Collins Avenue, a reality tv production company is developing a series based on mothers who breastfeed older children. The show was announced just as the controversy over the Time magazine cover showing a three-year-old boy nursing next to the title “Are You Mom Enough?” had died down and with plenty of time to re-sensationalize the topic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) encourages nursing to age 2 and beyond, while the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) suggests nursing till at least 1 year of age. But can the company responsible for the exploitative and maternally manipulative “Dance Moms” really present the idea of breast feeding beyond infancy in any way other than as some moralistically confused and sexually problematic trope? I doubt it.
And that’s a problem, because the reality is many parents navigate the issue of breastfeeding/weaning in a way that promotes healthy familial relationships and makes sense to them and in a culture that insists on sexualizing breasts, even in the name of cancer prevention and treatment, that’s a conversation we desperately need to have. Also, is there any image more likely to whip up a frenzy that a mother with an older child attached to her breast? Misogynists are all to happy to attack these kinds of mothers as the symbol of the many ways feminism is destroying our culture, particularly our masculine culture.
So instead of a nuanced approach to the many ways of successful parenting including extended nursing and child-directed weaning, I’m bracing for a heavy dose of judgment and sanctimony accompanied by an insistence that even when employed in the act of nursing, women’s breasts must be both hidden from view and available for exploitation.
Photo from myllissa via flickr.