Looks like the only thing to move me to jump back on the blogosphere is more buzz about breasts and lactivism. I must applaud Baby Talk magazine for this month's cover, a photo of a sweet little nursing baby that includes a side profile of his mother's breast. Apparently they've gotten more mail (700 letters) about it than any other issue. In a CNN.com article, they say 25% of mom-readers polled actually reacted negatively to the photo! That's what shocks me! A quarter of their reader-mothers objected to seeing that beautiful baby and a peek of breast.
What is wrong with you women?! I'll skip past all the previous lectures about how nursing is natural, that breastfeeding is beautiful, and women should not feel ashamed or embarassed about their bodies or about giving their baby what they need most. Because that should all go without saying. The issue at hand is sex.
Yes, my friends, it all comes back to sex. Sure, the baby wouldn't be there if it weren't for sex. And it must be obvious that every mom responding to the article is no stranger to sex. (Ok, unless there's a celibate saint among the readers who managed to adopt a baby while remaining a nun.)
And we know that American men see breasts as sexual objects, though one could argue over how much is instinct and how much is due to the media-onslaught of half naked women shoving their breasts into cameras to sell everything from beer to sports stats to potato chips. What burns me up is that women have been indoctrinated into accepting the notion that their breasts are primarily sexual objects.
One mom claimed that she didn't want her 13 year-old son to see the cover:
"I shredded it," said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. "A breast is a breast -- it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that."
I have a son, he's only three, but god-willing he will one day be 13. And while I know that for awhile he will be obsessed with the sexual appeal of breasts, I certainly hope that he has enough examples of non-sexual reverance for the female body that he comes through the teenage years able to appreciate female beauty in people and places and activities that don't involve bikinis, push-up bras, and air brushing. I hope that he doesn't suffer under the delusion that all breasts look like the glitter-covered digitally-enhanced bosoms plastered all over the mens magazines, sports magazines, and yes, of course, women's magazines. I hope to God that he grows to be a man who encourages his wife to breastfeed his children, who is at ease with the REAL female body, and who appreciates that female beauty is not the same as sex appeal.
You could do your best to hide all nudity from your son, but rest assured no American teenager can go long without getting a glimpse of naked breast. Where will he see them? What context? What will it teach him about the purpose of our breasts? What will it teach him about the role of women? How will it shape his attitude toward women?
Yes, I agree a breast is a powerful image. If only it could represent all the beauty our female form offers. My breasts are not objects, they are just one, ok, two parts of my body, and they actually play a much, ahem, bigger role now that I am a mom. My bosom is where I comfort my child when he cries. It is where they lay their heads when I rock them when they are sick, or tired, or scared. It is where my babies were lain in the first seconds of their lives, when we looked into each others eyes for the first time.
Obviously, breasts are indeed "a sexual thing," as that mom said. Does she really believe that is all they are? The beauty of that photo illustrates that breasts are a "mother thing." If you hide such expressions, censor the photos, send nursing moms to the restroom or back to the parking lot (or often to the grocery store to buy lipid-enhanced non-sexual soy formula), than that leaves the Cosmo and Sports Illustrated to teach our sons and daughters that beauty=breasts=sex.
So those of you who still squirm to think of a mom nursing a baby in public, get over it! Quit looking, then! Accept the fact that the boob is NOT there to decorate, titillate, impress, excite, scandalize, attract, taunt, seduce, intimidate, or even sell you a sports car. Accept the fact that it's NOT about you. It's all about the baby. And that's what's so beautiful.