infantgate

Baby Bounced and Banned at MIPCOM 2016

I have been coming to MIP for years, since 2009 I think. Last year I was here pregnant, this time with a 6 months old baby whose main nutrition is breast milk (yes, in Finland most women breastfeed their babies, and WHO recommends exclusive breastfeeding until 6 months). I work for a small family business and came here to develop our future partnerships and projects. MIP is one of the most important events in our business, and coming here twice a year is a big commitment for our little company.

Tuesday afternoon I was stopped by security with my baby coming into the Palais. I knew the safety procedures were quite strict but it didn’t occur to my Nordic mind that an event like this (in which most of the kids programming around the world is sold) would be banning infants! This was the first time I heard that children are not allowed to the event. For the first 1.5 days we came in and out without problems, and everybody (including the safety personnel at the gate) where happy to meet our baby. I asked someone on Reed Midem organization to call me and explain why I can not enter with an infant and quite quickly I got a call from the legal department and the answer was this: It’s a professional event where children under 18 years are not allowed to maintain the professional atmosphere of the event. The second reason was security: in case of a fire or etc. situation that needed sudden evacuation my child would be in danger to be pushed down by the crowds, especially with so many stairs. And the organiser would be responsible if something happened. They also explained that the age limit is written in the contract (I read this just now: “Persons under the age of 18 may not be admitted to the event, except with the Organiser’s prior written authorisation.”) and they will not refund any costs.

I can understand these reasons perfectly well but I also see an outdated worldview behind them. What Reed Mideem don’t seem to understand that the world has changed. Looking at this from a modern mom perspective I feel discriminated standing on the gate with my 6 month old and trying to get into my meetings with an expensive, now useless badge hanging on my neck.

First of all: it’s my job to keep my baby safe. No organization, city or government is responsible of my baby. I am. I’m putting him every day to life threatening situations just by walking outside my home. Living in fear that something may happen if I take him to a shopping mall, airport, work or even just outside, is absurd. We all need to be aware of risks and behave in a way a responsible parent would – to keep him safe but not locked away in a rubber box.

By saying that Palaise de Festival is not a safe place for my baby you are saying it’s not safe place for anyone. Are there statistics of how dangerous your events are compared to other mass events? Or is it more dangerous to walk into the Palaise than to walk outside at La Croisette where I was guided gently from the gate? I saw you let a man in a wheelchair in. Isn’t he even in bigger danger in case of an evacuation? How can you let him in? Or are you suggesting I’m a bad mother and putting my baby in danger by bringing him with me?

Second, by excluding breastfeeding moms and their babies you are not only making our business hard, but also patronising and defining from outside what’s professional and what’s safe for our kids and what’s not. I know a mass event is not an ideal place to be with a baby. In fact, I had only booked few meetings and interesting sessions in small doses I knew my baby could handle well.

Last week an Icelandic MP breastfed her baby while giving a speech in the front of the parliament – and this was applauded all over the world in media. For the rest of the world, she sent a clear example that this is professional – having a baby at work and even breastfeeding the baby at work, when it’s the best option available in mother’s and child’s life.

For many moms, it’s difficult if not impossible to hire a nanny, pump milk and run back and forth to meetings during their work days at events like these – I just heard today how a colleague had done it in earlier MIP and how stressful it had been for both to mom and the baby. I also met several moms coming to adore our baby and missing badly their own little ones who they had to leave home.

So listen, Reed Midem organisers and rule makers: we as mothers should have rights to decide what is good for us and for our babies. In the Nordic countries we already know, that it is BOTH good for the mothers to stay on paid maternity leave for 9 months AND work right after giving the birth if we want. It’s up to us to decide. You know the saying “If mama ain’t happy, nobody ain’t happy”? Well, this mama is happy when she can have maternity leave, still attend industry events and carry her baby in a sling next to her body and breastfeed him when needed.

Last year Cannes Film Festivals rejected women without high heals to enter a film screening – flats were not recognised as proper outfit for the other gender. Overall, the film and media industry should be setting an example and leading progressively on equality and women’s rights.

I suggest you let infants (up to the age of 2, as on airlines) with their breastfeeding moms to access your events to ensure similar business opportunities for women like me, who really want to both ensure the best possible start to their babies by breastfeeding but also the best possible continuation to their businesses by attending events like MIP – even with babies and with or without high heels. And maybe, the whole world would be a bit better place if professional events would allow some pure loving baby energy into them too :)

Reetta Ranta
Producer & mom of three
Power Animals United
Finland (The second best country in the world to be born as a girl)