Man, f*** you, Time magazine
I’ll be honest and say that I’m lazy and almost didn’t write anything about this but I was THAT pissed off and couldn’t let it go. I’ll be even more honest and say I haven’t read the article yet. Yep, I’m writing this entirely based off that dumb cover and the controversy that ensued.
Time Magazine, what were you thinking?
It all started this morning when my friend and beloved lactation consultant, Emily, at Seattle Breastfeeding Medicine and La Leche League, called to ask if I wanted to speak on camera again about a woman’s right to breastfeed. We have both recently been on the news explaining our take on nursing in public and legislating protection of breastfeeding mothers.
I was all, “Nah, man. I woke up at 5 am with Hazel this morning and probably couldn’t string together a full sentence, plus I have a zit. You do it”. We got together afterward at the park (childless! both of us!) and drank coffee. Little did I know what the internetz were up to while I caught up with my friend.
Then, I saw this and this and this. (Please click and read all of those links. Truly. They are all worth it.) And I was like, “Oh man, gonna have to write about this on Moms Alive. Because I have one thing to say.”
This is that one thing: GET OUT OF MY BUSINESS.
We frame the breastfeeding in public debate (and all it’s ancillary subtopics: “extended breastfeeding”, nursing without a cover, tandem nursing, etc.) as if it were mothers who choose to breastfeed against the rest of the world – teenage boys, mothers who don’t breastfeed, kindly old grandmothers, whatever. Like they are exposing themselves as inappropriate exhibitionists in order to make everyone else look at their boobs.
Well, guess what? The feeding of my baby, regardless of her age, has nothing to do with you. So maybe you should stop talking about it. Stop discriminating against me. Stop punishing my child for your bigotry and intolerance.
I, too, once said, “when a kid can ask for it, they’re too old to breastfeed” – back when I was an ignorant, childless middle schooler. But now I say to those who still repeat this tired old phrase: Why? Like, seriously, have you ever actually thought about that? The benefits of “extended” nursing* are plentiful. So why stop just because your child can communicate? My daughter was signing for milk at 10 months. Should I have stopped nursing her, even though the AAP recommends nursing at least to 1 year? Even though she couldn’t eat table food and I would have had to switch her to formula when I had perfectly good (free) milk for her? That’s dumb.
We look at the woman on the Time cover and, probably 80%, just because she’s hot, get uncomfortable. She is sexualizing her son (as if you could force a child to nurse…), sexualizing breastfeeding by nature of the fact that she is hot (not her fault) and that she happened to have a son (also not her fault), throwing her holier than thou (hence the title: “Are You Mother Enough”) attachment parenting in your face.
She may well be doing all those things – she did pose for this cover – but so may some individuals in any segment of the population. The vast majority of women nursing toddlers, or, GASP, preschoolers(!!!!!), are not doing it for you. Or to you. Or at you. They aren’t trying to make you uncomfortable. They aren’t trying to say that you’re a bad mother because your baby weaned at 6 months or a year or 2 years. Breastfeeding is a relationship between two people and both people – mother and child – have to want to do it for it to work. Trust, all nursing dyads are an A, B conversation. C your way out.
And guess what? For y’all who don’t have kids, 4 year olds aren’t newborns. They don’t nurse for an hour 15 times a day. The majority of preschoolers who are still nursing do so one or two times a day – often just before bed or on waking so you’ll never see it. I’m no statistician but I’d say it’s very rare they they nurse during the day, when you’re around, standing on a chair, looking at you. If your argument is that you don’t want to see it, my response is, you aren’t. Except on this ridiculous magazine’s cover.
But even when they do nurse in public, it’s STILL none of your business. Like, why do you care? And, this “Are You Mom Enough” business? Like somehow nursing into preschool makes you more of a mother? Please. Y’all need to shut up, too. We are all mothers! Equally!
Dear Time Magazine – Stop pitting mothers against each other. This mess is insidious, negative and antagonistic. And I’m not having any of it.
*I keep putting that in quotes because letting a child wean themselves, which they ALL WILL DO (likely sometime between 2-5 years old), is normal and natural and calling that process “extended” is ridiculous. The World Health Organization recommends breastfeeding for AT LEAST 2 years.