I went to the gym today, where, from the treadmill, I can watch 7 TV screens and listen my Ipod all at once. That kind of overstimulation cures what ails you, I say. While I ran, before me, on CNN, was a piece about the breastfeeding doll.
Haven’t we already been through this? This doll came out a couple years ago already, but it makes news every few months. I blogged about it last time it freaked people out. Here’s a summary: It’s a doll. If you hold it to your chest, it makes sucking noises. People are agog and aghast.
I don’t get it. Have you ever played with children? Even if you haven’t, it’s no secret that they like dolls. When they have dolls that look like babies, they pretend to be the parents. They pretend to do stuff parents do, like change diapers or burp the baby, or soothe it if it’s crying or feed it. If they don’t have a doll, they do it with a teddy bear. Dolls have fueled children’s imagined parenting since the beginning of time.
No one finds dolls creepy until you get breasts involved, and then there’s some sort of collective freakout, as though playing at breastfeeding is weird, sexual or might be “too much” for poor fragile girls. WTF, people, we are talking about pretend breastfeeding, not lap dancing.
It is not weird. It is not sexual. How exactly would it harm girls? These are girls who are already pretending to be mothers. Do we think girls don’t know about breasts? Guess what, they do! And they also know what breasts do — they make milk. In fact, that might be all they know about them.
And I think that’s the point here. When you watch the news clip on CNN, the journalist is obviously upset (“I’ll burp you,” she says fiercely (uh, to a plastic doll!), “But I won’t nurse you!”), but also totally titillated. We are talking about breasts, after all.
To girls playing at motherhood, breastfeeding is a way to cuddle and feed the baby. It’s pretty simple, and that’s as it should be. To adults, though, breasts are for all that and also for sex, and that’s as it should be also. Adults are a lot more complicated than kids. I think these periodic stories about the Breastfeeding Baby Doll occur from a collective feeling like, “we need to take our minds off the heat wave/economic crisis/whatever — hey, lets talk about breasts for a while!”
So, that’s fine — I think we’d probably all be happier if we all talked about breasts more often — they’re awesome and beautiful and sexy and extremely useful in so many ways! But lets leave girls and dolls out of the discussion.
P.S. If you’d like something else as fodder for your breast-y thoughts, how about this poem by Charles Simic? I first heard this twenty years ago and of course imagined the hard, full breasts of young women, but you know what? It works if you picture them as full lactating breasts, too :-). Breasts are versatile that way.
P.P.S. If you’re pregnant and going to the gym in this heat, rehydrate!
P.P.P.S. Thanks, Terry, for reminding me the name of the poem :-)