Anyone see the Time Magazine cover of the woman breastfeeding her four year old? No?
You have now.
Jobs don’t come much more fundamental than genetic gender roles, and this image caused quite the media outrage, which was, of course, was Time’s intent. The reaction to it was concurrently illuminating, entertaining and depressing: breastfeeding a four year old? Comments ranged from ‘good for her!’ and ‘best thing for the kid’ to ‘inappropriate’ to allegations of incest and calls for criminal prosecution.
I’m all for putting the cat amongst the pigeons, as stark hypocrisies tend bubble to the surface enabling us to spot the bad guys, and this little controversy certainly exposed its fair share. But the thing I can’t get over is: where’s the actual harm?
Breastfeeding is a woman’s job. It’s what breasts are for. A society is surely all kinds of messed up if it thinks it’s more okay to feed kids the milk of another species than that of our own. What is it about our culture that deems this so wrong? Are we really this far removed from nature?
So how long should mothers breastfeed for? Medically, doctors recommend until at least the age of two, and as long as possible afterwards, the health and psychological benefits to the kid being of premium concern. For some reason, the consensus in modern western society labels this natural/medical approach creepy, and lambastes women for not weaning the kid off the boob earlier.
I simply cannot fathom where this bias stems from. Anybody know?
I’m not entirely unsympathetic to these unconsidered reactions, by the way; I recoiled a little when I first saw the picture, too. But then I thought about it. Then I read up about it. THEN I proffered an opinion. I think a lot of people would do well to likewise engage their grey matter before vomiting vitriol for all to see.
Better to keep your mouth closed and be thought a fool than open it and remove all doubt.
Mark Twain never said a truer word.
A psychologist, historian, and keen amateur anthropologist, Stefan Abrutat’s humble beginnings working construction in frigid Canadian winters and sweltering Texas summers rewarded him with an insight often lacking in academia: hands-on experience.