NHS Trust has made a real boob of its call for gender-neutral language

Baby eating mother's milk. Mother breastfeeding baby. Beautiful mom breast feeding her newborn child

Helen suggests "chest-feeding" is a phrase that we'll never latch on to - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Call me old-fashioned but for the life me I can’t see anything wrong with saying “breast-feeding” or “breast milk”.

These seem like perfectly acceptable words, used since time began to describe something that’s natural and self-explanatory, but not any more according to Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust which is saying they’re no longer acceptable.

Instead we must start saying “chest feeding” or “chest milk” to be more inclusive and be politically correct.

The hospital explains: “We are taking a gender-additive approach to the language used to describe our services.”

Oh, really? It goes on, adding “a gender additive approach means using gender-neutral language alongside the language of womanhood, in order to ensure that everyone is represented and included.”

Of course, that makes it all as clear as day but would I agree with them?

I should have thought that in the present climate the hospital would have enough to worry about other than what to call something that seems reasonable to mature women (with breasts), women like me.

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When I was growing up there were many names for that part of the anatomy but chest wasn’t one of them, other than in a derogatory sense. To be called “flat-chested” wasn’t exactly flattering.

I agree with the sentiments of several people who have written to the papers wondering why we increasingly have to bow to the opinions of one per cent of the population, and wondering if there will ever be an end to this sort of madness.

Anyway, the word “breast” is not only used in connection with women. Men have a breastbone and men and women in the household cavalry wear breastplates. Shakespeare writes about “the noble breasts” of men. Somehow “noble chests” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it. I wonder if we’re now supposed to shop for a “chest of chicken” or a “double-chested suit”.

Do you find this sort of stuff as potty as I do?

In need of a good laugh after all this nonsense I joined with millions of others who were doubled up seeing the man telling a judge “I am not a cat, your honour.” It was Texan county attorney Rod Ponton who somehow had morphed into a kitten as he tried via Zoom to talk to the judge.

I laughed so much that I ached. By law, the copying and circulating of the clip could have brought with it a prison sentence except that it was the judge himself who released it.

It went viral in the press and on TV and the world watched the kitten rolling its eyes and appearing to do the talking. The judge calmly agreed that the attorney was not actually a cat, a brilliant delivery that made it funnier still.

A belly laugh (is it permissible to use the word “belly” these days?) is something I haven’t had in quite a while. In these peculiar times keeping in touch with friends is often via the internet and we do occasionally exchange short funny videos.

Even comedy programmes on radio and television are recorded online without studio audiences.

This has led to some disastrously unfunny programmes where any laughter is dubbed on. Never once have I laughed even though the dubbed audience may be in hysterics.

There must be a “laughter drawer” where these phoney audiences are kept; you sometimes hear the same laughs on different shows. I appreciate that it’s tough to try and entertain us at the moment but all this fake laughter is not helping.

Some of these shows producers and presenters might take a leaf out of the great Les Dawson’s book. He was a genuinely funny man with what he called “a sense of the ridiculous”.

Some of his shows still crop up on radio, including his audience sing-alongs where he plays the piano brilliantly badly, straying into the wrong key and then back into the right one. Les was the real thing.

Of course, if we’re really stuck for a laugh we could always call in the maternity crew of Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust.

The Eastern Daily Press would like to make it clear the guidance published by Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust states that the use of the expression 'breastfeeding' or 'breast milk' is only unacceptable in certain specific circumstances. Its guidance says that individuals may have preferred terminology for their own anatomy, or for activities that they use their body for. And that these preferred terms should be respected and used wherever possible. For example, some people may refer to their 'chest' and 'chestfeeding' rather than their 'breasts' and 'breastfeeding'. We are happy to clarify the situation and apologise for any confusion.

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