Snippits, sketches, pictures and articles on the business of motherhood from an artist’s point of view. Expect frank and exploratory material.
Breastfeeding Flash Mob – 15th December 2011
Today, Brighton city centre is going to be hit by a breastfeeding flashmob. After being verbally attacked for not covering up while feeding my four-month-old, I decided it was time to make a statement to show that mothers will no longer tolerate being harassed for feeding our babies in public.
Mothers are protected as part of the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, but also by the Equality Act passed in October 2010, where it specifically states it is unlawful to treat a woman differently because she is breastfeeding. However, I was sitting breastfeeding in a cafe recently when a woman approached me to tell me how unpleasant it had been to watch me. She said she could see “everything”. I had layered my clothing, so as to make a discreet pocket to pull out my breast and feed, so I struggled to see how she was offended. I defended myself and the discussion escalated into a row with the people she was with. The only man in the group of five forcefully told me, “You should have used a towel, most women use a towel.” The group left and I calmed down but my upset turned to anger.
This wasn’t the only incident I had come across. Other mums have been telling me about how they experienced similar humiliation. An online poll conducted by Mother & Baby magazine in 2009, involving 1,200 mothers, revealed that 60% felt the UK frowned upon public feeding. I’ve had enough of our society’s bizarre attitude to the female body.
The Brighton event won’t be the first of its kind in the UK; women in both London and Manchester staged flashmobs for National Breastfeeding Awareness week in June. But it is part of a growing trend.
Flashmobs are reminiscent of “Happening” art performances in the 1960s but on a much larger scale. They usually involve doing something not associated with traditional forms of protest, such as synchronised dancing or freezing still like statues. Perhaps this lighthearted style of protest in large numbers makes us feel safe enough to bring out our inner rebels.
But increasingly, flashmobs are being used to make political points. The United Cabbie Group has arranged a couple of vehicle flashmobs in London to protest against the ban on taxis using the Olympic bus lane. Their intention was to raise awareness of how integral the mode of transport was to London, not to disrupt traffic, so after 45 minutes they dispersed and went back to work.
There was also a flashmob in Trafalgar square in November to raise awareness of the brutal regime in Syria. A group of people lay down on the floor and draped a flag over themselves without saying a word. Similar events were synchronised for the same cause in Canada and Austria.
The flashmob modus operandi fits perfectly with breastfeeding. A large group of mums feeding together creates an extraordinary sight. It’s the most obvious way to show support, sitting side by side feeding our children.
I considered letting the harassment incident pass unmentioned. But I have two daughters, and if they in future choose to have kids and breastfeed, I don’t want them to feel self-concious or to be victimised. I have been overwhelmed with comments from mothers thanking me for taking a stand. We may well be viewed as militant mums and that is certainly the essence of a thread already started about me on Mumsnet. But I’m hoping our flashmob will also bring a smile to people’s faces, and we will no doubt have a giggle.
• The flashmob will take place on Thursday 15 December at 1pm at the Clocktower, Brighton
Well done Claire Jones-Hughes and all the ladies taking part. This item shouldn’t really be in the news again as it shouldn’t be an issue.
This wasn’t the only incident I had come across. Other mums have been telling me about how they experienced similar humiliation. An online poll conducted by Mother & Baby magazine in 2009, involving 1,200 mothers, revealed that 60% felt the UK frowned upon public feeding. I’ve had enough of our society’s bizarre attitude to the female body. AGREED
BECAUSE of the continual bombardment of imagery in the media, which only encourages and promotes the sexual objectification of women and is a massive factor as to why people have a bizarre attitude to breastfeeding.
It’s BECAUSE the continual bombardment of imagery in the media only encourages and promotes the sexual objectification of women and is a massive factor as to why people have a bizarre attitude to breastfeeding.about an hour ago · Like
Georgy Edgson I once had to breastfeed my daughter *on a restaurant toilet* because the manager deemed it “unacceptable” for other people. Still makes me angry to this day.about an hour ago · Like
Jacqueline Hammond Just because the baby is sucking on a boob it’s deemed to make it rude. It’s just flesh, if the milk came out of your earlobe or belly button or some other body part, would it be such an issue? Plenty of people still have a 1950’s attitude to breastfeeding, as if you are ‘giving in’ to the babies needs and molly coddling them. No, it’s a feed every 4 hours and leave them in the garden to cry, and what ever yo do, don’t look them in the eye!! – I read something like this once! Women having to scuttle away to feed in private is mental. I used to just do it,baby’s crying, you feed it, it shuts up. Fuck the unsettled attitudes, go back to your titsandarse tabloid you twat. its generally done discreetly anyway, just means you can’t go out wearing a dress.56 minutes ago · Like
Dave Tenbob Only dumbfucks would make a fuss.50 minutes ago · Like
Jacqueline Hammond Only dumbfucks make a fuss, true, but a lot of people are embarassed, a bit like when you forget to lock the door of a loo and someone walks in!45 minutes ago · Like
Dave Tenbob Tits have dual usage though – not only to feed the baby, but to attract the partner to make the baby in the first place.42 minutes ago · Like
Jacqueline Hammond wonder if the attraction is linked to subconscious early memories of comfort and gratification felt as an infant? or is that too freudian a theory?34 minutes ago · Like
Sex object culture
OBJECT is a human rights organisation which challenges ‘sex object culture’ – a culture in which women are increasingly sexualised as sex objects in our media and every day lives. Here are just some statistics related to sex object culture:
- Over half (54%) of all women around the world say they first became aware of the need to be physically attractive between 6 and 17 years of age (1)
- Eating disorders are as common amongst women as autism (2)
- 66% of teenage girls would consider plastic surgery and 20% would do it right now (3)
- Polls suggest that 63% of young women aspire to be glamour models or lap dancers (4)
- At every End Violence Against Women Coalition consultation event members have raised the sexualisation of women in the media as a factor in violence against women and girls (5)
- One in three people believe a woman is responsible for violence committed against her if she is wearing ‘revealing clothing’ (6)
- 66% of young people learn about sex and relationships through the media (7)
It is long established that the overwhelming portrayal of women as sex objects in society plays a role in maintaining inequality between women and men. This has been recognised at the international level by the United Nations Convention to Eliminate Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) which calls on States to take decisive action to tackle objectification – which it links to stereotypes and prejudices based on gender (8). CEDAW has since repeatedly identified (9) the links between the portrayal of women as sex objects by the media and sex industry with attitudes that underpin violence and discrimination against women.
In the sketch book, on the ipad, whatever the medium – it’s all work in progress – sneak peek…
Women of our Century – BBC Iplayer
Series 1: Paule Vézelay
British painter Vézelay was neglected and ignored by the British art establishment for most of her long life, but she can claim to be Britain’s first abstract artist. She was born Margery Watson-Williams in Bristol in 1892, and changed her name when she went to live and work in Paris in 1926. Her studio was a street away from Picasso’s, and she was part of the group of artists who contributed to the revolution in modern art of the 1920s.
She has some interesting things to say – Notes from the programme:
Refer to yourself as a man, never refer to myself as a man, although it certainly would been easier if I was a man
Did she do this because she didn’t want sex to come into the equation
Added the e – suggests feminine
What’s important is the work – is it original, well done
Knew exactly what she wanted to do
Didn’t want to be treated as a beginner at the slade
Got to do a lot of thinking if you want to do something new. The more you think about it the more it changes
Got to work hard at art to be an artist
Got to be able to control it with your hand
Draw you line – the line must be right before you even draw it
Exactly as you intend it to be
Rhythm of line and mass
Curves – why limit yourself to straight lines
Why limit yourself when can have curves and straight
Suspended line in space – the first
Already formed before knew about their work – influence of artists who came to see
All the young men danced with – were killed in the 1st world war
Think would had a conflict – glad you escaped? (Love marriage)
Nice for women to have babies, most women want babies
Mr right man
Wasn’t in love with ones who asked
Encouraged? Parent’s dad yes
Andre Masson – engaged – declaration of intention – changed mind – painful
It was pleasant,
Who knows his work –?
Hans Arp, who had become a close friend
Great friendship with them both
Influenced each other – yes I think did
Identify with that group – did it help?
Although didn’t discuss it much – work was supposed to do that don’t you see
Why abstract artists keep form – see what others doing, draw or paint because can’t put into words what want to say
Do you think you communicated without words – ‘well it’s easier to write, not easy to choose, but to drawing takes time to get it exactly right
In order to praise has to say nasty things about unnamed artists
Problem that family is your responsibility
After the war – able to pick up where left off
50 years old – Paris
Abstraction not understood in Britain
What u find pleasing in their lives and form
Directly to the emotions – language appeals directly to emotion
Enough sadness in real life
Joyful happy pleasing
As they used to
Worst thing – GG – book on women and painting ref.
Worst – that he would fall in love with you
Safe – sunk if marries
Can’t make rules about it – doesn’t matter
You don’t think of that in advance
For most married women it phases out
Great mistake for a women to marry if she wants to be an artist
On marriage – women artists – if they marry their work gets phased out because ‘they don’t have the time or energy to take their work seriously’ – how can be expected to succeed with ‘
Often women if they marry, have children, their work inevitably gets phased out, takes a back seat because they ‘Don’t have the time or energy to take their work seriously’
How can I be expected to succeed with ‘One hand in the kitchen, one in the studio’! Gwen John
Concentrated, self-possessed – almost arrogant about painting
Ask about wives of artists who are artists themselves
Sophie Tauber-Arp – How can I be expected to succeed with ‘One hand in the kitchen, one in the studio’
Been greater if hadn’t married – came to see Arp – didn’t come to see her
In the end – she was asked to design for print –
Textiles – feminising women’s art – Issue?
What percentage still got – rather be with it rather than the sake of selling it cheaply – I like my paintings
Faith in yourself – never been shaken
Opinion I value – certain amount of confidence
Happy life? – Don’t know what mean by happy – did what wanted to do – names shit jibs
Satisfied u – up to a point
Beyond? – learn as you go along…
Photography and artwork by Jacqueline Hammond – with creative commons agreement – so please just gimme some credit – the artist and point to http://www.jacquelinehammond.co.uk linkwise. Thanxx for exposing it. Onward and forward rhizomatically yours, Jaxx