A Difference of Opinion

I saw a post on Facebook that I wanted to reply to. Someone posted a link to the Learn & Play breastmilk baby saying “this is completely ridiculous. seriously why does a little girl need a breastfeeding baby!”

Honestly? I don’t see a problem with it. OMG I KNOW SHOOT ME RIGHT?! But really, I don’t sexualize things like breastfeeding. I really don’t. It’s a food source. There are dolls that come with bottles to feed, and people don’t freak out over that…so why freak out over a breastfeeding doll?

I honestly do not see how this doll would endorse sex at a young age.
I honestly do not see how having this doll is ridiculous or sexual.
I honestly don’t see why people try to shelter their kids from a natural thing like breastfeeding, just because it involves breasts.

“Kids don’t need to see that!” – maybe not right away, but they need to know what it is and what it’s for. They need to understand. I’m not saying that when I breastfed Nolan in public, I whipped out my boob for all to see. I covered up. But still got dirty looks, because way too many people sexualize breasts to the point that breastfeeding in public is nasty and shouldn’t occur.

What the hell, people? Why do they sexualize something that is natural? People have been breastfeeding a lot longer than they’ve been formula feeding. I’m not saying formula feeding is bad, because it’s not – I’ve done both, I just don’t understand why breastfeeding is met with such distaste!

The debate got a little ridiculous, when comments about “why don’t you just give the kid a dildo too!” were made. Comments like that freak me out…a lot. Why does breastfeeding equal out to teaching your kids about sex and dildos? These girls firmly believe that it does though, that breastfeeding equals sex at a young age because breasts are sexual first and foremost.

Personally, when I was a little girl, I didn’t view boobs as sexual at all. In fact, I think it’d be healthier for a girl to learn that boobs sustain life before learning that society views them as sexual things. Don’t you agree? I know I would rather my daughter learn about a feeding source before she learns they are “sexual”.

Every time I made a point, I was made to feel as if I was an absolute freak for seeing the point in this doll. I don’t even know why I bothered to say anything. I guess I’m still naive in thinking that friendly debates can be had in a public forum.

In my household, breastfeeding is not taboo, sexual, or a “private” thing. Nolan will know what breastfeeding is because I intend to breastfeed the new baby. To say that it would endorse sex at a young age is ridiculous – breastfeeding doesn’t endorse sex at a younger age, kids not understanding and searching out the answers elsewhere is what leads to sex at a younger age. Kids only learning that boobs are sexual endorses, well, sex. My kids will ALWAYS feel comfortable asking us any questions about sex, BUT breastfeeding has nothing to do with sex any more than my knee cap does and I’ll stand by that until I’m blue in the face.

Matt finds every part of my body sexy: my boobs, my knees, my arms, my feet even…so I just don’t get the “boobs are strictly sexual” mindframe. I really don’t, any more than saying “I can’t walk on my feet because they’re SEXUAL”. Pretty ridiculous, huh? But really, all of our body parts have multiple functions. Boobs don’t play into the making of the baby, do they? (If you answer yes, you might want to read up on how babies are made…lol).

If one of my kids wants that doll, they’ll get it. I personally think this doll would teach tolerance and acceptance, and good care giving skills so why not? If bottle fed dolls are acceptable, why can’t a breastfeeding doll be acceptable?

But I guess my parenting style is different. I don’t feel the need to shelter my kids from breastfeeding. I don’t feel the need to force my kids to play with “gender orientated toys”. If Nolan wants a doll, he’ll have a doll…if I have a daughter and she wants to play with trucks and cars, she’ll have trucks and cars.

How do you feel about that doll?
(Friendly debates only, no name calling for difference of opinions please.)

I have breastfed and bottle fed Nolan. I have done both, I have been on both sides of the cross fire and guess what? I’m all for feeding babies. I don’t care how it’s done or why, just feed the baby. Many women can’t breastfeed for whatever reason, and many women can’t knock the “sexual” aspect of breasts out of their mind. Which is why I’m all for this doll…if we teach our children young that breastfeeding is natural, maybe we’ll never have the issue of people sexualizing breasts to the point that they can’t comfortably breastfeed their baby. I’m not trying to knock those who couldn’t breastfeed for that reason, I’m trying to prevent that from happening in the future – to my potential daughter or daughter-in-law. Breastfeeding was such a remarkable bonding experience for me, and it makes me sad to hear people so against it because they think boobs are sexual. It makes me sad to hear that people are afraid to breastfeed in public because of the distaste they are met with, and I think it’s something that we can easily change by tossing in a little bit more tolerance, compassion, and acceptance. I think learning what breastfeeding is at an early age would help reach tolerance, compassion and acceptance.

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About J.C. Hannigan

25. Mother. Wife. Lover of words. Weaver of stories. My first book, Collide, is available in e-book for Amazon Kindle and Kobo.
This entry was posted in breastfeeding, debates, decisions, issues, opinions, parenthood. Bookmark the permalink.

19 Responses to A Difference of Opinion

  1. Oof my head >.< I have spent so much time debating this subject. So just..argh!!! All I have to say is, children are NOT sexual!!!

  2. I've written about this doll (or one like it) a few times – I think it's great. So many dolls model bottle-feeding – why not nursing? The only way that we'll ever really get over the cultural weirdness of breastfeeding is to do everything we can to push its NORMALCY – and play/toys are one excellent avenue for doing that.

  3. Crystal says:

    I could care less about a breast-feeding doll. Like you said, there's bottle-fed dolls, why not breast-feeding dolls. I remember “feeding” my dolls both ways back in my doll days.

    I also could care less about breast-feeding in public (omg, a childfree woman who doesn't care about it? what is this, bizzarro world?). I eat in public, there's absolutely zero reason why your babies can't eat in public, regardless of which method of feeding them you choose to use. What irks me is that there's a large majority of women who cry out “Breasts are meant for feeding babies! They're not sexual!” that would absolutely shit themselves if a woman were to be topless in public in front of their families.

  4. Great post Jess! I don't think there's anything wrong with it either, as a nursing mama myself, and frankly, kids have a right to know about nursing. Ari says “Samara's gotta eat you mommy,” about when she nurses. Nursing is healthy and normal. Yay nursing and nursing dolls!

  5. Petunia says:

    Great post Jess! I have to admit, my first reaction when I read this post was “AAAHHH! NOOO!” But it is not for the reason that you discussed (breastfeeding toy = sexualization of children) which I think is just silly. I think there is nothing wrong with kids knowing about breastfeeding, it's all body parts after all, and I think women in all societies should be able to whip out the boob in public without fear of nasty looks because, after all, it is to feed their child. That's life. Shout out to my ladies in Africa (where I lived for a long time) who know this.

    My trepidation has to do with the potential for it to be used as a way to enforce gender stereotypes on girls, to say to them “this is your only future” instead of nurturing girls to know that they can do whatever they choose in life, including whether or not to have children. I view this toy as different as a doll that can be bottle fed because that is something that both boys and girls can do. All that being said, I don't have kids, but if my daughter (or son) asked me to have the toy, I would totally buy it for her because she chose it, not the other way around.

    I don't have kids so I am a bit naive and don't know the answer to this question, but are there any other toys out there that are so closely linked to the biological differences between girls and boys? Not just surface gender roles. Does that all make sense? I don't mean to sound contrary, I'm curious and really want to know! Sorry for the super long comment 🙂

  6. Jessa says:

    So dolls that pee and poop are okay. Dolls with bottles are okay. But a doll that teaches about breastfeeding is not? Go figure.

  7. Sarah says:

    I don't think it promotes sex, but I think it enforces the idea of “if you don't breastfeed, you're a bad parent”.
    It's not a toy I would buy my daughter. Then again, I don't buy the noise-making dolls for her anyway. They creep me out.

  8. jessi ♥ says:

    @Cristy Muranda: I agree! One of the MAIN things that irked me about this whole ordeal.

    @Her Bad Mother: I knew you'd support it! 🙂 you're definitely right!

    @Crystal: that's the way I feel too. I wouldn't tell someone to go eat in the bathroom because I didn't like their “method” of eating. LOL you're right about that, but I assure you I'm not one of those 🙂

    @Old School/New School Mom: I see no harm in teaching a child – even one who won't encounter it day to day – that boobs are how babies eat, just like bottles!

    @Petunia: I had hoped to educate my side to the other girls as well. Sure, it might SEEM repulsive if you look at it from the sexual mindframe, but its not supposed to BE sexual at all! Nolan has dolls, and he has trucks, so if you're comfortable allowing your child to play with a toy regardless of its “gender”, I don't see an issue at all. If we had this doll, Nolan would definitely be playing with it. I want him to be supportive to his future wife or significant other, so why not? I really don't think it tells girls that “this is your future” at all. I will be buying just as many career focused toys as care-giving toys, and I will be happy with whatever path they choose in life – be it a stay at home mom/dad, or a career lady/man.

    @Jessa: Apparently!!

    @Sarah: I don't think it does that at all. How often do you see breastfeeding dolls out there? Not very often. Why? Because society literally views them as taboo and claim that they “promote sex”. Mostly because ALL of us were taught that our boobs were sexual before we learned their greater purpose. I learned about breastfeeding when I was pregnant, and felt uncomfortable with the idea at first because of how I viewed boobs. But that changed. I don't think this doll enforces the idea that if you don't, you're a bad parent. Unless the type of person that buys it enforces that lesson, which wouldn't be the lesson I would personally teach to my children. I would buy this toy (IF it wasn't so ridiculously over-priced!) because I want to teach my kids that boobs are a food source for babies BEFORE they learn that society views them as “sexual”. The noise-making dolls creep me out also haha.

  9. Petunia says:

    Thanks for the response Jess, you will be my go-to source for all things toy related when I have children in the future. Hopefully our generation will be full of open-minded mamas like you!

  10. jessi ♥ says:

    @Petunia: I hope so! Having an open mind opens the world to tons of possibility and opportunities! 🙂 and thanks, that put a smile on my face – but I'm no expert lol

  11. Maybe it's because I have very large breasts that defines me sexually, but I've never breastfed. It's a personal choice every woman has to make. I made this choice because my boobs are for recreational use only.

    That said, I disagree with this doll for my daughter. Maybe it's for the above reasons. Ryan and I had the same reaction to it, “that's really strange.” I don't think it sends the message to girls to get pregnant or anything it just seems odd to me. I wouldn't judge a mother who got it for their daughter though. I'd just prefer my child to use a doll with a bottle.

  12. jessi ♥ says:

    @Danielle-Marie: Breastfeeding is every woman's personal decision, I agree. I'm for feeding babies, period 😉 lol. I'm just saying that I see the point in this doll, because I think that if our kids learn that boobs are first and foremost a food source, perhaps there won't be such discomfort in the idea of breastfeeding? Not that there's anything wrong WITH that mindset, except for when people are saying that breastfeeding promotes sex and is equal to buying a dildo (um, what?!)

  13. Great post jess. I don't see anything wrong with the doll. When I was a little girl and my mom was breast feeding my little brother, I used to grab my dolls lift up my shirt and pretend to breast freed. When I was breast feeding my daughter so many of my friends kids would run up and stare and even ask me if they could have some LOL always made me snicker. I never covered up in public while breast feeding. Even with all the grimaces of passerbys, I still felt it was a natural thing to do, and If my daughter was hungry I didn't care. And beleive me my knockers arn't the cute little flip a nip kind of boobies, they are hard to miss lol. It is insane that people sexualize something that is so beautiful and natural. PRO BREAST FEEDING AND PRO EDUCATION ALL THE WAY!

  14. Lukasmummy says:

    My boys have dolls and a pushchair and a sling. They love to care for their babies, would I buy a breastfeeding doll probably not because it's not something that's relevant in our house. I couldn't breastfeed any of mine because they were all premature babies, Logan was the only one who has his first feed orally and that wasn't even a bottle it was a syringe lol the other two had nasal tubes. I am not anti breastfeeding but I am a lot more pro discreet feeding than all out in your face feeding simply because I have two loud boys who are quite likely to shout something obnoxious like boobies for everyone to hear. They just seem to know they shouldn't so do it anyway. Hugs Crystal xx

  15. Very valid points! I wonder if the person on Facebook who found this to be “ridiculous” is someone who doesn't breastfeed?

  16. Also, I just wanted to add that as a mother who formula fed both her babies, I never feel offended or disgusted by a mother who breastfeeds her child in public. If the baby has to eat, the baby has to eat.

  17. jessi ♥ says:

    @Rebekah Fonseca: Way to go! 🙂 I'm also pro breastfeeding (but understand all sides to why women don't), and more importantly…pro education!

    @Lukasmommy: I definitely understand why you wouldn't buy this doll lol. If I have two boys, I won't buy it either – because boys physically can't breastfeed LMAO. It's irrelevant. But they can bottle feed and learn good care-giving skills that way! I'm just saying that I see no harm in this doll, I think it's a great educational tool for girls to learn about their bodies WITHOUT sexual labels. Our boobs shouldn't just be objectified as “sexual” because that's not what they're intended for. If I have two boys, both will be educated on breastfeeding (although I'm sure they'll go through a stage of shouting BOOBIES that will be VERY awkward on my part haha!).

    @Danielle-Marie: She said she breastfed for a bit but in the privacy of her own home, she NEVER went out in public to do it. I'm assuming she stopped because she viewed her boobs as too sexual (because she kept tossing in that her boobs were playthings for her man first…lol). I'm not offended by either way, I'm all for feeding babies! I just want the “boobs are sexual” thing to fark off lol

  18. Jessa says:

    My niece breastfeeds her non-breastfeeding purposed dolls. She also uses wraps to carry them like my SIL does her youngest.

  19. SarcasticTee says:

    I actually think I would prefer this doll over other ones. I love the concept behind it because it does force you to think of breastfeeding as a natural, not-sexual thing. It's so annoying that people sexualize breats so much. I hope/intend to breastfeed if and when I ever have kids. I think I used to sexualize breasts too but after seeing my niece being born and my sister walking around half naked all the time to feed her in the first few days, I definitely see it entirely differently. When I saw my mom breastfeed my brother when I was 12 I found it gross/weird. I think this doll would help prevent that. I think it's a neat idea for a doll. 🙂 Great post Jess and it's nice that the debates here have been respectful.
    And the whole boobs are for my man thing pisses me off. I heard a friend say that as a reason she didn't breastfeed her son at 16, and I was shocked and bothered by it. If someone chooses not to breastfeed, that's their decision of course, but to not because you think they're for your partner makes me sad. That's not what they're there for first and foremost. But to each her own! 🙂

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