I admit, I’m confounded about the “controversy” regarding a European doll that is about to enter the American market. To me, it’s about as controversial as buying your daughter a bike. We've talked a little about the controversy on Empower and I just don’t get it.
The very nature of having a doll is to nurture. While we may throw other toys around like balls and Frisbees, or use movement and competition with trains, cars or board games, dolls are specifically designed for feeding, dressing, putting to sleep and make-believe care-giving.
And so, our dolls fake pee in their diapers, pretend to cry via batteries and some can even move around gently. Many dolls have a tiny rounded mouth so a pretend bottle fits in it. These new babies about to enter the market are the same as any other doll except they are made for pretend breastfeeding.
Most of the outrage states that this doll doesn’t allow girls a childhood. Why must we introduce such a thing to young girls when they should remain innocent for the few years of childhood they get? We must ask ourselves, how does breastfeeding take away innocence? There is no sexual aspect to breastfeeding and unless we adults can’t separate sex from breasts, there shouldn’t be an issue.
The problem is that breastfeeding is seen by some people as some kind of adult oriented action with a sexual component. And it’s a sad state of affairs when we pass along our own hang-ups and hysteria on our children. Because it’s we adults who take away our children’s innocence in this regard – not the cute little doll and certainly not the young girls themselves. If breastfeeding is putting pressure on girls to nurse, isn't bottle feeding doing the same thing but with formula?
There are more reasons why "regular" dolls can be worse. In fact, dolls for boys often include monsters, violent hit men and killer soldiers armed with guns, knives and bombs. If any dolls might take away innocence, it’s surely those. But since we’re taking breasts, we know those are the real enemy, right? Those soft features on a woman’s body that will surely ruin a girls childhood if they are ever included as a feature on a doll. Because it’s all well and good to put a pretend bottle in a doll baby’s mouth and show a little girl how to change her diaper and rock her to sleep. But to pretend to nurse will destroy the simplicity in her life (ironically breastfeeding is far more simple that bottle-feeding). It’s forcing her – pressuring her – for the years ahead.
The few dolls my daughters have are either bottle fed ones or have no feeding option at all. But when I do get them the breastfeeding doll (and I will), the great thing will be showing my daughters that there are many ways to feed a baby and the option is theirs – if they want kids at all.
There won’t be hang-ups in our home and they won’t bat an eyelid at the fact that they can hold their baby close to their chests with a cute flower substituting for a breast. If they think it’s cute and sweet and nurturing, why are we adults being so dramatic? Why is Bill O’Reilly making such negative comments and expressing such outrage?
In a country where we make thong underwear for seven year olds and many thousands of toddlers and young girls are trotted out in full make-up and bikinis so that grown men can judge how they look, a breast-feeding doll pales in comparison.
But we have traded in real life for fantasy. We have normalized childhood obesity with days and weeks spent in virtual worlds of Second Life, World of Warcraft and hundreds of other places our kids go that don't have much to do with the real world. If our young daughters aren't fat, they are worried they will be (and hey, breastfeeding can help with obesity for both mother and child but we'd prefer to call it puppy fat, even when she's nine years old), but that fact might be controversial too!
So my advice is to focus on our children's health and education and enjoying a childhood without parents fighting a paper tiger. Stop fussing over a small doll whose only crime is that she gives young girls a real-life glance into motherhood, if that's what they are into.
And yes, outraged people of America, that can include breastfeeding, and I promise your child won't delve into promiscuity and moral corruption if a breastfeeding doll enters your world. In fact, it just might educate and empower her to know that she can grow up to do pretty much anything without squeamish, close-minded grown-ups getting in her way. And isn't it a bit funny that as all the adults bicker and fight, the girls will probably be having a blast with their new doll? Unaware that somehow their new little addition could freak Mom or Dad out.
Is it all this simple? To me it is, but we adults love to complicate everything. Let's not forget we have a choice to simply not buy one. It's a doll, folks - a doll. She doesn't have pins to stick in it, she doesn't have racist, sexist sayings on her clothes or say cruel things or bully. She's merely a replica of a small baby, incorporating all a small baby needs. And my girls can't wait to get one.