I was so disgusted when I saw the cover of TIME – meant only to shock and provoke – that it has brought me out of my semi-retirement from this blog. Boy, kind of thought this was a thing of the past, but lo! Our grotesque patriarchal society is alive and well and seeking to repress and oppress women. This, the same election season where (yet more hysterical) Republicans are waging a war on women, TIME decides to take a side in the parenting/breastfeeding debate. Should you or shouldn’t you, how long should you?
Those of us who adopted the theory of Attachment Parenting, which is a way of rearing children that shuns the modern theories (all written and promoted by men, mind you, seeking to take all of the power away from women – the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world and don’t forget it) and gives everything back to the mother (and the father, if they can dig it). That means co-sleeping, breastfeeding not just for food but for comfort and it means holding your kid a lot more than keeping them away from you – in a crib in a dark room by themselves and left to “cry it out,” or alone in their stroller and made to cry it out. When a baby, still mostly reptilian, reaches out to be held, it is the notion of our society that you would spoil that baby if you picked him or her up. What could more silly?
We evolved to drink water when we were thirsty, to eat when we’re hungry, to seek out others when we’re lonely and yes, babies evolved to want to be held. They need to be held.
Okay, so some attachment parents use child-led weaning; they allow the baby to nurse until they’re ready to let go of it – that they are secure enough so that they no longer need the COMFORT. I stopped my child nursing after 2 1/2 years. I’d had enough and she was fine. She transferred to water and is now a healthy, independent, thoughtful, secure 13 year-old. Watching my daughter evolve into the truly wonderful person she is today makes me completely sold on Attachment Parenting. For life.
But what TIME did was shake a stick at a rattle snake. They tried to gross out the American population with the notion of a “big kid” – he looks, like, 8 – still sucking on the boob. The mom stands there with a “so what!” look on her face and society is put in the position of judging. And judge they do. The comments range from “you’re going to raise a Norman Bates” to “you’ve humiliated that kid for life.” No one looks at it and feels supportive of it – why, because TIME deliberately manipulated and misrepresented what Attachment Parenting is – and it is the most irresponsible thing I’ve ever seen them do.
And in the end it always comes back to blaming the mother. Blame the mom because she is warping society with her sick little ways of wanting to nurse way too long. Blame the mom because she didn’t nurse long enough.
The fact is that every woman SHOULD breast feed if they can. If they can’t, so be it. It is less a “choice” as it is a necessity for the child — remember, the desire to formula feed babies was mostly born out of the need to sell formula. Far more horrifying than the TIME magazine cover was Jennifer Lopez popping out two accessory twins and announcing that she wasn’t going to breast feed them. That was it for her. She had to get back to becoming more famous than anyone ought to be — it’s hard to imagine why she had kids at all. Yet no one really cares about that because the patriarchy has been preserved; J. Lo exists for the pleasure of men, mostly, and for women who long to look like her. The TIME magazine cover is a way of yet again slapping women down and robbing them of the one thing they truly do control: food for babies.
I may never pick up another issue of TIME again.