Smoking and what should not have been (again)
Last year I wrote a response to the media debacle surrounding the prank phone call made by a couple of Australian radio presenters to the hospital in which the Duchess of Cambridge was staying.
Reading the news yesterday, I learned of another debacle worthy of mention. Another radio presenter in Australia, Chrissie Swan, was put in a difficult situation when a photographer took some shots of her smoking a cigarette whilst alone in her car. The reason it was difficult is because she is currently pregnant. She apparently attempted to bid on the photographs to prevent their being published but lost to a women’s magazine. So to pre-empt the inevitable, she went on radio and television and tearfully admitted to having struggled with her nicotine addiction with this, her third pregnancy, and was having a sneaky cigarette once a day, unbeknownst to her family, colleagues and friends. Her positive slant on the story is that at least now the shame of the whole experience has put her off smoking altogether. But she also said people are “rightly disgusted” by her actions.
There are so many things wrong with this story it’s hard to know where to begin. So I will begin with profanity:
Why the fuck don’t people mind their own fucking business?
I mean really, just because someone is recognisable by their public persona it shouldn’t follow that their private life is a topic open to scrutiny by one and all, especially against their will. Chrissie’s losing bid was allegedly $53,000. She was prepared to pay that much to protect her privacy. But what’s really disturbing is when the women’s magazine outbid her at the last minute by $2000 she felt her only recourse was to go out and publicly debase herself before anyone else got the chance. How is that acceptable?
Why is a pregnant woman having a smoke such a big deal anyway?
It’s not as though it hasn’t been going on for as long as tobacco has been in use, is it? Obviously if a man smokes alone in his car whilst his spouse is pregnant it’s not exactly newsworthy. So what made this story newsworthy was the fact that a woman was doing something that is seen as being WRONG. Medical science tells us that smoking when pregnant can cause a range of things to happen to the unborn child that may result in health problems later in life. Most pregnant women will be aware of the facts about smoking during pregnancy. A lot of them will attempt to quit, and many of them may succeed. But quitting is hard. Nicotine is a bastard of a drug, horribly addictive. Not to mention easy to obtain and perfectly legal. If a pregnant woman struggles to quit, then that makes her no different to anyone else who attempts to give up smoking. Being either pregnant or a woman should have no bearing on that discussion.
Most importantly, being pregnant does not make a woman’s body public property or the object of public inquiry.
Well, I suppose in reality people seem to think it does. What’s important is that more of us refuse to agree with them.