Saturday, June 26, 2004

Get it off your chest (or Episode One-The Little Menace)

A lady doctor back home in Singapore who tried to breastfeed her baby at the Esplanade was caught red faced. According to the letter to the Straits Times Forum, the lady covered herself up in order to keep everyone happy. But a security guard told her to leave! In fact this is not the first time that a similar issue happens. If you have been reading the paper or started reading the paper in the year 1999, there was also a similar incident when A lady was been told by an employee of the Orchard Road Coffee Bean outlet not to breast-feed because it was considered obscene. In solidarity, a dozen or so breast-feeding mothers staged a sit-in at The Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf at Forum Galleria 3 weeks later to make the point that mothers should be able to nurse their babies in public.

Anyway let's be upfront about this, have you noticed the signs in fast food joints or other makan places that declare that food from other establishments are not allowed in their premises?Heck, even the cinema have a similar situation. (Which means cheepos can't make their own popcorns and bring it into the theatres) Or in some places, no food or drink allowed ( YEs the MRT is one of them) The place in question really took this seriously, didn't they?

Hey a baby's got to eat! Everyone else was eating so why not junior? If mummy asked baby "Coffee, tea or me?" what answer would you expect? So what if the packaging and utensils were a little different? It's only natural. About as natural as the need to produce solid, liquid and gas i.e. defecate, urinate or flatulate (translated: poop, pee or poot). If there is one thing I have learnt in life it's that when nature calls, you jolly well answer, "Yes, ma'am!"

There are some who might say that the mother could have been more discreet or at least aware of our social mores. Others might suggest she could have retreated to a public toilet. But would you like to munch your lunch in a public loo with the accompanying sights, sounds and best of all, smells?

How about our social obligation to provide more nursing areas in public places? There will be times when a baby needs to eat and a woman cannot possibly balance baby, two other kids, NTUC plastic bags and open umbrella (for cover) in public. A baby's gotta do what a baby's gotta do. So does momma. While I agree that some people are not used to the sight of a baby having really fresh milk, I think that others are hypocrites. One woman cannot breast-feed her hungry child but another can barely wear a top and get away with it.

In less developed countries, women breast-feeding their children is common sight. Are we then a more complex society? If we have evolved to a stage were a woman cannot breast-feed in public while others can strut on a cat/sidewalk with necklines aspiring to be hemlines, then I say that evolution has gone wrong. Something as natural and beautiful as a mother tending to her child is "weird" while something fleeting and flippant like fashion is "normal"?

On a side note, have you seen a parent and a child with pants down to the ankles (of the kid, not the parent for crying out loud!) and the former encouraging the latter with "shh-shh-shh" sounds in public? I have been "privileged" to see this for myself outside a departmental store and over a sink in a public loo! Somehow I get the impression that this is not frowned upon as much as breast-feeding in public. This is the quirkiness that is Singapore.

But then again, that's my 2.10 cents worth.

P.S I have decided to continue to put the so called "offensive" picture on my blog. Then again it is MY blog and I should be the one deciding what I want or don't want. :) (Make sense??)

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