Wednesday, January 23, 2013

on the offensive

Could you imagine all the incredible things in history, that would not have happened, if the person doing them had been concerned about offending someone?

The recent kerfuffle in Australia, after TV presenter 'Kochie' offered his opinion about public breastfeeding (which boiled down to fine as long as it's classy) led me down a path of self analysis. Koch (and many others commenting online in agreement) feels that breastfeeding parents should be concerned with the comfort of those around, and as such, practice discretion so as not to offend.

Aside from my feelings about breastfeeding or bottle feeding your baby in public (I did both in lots of places, never covered up and never noticed a nasty look or felt judgement), it got me thinking about what it means to be offended.

If I am offended by somebody else's behaviour, it means that their behaviour is outside the limits of my personal values system. My personal values, just like yours, have been built over time, influenced by my family, my culture and my experience. I have boundaries around what I consider acceptable behaviour. Limits as to what I think I can do, without causing hurt or pain to others. Being offended or taking offence doesn't really hurt, does it? It doesn't cause injury or disability. It might make you blush a little, or feel irritated, or embarrassed, or maybe a bit cranky.

I tend to be a bit of a doormat person, I consider the feelings of others to the detriment of myself at times. It's a trait that annoys me about myself. But I think that's why I'm having a hard time thinking of behaviours that offend me. I take offence to seeing vulnerable people hurt, but even then, it's a stretch to assume I have the right to take on pain intended for someone else. It's called taking offence because it is an act of choice- you are in control about how you react to the behaviour of others. You have the option to take offence, to let someone else's actions (which have nothing to do with you) affect you.

Next time you see a public behaviour that 'offends' you, take a minute to examine whether the behaviour is aimed at you. Do you really believe a mother feeding her child is hoping to upset strangers? I am sure there would be more effective ways to cause embarrassment.

And mothers, just continue on. Do what works for you, it is difficult enough without wondering which of the people around you thinks you should be doing it classier. Perhaps you could try wearing a tiara and pearls. Remember, what you think about me is none of my business.


  1. SO very well said! Really got me thinking. Thanks lovely :) x

  2. hear, hear! Well said, and a great way of thinking about "offensive" behaviour. Thanks!

  3. I always try and remember that how we feel is completely our choice and no one, but no one, makes us feel the way we do. On the other side, we should do what feels right to us and what is right for our souls and, I think, pay less attention to what other folk think. Love your last sentence Sarah. x

  4. I think you are right. Also when I notice people engaging in offensive type behaviour just for attention, I ignore it.

  5. So very well said!!! Love the photo hehe!

  6. Well said, my dear. I don't think even Kochie knows what he means "in a classy way" but i love the tiara and pearls idea! hehe

  7. I agree with you. I honestly didn't consider it when feeding both my girls - I wasn't shy but didn't let myself hang out anywhere either. Did I offend anyone, honestly I have no idea as I believed my behaviour was appropriate and therefore was unaware as no-one said anything to me. If they had, told me I was offending them, hmmmm I would probably have been so shocked as to have been rendered speechless!



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