Trendy Instagram moms are pioneering a new parenting trend – asking their babies for permission before picking them up.
Enterprising new parents claim to be expanding the boundaries of consent, even though their infants can’t talk and barely understand the world around them.
They claim that picking up babies without checking in with them first is an aspect of “rape culture” – and that raising them without involuntary lifting will make sure their sons don’t become rapists in later life.
The trend broke out of social media last week, when parent Nisha Moodley posted a selfie with her six-month-old son, Raven, describing her approach:
Since the moment he was born, we've always asked before we pick him up. I always feel for his "yes". Why? Because we want him to know that his body is his, and that others' bodies are theirs, and no one gets to make choices about someone else's body. . #lessonsinsovereignty #bornfree #endrapeculture . Sidenote: If you ever want to hold someone else's baby, my suggestion is to ask the parent, then ask the kid. It always touches my heart when someone takes a moment to connect with him and says "Can I hold you, dude?" . ADDENDUM: Thanks to everyone who has shared support & also those who don't agree, but are thoughtful & respectful. Unfortunately, hundreds of people have come here to call me nasty names & wish terrible things upon myself & my child. I'm not interested in engaging with that kind of immature, thoughtless vitriol; if you bring it, I will report + delete. I pray we learn to meet our fellow humans w/ curiosity & kindness. . This short post was followed by a 10 min interview with a very kind reporter, which was turned into a short article. It wasn't designed to be a piece of in-depth journalism. Most media isn't. A whole bunch of other media spun-off from that. I have spoken w/ no other reporters; no one has asked me questions or checked facts. . Some have assumed that I'd never touch my baby w/out his explicit consent. That's not what I'm saying. I love my son – I would never sit back & leave him in harm’s way. It’s my honor & responsibility to care for him in all the ways a mother would. . I also talk to him, ask him questions, and “attune” to him in the way that I think the majority of mothers do, intuitively. This is the beginning of a lifelong conversation about choice & consent. I believe that when children feel that they have *some appropriate* choice, it leads to a greater sense of healthy autonomy. I want him to make healthy choices with his body & respects others’ as well. . I am by no means saying that people are bad parents for not doing what I do. So long as we're not harming or neglecting our children, to each their own. I'm not a perfect parent. I'm simply working at being as loving & conscientious as I can be, every day.
She claims she can “feel for his ‘yes'”, and that her parenting strategy will help #endrapeculture.
One commenter described the approach as “liberal horse-shitttttt”.
Others were more supportive, and said they do the same thing. Robin Weir, mother to a seven-month-old boy, wrote “We do this too… makes it feel more like we’re doing things ‘with’ him rather than ‘to’ him.”
More than 600 other users “liked” the post.
The breakout photo landed Moodley an interview with Yahoo! Beauty, where she expanded on the dangers of turning your offspring into a rapist by picking them up too eagerly.
She said: “I don’t ever want my son to be a sexual perpetrator or the victim of one, and the best thing I can do is honor his choices about his own body.
“I also want him to pay attention to his instincts, and forcing physical touch could interfere with that.”
However, even Moodley admits that there are exceptions to her rule, because, well, babies cry, and can’t talk or make their own decisions – which is why they need parents in the first place.
When asked on Instagram what she does if he starts crying, she replied: “I do what I need to do as a mama, first and foremost 🙂 So if I need to pick him up, I do! Or I say ‘Oh, honey, I’m going to pick you up.'”
(Featured image is a stock photograph)