Brian Edwards Media

La Leche and Piri Weepu: when helpful persuasion becomes harmful fanaticism.

PIcture: TV3

A great deal has already been written about the pressure brought by the La Leche League, the New Zealand College of Midwives and Plunket to have a 2-second clip of Piri Weepu bottle-feeding his baby daughter Taylor removed from an anti-smoking TV ad produced by the Health Sponsorship Council.

Though unconnected, the Weepu story followed close on the heels of widespread protest against Facebook which had effectively banned a photograph of a Sydney mother breastfeeding her baby from one breast while expressing milk with a pump from the other.

Both stories were about censorship. Facebook had censored the photograph of the Sydney woman because it breached its rule that a woman’s breast could only be shown if she were using it to feed a baby; any other depiction of a naked female breast was regarded as a gratuitous display.

The La Leche League, the New Zealand Colleague of Midwives and Plunket had used their influence to persuade the Health Sponsorship Council to censor a 2-second film clip of Weepu bottle-feeding his baby because, they argued, it would damage their message that ‘breast is best’. La Leche League director Alison Stanton observed, ‘It’s really important that those messages are consistent across the board.’  

The idea that a 2-second shot of even someone as famous and admired as Piri Weepu giving his baby a bottle, would persuade any parent to stop breastfeeding their child in favour of bottle-feeding is so utterly preposterous that it will not bear examination. And any ‘damage’ that it did would be infinitessimal compared to the damage this episode has done to the not entirely favourable opinion that many New Zealanders already appear to have, not of the League’s goals,  but of the stridency of their methods in promoting those goals. As a piece of public relations this was a disaster.

Equally disastrous were their attempts to control that damage. They declined invitations to appear on Close Up, Campbell Live or, to my knowledge, any other TV programme, leaving the field open to the already greatly loved and admired Piri Weepu to feature in a 6-minute interview on Campbell Live, holding his beaming and utterly captivating daughter, while he demolished their inane and fundamentally anti-democratic reasoning.

Linda Williams of the Maternity Services Consumer Council fronted up to defend that reasoning in an interview with Mike Hosking on Close Up. She struck me as a pretty smart woman, but the inconsistency of asserting the right of mothers  to breastfeed in public and be shown in the media doing so, while denying the right of fathers (and I assume many mothers) to be shown in the media bottle-feeding their offspring, seemed to escape her completely.

It needs to be recognised that this isn’t just an injunction against a famous footie player bottle-feeding his baby on TV; it is an injunction against any man or woman being shown on New Zealand television bottle-feeding a child. That is what ‘consistent across the board’ means in Alison Stanton’s statement, ‘It’s really important that those [pro breast-feeding] messages are consistent across the board.’ In other words, ‘no message or image suggesting a  viewpoint contrary to that of the La Leche League or other proponents of breastfeeding should ever be televised or published.’ That sort of injunction belongs in totalitarian states, Ms Stanton, not in New Zealand. And it invites the sort of name-calling with regard to your organisation’s methods of persuasion that I have avoided in this piece, but frankly came perilously close to using.

What is totally beyond me is why the Health Sponsorship Council bothered to seek your opinion at all and why they were so lily-livered as to act on it.  Bottle-feeding may not be ‘best’, but it does not kill 5,000 Kiwis a year, as smoking does. If the sight of Piri Weepu holding his baby daughter in his arms  while he bottle-fed her had served to help get across the message that a famous All Black, a ‘real man’, cares so much for the welfare of his family that he has declared his home a smoke-free zone; and if that message had stopped even one more person from  smoking, it would have been well worth it. We will of course never know.

La Leche has a positive message, but the delivery of that message has served to make many women who are unable to breast-feed feel like failures. I know because I have met some of those women.  When you have moved from informing parents on the relative merits of breast- and bottle-feeding to wanting to censor alterative viewpoints or practices, you have moved from helpful persuasion to harmful fanaticism.

This, as Alison Stanton sought to persuade us, was no ‘storm in a teacup’. The premise of the League’s and its supporters’ argument for deleting the 2-second clip was fatuous, but what it told us about their approach was positively frightening.

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55 Comments:

  1. Hi Brian,

    Please check it out.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bring-Back-the-Scenes-of-Piri-Weepu-bottle-feeding-his-baby/159373234178075

  2. Amen.

  3. This is taking crunchiness way too far. What are crunchies? Crunchies are that group of women who have decided that their ‘natural only’ way of bringing up and caring for babies is the only way to do things and anyone doing anything else is abusing their child.

    Sure, breast is best. But sometimes breast isn’t even possible. I myself had to feed one child (of three) half and half and then only managed 3 months before switching exclusively to bottle. To exclude pictures of a father being involved and feeding his child is just PC out of control.

  4. Hi Brian,

    Your words here sum up my feelings perfectly. My wife couldn’t breast feed. She went to a La Leche meeting for help with our first child. As you said she was made to feel like a failure, when they realised my wife simply couldn’t breast feed she was pretty much ignored.

    As for this debacle, one VERY important message was overlooked. A male caring for, feeding and bonding with his child is a very important one. Especially in this day and age when so many children are abused, hospitalised and murdered.

    My second child is now 6 months young and I look forward to feeding him and having that special time with him, as I did with my daughter, now 4 and a half years young, it is one of the most important bonding times I have with my children.

  5. What’s even more tragic is that the women who first complained are so righteously patting themselves on their backs about how great they are. Great laugh to read the thread. http://www2.everybody.co.nz/forum/ubbthreads.php/topics/2334777/Sports_star_ad_banned_baby_hav#Post2334777

  6. Censoring behaviour is one thing.

    Legislating against it is quite another.

    Baby feeding is important. I, in fact am favourable to to L Leche.

    Censoring someone puts La Leche in a totalitarian position.

    Not good.

    A bit like secondary smoke.

    No basis in fact.

  7. “In other words, ‘no message or image suggesting a viewpoint contrary to that of the La Leche League or other proponents of breastfeeding should ever be televised or published.’”

    You mean in YOUR words, Brian.

    Ms Stanton commented on a scene in an item of government funded health promotion. Its not about what else appears on the TV news or Shortland Street (Both of which have featured bottlefeeding in some capacity without anyone commenting)

    I’m not sure what ‘methods of persuasion’ you think were being used, but if a polite letter to the Health Promotion Council, who made the final decision to pull a two second scene, as ‘harmful fanaticism’ then the world really has gone quite mad.

  8. “Censoring someone puts La Leche in a totalitarian position.”

    LLL didn’t censor anything.

    Nobody is calling the Health Sponsorship Council fanatical totalitarian censors, and it was THEY who edited the ad.

  9. “The idea that a 2-second shot of even someone as famous and admired as Piri Weepu giving his baby a bottle, would persuade any parent to stop breastfeeding their child in favour of bottle-feeding is so utterly preposterous that it will not bear examination.”

    If this image would not be influential in any way, then why would everyone assume that it would influential in stopping people smoking? In other words, what is the point of the ad in the first place?

    If one is ‘preposterous’ why is the other not?

    “In other words, ‘no message or image suggesting a viewpoint contrary to that of the La Leche League or other proponents of breastfeeding should ever be televised or published.’”

    Those are your words, Brian. This isn’t about what appears on the television news or Shortland Street (both of which have shown bottlefeeding without any comment) – its about consistency of messages across publicly funded health promotions.

    “When you have moved from informing parents on the relative merits of breast- and bottle-feeding to wanting to censor alterative viewpoints or practices, you have moved from helpful persuasion to harmful fanaticism.”

    If a polite letter to the Health Sponsorship Council recommending removal of a small part of an advert due to its inconsistency with other health campaigns is ‘harmful fanaticism’ then the world has gone truly mad.

    “The premise of the League’s and its supporters’ argument for deleting the 2-second clip was fatuous, but what it told us about their approach was positively frightening.”

    Frightening? Are you kidding me? A group of volunteer mothers who aim to help others politely recommend (not even request) that health campaigns maintain consistency? I would be more frightened if they didn’t.

  10. …these are senseless and redundant arguments – that which demonstrates the nurturing of children must take precedence and should be promoted…

  11. Peter, I’m an active member of the board you linked and also the OP. While I don’t necessarily agree with all what was said I didn’t see anyone going on about how great they are. and why they complained. They did what felt right for them and I’m offended that you are having a laugh at the expense of some good friends of mine.

    BE: “They are simply trying to get others to understand their viewpoint.” No, they want to suppress other viewpoints and other images that do not suit them.

  12. From Smoking Not Our Future Facebook page:

    Thank you for your interest in the Smoking Not Our Future ad.

    As part of a standard post-production process we identified the (two-second) bottle-feeding shot as one for possible re-editing two weeks ago. As a result we asked for comment from La Leche League NZ and Plunket NZ. After receiving feedback a decision was made last Wed to replace the shot with one that continues to show Piri in his role as a loving father, providing a smokefree home and car for his whanau.

    The advert will go to air this Sun as planned.

  13. My understanding is that the International Code of Marketing of Breast-milk Substitutes , developed by the World Health Organisation, is what drives the breastfeeding initiatives and marketing guidelines of the Ministry of Health and all parent/baby organisations that I am aware of (Plunket, La Leche, Parents Centre, College of Midwives etc).

    Of relevance here are sections 1, 5 and 9: http://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/life-stages/maternity-and-breastfeeding/breastfeeding/breast-milk-substitutes/who-international-code/who-international-code-questions-and-answers

    Based on the international code, you will not see any bottles, teats etc in any marketing from MoH, nor from the other agencies mentioned. La Leche – and the other organisations contacted over the ad – provided feedback in keeping with these existing guidelines. That is what they meant by keeping messages consistent, which perhaps could have been better explained by them.

    Regardless of your views on these guidelines, it is unfair to paint LLL as some kind of extremists based on their feedback to HSC. Actually, they were just towing someone else’s line.

  14. If all your children are adopted – as our four were – how does the adoptive mother breast feed the child. Get real La Leche.

    Don Wood

  15. The stupefying bovine mentality flourishes under such organisations as La Leche League, which should be renamed La Louche League.

    And we wonder why Peter Ellis was crucified.

    BE: Edited, Merv. Can’t have you recommending violence against women, or anyone for that matter.

  16. It’s just another example of feminist zealots trying to eliminate fathers. Being going on since the 1960s.
    —————————
    What has La Leche to say about the deadbeat parents (of eiher gender) who don’t feed their kids at all?

  17. Mountain out of a molehill. I see Piri has defended his right to raise his kids the way he wants.

    Well, I didn’t see anyone telling him how to raise his kids. What I saw was a desire to have consistency across the messages of health promotion ads. As has been pointed out above, there is nothing “fanatical” about that.

    It is the reporting of the issue that is sensationalist and out of context.

    BTW – I’m not “fanatical” about this issue at all, but if the govt was serious in promoting breastfeeding they’d provide better support for new mothers. Oops, can’t do that, costs money.

    BE: The ‘consistency’ you referred to required the suppression of other viewpoints and images. LLL can be consistent in that sense in their own publicity, but they cannot impose such ‘consistency’ on the media.

  18. ps, peterlepaysan, re your absurd correlation of the La Leche brouhaha with “secondary smoking”:

    I bet you’re a smoker, which is an addiction – and addiction skews perception. In this regard, the only correlation is that your comment about “secondary smoking” is no less self-serving than La Leche’s obsession with breast-feeding.

  19. I accept the ideas around the promotion of breast feeding as the ideal but that is targeted to mothers. Parallel to this is the work going on to encourage fathering, especially the bonding experiences at and after birth. From that point of view having Piri model father as nurturer is fantastic. How do we have both? Good messages to fathers and mothers.

  20. Hey Wakeup , wake up. The gender wars are over years ago.

  21. After our daughter was born my wife contracted septicemia and was not able to breastfeed her. Would La Leche have disapproved?

  22. Dita De Boni captures my response well, about the media beat-up on this:

    “But to take umbrage at three long-established groups, all committed to building better bonds between mothers, fathers and their children, just because they give an opinion in response to being asked for their opinion – an opinion totally consistent with their own mission statements – seems completely over the top.”

    http://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=10784109

    BE: See my reply to D. Or re-read the post.

  23. Yeah Baz, LLL advocates letting babies starve to death, fer sure.

  24. I fully support the principles behind the “breast is best” campaign. Our children were all happily breast-fed, although I have had the privilege of bottle-feeding them every now and then on expressed milk. It’s a wonderful bonding moment for any proud Dad.

    The comments above suggest that the rather vocal “D.” and other La Leche supporters would have us believe that the issue here is actually one of poor and sensationalist journalism. Phooey!

    To take that stance loses sight of the fact that the actual purpose of the ad was not to promote breast-feeding, but to convince the target audience that smoking is unacceptable. As a highly-respected sportsman and male role model, Piri Weepu was surely an excellent choice in that regard. It’s entirely possible that a TVC showing a young, maori male interacting gently with his child may have produced a secondary benefit in a world where child abuse is rampant, particularly within maori families.

    The shame here is the misguided view that showing any form of bottle feeding is inherently wrong, and the PC thinking that convinced the Health Sponsorship Council to pull a two second clip of Piri Weepu sharing an intimate moment with his daughter.

  25. Brian,

    LLL did put out a press release earlier this week, but I have to confess that it doesn’t shed much light on the issue and seems to be a weak defence.

    LLL says that showing Weepu for two seconds “undermines” their breast is best campaign. And they say they’d be happy to see Weepu carrying his daughter in a sling at a rugby game. Hmmm but presumably not being bottle fed. I suggest the LLL needs to look at the big picture rather than focus on the narrow issue of breast feeding.

    http://www.lalecheleague.org.nz/template/latest_news/keeping_consistent_messages_0212.pdf

  26. “LLL didn’t censor anything.”

    D. you’re playing semantics. La Leche apparently wanted the two seconds removed because it undermined their campaign. That is a silly assumption and ignores the big picture. The Health Sponsorship Council has shown itself to be weak and easily manipulated.

  27. It didn’t undermine THEIR (LLLs) campaign. LLL doesn’t HAVE a campaign.

    They COMMENTED that a GOVERNMENT FUNDED health campaign showed imagery that is not consistent with another GOVERNMENT FUNDED health campaign.

    What is it that you think they did? Marched on parliament?

    The press release pretty much covers it. There is no more ‘light’ to be ‘shed.’

  28. So its bad for us to see a guy feed his kid…yet its ok for some saggy breast to be shoved in my face in a restaurant while im trying to enjoy my meal…vile!

  29. “That is a silly assumption”

    Why?

    I will return you to this point I made earlier…

    “If this image would not be influential in any way, then why would everyone assume that it would influential in stopping people smoking? In other words, what is the point of the ad in the first place?

    If one is ‘preposterous’ why is the other not?”

    If that image was to prove to be so ineffectual at influencing parents feeding choices, then it stands to reason that the whole ad is a waste of time, because then likewise, the image of Piri Weepu as a family man with a smoke free home is completely ineffectual.

    You can’t have it both ways.

    BE: I”m going to deal with your half-dozen comments once. The shot of Piri Weepu bottle-feeding his daughter is on screen for 2 seconds. He makes no reference to bottle feeding. The commercial runs for 30 seconds. Weepu uses those 30 seconds to advocate for smoke free homes. If you really can’t see a difference between 2 seconds and 30 seconds in terms of likely impact on a viewer, and if you can’t see a difference between nothing being said about breast-feeding or bottle-feeding and an entire commercial being given over to an anti-smoking message, then you astonish me.

    You evidently believe that a mother viewing this 2-second shot of Weepu bottle-feeding his daughter without any comment, would be induced to stop breast-feeding her child and bottle-feed him or her instead. Or that an expectant mother would base her feeding choice on that 2-second clip. I say that’s nuts. It also gives very little credit to the intelligence or judgment of mothers.

    You also fail utterly to deal with the hyypocrisy of being outraged when Facebook bans a woman from putting up a photograph of her breastfeeding her baby (though that was not the reason for the ban) but having no qualms about censoring a picture of a father bottle-feeding his daughter.

    Finally, my view that LLL has moved from reasonable persuasion to fanaticism is based on Director Alison Stanton’s comment that, ‘It’s really important that those messages are consistent across the board.’ That would require the banning of images of bottle-feeding or advocacy of bottle feeding in the media, since such images or advocacy would clearly not be ‘consistent’ with the LLL’s message under any circumstances (‘across the board’)

    Feel free to send more comments, but it’s worth noting that an argument does not become stronger by repetition.

  30. Encouraging mothers to breast feed is fine.Attacking other suitable methods of feeding for babies is not.

  31. “LLL doesn’t HAVE a campaign.”

    Now you’re being absurd. If they don’t have a campaign, then they wouldn’t have felt it necessary to complain about Weepu. Trust me, the sky won’t fall in if viewers get to see a baby being bottle fed. In fact, on Campbell Live tonight, the programme devoted quite some time to a woman doing just that. Bizarrely, the woman has been harassed for bottle feeding her baby. I wonder whether La Leche will feel the need to criticise TV3, or maybe they’ll see the big picutre of a child being well cared for.

  32. “Can’t have you recommending violence against women”

    That has to be a joke, right?

    BE: No, wrong.

  33. Yes, LLL, Plunket etc were approached for their opinion. HOWEVER, LLL went further than a private reply. Members of LLL actively campaigned via Facebook, for example ‘Parent’s Centre’ pages – see below:
    “We need some action immediately to stop one new commercial (or one shot in this commercial) in the NZ Smoking Not Our Future campaign from going to air this Sunday 5th February. This advertisement will undermine all the recent efforts over the past few years by the Ministry of Health and many other hard working organisations to protect promote and support breastfeeding in New Zealand. One of the new commercials shows Piri Weepu (All Black) bottle-feeding his five-month-old baby girl. There are so many other ways they could have portrayed a father interacting with his baby that did not need to undermine one of our most important health messages. Bathing the baby, taking the baby for a walk, baby wearing around the house in a sling etc. The letter from the HSC which was sent to the Director of La Leche League NZ Alison Stanton, suggests that this shot was chosen because “we feel the image of Piri feeding his baby girl is very poignant at a time when issues surrounding caring for children are very much on the country’s agenda”. This reflects a narrow view point of breastfeeding that sees it as merely a ‘food choice’ rather than having an understanding of how much breastfeeding has to offer in terms of secure attachment and bonding (which is critical for any discussion about ‘caring for children’) and the contribution of breastfeeding to infant and young child health and development. This is not about being unsupportive of bottle-feeding parents as infant health advocates and breastfeeding supporters are committed to supporting all parents. We know that over 90% of women in New Zealand start breastfeeding and the reasons for changing to bottle-feeding are largely due to our failure to provide sufficient community and social system support for breastfeeding – yet. These system changes are what many organisations are working hard towards and making some headway. Yes – I know that Piri could be using breast milk in that bottle of course but the bottle-feeding image feeds into a culture which is already dominated by frames of bottle-feeding and what people will see in the commercial is bottle-feeding and infant formula and an image that signifies ‘normal’ – a frame that we hope to shift. I hope that organisations as well as individuals will be able to respond to this appeal for support and write to the HSC calling for removal of that one shot. The damage that this shot of a celebrity All Black will do to breastfeeding in New Zealand Aotearoa will be significant. Please write to Susie Robertson at the HSC – susier@hsc.org.nz or phone her at (04) 4725777.”

  34. Brian, the repetion was not to ‘make my argument stronger’ but because your comments function does not make it clear that they will be sent for moderation, and I thought mine had been lost to cyberspace.

    “If you really can’t see a difference between 2 seconds and 30 seconds in terms of likely impact on a viewer, and if you can’t see a difference between nothing being said about breast-feeding or bottle-feeding and an entire commercial being given over to an anti-smoking message, then you astonish me.”

    Perhaps an advertising expert will come and comment and tell us that two seconds of product placement in blockbuster movies is a waste of time too. I didn’t know visual impact operated on a pro rata basis.

    “You evidently believe that a mother viewing this 2-second shot of Weepu bottle-feeding his daughter without any comment, would be induced to stop breast-feeding her child and bottle-feed him or her instead. Or that an expectant mother would base her feeding choice on that 2-second clip. I say that’s nuts. It also gives very little credit to the intelligence or judgment of mothers.”

    Its not about one person seeing it and it ‘changing their mind.’ Its about an environment that constantly regards bottlefeeding as the norm. This could be from infant weight charts that reflect formula fed babies as the baseline (this has now changed in NZ) to images of bottles and bottlefeeding as being seen as the normal way to feed babies. It is a cultural norm, and one that stands in the way of breastfeeding success. Yes, this was ‘just’ two seconds, but for one, its two seconds being added to an array of ‘bottle as norm’ images in society. The MoH has just spent three years and who knows how much money on a campaign to normalise breastfeeding, so it makes sense that they shouldn’t go and offer contradictory imagery in another advert.

    That only 14% of babies are exclusively breastfed to six months suggests that there is much to be done. And its not JUST about pictures in health campaigns. Its about a package of community support, legislative support, health professional support.

    “Finally, my view that LLL has moved from reasonable persuasion to fanaticism is based on Director Alison Stanton’s comment that, ‘It’s really important that those messages are consistent across the board.’ That would require the banning of images of bottle-feeding or advocacy of bottle feeding in the media, since such images or advocacy would clearly not be ‘consistent’ with the LLL’s message under any circumstances (‘across the board’)”

    Oh come on Brian. This isn’t about ‘the media.’ Its about messages from the health sector. This is what the letter to HSC stated, and that is what the press release stated.

    “Our concern was about keeping health messages consistent; why would you have one Government campaign inadvertently undermine another?” she [Lisa Manning, LLL spokesperson] said. Research clearly shows that images of bottle-feeding undermine messages promoting breastfeeding and one of the proposed images in this ad could inadvertently counter the messages of the government‟s breastfeeding education campaign.”

    The issues around Facebook censoring breastfeeding images is something quite different, and nothing to do with health promotion in this country. LLL in NZ has not, as far as I’m aware, made any comment on this, as it is a ‘dispute’ if you like between private citizens and a private corporation.

    @ Alfie:

    “To take that stance loses sight of the fact that the actual purpose of the ad was not to promote breast-feeding, but to convince the target audience that smoking is unacceptable.”

    No kidding. Its purpose wasn’t to promote bottlefeeding either.

    @Ross:
    “In fact, on Campbell Live tonight, the programme devoted quite some time to a woman doing just that. Bizarrely, the woman has been harassed for bottle feeding her baby.”

    That is unacceptable, and LLL would never condone that kind of behaviour.

    The woman featured on Campbell Live and in the NZ Herald was a textbook case of why breastfeeding advocacy is necessary. She explained that breastfeeding was not a norm in her family, she expressed doubts about the quality of her milk, and considered that because the SMA tin says what’s in it, its better.

    She had terrible experiences with health professionals manhandling her, and its no wonder that what little breastfeeding she did was traumatising for her.

    There are huge gaps in bottlefeeding information and support in the health sector, and that is something that the MoH must address. LLL is a breastfeeding support organisation, and can’t take responsibility for that. But it is clear that breastfeeding should be encouraged in terms of population health, and consistent messages across health campaigns are part of that.

  35. Hi Brian…

    You’ve summed up wonderfully for me my own opinion of the whole debacle. Thank you very much. I’d love to read your view of Family First NZ too.

    There’s some interesting literature on the La Leche website. Catchy but meaningless slogans from 2001 such as ‘breastfeeding. it’s just plain normal’. And as part of another piece: ‘Nature, it hasn’t let us down yet’. Are they having me on? Is that why people wear glasses and use hearing aids? Nature is what it is and it’s often improved upon by human ingenuity.

    Of course, HSC asking La Leche whether two seconds of a bottle being shown should be kept in or not is like asking the All Blacks whether we should ban rugby. How else were they going to respond?

    The problem for La Leche will be when someone comes up with baby formula that wins scientific approval hands down over breastmilk. How on earth would they ever cope in that catastrophic turn of events?

    Some of the claims La Leche make about the benefits of breastfeeding look highly suspect. It does have a wee bit of a fanatical feel to it. It’s not so much take it or leave it as ‘TAKE IT! TAKE IT! TAKE IT! They really don’t like bottlefeeding even a little bit. It’s the devil, an absolute last resort. They dream of a day when milk banks supply enough of the good stuff for all babies no matter if mother can breastfeed or not.

  36. More abject madness from the cheap publicity-seeking loony PC brigade – and it seems to be working! Andy Warhol was right: before last week no-one had ever heard of Stanton but she’s siezed upon this merest of chances to make herself known. Thank God Piri wasn’t seen to be changing a nappy or sharing a bath with his daughter – he’d be in the Sing Sing right now.

    So tell me, la Letch, as we strike you off the list of credible “pressure groups” – d’y’think it’s a good idea that fathers love/tend/care for/bond with their kids? Should both parents share in the up-bringing, or is that just squaw’s work? And how the hell else can a man feed his baby?

  37. I notice an element of anti La Leche league slipping in here – sure they were clumsy and ill informed in wanting bottle feeding images censored but hey lets not throw the baby out with the bath water here. There is plenty of good evidence that says breast milk is better, when possible.

    I hope the LLL learn some lessons from this and keep their focus on positive promotion of breastfeeding rather than the censorship approach.

    Mind you a fair amount of public heath communication uses a negative or censorship approach.

  38. So Ms Stanton made others aware that she sent a response to HSC. So what.

    That post was the body of an email sent through various email networks (not including LLL) and obviously posted on various websites and Facebook pages.

    Interestingly, the name of the person who sent the email is not on the publicly posted material, but it was not Alison Stanton, and sending it was not a directive from LLL.

  39. Richard, I am sure LLL will be taking on board any constructive feedback about what has happened here.

    But calling them ‘harmful fanatics’ is hardly a way to open up the channels of communication.

    Although I expect that is hardly what Mr. Edwards aimed to do. Reaction, reaction, reaction….

  40. We weep for Weepu.

  41. “Its about an environment that constantly regards bottlefeeding as the norm.”

    I have no idea what you mean by that statement, but you seem to treat bottle feeding with contempt. You surely must be aware that for more than 50% of the child-rearing population, bottle feeding is the norm. That’s how babies are fed…there is nothing abnormal about it. Once again, you’ve failed to see the big picture.

  42. @Ross

    “You must surely be aware that for more than 50% of the child-rearing population, bottle feeding is the norm”

    D. has not failed to see the big picture. Health promotion messages are not decided by popular vote. We live in a bottle feeding culture where knowledge about initiating and supporting breastfeeding has been interrupted.

    There are risks to not breastfeeding. We don’t like to talk about them because we might risk offending people or making them feel guilty for choices that they have made. I think we should talk about them more, as families cannot make informed infant feeding choices without a reasonable level of accurate information and timely support.

  43. Kerry says “So its bad for us to see a guy feed his kid…yet its ok for some saggy breast to be shoved in my face in a restaurant while im trying to enjoy my meal…vile!”

    I don’t know which you restaurant you go to but it must be jolly crowded.

  44. I am a mother of four children born in the 7o’s. I breasfed my children, as I do believe breast is beast. We had LLL around then and I have to say, I was one of 23 women in the birthing unit at the same time. LLL swooped in and tried to put pressure on all mothers to feed. Anyone who could not or chose not to B/F was given a hard time and then completely ignored. I found them almost like Nazi’s with their righteous attitude.It was like they had invented B/F. The one thing I found extremely gross, was a LLL activest who was at the kindy my children were attending at the time, had two boys aged three and four years old. They would run to her several times during the day, get under her dress and proceed to feed from her. They are a minority group who have their beliefs and that is fine. Don’t force your opinions and idea’s onto others. The funny thing is, what I have seen over the years, LLL mothers usually have the most misbehaved children, as the parents are quite wishy washy.

  45. Hmmm. I’ve read this debate with interest and wasn’t sure where I sat in regards to this and still don’t. However, these are the major points that have come out of it for me:

    1. If La Leche were trying to get their view point across for the better of society, they have failed.

    2. Many of those who complain about La Leche often couple their complaints with derogatory and nasty comments about La Leche members. This isn’t helpful for someone like me who wants to know the facts and in fact makes me think that those who are anti La Leche may not be very nice people themselves.

    3. In my view, the makers of the ad obviously had some doubts about whether the bottle feeding scene was a good idea otherwise they wouldn’t have required a second opinion and in the end, they are responsible for what is shown on screen, not La Leche.

    4. La Leche promote breast feeding. That is their purpose. They are against bottle feeding where ever possible. When faced with a question about whether it is a good idea to show bottle feeding as part of a normal family environment, surely they are bound to say “no”. On the other hand, if the opinion of a formula manufacturing company had been sought, surely their answer could only have been “yes”.

    5. To say that La Leche has ignored the benefits of showing a father nurturing his child is absolutely correct, but I don’t believe that is their job. I would go further and say that it was the job of the makers of the ad itself to weigh up the cost and benefit of allowing that scene, and they have missed an opportunity by removing it, or not doing as La Leche suggested, replacing it with another scene that is equally intimate.

    I think La Leche made a mistake, but only in the sense that they didn’t take into account any public interest in the story and how their stance might be perceived by the public. But at the end of the day they are here to promote BREAST feeding, not bottle feeding. Why are we so incensed by that?

    BE: Well, I don’t think anyone is incensed about their promoting breast-feeding. You seem to be making the same mistake as they are making themselves. This isn’t about whether breast- or bottle-feeding is good or bad. It’s about freedom of speech and opinion. LLL’s position is that it is unacceptable for any branch of the media to even show a 2-second image of a parent bottle-feeding a child, let alone say or do anything that might be construed as promoting bottle-feeding. Their position is: our view is the only acceptable view and no other view may be tolerated. We can’t accept that sort of dogmatism in a democracy.

  46. I do you see your point Brian, but I don’t personally have a problem with the consistent message that “breast is best”, just as I don’t have a problem with being told “smoking is bad”. I also didn’t read it as LLL’s position that ANY branch of the media shouldn’t show clips of bottle feeding, rather that public health related promotions should be kept consistent with that message. Just as any public health messages should keep to the anti-smoking message, even when the promotion is unrelated. Maybe I have read that wrong.

    I’m an intelligent woman in my early 30s who is trying to start a family and I think I would find it confusing to see a public health message that promoted bottle feeding. There is so much contradictory information out there that it is overwhelming and the one place I want to be able to rely on for a consistent message is indeed the public health system. Perhaps I’m still missing the point here, but I see the issue that people are having here is indeed with the message that is being portrayed, but that is the message that the public health system has deemed important for us to hear.

    Anyway, just a different point view and apologies if I have missed the point still, I am really just trying to see it from all angles :)

  47. BE – If you don’t think that anyone is incensed about La Leche League promoting breastfeeding, then you should check out the thousands of posts on trademe for an outpouring of vitriol and hate.

    There are many images of bottles, formula and babies being fed formula from bottles on TV in a variety of programmes and news stories. La Leche League has made no comment on any of them, nor would it.

    In this instance the organisation gave feedback on a health promotion message when feedback was requested. Unsurprisingly, their feedback was consistent with their purpose.

  48. Brian, if Piri had been holding a bottle of beer in one hand and his baby in the other and the Liquor Advisory Council had recommended removal of that 2 seconds of footage from a Public Health message, would that be censorship?

    BE: No, it would be a reasonable request. But this merely demonstrates the absurdity of stupid analogies. Alcohol is one of the most damaging drugs in our society. I’m not aware of similar damage being attributed to bottle-feeding.

  49. Actually Brian, JJ’s analogy is a great one.

    The process is the same – just that you’ve made the judgment beer bad censorship good, bottle OK censorship bad.

    BE: Don’t think so. There’s a degree of inappropriateness in the image of a man bottle-feeding a baby with a beer in his hand, though I’m not entirely sure how he would manage it anyway. LLL objects to Weepu being shown engaging in an entirely harmless and loving activity. Their position is that their message is the only message that may be seen or heard.

  50. Ali

    Your dog’s lost sight of the rabbit – this was a public health message promoting the bringing up of babies in a smoke-free home. The bottle had nothing to do with it. La Leche’s irrational focus on the non-message is simply a publicity-seeking gimmick, but (sadly) a very successful one at that.

  51. A belated response:
    ——————-
    Richard Aston, Feb 8th, 2012 at 10:38, said :
    Hey Wakeup , wake up. The gender wars are over years ago.
    ————-
    Richard, which planet are you living on? Some feelgood movie somewhere?

  52. “La Leche League has made no comment on any of them, nor would it.”

    How exactly would you know this? LLL may have commented, as it did in this case, without notifying the media. That being the case, none of us would be any the wiser. LLL need to be more tolerant and see the bigger picture.

  53. Hi. I’m late to this too. But am really enjoying this forum, thanks Brian.

    A couple of points haven’t been made yet.

    Through experience running public health campaign, Health Sponsorship Council appears to have moved more towards a model promoting self-determination. This approach means communities ultimately “do it for themselves”. Showing Weepu feeding his child supports this kaupapa – a hands-on father, providing the necessities of life in his smokefree home.

    However, backlashes aren’t always constructive – and of course HSC consults special interest groups. Unfortunately in this case, LLL did not share HSC’s rather evolved view. A backlash was potentially on the cards, and the ad was altered.

    Then LLL’s subsequent media release was telling, suggesting that instead of showing him feeding his baby, a shot of Weepu with his baby in a sling at a rugby match would be “gorgeous”.

    D, Dotty and others… that proposition by LLL is ridiculous. For one thing, it would have been contrived. Set up. i.e. FAKED! Not a fly-on-the-wall observation of Weepu in real life with his daughter, at all.

    Do you or LLL know how much TV extras en masse, wide shots of rugby players etc, cost to set up? And it’s summer for goodness’ sake! No, you clearly don’t.

    For another thing, in the context of Weepu – that’s not fathering so much as taking the baby to work.

    He is a father first – but LLL can’t wrap their heads around this, around the fact that his life and priorities aren’t entrenched in a bloody rugby field. They explicitly want to see him in his pigeon hole, near the field, – and leave THEM to be the guardians of feeding babies, and providing their exclusive “mother to mother” support.

    This is where LLL’s world order view became an imposition. And where it polarised people like me (a breastfeeding mother). They are not guardians of public health campaigns, Health Sponsorship Council is. LLL could have said more honestly, “It’s inconsistent with OUR messages”. But they didn’t, they hid behind the public health consistency message, which frankly has big fish to fry – and included the shot of Weepu in the first place, because it’s real.

    A graceful response by LLL could have been to recommend leaving the shot in – for all sorts of rational and holistic purposes – and wired a release about support for positive parenting, including fathers feeding babies – and of course emphasizing the benefits of breastfeeding. Such a holistic and mature approach would generally less prescriptive (ie, telling people what to do, and how to make it look), less condescending to real-life parents, and less polarising.

    On a personal level, I still can’t fathom actually asking for that rather lovely, genuine shot to be removed. D, Dotty – would you honestly have censored it?

  54. Fascinating take on the topic, is it ok if I reference you on my website?

    JC: Fine by us, Jessica.

  55. I breastfed my loinfruit, two of my daughters did likewise, one could not. Women who can’t breastfeed need support, and help to get it right. And La Leche and the nursing fraternity should accept that some women don’t produce enough milk to feed a baby. When I was farming I used to send beef cows off to the works for failing in the milk department, despite being bred soley for this function, some don’t make the grade. BIt’s logical that some women will likewise be unable to rear their babies on the breast, either through excessive nipple damage, lack of production or because they are rearing a child to which they have not given birth.