With perfect timing, this story from the Independent in the U.K. about an MP in Iceland breastfeeding her six-week-old daughter while addressing parliament came to my attention as the ruckus over a breastfeeding woman being asked to move to the basement of the Lambton Golf and Country Club was heating up.
You can read the Lambton story from CP24 here.
The Icelandic MP described it as “the most natural thing in the world” and few would disagree with her, even those who don’t want to witness it, preferring instead that mom do it in a more discreet place.
That touched off the Lambton controversy, which has not only become a social media argument, but also hit mainstream media, even outside of Canada, one side agreeing with the MP from Iceland and some from the other side pointing out that the “basement” she was escorted to is actually quite pleasant and others suggesting the mom was a publicity seeker.
It really doesn’t matter how comfortable the room was since the Ontario Human Rights Code says breastfeeding moms can’t be discriminated against, asked to cover up or move to another room.
This incident puts Lambton in the eye of a storm of publicity that it doesn’t want obviously, caught between people of differing opinions as society shifts to take a more liberal outlook on matters such as breastfeeding, once a matter of modesty, but not anymore as many would barely notice.
The difference of opinion is often generational, yet not always, so to make an argument for or against is not going to change any opinions on the matter.
The purpose of this contribution instead is to point out that the Lambton matter illustrates that the industry had better be prepared to deal with issues it’s never faced in the past.
Golf has always been accused of being stuck in tradition or lagging behind society outside of the club gates.
Over the past few years, it’s poked, prodded, studied and argued about such topics as foot golf, the time it takes to play the game, dress codes, etc., all matters with the common goal of bringing more people into the game.
The breastfeeding incident is different. Lambton is dealing with the law in this case and the golf industry – all businesses, for that matter – are facing existing laws or ones that aren’t far off to deal with several societal issues that are evolving, some of which were once considered taboo.
In the past, I’ve written in this space about a more relaxed attitude towards marijuana when weed once would have gotten you busted.
What about transgender rights and access to change rooms/washrooms based on how they identify? Is it impossible to think that a transgender person can be a golfer as well?
Golf isn’t the only industry or profession dealing with shifting society. A University of Toronto psychology professor has come out against using genderless pronouns that may be necessary under the proposed Bill C-16.
His stand is also drawing fire, but he has many backers as well, as this issue and so many others divide very passionate sides of the argument.
You can read more from CBC here.
There will be more such battles coming fast as society shifts and whether you agree or disagree in each case is up to you, but the worst thing you can do is be unprepared for it. Such matters and how to deal with each are worth considering during the upcoming off-season.
As the Lambton incident so clearly illustrates, societal issues can become a controversy faster than you can say “politically incorrect.”