Lots of tweets at the moment are about the student midwife who was denied to attend an NCT breastfeeding session because he's male.
Well, as usual and unsurprisingly, it's onbly part of the story. It was actually a women only breastfeeding session, and he was offered other options to attend, which he declined.
Belinda Phipps, Chief Executive for NCT, the UK's largest charity for parents,said:
"We want breastfeeding to be as normal as reading the newspaper, so
normally partners do attend support sessions. We are also committed to
supporting the development of health professionals. However, women who
seek breastfeeding support are often feeling particularly vulnerable and
some may feel uncomfortable with a male presence, so we also offer
women-only sessions for those who want this.
"On this occasion, when a male student midwife wanted to visit a
women-only group, we offered him a number of alternative options and did
all we could to support him in furthering his professional development.
It's disappointing that he was not able to follow up these offers."
Some could say, but he's a midwife, he will deliver babies and help women breastfeed. Shouldn't he be treated like any other midwife? Isn't it sexism?
But the thing is it IS women who give birth and breastfeed. Surely it's their needs that should take precedence over political correctness and not being sexist?
I find it admirable that men want to be midwives but I fear it might not be the only hurdle this student will meet with. He could meet women who won't want to be followed during their prgnancy or attended for the birth of their baby, by a male midwife. Will that be sexism?
My mother used to tell us this saying she had learned as a child in "education civique" (civics) : Everyone's freedom stops where that of someone else's starts.
Isn't that a bit what is happening here? This student sees it as his right to be treated equally to a female student and attend whichever antenatal session he chooses to. But NCT saw it as the women's right to have their "women only" session, well... only with women.
However hard it's been tried in the past, a profession doesn't make one asexuel. "It doesn't count, he's a doctor." Well, I'm sorry, but sometimes it does count. A person is surely more than their profession?
If a man was to have a coloscopy or a close examination of sensitive parts and refused a female doctor to do it, would he be deemed sexist? Well, there might be people to do so but I think they would be wrong.
To come back to that midwife student, as Belinda Phipps said pregnant women can feel particularly vulnerable and it's a question to decide whose needs come first: First time mums', hormones all over the place, body changed beyond recognition ;) , life turned upside-down by the upcoming arrival of a completely new person whose going to have somehow to come out of their body. Or a male midwife student's, with free time and choice and offered to attend a couples breastfeeding session?
It might sound sexist and not politically correct, but I think it's the mums'.