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.)

By August the doll was being discussed on the Today Show, Conan O’Brien, Fox & Friends and who knows where else. (I don’t actually watch TV.)

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:

  1. It promotes teen pregnancy.
  2. It inappropriately stimulates girls.
  3. It causes gender confusion in boys.
  4. It will be purchased by pedophiles.
  5. It teaches girls a skill they shouldn’t know for years to come.
  6. [Anti-Catholic rant about birth control, just one person, but still...]

And some fun quotes:

  1. “Kids should not be taught grown up people things.”
  2. “Pointless,” “stupid,” “dumb,” “repulsive,” “corrupting young minds”
  3. “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]
  4. “It’s Obama’s fault for allowing this to be manufactured.”
  5. “If the doll is natural because breastfeeding is natural, why don’t we just give all the children in the world sex toys?”
  6. “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.”
  7. “It’s sick!” (That phrase came up many times in comments about “you people.”)
  8. 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.

My Opinion

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.

Comments

18 Responses to “Breastfeeding doll brings out the worst in people”

  1. RobMonroe says:

    Wow – times are insane when the POTUS gets blamed for a children’s toy.

    I think it is a bit weird, but then so is having my daughter “teach” her peeing doll to use a potty in an effort to potty train.

    Oh well.

    August 10th, 2009 at 6:45 am

  2. Ameya says:

    Wow. I literally hate every single one of those people. The dumb… IT BURNS!!

    August 10th, 2009 at 6:57 am

  3. Marie says:

    I saw an aticle on this doll, and laughed, thinking of your original post. And for what it’s worth, my daughter has tried to breast feed everything from her stuffed animals to toy trucks to dolls to her baby brother. always out of her belly button, but whatever.

    August 10th, 2009 at 9:26 am

  4. adrienne says:

    Wow.

    I thought the doll was lame, but only because I have never had an affinity for dolls- especially ones that can make demands.

    Teen pregnancy? Stimulation? Pedophiles?

    I just don’t understand how people crusading for virtue can let their own minds perpetually reside in the gutter. This kind of detailed criticism exposes an imaginative perversity that is disturbing in its own right.

    August 10th, 2009 at 9:54 am

  5. Kimberly says:

    Hmmmm, wow. I do admit that the original story made it to a private mom’s group I am part of. But they were mostly discussing how unnecessary a doll like this is when their kids “nursed” their stuffed animals and regular baby dolls. And they thought the nipple pasties were a big tacky.

    I like how the outrage totally ignores that if they feel this way about this doll, they should feel the same way about any doll that promotes feeding and care taking (via bottle and gross potty training lessions).

    Not to turn this into a bottle feeding vs. breastfeeding debate, but it IRRITATES me that these people don’t have a problem with girls (and boys) practice feeding with a bottle, but whoa OMG you feed your pretend baby with what human mammals are supposed to feed offspring with and suddenly it is controversial.

    August 10th, 2009 at 10:15 am

  6. Shannon says:

    I think that’s a very sad commentary on the fact that breastfeeding is accepted in many European countries (where the doll is made) but viewed as gross and shameful here in the United States.

    August 10th, 2009 at 12:09 pm

  7. F. says:

    Shannon, I don’t think breastfeeding is viewed as gross and shameful in the United States. However, the American public does sexualize breasts to a degree the rest of the world views with amusement.

    I have lived more than half my life overseas and agree hyper sexualization of breasts is a very American thing. I remember reading a post somewhere online in which someone opined that Americans need to stop thinking of breasts as objects as lust and think of them as ‘magical milk things’.

    I hope that person is successful in their campaign to change the American perception. I think that she has a real challenge ahead.

    Someone sent me this link yesterday and I think it sums up the American POV perfectly:
    http://www.cracked.com/funny-212-boobs/

    It makes it seem like a hint of breasts, nipple or cleavage makes the average American guy feel very aroused. If this were true, I can understand why it would make people feel uncomfortable with a doll sucking the flower teats of a little girl and/or why they think breastfeeding should be done in privacy or under a smock.

    August 10th, 2009 at 1:38 pm

  8. Shannon says:

    Sorry F., I did overgeneralize. I am a breastfeeding mother and know many, many people who see breastfeeding as perfectly natural, and not gross or shameful (myself included).

    Reading through all the comments on the original post though, I was angered to see how many people see breasts as strictly sexual objects, and object to publicizing breastfeeding. The general American opinion seems be that breastfeeding should be done in private, whereas in many other countries, it is acceptable to breastfeed your child whenever and wherever s/he is hungry.

    I’m glad that the message is getting out more and more that breastfeeding is healthy and natural, but it seems to me that there is still a long way to go in educating the American public.

    August 10th, 2009 at 4:36 pm

  9. F. says:

    I used to work in a law firm that specialized in immigration and it wasn’t unusual for a Latina client to bring her baby and breast feed.

    New staff’s reactions always suprised me. I couldn’t count the times I heard at lunch time something like, “…and then the client WHIPPED her TIT out and stuck it right in the baby’s mouth. Then the baby was like SLURPING on it. I couldn’t concentrate at all.”

    These weren’t kids. They were adults, and usually well educated ones. Older women while not so vocal, often expressed discomfort over what I believe was their perception of ‘immodesty’.

    It was kind of amusing, sad and scary all at once (the reactions, not the breastfeeding). I don’t know how to fully account for what seemed to be exaggerated responses, but I think for many of them it was the first time in their adult lives seeing a breast outside of Playboy, the internet or the bedroom.

    So yes, I agree that Americans have a long, looong way to go. Maybe another generation?

    BTW, the video was adorable and AJ’s daughter nursing the Costco receipt was hilarious.

    August 10th, 2009 at 5:57 pm

  10. Miss X says:

    #4 really made me laugh out loud!

    I have to admit I was a bit disturbed by the video. And I’m all for mothers breastfeeding wherever/whenever necessary.

    August 10th, 2009 at 8:28 pm

  11. Emily says:

    My husband recently saw a news article about this doll. I believe he saw it on the Fox News you linked to in this article. Their article was very negative. At first I wasn’t sure what to think about a breastfeeding doll… I breastfed both of my girls and my oldest breastfed all of her dolls while I was nursing her younger sister, and that just seems very natural for me to see a young child trying to nurse their dolls. When I first saw the article I thought the the halter top fit like a bra, and you lift the flowers to expose the little girl’s chest beneath. (The first paragraph of the Fox article states “The halter top has daisies that cover the little girls’ nipples and come undone just as easily as the flaps of a nursing bra would.”) That’s what I had a problem with. But then I realized that’s not at all how it’s intended, and that it just fits over the little girls’ shirt. My husband is very supportive of this kind of doll, and after giving it some thought, so am I. Breastfeeding is completely natural, and why not give our little girls dolls they can pretend to breast feed? My youngest daughter has been wanting an 18″ doll lately, (fortunately she doesn’t know about the name brand ones, she wants one from Target), but when she saw this video she said she’d rather have this doll. I had to disappoint my poor little girl and tell her they aren’t being sold in the States. :-) In any case, I think these dolls are a great idea. There’s nothing sexual about it. I am more offended by dolls that always come with bottles, as that is just not natural. *lol* Anyway, I am one of those who found this site from a google search on bebe gloton. And after reading through several of your posts, I must say I’m hooked! I’ll definitely be checking back regularly.

    August 10th, 2009 at 9:52 pm

  12. Summer says:

    I was surfing the web last week and noticed articles on it – and they almost seemed to mimic yours. My first thought was – AJ posted that first no fair! I guess the good thing is it got your blog some national attention (or at least hopefully).

    But its amazing how many people have totally different opinions because they grew up differently.

    Now I’m not a huge fan of the doll, but to each is own. I’m also not Obama’s #1 fan, (there is good and bad), but I definitely DON’T think he should be blamed for the manufacturing of a doll from Spain that wasn’t manufactured here! Does Obama even know Spanish?! Just kidding it seemed to fit with the absurd comments. Ridiculous!

    Great job AJ on being the first to blog on this product!

    August 11th, 2009 at 5:30 am

  13. My Boaz's Ruth says:

    I’m all for breastfeeding, and it doesn’t bother me when folk breastfeed modestly in public. (I’ve seen a couple of cases where the person seems to be making a point of being as “In your face” as possible when breastfeeding and yeah, that bothered me. But they were TRYING to bother people.

    But this doll still bothered me. I don’t mind my kids “breastfeeding” their dolls. But I mind the halter top over the shirt with fake nipples that might draw the eye of folk who I don’t want looking at my kids in that way. But then, I wouldn’t let my kids get shirts that had eyes in those places or whatever either, for the same reason.

    As for why bottlefeeding is not a problem — bottlefeeding does not draw attention to the little girl’s chest the way that top does.

    August 11th, 2009 at 5:50 am

  14. Genie says:

    A friend of mine has a PHD in animal psychology something or nother… anyways, she was working at a major zoo where they had a few baboons. One of the baboons had just had a baby and was feeding the baby – by nursing. The zoo got so many complaints about the nursing mom that they actually had staff meetings and even considered taking the animals off of display! They finally decided that while disturbing to some people, a nursing baboon was as natural as it comes and that people who find it upsetting really needed to be educated a bit. This example just shows how far the anti-nursing thing goes for Americans and why they get even more upset at humans nursing and little girls copying their mothers… I’m glad that there is a doll like this and after all the too doo over it – may one day buy it for my little girl.

    August 11th, 2009 at 1:35 pm

  15. dayna says:

    I am surprised someone never thought of actually creating this idea sooner.

    August 11th, 2009 at 3:07 pm

  16. Mary says:

    I’m mixed about the doll itself. Honestly, a little girl (or boy) emulating their mother can do so with a plain doll just fine. The electronics are unnecessary and so is the halter top. All the extras sometimes take away from what the imagination is already capable of.

    But in the overall scheme of things, I think a breastfeeding doll has its merits because it promotes something natural and loving. Something that deserves to be recognized.

    My husband at first was a bit freaked out by it. I then explained to him about children naturally emulating their parents – such as when my son put a breast pump to his chest when I was still nursing my daughter. He then agreed that it may not be that bad of an idea.

    Both of us would prefer to let our children use their imaginations instead, though.

    August 11th, 2009 at 9:35 pm

  17. Noreen says:

    I have no problem with the doll but the strap on nursing bra thing is a little wierd as are the eyelashes on the doll

    August 11th, 2009 at 11:22 pm

  18. adrienne says:

    Hey, guess what just hit the US news? Bebe Gluton/The Breast Milk Baby.

    Just 3 YEARS after your post.

    http://news.yahoo.com/breastfeeding-baby-doll-creepy-groundbreaking-183301828.html;_ylt=Aip2raKvXozckQNc5La1QhQJVux_;_ylu=X3oDMTIydmg4bDJsBG1pdANBVFQgSG9tZSBXaWRnZXRyb24gVGVzdCAxBHBvcwMzNwRzZWMDTWVkaWFBdHRXaWRnZXRyb25Bc3NlbWJseQ–;_ylg=X3oDMTFpNzk0NjhtBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDBHBzdGNhdANob21lBHB0A3NlY3Rpb25z;_ylv=3

    Made me smile and think of you.

    Hope all is well with you and yours.

    November 9th, 2012 at 7:05 am

Post a comment

(will not be published)