Sexy Breastfeeding-

So did you see the new TIME cover?
Check it out, HERE.

The thing that jumped out at me was one of the comments I read from a man- it was....sexual in nature.  He seemed to find the picture erotic.  And I am cynical enough to believe that THAT (sexualizing this act, the act of nursing) is EXACTLY what this magazine was going for.  

My breasts are so very....functional these days.  Sure, they can be sexual- but so can your hands or your mouth.  But washing dishes isn't SEXY just because you could use your hands for "other stuff."  (Now if my husband actually washed dishes.....well.....)

I am sure that TIME is just trying to get people to buy this issue and talk about it.  And it worked, I am sure.  So, go them.

But breastfeeding isn't sexual.  Even if you nurse an older child- it isn't sexual.  I breastfeed in the middle of church.  Nobody even looks at me sideways.  Sure, it is a beautiful thing and a special relationship- but it is also VERY functional and totally normal.

I applaud this mother for parenting how she wants and nursing to what point she and her child feel comfortable.

Still, TIME magazine kind of makes me gag.  I don't really know if this is good for the breastfeeding mothers of the world.  It tries once again to shock people into thinking that the act of breastfeeding should be controversial or even sexy.  It isn't really.  This is just how we feed our babies, and for some, their toddlers. 

It even seems to purposely pit mothers against one another.  Are you good enough?  Mom enough?  Probably NOT!, screams the title.  

How does this make it easier for women to nurse in public without a cover?

Answer: it doesn't.

The perception of breastfeeding that this picture tries to portray (to sexualize it for optimal media exposure) works against what nursing moms want.  In fact, I think it works against what any mom wants, no matter how she feeds her child.

In my mind at least, I don't see breastfeeding as any kind of statement.  It is just how I feed my kids.  It is normal and natural.  It isn't revolutionary.  It isn't sexual.  It isn't bad for relationships with our children OR our spouse.  It is functional.
Find this fab photographer here.

We are women.  We are multi-talented and multifunctional and so are our bodies.  We can be fabulous partners and still nurture our children.  We can use our "lady parts" for nourishment and birth and they can also be sexual with our partners.  But I think the media just wants to see us as sex objects- and sex objects only.  Even nurturing our children can be sexualized and co-opted so that some dude can make a buck and so that some other dude will buy a magazine.

I continue to be disappointed that feeding our children is seen in our culture as a statement, or sexual or something that people are "activists" or "lactivists" if they do.  Why can't we just DO IT and be left alone?  All this cover does is freak people out and feed the "cover 'em up crowd." 

Let's start embracing the talents of women.  They CAN be mothers AND nurturing AND strong AND beautiful AND smart.  We are not one thing.  And we will not be bought and sold and seen as merely objects by a media who can't see past our breasts as play toys.  We will not allow it. 

(Disclaimer- Maybe you are thinking, "This Mama Birth chick probably looks awful in skinny jeans."  Well, you would be RIGHT!  I have never even had the nerve to try on a pair.  I keep hoping the skinny jean trend goes away, but so far, I appear to be out of luck.  But that woman- on the cover, SHE is proof that even mothers can wear skinny jeans.  GO HER!  And I am not jealous.)


Paala said…
I loved this part, "We are women. We are multi-talented and multifunctional and so are our bodies. We can be fabulous partners and still nurture our children." So true. Any mother knows this. And just because some of us wear skinny jeans and look sorta decent in them, doesn't mean our breastfeeding is sexual. Did you see the video interview of Dr. Sears and Jamie?
darlene said…
agreed! I've been a parent for 3 years as of Mother's Day...I'm already tired of the Mommy wars (honestly I've only known about them for about a year) doesn't make sense to me at all. Let's call it a draw, settle for educating mothers about their options, and go do something go activist on the skinny jean trend LOL.
kaelee said…
To me, this image isn't sexual. That woman is wearing a tank and skinnies, which is basically today's version of Jeans and aT-shirt. Looks to me like she's chillin in her regular, every-day garb. Her hand on her hip looks more like a confident, matter of fact pose portraying a strong woman who is saying that she will do this her way, regardless of what anyone thinks. Honestly, i think no matter what clothing they put on her, as long as she was in the image it would be sexy, because let's face it, that lady is sexy. Put a woman who isn't as attractive up there with the same clothing, in the same pose, and no one would have said it was sexualizing breastfeeding. People will take the image, and twist it, and say it is sexualiztion but they are the ones sexualizing it. We choose what to see in this image. I choose to see a feminist mother, taking a stand.
Nicole said…
My husband says "if you don't like it, then don't by a copy." Touché. I definitely won't be buying a copy! It was meant to be controversial and they've achieved that with this tasteless cover.

I don't know at exactly what age this becomes inappropriate (I think the little boy is 3), but something about the way he makes eye contact with the camera - just gives me the icky feeling. And I'm sure he'll be thrilled when he's older to see himself all over Google Images, with his mouth on his mother's boob.

The TIME article actually contained other photos of moms that were less provocative - showing the beauty of breast feeding. This photo was by far the raciest. The fact that it's an older child, and a male at that - is what makes it questionable.
Alanna said…
Thank you for this post. When I saw the Time cover, I immediately felt myself turned off by it, even though I have no problem with people nursing their babies (or children) however they see fit. So I was puzzled by my somewhat visceral reaction. I think you've explained my emotional reaction much better than I could have and I couldn't agree with you more, here.
Alison Mertz said…
I haven't read the article, but honestly I thought the cover was kind of funny. Especially because I've been there with my almost-2-year-old son standing up on the couch and breastfeeding. Its awkward, and funny, and silly, and normal, all at the same time. My main thought when I saw the cover was "wow, that'll get people talking". And it did. I heard an *amazing* show on KQED's forum this morning, talking to moms about extended breastfeeding, that was informed, educated, well-rounded, and let all moms share their views. If that is the kind of talk that this cover and article inspires, then I am all for it. (However, I am kind of out of the loop with mainstream media, so maybe there are other reactions I dont' know about....).
Gem said…
When I saw this picture I thought "Cool!" I think because she reminded me of me, as she is wearing my 'uniform' (tank top, skinny jeans, ballet flats) and she is about my age too. I did think her son looked a little old for my preference as I had a personal ideal to breastfeed between 2-3 years, and that is what I did, my son weaned when I was four months pregnant with number two shortly before his third birthday (he did have some brief tries after that). I am completely supportive of women who are comfortable bfing longer. I think it is more a sign of people's own perversions that they see breastfeeding as sexual. Personally I don't like my breasts touched sexually. Very rare (and much desired) are the moments I feel like I want my husband to indulge in them. But breastfeeding is different, it doesn't irritate me, it is not sexual. It is however, intimate and beautiful. And that is the way it should be.
Rachael said…
I hate this magazine cover. I hate the way the mom and kid are both looking at the camera and there is no connection or joy there, which is kind of missing the whole point of attachment parenting. Time Magazine did a GREAT job of sensationalizing this story in a way that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.
Tom and Juli said…
Thank you so much for writing this! I love it!

Anonymous said…
And they picked a woman who looks like she is 17 and a kid who looks like he is 7. There's some conspiracy out there, trying to make women waste time judging each other, so they don't pay attention to the things that really matter. Maybe they should have done an article on how many more women are breast-feeding now than 20, 30 or 40 years ago and how kids are growing up now not thinking it is disgusting because they actually see it happening. I only remember seeing it twice while as a child and I'm 42. Also, the article was supposedly about attachment parenting. And while I didn't prescribe in any one parenting theory since I think we all kind of figure out what works for us and our kids, there's a lot more to attachment parenting than breastfeeding. I will credit Dr. Sears with my "ah-ha" moment in my second month of new parenthood. I was reading The Baby Book and looking for advice on going back to work and it basically told me to find part-time work or stay home and than's when I said "oh, these parenting books are just different dude's and chick's opinions" and I need to stop reading and just enjoy my new baby and live my life.

Working Mother of 3
Runner, Chocoholic, Doula
Williamsburg, VA
Jessica said…
This is the best blog post I have seen in response to the Time magazine cover. I also loved this part: "We are women. We are multi-talented and multifunctional and so are our bodies. We can be fabulous partners and still nurture our children." Thanks for writing this.
Unknown said…
Very well put. I agree with Jessica ! This is the best blog post on this issue :-)