Why Alex Dyke’s comments have nothing to do with breastfeeding

breastfeeding baby

So the BBC DJ Alex Dyke has been suspended by the BBC over his comments about breastfeeding, and I’m sure that many will be coming out in support of him, saying that it’s only his opinion and something that he has a right to express.

Let’s have a closer look at his comments, shall we? Note that they’re out of order (Yeah, no kidding, but I mean chronological order here). Also note my standard disclaimer that this post is in no way to be taken as a criticism of women who formula-feed for whatever reason. I have a foot in both camps. I understand. Anyway, here we go. Gird your loins. I also get a bit sweary.

On with the box of delights:

“Couldn’t mums just stay at home and do it? I’m not offended by it,
I’m just made to feel uncomfortable about it.”

I’ve made this point before: a woman’s right to feed her baby in whatever way she wishes outweighs your right to not be made the tiniest bit uncomfortable because for whatever reason you are unable to look away. Don’t like it? Don’t fucking look.

“You wouldn’t get ‘yummy mummies’… breastfeeding in public.
Those kind of women wouldn’t do it because
they’re very image-conscious and they know it’s not a great look.”

Aha, and here we get his total ignorance of breastfeeding displayed, as well as a glimpse of the real reason for his comments, So ‘Yummy Mummies’ (God, how I loathe that phrase) don’t breastfeed in public, do they? Well, if by ‘Yummy Mummies’ he means those who have been lucky enough to receive a good education and who generally sit in a higher wage bracket, then actually these are the women who are most likely to breastfeed.

One of the key findings from the NHS Infant Feeding Survey was this:

Breastfeeding was most common among mothers who were: aged 30 or over, from minority ethnic groups, left education aged over 18, in managerial and professional occupations and living in the least deprived areas.

So the ones who are more likely to be Yummy Mummies then?

He later backed up this comment with this delightful little piece of spite and bile:

“My point was fat chavvy mums with their boobs out on buses isn’t a good look.
A classy discreet mum is absolutely fine.”

Oh wow, thank you. How kind and generous of you. But note the spite directed at women who don’t look the way he expects them to look. Fat and chavvy? Sorry, you don’t deserve to feel able to feed your baby in the way you choose. Oh, wait, it has multiple benefits for the baby and for you? Well, tough — Alex Dyke thinks you’re fat and he doesn’t want to see your tits on the bus, and how dare we all think that we should expect him to respect a woman’s choice and her body and NOT. FUCKING. LOOK.

“Breastfeeding is unnatural. It’s the kind of thing that should be done
in a quiet, private nursery.’

Ah, so women should stay quietly at home and never show their faces outside the door, particularly in the early days when babies may need feeding around the clock? Okey dokey then.

“It was OK in the Stone Age when we knew no better,
when people didn’t have their own teeth…
but now I just think a public area is not the place for it
and fellas don’t like it.”

I just… I can’t even… ‘Knew no better’? What exactly do we know better if it’s not the multiple benefits of breastfeeding and that a woman’s body is her own and not the property of men? Why the fuck should we care if ‘fellas don’t like it’? What business is it of theirs? Why can’t men — some men — get it through their thick skulls that women do not solely exist for their sole benefit, that we have lives and expectations of our own, and that if we choose to feed our baby in a way that benefits not only the baby and ourselves, but also society as a whole, then shouldn’t we be allowed to do so without shitty attacks like this? No matter what we look like.

“I blame the Earth mothers, you know the ones I mean,
the ones with the moustaches, the ones who work in libraries,
the ones who wear hessian,
the ones they’re always on Radio 4 on Women’s Hour,
they are always pushing the boundaries and making us feel uncomfortable.

And here we get right down to it, don’t we? We’ve had glimpses of it with the body-shaming and the bile directed at ‘chavvy’ mums; it’s the ‘Earth mothers’ who are to blame, and by ‘Earth mothers’ I presume he actually means ‘feminists’. Yes, that bunch of fucking bitches who refuse to conform to the tiny little box prescribed to them by society, making Alex Dyke and co uncomfortable with their ‘questions’ about the male gaze and demands for fairer treatment. How DARE they?

This whole situation isn’t about breastfeeding at all, so let’s set that aside right away. Alex Dyke’s opinions on that subject are laughable and it’s pretty clear he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Making this about breastfeeding opens up a channel for the apologists to wring their hands and bleat that he has a right to express his opinions on that subject. But this isn’t about breastfeeding, is it? This is about hatred of women who don’t look a particular way, who don’t conform to the way Alex Dyke expects us to and who refuse to accept shitty sexist behaviour.

So should he have been suspended? Yes, he absolutely fucking should have been, although there will inevitably be a backlash defending him and his comments. I’m sure there has been already; I don’t particularly want to look. There’s only so much sexism and ignorance I can take, and I’ve just about had my fill of it for the week. Not that it will matter to his defenders because their general outlook will probably be mired in misogyny themselves. They probably agree with him.

You may also want to check out my other ranty breastfeeding post, Why I’m Glad When Anti-Breastfeeding Stories Hit the Headlines.

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About allpastmidnight

Hi, I'm Alison, I am a mid-thirties mum to two children, Little Man and Wee Girl. Wee Girl is pre-verbal and has autism, while Little Man is the sort of happy chatty little guy who gets into everything and sings at the top of his lungs — until the moment he makes eye contact with a stranger and he goes silent. I am cynical, sweary, and a bit disorganised, and I blog about parenting, ASD, food and just about anything else I can think of. Feel free to follow me on any of my social media. I can also be contacted by email at allpastmidnight [at] outlook [dot] com.
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27 Responses to Why Alex Dyke’s comments have nothing to do with breastfeeding

  1. mummyfever says:

    I’m not sure I even have the words to express my disgust at the comments – I will keep my mouth shut but continue to breastfeed in public. Including part way around the Shrek Tour as I did a few weeks ago! # effitfriday

  2. He’s an idiot and a tool, but by the same “don’t look” message, shouldn’t people just “stop listening”? I’m OK with him being fired, but I find it odd that so many people that never listened to him anyway called for his firing. I don’t agree with him, but there are a lot of people in media that I don’t agree with that are probably bigger A holes that didn’t get called out in such a public manner.

    • The trouble with the “just don’t listen” message is that this is a form of discrimination. Picture it directed against an ethnic minority: is it really acceptable to tell them that they just shouldn’t take any notice, and continue to allow such messages to stand? Nope, sorry; not acceptable, and the BBC needs to take a stand against misogyny, just as it would against racist comments and homophobia. It is not acceptable full stop.

  3. Julie S. says:

    Wow how awful! Seriously, don’t look. Don’t like it? Find another direction to point your stupid head. GAH! motherhood and breastfeeding isn’t only for the models and actresses (or their look alikes).

    • It really is ridiculous, isn’t it? And I think this attitude underlies an awful lot of the negativity towards women and class — it’s much easier to judge someone if you feel they are your social inferiors. Just awful.

  4. mummaknows says:

    Wow. Good on ya for writing this. I wish I could just chalk it up to the guy being uneducated but that isn’t really the case here. I absolutely will breastfeed in public and if anyone has a problem with it I have no problem telling them where to shove it. 🙂

    • Same here. Luckily I’ve only had positive comments so far. I think the vast majority of people are just not bothered by it that much, but unfortunately there’s a minority who are ignorant, aggressive (particularly towards women) and very vocal.

  5. Eärthea says:

    I think it’s funny that he calls breastfeeding unnatural. So feeding a baby something that was made in a factory is more natural?

  6. I don’t think his brain was engaged and I have to say the comments just reflect badly on this man (whoever he is). Women are not here to look gorgeous or make men feel comfortable. We are so much more than that and what an amazing thing to be able to do, to feed and keep another human being alive. Mothers are amazing. #bigfatlinky

    • I couldn’t agree more. If I was a cynical person (which I am), I’d say he was deliberately trolling for a reaction. But the other thing that’s astonishing is that this is what he thinks is acceptable to say. How much more vile is the stuff he holds back?

  7. Emma's Mamma says:

    Wow I actually have no idea how this tosser is, and I missed him saying all this, but wow, I feel rather speechless. Yes he should be suspended. I understand people having opinions about breastfeeding but his comments are just stupid, sexist and classist. Thanks for sharing #bigfatlinky

    • I think it grows more astonishing every time I look back on what he said. ‘Speechless’ is a good word for how I feel, except for all that stuff I wrote, obviously. 😉 Thanks for visiting.

  8. Silly Mummy says:

    Yes, I agree. Comments like this have far more to do with misogyny than breastfeeding. I also agree with him being suspended. He has a right to whatever opinion he likes, but there are plenty of jobs & positions where you do not have the right to voice publicly opinions that could be offensive. If you have such a job, you abide by those rules or you expect to be fired. Those are your choices. #bigfatlinky

    • Exactly; he’s more than welcome to start up his own radio station where he can spout his nonsense. Sadly, I’m pretty sure there are people who’d listen. If he’d just limited himself to talking about breastfeeding and it not being natural, I don’t think a suspension would be warranted, but dear god, the things he said. What an idiot.

  9. I couldn’t believe when I read about the comments. It’s disgusting. And patronising. Not only to women who breastfeed, but women in general, and men who support those women. Love this!

    Thanks for linking with #effitfriday

    • It’ jawdropping, isn’t it, when you see the guff some people come out with? You think they’d think twice before opening their mouths. But it’s good that crap like this happens in a way, because hopefully the next person will think twice. Thanks for visiting.

  10. mumzilla says:

    Alex Dyke is a massive tool.

  11. I agree that his comments are about all women, not just breastfeeding mothers. He has displayed some shocking misogyny in the past, but seems to have touched a nerve by bringing in breastfeeding. It’s a shame that Radio Solent have misjudged this so badly. I love your sweary rant! x

    • I wasn’t aware of him before all this came out, but it doesn’t surprise me that he has form. I think it’s worth pointing out that this is the stuff he thinks is ACCEPTABLE TO SAY.

      Funny how breastfeeding makes things go viral. I think because it’s such a contentious issue already (although god knows why); I wonder if the breastfeeding hadn’t even come into it whether all this fuss would have been made? Blimey, that’s a depressing thought.

  12. Wander Mum says:

    The guy is a complete ignorant, idiot and was rightly suspended. Unnatural? Really? It just beggers belief but I refuse to get too annoyed and angry about his comments. It ain’t worth it. Let us hope this has been an education for him. We shall continue to feed our children in public and anyone who questions it or gives us a dodgy look can just sod off. #bigfatlinky

    • I think trying not to get upset and angry is a pretty good attitude to have, but I also think it’s vital that stuff like this gets challenged and shouted about. The more it happens and the more vocal we are, the more it will sink in that it’s not acceptable (and sadly the more a.misogynistic minority will dig its heels in).

  13. The level of ignorance in his comments makes me wonder if it’s a publicity stunt. This is a very highly charged awareness session for breastfeeding with much less focus on the negative treatment of breastfeeding by some. Of course he might just really be that ignorant but his comments are so laughable and lacking of any credible basis that one wonders. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to the full clip before it was taken down by the BBC, there’s only about 4mins of it floating round the web at the moment. I found his tone unbelievable and lacking commitment to what he was saying.

    Anyway, the fact that he felt comfortable enough to pick on such a large segment of society, and on an issue where there is so much insecurity and vulnerability shows a measure of feeblemindedness. And he definitely needs to be called out for this because you’ll think he knows better.

    I better stop before this turns into the blog post I’ve been working on in my head, in response to this issue.

    As usual, you’ve raised valuable and insightful points. I hope one day that society will truly find behaviour like this intolerable enough. I can’t believe he’s got his job back, I really can’t.

    I need to check out the NHS Infant Feeding survey too; thanks for referring to that.

    Thanks for linking with #BreastfeedingandI

    • Thanks for your kind words. Do write a blog post about it. I haven’t been following the news about it too closely; too depressing, but I’ll have to grit my teeth and take a look. I had heard that he apologised on air, but I can’t believe he got his job back either.

      Honestly, I’m inclined to agree this was a publicity stunt. It had the air of trying to be as deliberately offensive as possible.

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