I feel so strongly about this that I've had a hard time not harping over it the past couple of days. It would seriously help if Jason Good would stop tweeting/posting about it too. ;) Just saying. So this is my rebuttal to Jason's post on his blog. By the way, I find Jason hilarious. You should totally read his posts on fruits and vegetables. I don't disparage him as a person, writer, or man in general, but I totally disagree with his point of view on this subject. That being said, I will continue to read his blog because I find it entertaining. I hope we can agree to disagree. Side note: I apologize in advance for the language. I don't think the f word has ever made an appearance on my blog before today. So without further ado...
I would first like to address your tweet from Thursday where you said, "If you don't have kids, you're opinion about the Times Magazine cover can go fuck itself." I replied yesterday but I would like to add one more thing: In my opinion, if you're not a woman or the father of said child, you should have next to no opinion about breast feeding unless you have an Oedipal complex.
Now as to your blog post from today...
You said, "Think about how you might feel if, instead of a boy, the cover showed that same mother breast feeding a 3-year-old girl...It's different isn't it?" No. Not even a little bit. For me, this issue isn't with the gender of the child at all but with the age of the child. I don't look at that picture and see a sexualized (is that a word?) picture of a little boy breast feeding. I see a child who can walk, talk, feed himself, is most likely potty trained, who will be starting preschool incredibly soon (if he hasn't already) and who is old enough to ask for a snack, or in his case, a boob. Once a kid gets to an age where he can feed himself and understand his mom when she tells him to stop biting her, it's time to put the breasts away.
Next you asked how people would have felt if the appearance of the child had been different, would we, the public, feel different about the photo. My answer is that if the kid had been in a diaper, I would have questioned why an almost four-year-old kid isn't potty trained.
Then you said, and this is where you really lost me, that the photographer had the boy standing on a stool in front of his mom because of his height. Come on! No he didn't. He had both of them standing because that, in and of itself, made the photo even more shocking. Is that how his mom feeds him in the privacy of their own home? I mean, is she standing in her kitchen doing the dishes with her boob hanging out and the kid hanging on, standing on a stool? Probably not. I'll go out on a limb and make an assumption here and say that if the mom had been cradling her son in her lap and feeding him or in another "natural", affectionate, respectable position, it wouldn't have garnered as sensational a reaction as it did with the mom, her clothing, and the boy positioned in the way that they were. Irregardless of my opinion, the stool had NOTHING to do with the boy's height. And your eye is way off. Minus the stool, the kid would have been sucking somewhere in her abdominal area which is a whole other issue (meaning concern, not magazine issue).
I will concede your point that everyone's feelings on this picture and the issue of attachment parenting are highly subjective. I object to your use of the word "puritanical" however. That's off-base. By using the word "puritanical" you imply that people opposed to attachment parenting and breast feeding teenagers (I exaggerate) are just uptight which isn't the case. Every comment that I've seen, read, or heard on this story is on par with my own. Then again, going by your rationalization, the people that I tweet and Facebook with, my friends and family would all be Puritans anyway and that's why we have the same opinions. FYI, a poll that the Today Show conducted showed that 73% of people didn't like the photo with only 27% agreeing with it. Not scientific, I know, but they're not people I know on any level that I'm aware.
I worry about the long term effects on this poor kid who could NOT POSSIBLY even come close to understanding what it means to have his picture on the cover of Time freaking magazine sucking on his mother's boob. Agree or disagree, that kid is going to get made fun of on the playground. Anyone who thinks differently is living in a sunshine, kitty, fantasy land. I asked my 13 year old daughter her opinion this morning and she replied, "Why would his mother do that to him?" Why indeed. He will get made fun of, I have no doubt. I am also unaware of studies conducted on kids who were breast fed past a certain age. Someone needs to do one though, I'd be highly interested in the results.
Lastly, if that woman had been an unattractive woman instead of a pretty, thin, blonde, we wouldn't be having this debate because they would never have put her on the cover in the first place.
I could do a whole other post about attachment parenting but I'm not going to do so. I will say one thing on that subject because I apparently like to open myself to criticism. I think attachment parenting is more about the parent and less about the needs of the child. So there.
That's my two cents for what it's worth.
I am the mother of a 13 year old and almost 16 year old. I breast fed both of my daughters. I understand that bonding experience and I'm aware of the health benefits of breast feeding. I also understand and applaud women who choose to do what's best for them and their babies even if that means that they didn't breast feed for whatever reason.