There’s a new advertising poster up in Manchester, and the country is abuzz. Here are some excerpts from the complaints:
…The picture is shocking and it isn’t normal…
… the sort of picture that a paedophile would show a kid…
…poison their minds…
…sexualising of children…
…such a disturbing image of a child…
….inappropriate and unnecessary…
The picture is below the cut. Stop to think for a moment about what it might be.
**[No trigger warning required.]**
The poster that drew this outrage was this one.
A picture of a toddler pretending to breastfeed a doll. No skin is showing. The poster is headed “It’s Normal”, and the caption on the toddler picture is “Children copy their mothers”.
The Manchester Evening News explains in ‘Breastfeeding’ tot storm
It was put up in a children’s ward at Rochdale Infirmary – which has won prestigious Baby Friendly status – as part of a campaign for National Breastfeeding Week. [..]
Deborah Winter, 39, who spotted the poster when she was visiting her grandson, called it `disgusting’. She said: “The picture is shocking and it isn’t normal. Children copy their parents but I don’t think any little girls should be breastfeeding their dolls.” [...]
Coun Jean Ashworth, who works as a healthcare assistant at the hospital, said: “The picture is highly offensive. We all know breast is best but they are going overboard.
I really hope this healthcare assistant isn’t allowed anywhere near women and children.
Councillor Jean Ashworth, who works as a healthcare assistant at the Infirmary, said the move was the latest in a string of unpopular measures to promote breastfeeding.
“The picture is highly offensive and everyone is up in arms about it,” she said.
And from Rochdale Online:
A mother and patient at the hospital to did not want to be named, says picture is “depraved” and fears it could be seen by “the wrong people.”
Councillor Jean Ashworth, who is a healthcare assistant at Rochdale Infirmary, says she is offended by the image.
She said: “Promoting breastfeeding is fine, but this is just offensive. “I wonder where it will stop, if these are the lengths the Trust will go to. I am in no way against mums who want to breast feed at all, but I think to see such a disturbing image of a child like that is inappropriate and unnecessary.”
Some of the less supportive comments:
I have never seen a child mimic breast feeding in this way. There are of course children who mimic sex acts, swear and use violence. What next, a child posing unrolling a condom. [RT]
It is exploitation that is being shown to the masses. It is the sort of picture that a paedophile would show a kid to say look it is ok to do that because it is what grown ups/mothers do. What next. Some people prefer to let children know things at the right time. … Leave breast feeding to the grown ups. [Esso Blue]
No its not its children being shown how adults do things.This is why children grow up to quickly,what is next children pretending to have sex to show them how adults have sex. Let children grow up before we start to poison their minds with adult business. [Ace Shakespeare]
Should we have male contraceptive posters on children’s wards? I think not. [...] I find it a bit weird. Should kids be thinking about being mothers at that age? Early sexualisation of kids is wrong. [CorneredAllTheLuck]
whilst although breastfeeding is perfectly normal and natural, it is wrong to show a child breast feeding. this is because it demonstrates the sexualising of children far too early in life. [...] Children should not be bombarded with adult issues at an early age. [scaryfairy]
Pictures showing similarly adult material that have, apparently, drawn no complaints about being “offensive” or “disgusting”:
I’ll leave you with a gorgeous vintage postcard from 1915. Description at the page:
“A cute little girl feeding her doll. “ We won’t starve out”.
Who knew we didn’t invent in the noughties the concept of children caring for dolls the same way they have seen babies cared for?
[News link courtesy of JakeAryehMarcus of Sustainable Mothering, via twitter]
ETA 26 May 2009: Welcome Daily Mail readers, and please note that the “journalist” misattributed the quoted statement used in their article: it was made by a contributor elsewhere and quoted here for the purpose of criticism. Please read the greeting below regarding our comments policy etc.
ETA 23 May 2009: Hi, Salon folks, and welcome to Hoyden About Town! Please check out our comments policy. If you’re interested in some of my previous writing on breastfeeding and feminism, just whack ‘breastfeeding’ into the search box in the sidebar in the middle column.