Feminists wake up

I’ve written about this case at length on a piece pending publication on Conservative Woman, so I’ll keep my comments here brief. Basically a woman who conceived her own child on behalf of two gay men, one of whom was her friend, reneged on the agreement and decided to keep her own child.

The child has now been removed from the mother at around the age of 15 months and handed into the care of the two men to raise. The judge, a dour childless old boot by the name of Allison Russell, has displayed zero insight into the benefits for mother and baby alike, along with a complete lack of understanding of the logistics and difficulties of expressing milk.

She has decided that the mother’s desire to breastfeed was manipulative. designed to keep the baby away from their father  and thus ‘harmful’ and attacked the mother in the judgement for wearing a baby in a sling, for co-sleeping and crucially for having no plans to return to work.

A fifteen month infant is not capable of speech, may not even be walking, cannot feed itself without help and yet, the judge has decided, it needs to learn to be independent and not solely reliant on the comfort of its mother. Wake up baby, it’s time to face the big wide world, you need to learn your place is to fulfil the needs and demands of adults and develop at a timetable to suit them, not your own. 15 months? It’s time you were spending 40 hours a week in a noisy room full of strange children and busy adults instead of enjoying the reassuring comfort and routine of home. Your mother has no business indulging you. She ought to be ought working to pay for your upkeep.

Over the weekend, in a moment that melted the world’s hearts, Prince William took the 21 month old baby George to visit his newborn sister, and setting down the child to walk on the pavement, George instantly signalled his displeasure and reached up his pudgy arms for his dad to give him a carry. According to Judge Russell, His Royal Highness is doing it all wrong, a child’s need for closeness with a parent is all about the fact that the parent has enmeshed the child in an inward looking environment which is all about serving the adult’s needs. If the judge is to be believed, breastfeeding, baby-carrying, co-sleeping, hey all that shebang is mere parental selfishness, designed to serve their neediness, requiring absolutely no self-sacrifice and of being no possible benefit to the child, whatever the evidence to the contrary.

Let’s be clear here. A woman has been attacked and vilified for fulfilling innate maternal desires. No good will has been imputed towards her, it is claimed that her breastfeeding is nothing but self-interested manipulation and the way she was raising her child does not meet with the approval of a childless judge. Even her need to take frequent breaks for expressing milk was attacked, the judge not understanding that the human female is not the equivalent of a dairy cow. Expressing even the tiniest bit of milk can take a long time for many women, and it is recommended that in order to stimulate production a woman is calm, comfortable and relaxed, i.e. not clock-watching under pressure in the lavatory of public courtroom, where the fate of one’s child is in the balance. Neither did the judge understand that the woman’s inability to express milk when her child was solely breastfeeding, was outside of her control. The milk didn’t suddenly ‘magically’ appear when the child began weaning, the mother was not withholding her ability, but simply that she had excess supply. Child starts solid food, takes less milk, the body takes time to catch up and will therefore produce a surplus. It’s not rocket science.

Whatever the behaviour of the woman, which might well have left a lot to be desired, it seems clear that she was prepared to go to desperate measures to keep her baby. Of course the child had a right to contact with her father, however, as leading child psychologist Penelope Leach notes, under the age of 4, children ought not to have sleepovers away from their main care-giver, the constant to-ing and fro-ing is bad for their psychological development, causing instability and anxiety. Of course a baby who has been exclusively breastfed and is used to sleeping with the comfort of her mother is going to be distressed by a night away in the solitary confinement of a cot in the house of two strange, if benign men.

This woman has had her child removed (and one cannot begin to image the turmoil, trauma and anxiety experienced by the baby) because she refused to parent her in order to facilitate the desires and needs of two men.

This is case which cries out to high heaven for justice. The feminists ought to be all over this like a cheap suit. Where is this woman’s autonomy, why is her mothering under attack when its acknowledged that the child is at no risk of harm? Heck, even heroin-addicted mothers are allowed to parent their babies under supervision. Since when does breastfeeding and if the judge is to believed, casting aspersions about the father’s behaviour in attempt to keep the child, justify the removal. When you look at the allegations made by the mother, though unpleasant, they aren’t homophobic, rather they raise questions about the nature of the relationship between the two men and whether it was a suitable environment for a child.  It seems to have been the judge who drew the correlation between what the woman was alleging about this couple and deciding it implicitly applied to every gay couple.

Removing a child for the supposed moral deficiency of the mother, is precisely the outdated attitude displayed by the mother-and-baby institutions of yesteryear. Catholics continue to be attacked by those supporting same-sex parenting for the way some religious sisters behaved in giving away their babies to richer, more stable couples and not allowing the child to bond with the mother, which caused years of heartbreak for so many and yet this is exactly what is being advocated here. “How dare you bond with a baby which doesn’t belong to you and which you have no right to parent, even if you have given birth to her.”

Commercial surrogacy is still illegal in the UK – why on earth are the courts attempting to accommodate this. Surely a better message would have been to allow the mother to keep her child, which would have been in both of their best interests, with  frequent contact, ordered for the father?

When are the feminists going to wake up to the fact that just because men are gay, it doesn’t make them any the less capable of using women as exploitable objects to serve their own gratification, than straight ones. The exploitation may not be sexual, but expecting women to be passive breeders, grateful for the cash they receive in return for relinquishing their bodily autonomy and motherhood and attacking them if they do not fulfil the demands of the contract to the letter, is every bit as  abusive and harmful. This is the inevitable consequence of gender blurring and claiming that the roles of mother and father are interchangeable. Women and babies are hurt, treated as consumer goods to be traded for the whims of men and backed up by the highest court in the land.

7 thoughts on “Feminists wake up

  1. What a supremely ill-informed lot of bile and prejudice. This isn’t a feminist issue, it’s a child welfare one. That’s why the Family Court weighed up evidence and decided, after applying all of the carefully created guidelines set out in law, as in any child welfare case, what is best for the particular child in these particular circumstances.

    The judgement makes it quite clear that this was treated as a custody case just like thousands of others that reach the family court between mothers and fathers. Are you seriously suggesting mothers can’t be guilty of abuse and are ALWAYS and in every case the best person to bring up a child?

    I suggest you consult the NSPCC, which confirms that male and female parents are statistically equally represented in child physical abuse cases, they are more likely to be involved in child neglect cases, and are almost equally represented in emotional abuse cases.

    The fact is that some women are sadly bad mothers, and a tiny proportion are terrible mothers. This woman has had two girls taken away from her previously and custody awarded to her previous husband (you make zero mention of that in your diatribe). The judge has expertly weighed up the evidence, unlike you, and has come to a difficult decision. The court has to protect this girl, and has decided the best place for her in all the circumstances is with her father. It is clearly not a decision any court makes lightly to remove a baby from her mother.

    Were it not for the fact the father is gay, this case would not have been reported, just as the case involving her elder daughters was not. It has nothing to do with surrogacy, which is again made clear in the ruling. If you read the ruling you would know that, yet you have apparently deliberately leapt on a homophobic bandwagon, relishing the opportunity to spout off your own prejudices, and incidentally undermining your arguments by your ad hom and vitriol in describing the judge as a “dour childless old boot” right at the outset. That is plain for any reader not blinded by prejudices like yours to see.

    You offer no evidence at all of your sweeping central contention, that a mother has been “attacked and vilifed for wanting to fulfil her maternal desires”. This case is nothing to do with that and everything to do with a little girl’s welfare. Surely the young child is what matters here, not making a point based on religious dogma?

    I truly wish this girl well and hope she grows up happily away from the “pernicious” and “deceitful” influence of her mother [the judge’s words.]

    1. Nick – where did I apply religious dogma or prejudice?

      I suggest you do some detailed research on the benefits of breastfeeding and attachment parenting as practiced by the mother.

      Nowhere in the judgement was any reference made to harm or neglect of the child.

      The young child is what matters and indeed the judge has offered no evidence for her belief that feeding or carrying the child was harmful or that this was being done solely to satisfy the mother’s need for closeness.

      Nowhere in the judgement is there any reference to how the child was being emotionally or physically harmed and the judge admitted that removing her will cause her distress, but her decision was based on how the child was intended to be raised.

      Look up the benefits of extended breastfeeding, look up the benefits of carrying a child, look up attachment disorder and then make an informed comment.

      The fact that the judge has no children and misunderstands the logistics of how to express milk is relevant. As is the fact that this is a surrogacy arrangement gone awry.

      The evidence that the mother has been attacked for her maternal desires is in the wording of the judgement. Read it.

    2. Also Nick, nowhere in the judgement does it say that custody of the children has been awarded to the father of the other children or had 2 children removed from her. Either you have sub justice knowledge or are jumping to conclusions.

      And nowhere does it make reference to her mothering skills or examples of neglect aside from breastfeeding, wearing a sling and co-sleeping.

      This was a custody case born of surrogacy where a child was removed from her mother for ideological reasons with the judge attacking the mother on the grounds of her personality with nothing to support the removal of the child. No instances of harm, abuse or neglect and ignoring the evidence about mother and baby bonding.

      Her lack of maternal experience is extremely relevant and being deceitful or attachment parenting is not a reason to remove a child.

  2. Sorry Caroline but I just can’t agree with you on this one. The interests of the child are paramount and I’ve just spent a good half hour reading the judgement. You’re really rather misrepresenting what the judge said. It reads like any Family Court judgement – careful, considered and all I see is the concern for the welfare of the girl.

    My mother abused me. I agree that God willing, every child should have the benefit of her natural parents, but where we weak and imperfect souls fall short, we must pray and look to the system to help the vulnerable and innocent. That’s all that seems to be happening here, and thank goodness! She is blessed to have a father in a stable long term relationship to step in and give her the love she needs.

    God bless you and God bless this child. It seems you care about children deeply, but that doesn’t seem to rather come through in this piece.

    1. Sorry Lisa but I have also spent more than a good half hour reading the judgement.

      What comes across, in fact what LEAPS off the page is mother who is absolutely desperate to keep her child and is being criticised for this attitude.

      The facts of the case are these. The mother conceives a child via artificial insemination and even puts a considerable amount of her own money down on a deposit for a house where the THREE of them can live together.

      At some point, something changes and she develops an animosity towards the partner of the father of the child.

      When the child is born, she does everything she possibly can to ensure that she gets to keep the child, including feeding, co-sleeeping and wearing child in a sling. Some of her actions are perhaps unethical such as the baptism, or maybe registering the child on her own, choosing the name without the father, but you know what, she is the mother and thus this is what she is legally entitled to do. It doesn’t render her an unfit mother.

      Later on, she understandably baulks at the idea of her baby having overnight time with two men who presume they have a legal claim on her. I would too. None of my children have stayed a single night away from me until after they had finished breastfeeding.

      The poor woman has to have her breastfeeding monitored by a social worker and lactation consultant so that she can finish feeding her child by the time she’s 9 months. She later goes back on this, again understandably, breast-feeding is a flexible arrangement and a woman should continue to do it for as long as she feels comfortable or the child demands it. WHO guidelines suggest that children ought to continue to be breastfed ideally until they are two. There are proven medical benefits. In any event, her breast feeding should not have to be monitored or subject to approval by a third party, so that the child can be geared up to be removed or shared! It reminds me of the poor pregnant Nigerian women who are sentenced to death with their executions stayed until the child has finished weaning. The poor woman cannot be blamed for wanting to delay the moment when the child would be taken away!

      So, she is attacked for ‘using’ breastfeeding to frustrate contact and she is also attacked because she does everything she can do frustrate or disrupt contact. I’m not defending her behaviour, of course the father ought to have had contact, but I can understand that she was motivated by fear. She took the child to the doctors a few times and it’s claimed that this was to smear the fathers or to frustrate contact – who knows, but I can well understand a mother’s worry about her baby having a viral infection as was referred to, or being dehydrated.

      There is not one single instance of actual abuse or neglect, rather the child has been removed, which the judge acknowledges will cause distress to both the child and the mother, because of her attitude and animosity towards the father and his partner.

      Now I understand that it is harmful to a child when a parent attempts to prevent contact with a biological child and indeed to misrepresent, badmouth or lie about the absent parent, but what should have happened is that the courts ordered more frequent contact with the dad, supervised as necessary in order for the relationship to be successfully established.

      This is not about me and how I come across but whether or not it is in the best interests of the child to be separated from their loving mother in this way. The justifications used were tenuous. The judge showed zero insight into the difficulties of expressing milk and zero insight into the benefits of either baby wearing or breast feeding and displayed a downright contemptuous attitude towards the mother, lacking in all empathy and compassion.

      Of course the mother was emotional and agitated and interrupted proceedings. Of course she wasn’t happy about her baby being away from her for overnight visits, she was frightened of what might come to pass and sadly her fear led this to become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

      I know of a mother who maliciously made up allegations of sexual abuse towards her former husband which could have seen him jailed, in an attempt to retain full custody. The allegations were shown to be completely without foundation, the mother actually dropped them in the end, recognising that they could lose her custody and thus despite grooming her child to fear her father and telling her child that her father was dangerous and prepping her to say specific things to specific people (as was proven) she still retains custody of a vulnerable child.

      What this mother did was not enough to lose her the child and neither did she at any time endanger her child’s safety or welfare. The whole case was predicated around the potential for future emotional harm, which could easily have been managed.

      I am sorry that you were the victim of abuse, but I remain to be convinced that this judgement was in the best interests of a little girl who has been taken away from an otherwise loving mother. The judgement is devoid of all compassion and common sense and ideologically motivated, particularly the comments about purported homophobia. The mother is criticised for being emotional and needy whereas the men were able to present a cool, calm, collected appearance. They did not have as much to lose, nor indeed the same emotional investment. I wonder whether or not the same decision would have been reached had the father been a single heterosexual?

      This is what happens when children are treated as commodities. God Bless you and pray for the poor child removed from her loving mother.

  3. I’m not clear why you chose the title of this post. Is this about women’s rights and equality of the sexes? I would suggest that a feminist would fight for the rights of the child to be provided with equal access to her parents, and that both parents would have equal rights to provide parental care to the child. I do feel incredibly sorry for the child that she’s going through this and hope the publicity around the story will at least give other people pause for thought before embarking on human breeding projects. We should all consider fostering if we want to become parents, and make full use of contraceptives in the meantime.

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