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Monday, July 31, 2006

Breastfeeding Cover Controversy

--posted by Tony Garcia on 7/31/2006

I feel pretty strongly about this. The pictures displayed in throughout this post are NOT generally offensive. And if they are, then, how do you like life in that Amish community of yours? I take that back...some are not offensive and the rest received little or no controversy. So this post should be deemed safe. And I'm sorry, there is not effective way to describe the hypocrisy in our society without the pictures.

# "I was SHOCKED to see a giant breast on the cover of your magazine"
# "I immediately turned the magazine face down"
# "Gross"

What? Was there a stray Hustler in a public area?

# "'I shredded it,' said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. 'A breast is a breast — it's a sexual thing. He [her 13-year old son] didn't need to see that.'"

National Geographic?

# "I don't want my son or husband to accidentally see a breast they didn't want to see."

[sidenote] Any son or husband that "didn't want to see" a breast is either lying or is gay. Sorry, that is the state of man. Seeking to see them...that succumbing to nature, fighting against seeing them is controlling nature...but not wanting to see breasts is against the nature of males. That women does NOT understand man. However, most of us don't see a breast used for nursing as 'sexual'...so maybe THAT is what she meant.

# "'Men are very visual. When they see a woman's breast, they see a breast — regardless of what it's being used for."

What could they be talking about?

# "'Gross, I am sick of seeing a baby attached to a boob,' wrote Lauren, a mother of a 4-month-old."

Ah, they are talking about some breastfeeding picture. Salacious? Racy? A new fetish porn magazine?

BabyTalk? What is that?

It is a magazine targeted to new mothers. It is free. It is distributed exclusively through clinics. Mostly OB/GYN clinics.

Yes, there is a part of the boob being shown. Big deal. I think the picture is actually a cute baby picture...and find nothing sexual about it. And I am a boob guy!

What made me decide to write about this story is the hypocrisy of the outrage. Did we forget Jennifer Lopez at the 1999 Grammys?

Easily more flesh being shown there. Easily more breast flesh shown there. That was in open public, not in a targeted magazine in a clinic.

And while looking through IMDB for the green dress pictures I came across the next J Lo example. And doing show prep in the past Friday's edition of USA Today I was reminded of the Lil Kim example. None of them had much outrage and so they MUST be safe in society.

Which begs the questions: What is it about the baby picture above that makes is offensive and "gross" while the above displays were so fashionable that people went out trying to buy similar dresses? The HINT of the full breast?

Enter Lil' Kim. 1999 MTV Music Awards.

The outrage/discussion after THAT event was (1) the dress was simply a horrible dress (and not necessarily because it was 'exposing') and (2) that Diana Ross on stage grabbed and jiggled Lil' Kim's, er, exposure. No outrage about the breast being exposed...in public...on television.

Maybe because the nipple at least was covered. Maybe that is why the nipple is always covered on TV?

Hypocrisy Again...The nipple theory exposed as not valid:
This picture looks like a nice formal dress worn by Jennifer Lopez at the 2001 Oscars.

But it actually was not quite so "nice" if you think that the nipple-is-offensive theory is correct then brace yourself...

Nothing left to imagination in that 'nice formal dress'.

So, maybe it is simply the act of breastfeeding that is offensive. Maybe. Even the targeted audience of the first picture above was offended. Remember the story a while ago (July 2) about Victoria's Secret?
Saturday was a day of protest against Victoria's Secret as mothers gathered to nurse their babies in front of the sexy lingerie stores at malls across the US.

The women were expressing solidarity with two mothers who were told by Victoria's Secret staff to use bathrooms to breastfeed their infants in separate incidents in Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

In both cases, the mothers reportedly had asked to use dressing rooms but were turned down. Both refused the employees' alternative suggestions by asserting, in essence, that a bathroom was not a suitable place for anyone to eat.

Many of the protesting mothers expressed outrage that a company known for ads that celebrate the female form -- often revealing far more breast than the average nursing mother does -- would be insensitive to their natural purpose.

Victoria's Secret responded by saying it has a policy permitting women to nurse their babies in their stores. A company spokesperson apologized for the incidents and said that the employees had behaved inappropriately.

Although 38 states currently have laws on the books protecting nursing mothers from indecent exposure charges and validating their right to nurse in public, 12 do not. It is not uncommon for breastfeeding moms to be treated as though they are behaving immodestly, according to protestors.
Yeah, Victoria's Secret displays modesty...when it comes to breastFEEDING. This is the same company that has a lingerie fashion show on network television. There was, btw, outrage for that the first time. But nothing much after the subsequent ones which reportedly were more revealing.

Oh, and be careful. The link goes to Daily News Central...the Health Section. And has a sultry picture on it. Honestly which one is closer to the threshold of offensive? The first one in this post (which is surrounded in controversy) or the one on DNC:

Or this one on breastfeeding.com's article about the BabyTalk cover controversy

Now why is there this schitzophrenia? Great question. My theory is twofold.
First, the often offended (likely offended by ALL of these pictures) are mistaking prudishness for modesty.

The second part of the theory is that there are two very strong (but small) groups fighting for American societal mores control. On the one side is the aforementioned often-offended who would prefer full coverage all the time (even at the public swimming pool). On the other hand is the group that thinks the above pictures are far too tame. They would not have a problem with public nudity and public sex anywhere, anytime.

The missing part is common sense. J Lo & Lil' Kim should have been chastised for their appearal. (Honestly I can understand the differentiation between the MTV attire vs the Grammys and Oscars attire...cable vs network. I don't agree, but I understand it and leave it to a place where reasonable people can disagree.) Each of the above breastfeeding pictures are, well, innocuous. Would I have a problem with my nieces or nephews viewing those? Nope. Why? Because that is the natural part of life, no different from them eating.

There is a reason the United States has a sexual assault rate problem.
The United States has the highest rape rate among countries which report such statistics. It is 4 times higher than that of Germany, 13 times higher than that of England and 20 times higher than that of Japan.
While I was in Germany (my high school years) I discovered that toplessness was no big deal. Where men could be topless so too could women. Ads had no worries about breasts being exposed. And amazingly there was not a big deal. It was Americans who were doing the staring. Not the Germans and not the Americans who were there for any amount of time. Desentisization? Maybe to a degree. But also there is not a taboo the drives curiosity. There is not secrecy that creates an overreacting fascination.

Are you confused about the controversy? Good. You should be. There is no logic behind any of it.

Bring common sense into the picture and it can get much clearer.

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Blogger TKls2myhrt said...

This was a very good commentary on the topic. I nursed my two kids for longer than I admit to strangers, so the cover was refreshing to see. I'm OK with the dual nature of breasts God seems to have established. The things people choose to have hang-ups about never ceases to amaze!

August 07, 2006  
Blogger annelise said...

Now that you brought God into the subject, ever wonder why He covered up Adam and Eve after they sinned? Sure the human body is wonderful, but now that sin affects everything, God chose to cover it up after the fall.
My mom breast fed five children and no one ever saw her breasts except my dad, and she even did it in church.
I am sick and tired of the pornographic soceity we live in and now breast feeding has fallen to that level. I don't consider that progress. Nothing wrong with breast feeding in public, as long as the breast is not exposed. A breast is a breast whether it is feeding a baby or a sexual attraction. The form has not changed, just the function. And it is still a breast.

December 09, 2007  

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