Saturday, May 12, 2012

my stance on the TIME Magainze insanity

okay you knew it was coming. I was going to have to write a blog post about this. I just cannot deal with it anymore. 

Let's get the disclaimers out of the way:

1. The copy on the front of this magazine is horrible. "Are you MOM ENOUGH" is ridiculous and unfair. There is no such thing as being "mom enough" and breastfeeding doesn't change that. It is SO wrong of this article to pose that question and to by extension suggest that if you aren't nursing your child (at all or for an extended period of time) that you aren't "mom enough". Wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong, wrong.

2. The way this photo is posed is just absurd and on the whole, the photo is staged for ultimate Shock Value*. The model is petite and her son is very large which makes him look far older than three years old. Also, this is obviously not at all a "traditional" breastfeeding position to be in. I don't know about you but I have never nursed my toddler while he's perched on a chair. Sure, toddlers are acrobatic in their nursing however this is outlandish. Not to mention that the toddler is dressed like a teenager. 

*however, I would like to say that I hope that someday I live in a world where a mother nursing her toddler is NEVER shocking.*

Anyway, all of these things were done by TIME Magazine to sensationalize their the subject. Like a predator, they went in for the kill and they did it in a big way. I fully believe that their intention was to cause drama. Which, fine, good for them, it sells magazines in an era when magazine sales are on the decline but it sucks to be a mother in the middle of this shitstorm that they have created. Furthermore it especially sucks to be a nursing mother in all of this and it especially, especially sucks to be an attachment parenting nursing mother in the middle of it all. So that's why I am writing.

So I have come to chime in here because I feel like if I don't I will literally explode. 

See, the Internet has always had this dramatic "mommy war" going on about parenting. Co-sleeping vs. CIO (Cry It Out), Breastfeeding vs. Formula Feeding, Attachment Parenting vs. Mainstream Parenting. Whatever. You name it, the internet has found a way to make it dramatic. 

My stance has always been and always will continue to be that mothers should support mothers. Women should support women. And, call me idealistic but people should support each other. 

We live in a world where CRAZY SHIT HAPPENS every single day. There are people walking into schools with GUNS and SHOOTING CHILDREN. There are men kidnapping young girls and locking them in sheds where they spend YEARS as personal sex slaves. There are people putting out cigarettes on their kids arms and worse. And yet here we are having a big old freak out because this mother is still nursing her almost four year old child. 

Are you kidding me?

I just don't understand how someone who feels that extended breastfeeding is right for her can get THIS much backlash. How is that even possible? She's just FEEDING HER CHILD. What in the ever living hell is wrong with that?

And what exactly is "extended breastfeeding" you ask? Well, I'll tell you, fascinated blog readers: Extended Breastfeeding is basically defined as breastfeeding your child after one year. YES that's right - ONE YEAR. You know, those tiny little 12 month old babies who can barely walk and who can't talk yet? If you keep nursing them it apparently gets to be called "extended breastfeeding". Welp, as someone who is still nursing an 18 month old, I suppose I qualify as a mother who is nursing for an extended period of time although to be honest, I feel like I'm just nursing and that's it, no quantifier required. (and let's remember the American Pediatric Association suggests nursing until age 2).

Since this article has come out, the response has been overwhelming and awful. Hatred, insults, and disgust have been common responses. I myself have been called crazy for suggesting that it is okay that this woman nurse her child and that she practice Attachment Parenting. Further, it's been insinuated that nursing an older toddler is disgusting and borderline abusive. ABUSIVE!? WHAT THE HELL??

I have to stop right there because the irony of it all just astounds me. See, nursing a child is an experience that is quite literally on the opposite end of the spectrum from abuse. Seriously. If they could make a chart which contained atrocities on one end and loving acts on the other, breastfeeding your child would be on the polar opposite from molestation and abuse. It is quite literally the OPPOSITE experience. I cannot stress that enough. This child in the photo above is being LOVED not abused. And while I question his mother's right to exploit his image in this way without his consent i know that her endeavor to continue nursing him is a loving act. And I know that she did this to try and normalize breastfeeding. Which is honestly an insane phrase anyway if you think about it. How is it possible that our society has reached a point where breastfeeding - THE MOST NATURAL ACT IN THE WORLD - needs to be normalized??

And let me just add this because it fully needs to be said: people who sexualize breastfeeding have a LOT of issues of their own that they are projecting onto a beautiful act that has NOTHING to do with sex. Let's repeat: People who sexualize breastfeeding have issues of THEIR OWN that they are bringing to the table. Breastfeeding has NOTHING to do with sex. And newsflash: BREASTS ARE MADE FOR FEEDING CHILDREN. I know you'd never be able to tell this from our crazy culture that we're in but breasts are NOT just items for men to play with. They actually serve a REAL purpose here and that purpose FIRST AND FOREMOST is to FEED CHILDREN. Ahhhh!

And really quickly I need to move on and address the issue of Attachment Parenting, which is what this article pretends to be about. Attachment Parenting is the other thing that is coming under attack here and that's crazy too because just like anything else about parenting styles: it's NO ONE'S DAMN BUSINESS. 

As long as there isn't abuse or mistreatment of a child involved people need to be allowed to parent however they want and that's that. No one outside of a therapy session or a courtroom gets to tell anyone else that they're parenting wrong. 'Nuff said. 

Attachment Parenting is based on the concepts laid out by Dr. Sears. He believes in three basic principals of parenting: Breastfeeding (gasp - extended breastfeeding at that!), co-sleeping and babywearing. That's it. People who follow those behaviors and who believe in attending to the needs of their children first and foremost are Attachment Parents. There's more to it than that and maybe someday I'll write a post further detailing it all but that's the basic gist of it. 

However TIME Magazine jumped on the concept of Attachment Parenting because they sniffed around online and saw that there were a lot of debates involved on the Mommy Message Boards about co-sleeping and breastfeeding and whatever else. They decided to imply that if you don't do these things you aren't "MOM ENOUGH" because they knew that the vast majority of people DON'T parent this way and it would stir the proverbial pot and generate a lot of buzz. 

Well I applaud you TIME for a job well done but I hope you know that Karma is only a Bitch if you are so I'm fully expecting you to get dicked over sometime in the near future. 

There's no such thing as being Mom Enough. There's no Right Way to parent and there is nothing wrong with breastfeeding whether you do it for an extended period of time or not. And just for posterity's sake, there's nothing wrong with NOT breastfeeding either. 

We're all just parents. We all want what's BEST for our kids. We all want them to be healthy and happy and nurtured. We want to raise strong, independent, functioning members of society and we need to build each other up, not tear each other down on our journeys to just survive parenthood and have our children become good people. 

Let's get back to the things that REALLY matter: the violence and drugs on the streets, the poverty in our OWN nation, the fact that school programs are being CUT every single day and that people are being told they AREN'T ALLOWED to marry those that they love. These are REAL issues, guys. Not how long someone lets her child breastfeed. Get a grip and quit being so damn judgmental. No one is perfect but at least we're all doing the best we can.

1 comment:

Raquel said...

TIME magazine is practically on life support, so I'm not shocked that they purposely did something so incendiary to try and boost sales.

I have a real problem with the headline, as you pointed out, because it pits moms in competition with each other (and also implies that not being a mom makes you less of a woman). I also have a real problem with the unnatural photo pose and the lack of diversity in the mothers photographed in the article. I wish they'd had more diversity of families included, more natural poses that show how natural and healthy breastfeeding is, and a kinder, inclusive headline. But rationality doesn't sell magazines.

I don't have any problems with people parenting their children however they wish. As you stated, it's no one's business outside of the family (and hired professionals like doctors and therapists)! So long as a child is not neglected or abused, and so long as other people aren't harmed in some way by it, what should it matter to others? Unless a mom takes a baseball bat to someone else's head or leaves her child's soiled diaper in someone else's lap, or actively puts her child in harm's way, why should we get up in arms?

I wish the article hadn't been presented in such a purposefully incendiary way because it could have been a real educational tool to open a civil discussion about varying parenting methods. Instead it's just caused a lot of outrage and reactions that are about anything but the subject matter.

This is a well-thought and well-expressed blog post. I agree with everything you've said and just wish this whole situation hadn't played out this way. What a wasted opportunity for increased awareness and mutual support.