Friday, May 11, 2012

Mother's milk

I've been reading reaction to this provocative Time magazine cover today. It reminds me that I've long thought the root of much of what ails America is sexual repression, or at least discomfort with sexuality. None of which had anything to do with breastfeeding of course, but because our society is so obsessed with sexual taboos, much of the commentary I've seen about the cover has been sexualized.

Thinking the extreme reaction to the cover is based simply on our general societial discomfort with an unclothed human body. In many other countries, including most of Europe, people wouldn't find the image disturbing. Nor would they be appalled that a three year was still breast feeding. There is nothing unnatural about breastfeeding a toddler. Just because he's old enough to drink cow's milk from a glass doesn't mean he shouldn't be allowed to wean in his own time.

Which is not to say I didn't find the staging of this cover somewhat exploitive. The mother doesn't actually nurse this way. I agree with many who say it probably didn't do much to advance the cause of normalizing breastfeeding.

This was done for shock value and to drive traffic. However, like the mom in question said I understand why they did it. It did start a public conversation. Sadly, much of it wasn't constructive. But these days that's true of most of our public conversations.

All that being said, mother's milk is the healthiest option for child nourishment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with keeping a child on the breast until the mother and child decide for themselves it's time to stop. Ain't nobody's business when they do.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]
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Blogger Mule Breath said...

Two comments:

1. Time is interested in selling magazines more than promoting breastfeeding or knocking down moralistic walls.

2. Some men never ween. Most never want to.

6:38:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

The comments I saw today certainly make the second point true. Lot of creepy old guys who wanted to trade places with the kid.

8:07:00 PM  
Blogger merlallen said...

I once had a French guy remark to me about America's love of violence and hatred of sex, he was kind of confused about it. I told him that so was I.
Now, Libby, I'm not creepy at all. hahaha.

5:44:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That's not creepy Merl. It has long puzzled me too. Sexual repression is clearly at the root of the theocrat's mania and other aspects of our society's maladjustment.

9:32:00 PM  

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