It Takes Two

In college I decided that if I had a little girl I would look forward to teaching her to respect herself, to think of herself as an equal, and to determinedly pursue her career dreams.

Now I hear mothers of girls saying things like, "I want my daughter to know she doesn't need to dress slutty/can do what she wants with her career/must go to college, etc., especially since she is a girl."

This bothers me a little. As a girl myself, I have spent a little time blaming men for degrading women, for ogling them on the covers of smutty magazines, for cheating on them, for paying their female employees less than their male counterparts, etc etc.

I hate cliches, but I'll use a partial one here. Equality is a two-way street. Gender equality will happen when both genders respect each other, see the equal value in each other, and all that other good stuff.

So I am not going to just raise my boys to be good people and assume that girls' parents will keep their girls pure and all... Charlie and Will shall know about their responsibilities regarding birth control; will hear me use both "he" and "she" pronouns when referring to a gender-neutral person (as in "the fireman wears her fire hat"); will have their use of arcade games with skanky chicks on sidelines severely limited; will be encouraged to follow their career dreams, even if that dream involves writing poetry, painting pictures, working at McDonald's, or some other thing that precludes them from bringing home most of the bacon; will never be scolded or shamed when they cry or show emotion; will know about the real names of female and male body parts; will be accepted and loved regardless of their sexual orientation; and will know all about conception, labor and delivery, and breastfeeding, so that they are not clueless husbands when they someday get married, if they choose to do so.

My boys are gonna be a real catch.


It is just a boob.

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This article
in Babytalk magazine created quite a stir because its cover featured a breastfeeding baby. Readers--most of whom are parents of infants--were offended by the profile of the partial boob. The boob that was feeding the baby attached to it.

The magazine has received over 700 letters from readers in response to the cover.

Why are we offended by the sight of a breast? Why?? A breast's primary purpose is to feed a baby, and it has done a marvelous job since the dawn of time. When did we become embarrassed by our body's ability to do this? I can only assume that hundreds of years ago, women did not cover up with receiving blankets. I assume in Africa today women do not cover up. Why is this an issue here? Now?

The article reported that a survey done by the American Dietetic Association revealed that fewer than half of respondents believed women should have a right to breastfeed in public. That means that when you are feeding your baby at the mall, roughly 60% of the people who catch you doing such a deed think you should be doing it in a public restroom. Or at home, or in the car.

Here is the main part that bothered me: one of the readers said she hid the magazine so that her 13 year-old son and husband would not see the picture. Presumably, this cover is the equivalent to her of a pornographic picture. I feel that hiding such a picture sends the message that breastfeeding is, in fact, a sexual or weird or indecent thing to do. Why else would it be hidden? Why not leave the article out for a child or teen to see? Maybe it will provoke some meaningful discussion.

In spite of my obvious opinion on this issue, I would like to hear what you think of it, whether or not you have breastfed before. Please reply with a comment:
Is this picture offensive to you?
Why do you think so many Americans are offended by breastfeeding in public?
Is this picture sexual in nature to you?

This web page said it much better than me:
I don't have a penis, but I get to wear make-up
Sometimes I don't know how to answer Charlie's toddler questions, so this is how our conversations can go. The other day he saw me putting on my make-up.
Charlie: "Mommy, can I have some?"
Me: "No. Only girls wear make-up."
Him: "Charlie a boy, And Josh and Matt and Mike boys? And mommy girl?"
Me: "Yes, that's right."
Him: "Mommy, can I have some of that?"
Me: "No, only girls wear this too. Boys don't wear make-up, but they do have penises."
Him: "Oh. I have a penis, and mommy, you don't have one."

Later he was checking himself out, and he said, "Mommy, what's this?"
Me: "Um, your testicles."
Charlie: "What they for?"
Me: "For making babies later on."
Charlie: "Oh. Babies like me!"