Deanne Carson, a self-described 'sexuality educator, speaker and author' gave parents some controversial advice this week when she featured on ABC. Carson was a guest on the show for a section on sexuality and parenting and told parents that before they change their babies nappies, they should ask for consent from the babies. Carson is hired by families to train them in how to set up a 'culture of consent' from childhood onwards, and apparently part of that starts before the children can even talk. Typically, her clients are families with slightly older children and she works directly with kids aged three and above, but she emphasised the importance of starting from birth with her ideas.
Deanne accepts that babies can't possibly understand the idea of consent, and can't give their parents the required permission, but she believes that it's important to use eye contact to teach them their response matters. She advocates asking tots "I'm going to change your nappy now, is that OK," and then "by [leaving] a space, and waiting for body language and waiting to make eye contact then you're letting that child know that their response matters." Her comments haven't gone down particularly well online, and she's been accused of 'lefty lunacy' by Sky News commentator Rowan Dean and Kirralie Smith, who ran as a Senate candidate with the right-wing Australian Liberty Alliance in 2016.
Smith, who Liberal defector Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives party last year, felt very strongly about the 'lefty' remarks and pointed out that it's often difficult enough to get a child to allow you to change their nappy without adding an extra element to the madness. She goes so far as to describe Carson's advice as a sign of 'severe mental problems', and though her response may seem dramatic many parents online agreed. Carson has fired back via her Facebook page, where she wrote: "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?!) 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."