Deanne Carson, an Australian sexuality expert, educator, and speaker, created an uproar on social media with her unusual child-rearing theories. In an interview on ABC News, Deanne suggested that parents should ask for their child’s consent before changing their dirty diaper.
As reported by The Mirror, Carson advised parents to begin every diaper changing session by looking their baby in the eye and saying, “I’m going to change your nappy now, is that okay?”
Before you shake your head in shock and wonder how an infant would be able to respond to their parent’s request, Carson explained that it is obvious an infant won’t be able to understand the question, no less give a meaningful reply. According to Deanne, the purpose of the exercise is to instill a culture of consent in the child from an early age.
By using Ms. Carson’s suggestion and asking the baby for permission to change their diaper, the child will respond to the parent’s tone of voice, eye contact, and body language, which she claims will result in a subtle understanding of the concept of consent with time and repetition.
As mentioned in an article in The Independent, Carson explained why she felt it would be beneficial for parents to teach their children the concept of consent from an early age.
“Of course a baby is not going to respond ‘yes mum, that is awesome, I’d love to have my nappy changed.’ But if you leave a space and wait for body language and wait to make eye contact then you are letting that child know that their response matters.”
As one might imagine, the response to Ms. Carson on social media was merciless, with comments attacking her ideas, her sexuality, and even her choice of hair color.
One Australian journalist, Abi Moustafa, mocked Deanne Carson in her opinion piece for Who magazine, titled “Dear Sexual Expert, asking a baby consent to change their nappy is ridiculous.”
“Come off it. I’m trying REALLY hard not to peg a dirty nappy at my TV screen. Especially before Mother’s Day. The last thing parent’s need is judgement. This is radical and ridiculous.”
“Okay, so the idea behind the process is thoughtful but irrelevant. A baby as she so eloquently put it, cannot bloody respond. And to be honest, once they can respond they’re usually toddlers.”
“So, Ms. Carson, please calm your farm. You may have over exaggerated with this example.”
Conservative Australian politician Kirralie Smith used Ms. Carson’s suggestions to launch an attack on “snowflakes.”
Nappy changing nonsense. Babies & snowflakes need their nappies changed with or without consent! I have had a gutful of the lefty notion that children should be weighed down with concepts that require maturity and responsibility.https://t.co/srD7gGkGIw
— Kirralie Smith (@KirralieS) May 11, 2018
When Ms. Carson tried to explain her comments in a follow-up Facebook post, her critics continued to dismiss her ideas and call her out for her lifestyle and personal appearance.
Currently, Ms. Carson’s Facebook page has been set to private, but Maxim made her response to her critics available.
“I gave an interview the other day about teaching consent to young children. Sadly, some people have chosen to ridicule me (oh no! Pink hair! Must be a lesbian!) and the notion of giving infants bodily autonomy (poo in nappies har har amiright?!)”
“For those people I’m posting this.”
“One in three girls, one in seven boys will be sexually assaulted by the time they are eighteen years old. One in twelve girls will be sexually abused before their sixth birthday.”
“The work we do with children, teachers and parents is international best practice in abuse prevention. It teaches children their rights AND their responsibilities and connects them with people who care and can help. It invites their parents into the discussion and is sensitive to cultural and family values.”
“Troll me all you want, add to your blog inches, but remember that when you do, you are negating the voices of these brave survivors of sexual abuse.”
We are now living in the age of the Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement, and consent has become an important part of the conversation. Although the response to Deanne Carson’s comments was mostly negative, her aim was to teach children the skills they need to better protect themselves as they journey through life while involving parents in the process. Although child-rearing methods often vary from family to family, the vast majority of parents just want to protect their children from harm.