Admit It: Sometimes Breastfeeding Is Disgusting

Jeanne Sager

breastfeedingA model photographed breastfeeding in a fundraising calendar is disgusting. There, I said it. Now are you going to scurry down to comments and rip me a new hind end or are you going to find out why I'm so disturbed by Miss March?

Willpower ladies! Work that willpower! It would do a heck of a lot more for your cause if you did.

Miss March is Agata Dembiecka, a member of PETA and a model in the Puppy Love calendar, put together by Irish model Melissa Hayward to help support animal causes. And it isn't a baby at the boob; it's a puppy. Take a look:

breastfeeding a puppy

While she's got Irish folks worked up about the appropriateness of the photos, I'm not bothered as much by Dembiecka as by the people who are trying to turn her calendar into a positive for the breastfeeding cause. Says one comment over at the Belfast Telegraph:

The calendar is clearly designed to be a little risqué. But let me get this straight, it's not the sexy ladies in lingerie that offends some people, it's the idea of breastfeeding? It's a picture and a joke. Lighten up!

I'm sorry, but it's not the "idea of breastfeeding" that bothers me about this calendar. It's how it damages the root of one of the mommy wars' bloodiest battle grounds.

At its heart, breastfeeding's supporters have one very salient point on their side: breast milk is made by a mother's body specifically for her child's benefit. A mother feeding a child, they correctly point out, is not sexy, it just is. Breastfeeders need no more example than their own body, their own child.

But in the blind defense of everything remotely related to breastfeeding, the lactivists are making the case for those who would cast the act as titillating or disgusting. If all forms of so-called "breastfeeding" are equal, then a cloud of impurity rests over it all. Take the hullabaloo over breast milk cheese being offered up in a New York City restaurant -- if it's milk made for a child, why then is it OK to share it with random adults? Is it really a win for women?

And what of this Puppy Love calendar? Is it good for the cause to have people debating a woman's rights to breastfeed a puppy? A model with a puppy at her breast isn't, by rights, breastfeeding. Even if she is a lactating mother, she is not lactating for the dog but for her own child. And in taking dog to breast in a sexy calendar, she has turned "nursing in public" into something meant to arouse and entertain -- the polar opposite of what women are fighting for.

We can't have it both ways. Sometimes, "breastfeeding" is disgusting. It's up to us as women to admit it, for ourselves and for the cause.


Images via acme/Flickr; Puppy Love

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