Trump World Grab-Bag--A Collection

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Breastfeeding Dolls and Being Female-Bodied (x-posted from Strangely Random Stuff)

There's been a little interest over this baby doll that allows children to play at breastfeeding.  Some people find this a "mature" concept or just intimate or weird. I think these people are really too uptight. Female-bodied women who have given birth can feed their babies with their mammary glands. It's part of being a mammal. It's a scientific fact that this is what boobies are intended for. It's also the best way for most human babies to be fed, for many health reasons. So I'm a little flummoxed when I hear that some people find this to be a controversial toy--it's a doll. Kids like to mirror the behavior of adults, and have been playing with dolls since forever. Breastfeeding is totally natural--so it's natural for a child who is interested in family-oriented play ("house", we called it, when I was a pup), to use a doll to mimic suckling, just as they've used dolls to mimic bottle-feeding.

Is there something weird about the idea of pretending to be a mother when one is not old enough to have children--that suddenly becomes extra-weird when it means imagining one has developed functional mammaries? In other words--is it somehow normal for a child to imagine having a baby (and we adults presumably know where babies come from), and yet not appropriate to play out having the grown-woman's body required to nurture that pretend-baby?

If so--why? I would guess the reason is hypersexualization, myself.  It's altogether possible for people to possess, for example, gender, without it having bearing on their sexuality. Some people are asexual, and some people do not express heteronormative sexual roles. Their sexual selves are something separate from their anatomy alone--which should give some clues about the degree to which attraction/orientation/sexuality is a mental process. And yet socially, some people have a tendency to view secondary sex characteristics, such as the developed mammary, or the reproductive organs themselves, and ascribe to them totally sexual connotations, along with  moral judgements, wholly divorced from their intrinsic realities as, normal parts of people's bodies. Which we can't help, after all. And which aren't even dirty, what with all the in-door plumbing, anymore.

Take, for example, these jerks in Florida, who decided "uterus" was a dirty word. Are uteruses of and by themselves dirty? I have a uterus, and it is very clean. It's low-mileage, and has had regular fluid-changes. The use of the word "uterus" was admonished because one doesn't discuss "body parts".  My left foot, one doesn't! I'm certain a neck or a nose would be totallly acceptable for in-depth discussion. The thing is--

One doesn't discuss female body parts.  That's the problem. Because our bodies are "othered" and sexualized, even though our reproductive functions are quite natural and essential to the continuance of the species. Breastfeeding isn't weird--it's how human women fed their babies throughout all but very recent history. And uteruses aren't dirty--they are, strictly speaking, where babies come from! Socially, we're weird for thinking female body parts are weird, and thinking somehow, children are corrupted (especially female-bodied children!) for knowing about them. 

It's funny how a little criticism about an expensive baby doll reminds one that women and their bodies are sometimes seen as so taboo--we are somehow not even supposed to be educated--about our own bodies! Because who knows what we might do if we knew enough to control our reproduction, sexuality, and knew how to trust ourselves about how to raise our babies. We might...behave like autonomous goal-directed individuals with opinions and such. We might raise our kids with more positivity and less fear. We might even stop freaking out when watching kids play with dolls. Anything could happen.

As it is, I never did play "house" with dolls myself. My dolls were usually "patients" when I played "doctor". When playing "house", I wanted to be the "childless aunt who travels and just gives really great presents" (true story!) But I really don't think grown-up hang-ups should harsh kids' mellows about how to play--especially when they learn how to be adults by watching--us!

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