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All content of this blog is my own opinion only. It does not represent the views of any organisation or association I may work for, or be associated with. Nothing within this blog should be considered as medical advice and you should always consult your Doctor.

Time Mag Cover - Perfect Or Porn?

Whilst most are done already with the Time Magazine cover that's caused such a brouhaha this week, it still didn't seem to right to let it pass without even a mention; after all it's not everyday a nearly four year old is featured breastfeeding on the cover of a US magazine right?

Knickers have truly been twisting in all corners.  Some claimed the image pornographic, others that it was damaging to the breastfeeding movement; even those supportive of breastfeeding beyond babyhood have been divided by this cover.

So firstly I should say a big well done to Time!  As far as marketing sensations go, this has to get a ten right?  It's every PR company's dream to have the World's media debating your mag, as the old adage goes   there's no such thing as bad publicity.

But they worked hard at this - the tall toddler who looks older than his years, the abandoning of typical breastfeeding positions and the fact the nursling is standing, not curled on his mother's lap.  The way both parties look at the camera instead of gazing at each other, mum striking a confident challenging pose.  Then the "Top Trump" is the tag, "Are you mum enough", it screams; neatly tapping in to the "mummy guilt culture".

Genius!

But seriously, isn't it really quite sad that we live in a society where the lines of nurturing a child and pornography seem to so easily blur?  Should we blame Time for tapping in on something that makes the Western World squirm?  That should be firmly be kept behind closed doors, heck we are still debating whether it's appropriate to feed our offspring milk of their own species in public even as a newborn.  A culture where we are forced to contemplate the "knock on effect" to the "breastfeeding movement" and discussing whether it will help or hinder those who choose to do the same.

Some said that the picture is "unnatural", that this isn't how people feed, why picture them in this deliberately provocative way?  And I agree that is absolutely what it is.  Consider this other image of a mother feeding an older child, taken from a video clip covering this story by ABC Action News.  It's a child of the same age nursing, but whilst it will still raise debate for some - it's much more "socially acceptable", more people will see nature v porn.

But surely the underlying problem is why feeding a child in any position is "provocative"?

If we took the breastfeeding out of the picture and had a mum and child cuddling in the same post as feature in Time - nobody would say "We don't hug like that", "What an unrealistic portrayal of a hug, both parties looking at the camera instead of each other as you do in a real hug".

The Time image however is likely to have Facebook peeing in their pants as their servers must be red hot with "indecent" flags.  We're so used to breasts in the context of "tits to titillate" that we can't separate a child nursing from porn?  Because as a male he will be expected to go on and appreciate a woman's "rack", that is projected to a THREE year old?

It's interesting that society who claims indecency at such a picture, is on the whole entirely comfortable with the sexualisation of children - and perhaps that is the problem.

This video of 7 year olds gyrating to "Single Ladies" in bra and pants on YouTube has over 6 million likes (I do wonder how many by paedophiles).  How far we have come since the 1950's when Elvis’s gyrating hips caused outrage across the US?  Yet in some cultures seven year olds are still breastfeeding, that I'm sure would be firmly in the "porn" category.  

It's easy to say it's just changing times, that not agreeing is prudish or repressed - but has everyone forgotten we are talking about children here?

Last year a move was taken to ban padded bras for children in high street shops, the fact the manufacturers even considered there may be a market speaking volumes.  In  2010 Mumsnet launched a "Let girls be girls" campaign because of their "concern that an increasingly sexualised culture was dripping, toxically, into the lives of children.".

The problem is so significant that on 11 October 2011, the Prime Minister and Sarah Teather, Minister of State for Children and Families, hosted a summit at 10 Downing Street on tackling the commercialisation and sexualisation of childhood. The summit followed the publication in June of Reg Bailey's report Letting Children be Children, which made a series of practical recommendations to businesses, broadcasters and regulators.

But ultimately there has to be a receptive and lucrative audience for what is being marketed, and isn't it a concern that exists?  The same audience who cannot see the innocence of a child taking comfort from his mother's breast.

My first thoughts when seeing the picture were, that would have been a good idea when my toddler wanted nursing and I was trying to chop veg.  I've clearly been a lactivist far too long.

4 comments:

  1. i was wondering what you would have to say on this subject. lol
    i think my issue with the cover IS that they set it up to cause a controversy. they set it up, and not in a good way, not in a way to challenge peoples thinking and shed light on something, but they set it up to make people go on hating and make people cont to think breastfeeding any child is just nasty. that makes me sad.
    personally i think it would have been nice had both mother and child been at least holding each other, even with him still on the chair, still dressed as a "big boy" both still looking at the camera. looking like, YES we nurse, yes he is big, yes we are attached. it just looks weird, like he is dangling off her breast.

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  2. It looks perfectly normal to me - as someone who's been hanging around with attachment parents for the last 14 years or so, I've often seen a toddler taking a 'nip' standing up at the playground or kids' group. More often with mum sitting or kneeling down tending to a baby, I suppose, and toddler grabbing a quick refuel before running off to play. In that situation toddler is usually looking round, planning what mayhem to participate in next!

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  3. What a stupid headline !!! How could anyone even suggest that there is anything pornographic in that picture. Only a pedophile could make that connection. Breastfeeding is the most natural way yo feed our young children and as long as people eat their lunch in public places, babies and young children should be free to do the same !!!
    I have never shied away from breastfeeding both my daughters in public and they both were over 2 and half years old when they lost interest.

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  4. I quite agree - but Google the responses and you will see this is not an uncommon sentiment:

    "You are a pedophile pervert. Do you sleep with her and satisfy her sexual needs as well when she is a teenager??
    You are sick and twisted."

    and

    "This is DISGUSTING…any doctor will tell you that when a baby becomes 1 years old they are to be weened from the bottle!!! So why is the Boob any different! I truly think these breast feeding mothers are putting their own kinky spin on this. Sick, simply sick!"

    "This is disgusting and looks perverted."

    Just three responses from one single discussion here: http://www.hollywoodlife.com/2012/05/11/time-magazine-breast-feeding-cover-moms-experts-reactions/comment-page-1/#comments

    And the internet is full of them. Hence why I mentioned it in The blog

    AA

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