Open post: sex, breastfeeding & one smart 20yo

There are certain issues that spark an explosion of comments. You’d think after 4 years of running Mamamia, I would have a pretty good handle on what those issues would be and usually I do. But one of the things that confounds and delights me about this website and you guys is that sometimes it’s totally unpredictable.

When a post does explode, there will invariably be one or two people who accuse us of pimping for traffic and deliberately trying to be controversial. Which is an interesting idea, really. Never do we try to cause a shit-fight. Trust me when I tell you it’s not worth it. We work very hard to make sure we protect our readers and our writers from nastiness. This is easy 99% of the time because the Mamamia community is thoughtful, compassionate, engaged and empathetic. But that doesn’t mean we always agree.

How dull would that be? When we published Em Rusciano’s post on Monday about a friend who discovered her baby had been breastfed by another mother in her mother’s group without her permission, my personal reaction was……well not horror but not far from it. As a writer, I’m always hovering a bit above my own reactions and the reactions of other people. A bit like a spectator, fascinated by what strong reactions mean, what buttons an issue has pushed when people react in extreme ways.

This was one of those cases and it was compelling to read the comments and look at what it says about us – firstly that some of us are horrified by the idea of someone else breast-feeding our baby and secondly, that some people are horrified that the first group of people are horrified. One commenter pointed out that when we published the youtube video below, of Salma Hayek unselfconciously breastfeeding a stranger’s starving baby, the comments were overwhelmingly positive.

Take a look:

Watching that video again, I went back and looked at that post and remembered my own reaction – I was brought to tears. I found it incredibly moving and (possibly because I was breastfeeding myself at the time), wanted to drive my lactating bosoms straight to the airport and get on a plane to the nearest third world country to breastfeed every hungry baby I could find.


As I mentioned in comments on this week’s post, my husband’s grandmother in Poland had a wet nurse – it was the cultural and social norm when she was growing up 100 years ago.

So what’s the difference between a wet-nurse, Salma and that mother’s group anecdote? What’s at the heart of the argy bargy?

Permission and physical need I think. In Em’s story, the baby wasn’t starving in a third world country. And permission was never given by the mother (I think obviously that a genuinely starving child trumps the need to ask for permission but in the case of Em’s post, that clearly wasn’t the case).

So that’s what I think. That’s where the line is FOR ME. I would have been furious had someone breastfed my baby without my permission – for a variety of reasons none of which have anything to do with being anti-breastfeeding or anti-women. I’m not saying the act was done out of anything other than a genuine and benevolent desire to help the other mother and her baby. But reactions aren’t always logical and the good intentions behind an act can’t always ameliorate how it is received.

I always knew that some people would be fine with the idea of it and others not. What surprised me was the way some people were furious that we’d even published the post. Some of the comments directed at Em herself were so OTT we had to delete them.

I’m not telling you how to react. So please don’t tell me (or Em) how to react. I think it’s important we give each other the space and respect to express wildly different views – views that might not feel like ‘the norm’. Em herself wrote “‘maybe I’m weird” for being so freaked out at the thought of another mother breastfeeding her baby. And that’s OK!

What I adore and treasure and hold sacred about this community and what we’ve created with Mamamia is the space to be honest and authentic.

And I will always be fascinated by our collective diverse reactions to issues like this. It keeps life interesting to have your beliefs challenged I think……

How is your week going, anyway?

Check out what’s been going on around here behind-the scenes – it’s been a huge week in the office. Here’s our bumper gallery. What’s making us laugh, look and love around the office and a huge behind the scenes look at just how we produce the Mamamia on Sky News show each week. Enjoy!

This week’s Mamamia on Sky News is all about sex and recording that show was……hilarious. One of our guests is Nikki Gemmell – the Australian author who wrote the international best-seller The Bride Stripped Bare and now has released a sequel: With My Body. Which I’m halfway through and really enjoying.

Nikki has just had her 4th child – at 44 she went to the doctor because she thought she was going through early menopause – nope! pregnant!

I’d not met her before but she’s a complete hoot. Another guest was Sean Power (you can follow him on Twitter here– he’s also a great tweeter) who not only has a brilliant name but a brilliant story attached. A couple of months ago, the 20 year old Melbourne journalism student contacted me over Twitter to ask for an interview for a podcast he was doing as part of his uni course. I get these requests a lot and I have a policy of saying no (so please don’t ask! sorry!) because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. But there was something about the approach he took that made me say yes. I’m still not sure why.

I did the interview over the phone for his podcast (which you can listen to here) and I was so impressed with him, I tweeted about him to all my media contacts, suggesting that radio people particularly keep their eyes and ears on him because he was going to be a huge talent. Then, I asked him if he wanted to come and be a panellist on Mamamia on Sky News. He flew himself up last week, recorded the show (about sex and other things) with our own Deputy Editor Bec Sparrow, Sam de Brito, Lisa Hensley and Nikki Gemmell and he was fantastic. Really held his own despite being less than half the age of most of us.

And his voice? Well, you’ll have to watch the show to see what Sam said about that.

I think I may have accidentally become Sean’s fairy godmother.

And here is the preview for this week’s show:

But enough about us.

How are things in YOUR world? What’s on your mind?


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