Tuesday, October 5, 2010


I've heard many a mama refer to how her baby "likes to use [her] as a pacifier" and I got to thinking today how ridiculous that phrase is. (This is in no way meant to be a judgment on people who give their kids pacifiers—I am one!—or on people who use this phrase. It's merely a reflection on how our societal norms have affected the way we talk about things.)

Breastfeeding, even when it's not looked down-upon, is still so covered up, so marginalized in our society. It's relegated to the other room, the mother's lounge, under a shawl or a blanket or in a public restroom for pete's sake. And you must only do it for six months or a year, or some other arbitrary deadline determined by...whoever. That way, you won't be judged as being perverted or considered to be inappropriately attached to the practice of breastfeeding your child. It's not like there are any real benefits to nursing a child beyond infancy!

We are so prudish about nudity in the United States that it's not widely known, much less accepted, that the breast is used for non-nutritive (comfort) sucking as well as for removing milk from the breast for food and drink. We are such a bottle-feeding society that when a child won't take a bottle or refuses a pacifier, they are looked at as the strange ones. The norm should be that it's more strange for babies to be sucking on artificial rubber teats for food and comfort. Assuming you're ok with breastfeeding for nutritional purposes (which I realize can be a big assumption these days) it is still considered distasteful to think of a child sucking on a breast—a sex object, among other things—for any reason other than food.

Frankly, I don't think we should be saying, "My kid uses me as a pacifier." Rather, what we should be saying is, "Check it out—my kid uses that pacifier as a breast!"


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