Monday, August 10th, 2009
Breastfeeding doll brings out the worst in people
Alternate title: What’s all the fuss?
I was delighted by a DaddyTypes headline last week: Thingamababy Totally OWNS The Baby Gloton Breastfeeding Doll Story, BTW.
It’s because I woke up one day and realized some obscure thing I found and blogged about weeks ago was suddenly a big deal. A few sites credited me with the story initially, but for the most part Thinga was long forgotten.
Heck, when the Mail Online reported the story it even used my screenshots from the manufacturer’s website (I know because I sanitized parts of a distracting background) and it quoted Thingamababy commenters (without crediting any of you, of course). Sorry Fullet, AC89 and Lacy, you lost your 15 minutes of fame. And Carrie was plain robbed for this great quote: “This isn’t gross. What’s gross is a doll that poops.”
I enjoy being the first blogger to profile an unusual product, and often use a Google sequential blog date search to check whether I’m rehashing old news. So I was happy when I found the Bebé Glotón doll announcement on some Spanish-language media sites, virtually unknown in the English-speaking world, and I wrote about it on July 13th. (Sorry for not posting the above video earlier. It was web-published by the manufacturer 10 days later.)
Except, by the time traditional media picked up the story it had become a “controversial” doll. Like, say, KTLA’s Breast-Feeding Baby Doll Causes Outrage report which seems like the reporter went out on the street, told people about the doll, and filmed those who found it unacceptable.
What’s interesting is that the comment thread on Thinga’s article was mostly civil while first-time visitors arrived from other blogs. When the national media attention hit, along with news stories pitching a “controversy,” the wingnuts started arriving at Thingamababy in droves thanks to some good placement in Google search results.
I’ve closed down threads a few times where arguments have started (once or twice between dueling product inventors), but for the first time this baby doll stirred ongoing censorship of a comment thread.
It’s not something I like to do, but it became obvious that many of these folks are not parents, will never become members of the community here and won’t be visiting again after posting their hate-filled rants. If I didn’t just tell you that now, you’d never know because these are indeed one-time-ranters.
What do I mean by ranting? Oh, let’s count the evils of a breastfeeding doll:
- It promotes teen pregnancy.
- It inappropriately stimulates girls.
- It causes gender confusion in boys.
- It will be purchased by pedophiles.
- It teaches girls a skill they shouldn’t know for years to come.
- [Anti-Catholic rant about birth control, just one person, but still...]
And some fun quotes:
- “Kids should not be taught grown up people things.”
- “Pointless,” “stupid,” “dumb,” “repulsive,” “corrupting young minds”
- “What r we teaching our children that its ok 2 lift ur shirt n try 2 feed sum1 or thing?” [Oh yes, there's a whole texting contingent of ranters]
- “It’s Obama’s fault for allowing this to be manufactured.”
- “If the doll is natural because breastfeeding is natural, why don’t we just give all the children in the world sex toys?”
- “I don’t want [my daughter] to even think about breastfeeding until she is pregnant, which will hopefully be when she is 28-years-old and ready to ask me about raising a baby then.”
- “It’s sick!” (That phrase came up many times in comments about “you people.”)
- And, of course, expletives and exclamation points.
My biggest disappointment is in not being able to point a finger at a particular news outlet for driving these clueless people here. Perhaps a few come from parenting websites, but most seem to simply be googling for the doll and looking for a place to vent. It’s easier to cast blame than to be introspective and figure out why you hate yourself.
Let’s be real. Lots of parents give their kids dolls and it’s not considered strange. Toy manufacturers make all sorts of dolls that pee and talk and otherwise electronically simulate a real baby. It’s over-the-top unnecessary, but still a mainstream idea.
So, if a mother breastfeeds, it’s normal and innocent to buy a doll that simulates breastfeeding.
Now, I didn’t give me daughter dolls. As if that means anything. My daughter embraced stuffed animals and even nursed Costco receipts. A doll that makes suckling sounds may not be necessary, but it’s normal in the grand scheme of things. Children emulate their parents, so give them good things to emulate.
Don’t sweat it. Kids grow out of it. Emulation play doesn’t last long. Pretty soon they’ll be emulating your routine behaviors and adopting your beliefs, so best you stop hating the world and learn to live and let live, for the sake of your kids.