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.