Wrestle the Prime Minister Day”.

Current Prime Minister John Key was jostled and out-shouted as he tried to make a speech at the Waitangi Treaty grounds in the Far North.

So much so that he cut short his appearance. Previous PMs have had mud thrown at them and been reduced to tears in similar wrangles on this, the national day of celebration. One year they even threw a t-shirt - a strange choice of missile - at the Queen.

Waitangi day has long been a stomping ground for protests against the government, and whatever it is currently doing to wind people up. At the moment it’s the sale of state owned assets that’s got a few bees in bonnets.

But behind this conscious objection, lies an age-old dispute of territorial ownership.

Who owns what, and who has a right to what. It’s the same the world over and it’s no different here, in the far corner of the southern hemisphere.

What is it with our obsession over land? And let me say, I don’t count myself as immune to this disease either. Recently I mentioned to someone how much more settled I’d become, now that I owned a home here.

“Of course you have,” he scoffed.

“The British have been colonising for centuries, what makes you think you’re any different?”

But for me the desire for roots was about so much more than ownership. It became something I needed in order to feel at home.

So yes, I would probably fight for my little piece of land, not least because I’ve got the vegetable patch to protect.

And now that I’ve taken possession of my piece of land, I’d like to take back custody of my free will please. And that includes making decisions about “exposing” myself to images of fathers feeding their children.

If we have the right to vote, then we have the right to decide what we watch and what we do, or don’t do with our breasts.

Amen sister...and brother.

Until next time, from the land of the long white cloud.

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