Leah McLaren, WTF?

Yes, this IS pre-emptive brain bleach. Trust me, you’re going to need it. You have been warned.

So a friend of mine PM’d me on Facebook today, asking if I thought Leah McLaren was worthy of wanklisting. She linked a piece from the National Post, which in turn references this piece…which was pulled from the Grope & Flail for reasons that will soon become flagrantly evident:

The breastfeeding incident occurred at a Toronto house party. It was an in-between sort of evening, neither a rager nor a formal dinner party – the sort of casual and expensively lubricated early-evening-into-night gathering that exhausted people in their 30s with small children tend to favour.

I was about 25 and did not have a baby – or even a boyfriend – at the time.

And I was broody in the way that young women in their late 20s often are, before they realize that turning 30 is just the beginning of something rather than a vertiginous cliff off of which unlucky young women fall to die alone and be forgotten.

Oh, BROTHER. Or should I say SISTER?

Look: I was once 25, too, at a slightly earlier time. And I didn’t think that way about turning 30 at all, mainly because I’ve never experienced this so-called broodiness that women in their mid-twenties supposedly all go through. Well, at least, not in the sense of actually wanting to produce a brood. I was already pretty firmly decided against that. I was on the verge of yet another of my bouts with clinical depression — my worst, in fact — but it had nothing to do with vertiginous cliffs of age. And everything to do with a messed-up brain chemistry that, every few years, wanted me to throw myself off a vertiginous cliff, period.

But this isn’t about me and my major-depressive brain; it’s about this McLaren woman and her fucked-up urges to…well, do fucked-up things:

I was feeling a bit glum and distracted, so I’d wandered upstairs in search of a bathroom in which to reapply my lipstick and check my phone for random texts from inappropriate men (this was before Tinder). I walked into a bedroom with coats piled high on the bed and noticed that in the corner, sitting wide awake in a little portable car seat, was the cutest baby I’d ever seen. On the table beside him was a monitor. I smiled at the baby, the baby smiled back. Now this was a connection.

I leaned over and gingerly picked him up and then sat down in a chair to give him a cuddle. He felt gorgeous in my arms, all warm and lumpy and milky-smelling in the way small babies are. Somehow, my pinky finger ended up in his mouth and I was astonished at strength of his sucking reflex. “C’mon lady,” said his eyes. And I suddenly knew what he wanted. And I of course wanted to give him what he wanted. The only problem was, I had no milk. But would it be so bad, I wondered, if I just tried it out – just for a minute – just to see what it felt like?

I looked at the baby monitor as if it might be watching me, but thankfully this was before monitors had cameras.

Then slowly, carefully so as not to jostle the infant, I began to unbutton my blouse.


Of course, if that had been me, I’d have beaten my feet out of there and found a nice quiet bathroom to get my sulk on (and my lipstick ditto). Babies and I do NOT mix. I certainly wouldn’t have picked up somebody else’s brand-new kid — a complete little stranger! — much less allowed it to suckle my finger.

And less still would I have tried to breastfeed it when I’d never even been pregnant, or lactating. That’s the real WTF of this all. Who even DOES such things?

Well, apparently, Leah McLaren does. Or tried to. She even admitted that, in hindsight, she realized it was inappropriate: “I think if I found a strange woman – one who was both childless and milkless – nursing my baby at a party I’d be inclined to give her a swift smack upside the head and then call the police.” And yet, still, she tried to do it…

Or rather, she CLAIMS she tried to. And that’s where this whole thing really gets fucked up:

Beyond the backlash against the column’s general claims, several internet skeptics raised concerns about the accuracy of the timeline in McLaren’s story. According to a January 2015 profile of [federal Conservative leadership candidate Michael] Chong in the Toronto Star, his sons William, then 10, Alistair, then 7 and Cameron, then 5, would not have been born in time for a house party in 2000, the year McLaren turned 25.

Michael Chong’s oldest son was not born that year. He’s about 12 now. Had he been a newborn baby in 2000, he would now be about 17. That puts McLaren’s alleged almost-breastfeeding incident a good five years too early for it to have been any one of Michael Chong’s kids.

So, now we’re left to wonder: Whose kid did this woman attempt to breastfeed, then? Who walked in on her, just in time to prevent something truly inappropriate, and swooped the baby out of her presumptuous hands? DID she even do this at all? Or is she just making this shit up? And if she did just make it up — WHY? Why the HELL?

And why the hell did Canada’s so-called national newspaper deem such inane garbage fit to be published in the first place? Why did no one fact-check the piece before it ran — or better still, sit her down and say that they couldn’t publish it, and let her know why?

I have so many questions for Leah McLaren and the Grope & Flail, but I’m not sure I want to hear the answers.

PS: Vice has truly outdone itself roasting this one. And so has the tweeter. My personal fave:

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