Slog Comments


Comments (49) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Matt from Denver 1
WTF Charles.

"You must remember that this business of having one baby after another is not old but new to our world, the human world."

Wrong. Wrong. Oh so wrong. Good god, that has to be the most completely wrong thing you've ever said.
Posted by Matt from Denver on May 11, 2012 at 10:59 AM · Report this
Pithy Name 2
I am amazed that it took Charles so long to post about this.

@1 - Correct, as far as I understand our species history.
Posted by Pithy Name on May 11, 2012 at 11:03 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 3
I was wondering why you have a habit of making sure the reader knows if you feel a woman is attractive of not whenever you mention one.

It seems you do this fairly often, and I always have to question why. Did you think we could not tell which one was the mother and which was the child here? Or is it that you just feel that a large part of a woman's worth is how attracted you are to her sexually?

On the larger issue: Get over it prudes. I see nothing that would be controversial almost anywhere but this puritanical nation. You should be more offended at how much Time dumbs down its American editions.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 11, 2012 at 11:04 AM · Report this
@1 -- It's true that Charles is wrong about that.

Aside from that, this picture does make me uncomfortable. I think the way the mother and child are both making eye contact with the camera, combined with the headline "Are You Mom Enough?", seems confrontational. This is obviously a carefully posed photograph, but it creates the illusion that neither mother or child is absorbed in the act of the child being fed, but more focused on defiantly challenging what onlookers might think of the feeding.
Posted by Amanda on May 11, 2012 at 11:10 AM · Report this
emor 5

If I had to guess, it was agriculture that allowed, and perhaps required, huge broods. Hunter gatherers had to do a lot of work to find food, and extra mouths probably weren't worth the extra effort. Again, I'm speculating. I've never really read anything about this stuff. I was a big fan of Civilization II, though.
Posted by emor on May 11, 2012 at 11:11 AM · Report this
rootwinterguard 6
The "controversy" over the cover image (and Mr. Mudede's failure to mention anything OTHER than the image) betrays America's inability to address any topic with any nuance. Let's have a fucking discussion about IDEAS, not a fucking provocative image. The controversy in Time magazine was about the growing trend of "Attachment Parenting" (of which older-aged breastfeeding is a contingent, not necessary, part).

At play here is that Americans in droves continue to believe any kind of pseudo-scientific nonsense, at the expense of their own money, health and sanity. It's like the Baby Mozart stuff wherein nervous, doting parents can be compelled to shell out thousands of dollars, or divert the course of what is rational because a self-identified "authority" asserts some new revelation. Just as it is with prayer to interventionist gods, we will ignore when it doesn't work and spend inordinate amount of energy and focus trying to locate scant evidence that our witless actions (and wishful thinking) will circumvent reality.
Posted by rootwinterguard on May 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
biffp 7
They blocked it out on King 5 this morning like it was titillating. Seattle local news is just crap.
Posted by biffp on May 11, 2012 at 11:15 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 8

Man...whatever happened to just holding on to apron strings?!

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe http://_ on May 11, 2012 at 11:19 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 9
@1: I do not have any numbers on this specifically, but I do know that our birth rates exploded around the agricultural revolution, when we stopped wandering, and set down to raise crops.

Also, contemporary nomadic tribes have much lower birth rates, and our closest cousins, the chimps, also do not give birth more than once every five years or so. This of course, is strictly biological however.

This supports Charles' assertion to some degree, but of course, no one is really showing their work here...the tight internet restrictions at my office often frustrate very specific research attempts.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 11, 2012 at 11:23 AM · Report this
Dood! Wrong cover.....…

(special thanx to William Banzai)
Posted by sgt_doom on May 11, 2012 at 11:26 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 11
This is a creeeeeeepy picture for all the reasons @4 stated. Stunts like this are how Time will quickly be irrelevant. I give them 3 years left. Tops.
Posted by GlamB0t on May 11, 2012 at 11:30 AM · Report this
Allyn 12
Why is her attractiveness important to this story? Were she ugly, would that mean you would disapprove of her breastfeeding? You come across as misogynistic when you make unnecessary comments like that. Who gives a fuck if she’s attractive? Of course she’s attractive; they wouldn’t have put her on the cover otherwise.

Hunter-gatherer tribes historically have had fewer babies per mother, and more widely spaced than agricultural tribes. That can be attributed to sex norms, scarcity of calories, longer/later nursing, the need to have only one carried child at a time, among many other reasons. Also, infanticide for poorly-spaced births was not always taboo.
Posted by Allyn on May 11, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
I'm surprised to see across so many discussions that so few make a decisive argument, instead bandying about and bushwhacking and trading in moral relativisms.

Simply put, obscene--child abuse--horrifically heralded by a society morbidly obsessed with its own children. Imagine having to live down this image for the rest of his life; I wouldn't want to be his therapist.
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on May 11, 2012 at 11:59 AM · Report this
keshmeshi 15

What's wrong about it? Have you read nothing by Jared Diamond? Contemporary nomads have very few children. They use breast feeding, abortion, and infanticide to prevent population growth. Why do you think pre-agricultural nomads were any different?
Posted by keshmeshi on May 11, 2012 at 12:02 PM · Report this
malcolmxy 16
when you're old enough to ask to suck on a tit for food, you're too old to suck on a tit for food (in the industrialized west...I know this shit happens in the 3rd world, but our culture is different than theirs, and it's fucking creepy)
Posted by malcolmxy on May 11, 2012 at 12:07 PM · Report this
Something happened after I saw you speak at an event Mr. Mudede. I read your work differently now, and enjoy it more. Thank you.
Posted by barfy cute on May 11, 2012 at 12:14 PM · Report this
Bauhaus I 18
Sorry, but ew.
Posted by Bauhaus I on May 11, 2012 at 12:16 PM · Report this
All I keep thinking about is the crazy sister in Game of Thrones.
Posted by Senor Guy on May 11, 2012 at 12:18 PM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 20
@16: I guess you are old enough to decline the tit too though. Seems to me if the mom wants to keep breastfeeding, and the kid does too, who can/should really tell them no?

Obviously, this would not include possible coercion on the part of mom. It is only creepy because you are not used to it, and it is difficult to see it in a non-sexual light, since we have oversexualized the breast so much. It looks like an abusive or sexualized practice, but it really is not.

Although to be fair, it likely happens more in the third world because it is a free source of nourishment.
Posted by Theodore Gorath on May 11, 2012 at 12:18 PM · Report this
@1: Hunh? The anthropological literature since at least the mid to late 60s is filled with documentation of this. As others in this thread have noted, in non-agricultural human groups birth spacing is generally in the 4 to 5 year range and it is only after adopting intensive agriculture that you start to see shorter birth intervals.

Richard Lee (and others) work on the !Kung and other San peoples explores this in great detail and also documents what happens to San birth spacing when they leave Kalahari and settle in villages.
Posted by gnossos on May 11, 2012 at 12:26 PM · Report this
malcolmxy 22

yeah...I agree. It's certainly not my place to deny them the right to get down like that, but it doesn't make it any less creepy, and it is absolutely my place to ridicule it (or, I'm making it my place).

Still, how old is too old to be the guy at the club who is wearing the fashions of a decade prior?

I knew a lady who breast fed her kid until he was 6 years old. When the milk cart comes around and it's you're mom, I'm sorry, that's fucking creepy.

They can do it all they want, but I ain't gotta like it.
Posted by malcolmxy on May 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM · Report this
malcolmxy 23
your.,.,.not you're.
Posted by malcolmxy on May 11, 2012 at 12:29 PM · Report this
this is an interesting sensation, me agreeing with Charles. a bit disorienting.
Posted by semi-crepuscular on May 11, 2012 at 12:31 PM · Report this
foolish-rain 25
Not to be picky, but nursing is NOT a great birth control method. Nursing PLUS poor nutrition can be contraceptive, but not so much here in the western world...
Posted by foolish-rain on May 11, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Report this
bedipped 26
"Whether or not the earth moves" is a fabulous nod to Carole King.
Posted by bedipped on May 11, 2012 at 12:55 PM · Report this
lark 27
Agree. I, too find the picture a bit creepy. Nothing against breastfeeding. It is to be encouraged even in public. But, this photo is staged and seems not genuine. It is now a permanent image. As a result, the boy may have issues later. I do believe three y/o is a bit too mature for one to continue to nurse but I'm not sure. Yes, I am aware that in the developing world, children do nurse later than in the developed world.

And Charles, I wouldn't be so sure of your assertion that:

"You must remember that this business of having one baby after another is not old but new to our world, the human world."

It appears to be hotly contentious. Both @1 & @21 have points but I lean towards @1.
Posted by lark on May 11, 2012 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Damn, that kid is going to be fucking PISSED at his mom someday when the kids at his middle school/high school/college find out that he was on the cover of Time with his milf-y mom's boob in his mouth. Which is a lot more likely to happen now, in the Internet age, than it was 30 years ago.
Posted by JenV on May 11, 2012 at 1:08 PM · Report this
@26: good catch. I immediately thought Hemingway.
Posted by gnossos on May 11, 2012 at 1:09 PM · Report this
Cato the Younger Younger 31
"Hey mom, just got back from football practice and I'm hungry! Give me your tit !!!"

Fuck the creepy..this is bordering on incest at that age.
Posted by Cato the Younger Younger on May 11, 2012 at 1:13 PM · Report this
Allyn 32
@31 it's not sexual. It's not incest.
Posted by Allyn on May 11, 2012 at 1:17 PM · Report this
balmontguy 33

Uh, she's hot.

Posted by balmontguy on May 11, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 34
A breast! Being used for its intended purpose! How revolting.

Jesus Christ but some of you people need to grow the fuck up.
Posted by Backyard Bombardier on May 11, 2012 at 1:27 PM · Report this
Although I would not breastfeed beyond 18 months (24 months maximum), I feel that all parenting styles are valid and deserve to be respected and free of criticism. Attachment parenting is not my style, but it certainly is not relevant fodder for criticism. However you parent is your business, and people, governments, and organizations must respect a person's autonomy and their right to raise their children however they see fit, so long as no physical abuse or extreme emotional abuse is occurring, and therefore, everyone should just worry about their own family. When, or if, you have kids, you may raise them by your own standard, but you have no right to criticize other people's parenting style: It is their business and only their business.

That goes for grandparents and other family as well: Let parents do the parenting and back off! If you don't think your grown children can properly raise a child, well, then you must not have faith in the lessons you taught your grown children, and therefore, what cause do you have to think you suddenly know how to do it the right way now?

Mothers and fathers are under tremendous pressure to not fuck their kids up, and they do not need any more pressure from external sources: They are their own worst critic. But moms and dads, take notice, you cannot avoid fucking up your kids, everybody has problems and shortcomings. Just do your best and let your kids take over their own lives as they grow older. Don't stress, your kids will be fine and you are doing a great job!
Posted by scratchmaster joe on May 11, 2012 at 1:29 PM · Report this
Where to start?

"A part of it is saying that this is an excellent and natural form of birth control."

Charles, don't say ignorant things. A woman can EASILY get pregnant even if she is breastfeeding. Ever heard of Irish twins?

Ditto #4 - ditto, very staged and manipulative photo. Also, no one cares about her breastfeeding (it's her choice) but this is just weird.

Ditto @28 - this kid is going to be very unhappy as he gets older.

I breastfed my sons (first one until 8 months and second until 4 months) - it was wonderful and it was a loving, bonding time. But you don't have to shove your choice under someone else's nose. There are appropriate ways to do it.

Was it sexual? No, it wasn't. Your milk "lets down" and you can feel the surge but it is not anything remotely like being stimulated sexually.
Posted by westello on May 11, 2012 at 1:47 PM · Report this
"It's certainly not my place to deny them the right to get down like that, but it doesn't make it any less creepy, and it is absolutely my place to ridicule it (or, I'm making it my place)."

Well good for you that you are the self-appointed arbiter of all that is "creepy".

The only problem that this kid will have will be when people like you link him to that photo later in his life. Congratulations. If she didn't make it public then people like you wouldn't be able to tell any difference between her or her kid.

So it isn't about her actions.
It's about your comfort zone with the behavior of people you do not know.
Posted by fairly.unbalanced on May 11, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
Charles Mudede 38
@36, read books before you start calling people ignorant. really, a lot you people need to read more and appreciate I do actually read more than you.
Posted by Charles Mudede on May 11, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
Last of the Time Lords 39
@34, feeding pre-schoolers and kindergarden kids?
Posted by Last of the Time Lords on May 11, 2012 at 2:33 PM · Report this
Backyard Bombardier 40
@39: Feeding a child. The decision on how long to breastfeed a child is a decision best left to the mother of that child.

Posted by Backyard Bombardier on May 11, 2012 at 2:40 PM · Report this
ItsAllOverNow 41
I like Matt Davies version more:…
Posted by ItsAllOverNow on May 11, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Honestly, I look at this and I see a comment on the Affordable Care Act. The camo pants, the tiny chair, the hollywood-shaped woman holding her son tightly against her chest, they all appear to me as code for American power. I agree with @4 regarding the confrontation born from their eye contact. Mom is the government, we're the kid, and we're supposed to be uncomfortable with the image. Regardless of whether we think that breastfeeding a 3-year old is weird, it's that they are staring us in the eye, making us a part of their relationship.
Posted by Garth B on May 11, 2012 at 3:25 PM · Report this
I breast fed my children each for as long as it was a good choice for our family. One until the age of one year and the 3until approx. 3 1/2 years old. I am not a earth mother attachment parenter. I nursed because it was the best choice for my family. My children are independent and quite normal. I can assure you that any issues they have are not due to extended nursing. In fact, one of my children was seriously ill for the majority of his life and breast feeding most likely helped his immune system, giving him a better chance of recovery. I am a strong advocate for nursing if that is what works for a family. Having said all this, I can assure you three things 1)While breast feeding is an act that stimulates the senses in the pleasurable way holding a child does (holding them close, hearing their breathing, establishing eye contact), it is in no way sexual for the average parent. Sorry to disappoint everyone who thinks nursing moms are getting off while the dads watch in excitement. Just not happening. 2) While I never shied away from public nursing with my infants..(it is easy to cover up and frankly my kid being feed the only thing they eat trumps your discomfort) when they got older it was in private...not secret mind you..but private. While I refuse to apologize or made to feel like a deviant..there is no reason to make others feel uncomfortable. And lastly, I feel very uncomfortable with the cover photo. Not because it is indecent but because she is clearly posing and doing it for the camera. There is no bonding accruing. He could be eating a cheeseburger for all the emotional stuff in this staged picture. I never nursed my kids that way and know of no other moms who did either. The photo is just trying to be in peoples faces. It works and I do not think in a beneficial way
Posted by kataan on May 11, 2012 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Brooklyn Reader 44
I'm too lazy to google me up some links, but I'm pretty sure I've read about pediatric health studies showing that extended breast feeding results in long-term health benefits for the child, lower incidence of obesity, fewer allergies, etc. Probably the mother as well. Fabulous way of getting rid of lipids, I would guess.

Posted by Brooklyn Reader on May 11, 2012 at 4:29 PM · Report this
I have no problem with breastfeeding at that age, but I can't agree with the decision to put her son into the public eye in this way. I don't think the adults in control and involved in that photo were prioritizing the boy over their own various needs.

Also, from experience, I would call breastfeeding a method of birth spacing, not birth control. As toddlers slowly eat more and more food and cut down on breastfeeding sessions, mom's fertility increases.
Posted by Jude Fawley on May 11, 2012 at 8:40 PM · Report this
Charles, you may read more than me (but how you know that is a mystery). Has nothing to do with your ignorance.

Breastfeeding does not stop a woman from becoming pregnant.
Posted by westello on May 11, 2012 at 9:48 PM · Report this
Chelydra_serpentina 47
Okay folks...

Breastfeeding the way it's done in agricultural and industrial societies - larger feedings several hours apart, often weaning, pumping, or switching to formula at a few months of age - is a lousy birth control method.

Breastfeeding the way it's done in hunter-gatherer societies - almost constant baby-mother contact, small feedings around the clock well into the toddler years - is a pretty good birth control method. Not foolproof, but not bad either.

Humans were exclusively hunter-gatherers for several million years, up until around 10,000 or so years ago. Humans were mostly hunter-gatherers for a few thousand years more. So for most of human history, we spaced our kids out and lactational amenorrhea was a major tool in that. We didn't start spacing our kids out again until 100 to 50 years ago, and it only happened because of the development of reliable artificial birth control.

In many cases there is a discussion to be had about whether Charles is just pulling stuff out of his ass, but in this particular case he has the facts right.

And maybe it's just because I'm not around kids very much, but the weirdest thing about the picture for me is that, from the size of him, I would have guessed the kid was about 5 or 6, not 3. I don't think it's any big deal if your three year old still likes the boob juice. Then again, I read the STFU Parents blog on a regular basis. Compared to some of the photographic parental overshare I've seen on that site, this one's incredibly tame.
Posted by Chelydra_serpentina on May 12, 2012 at 1:04 PM · Report this
Lissa 48
As I said on a facebook conversation regarding this topic, I've always thought that as long as the child is weaned by the time they of school age, because it's hard to pack your mom into your Spiderman lunch box.
Posted by Lissa on May 13, 2012 at 8:59 AM · Report this
@1--Im a professional anthropologist. Charles is right, you are wrong.
Posted by kdgd on May 14, 2012 at 7:18 AM · Report this
The mother is a dumb fame-whore who couldn't even intelligently articulate any reasons for coddling her whiny 4 year old kid:…
Posted by joemomma on May 14, 2012 at 7:55 AM · Report this
aureolaborealis 51
No discussion of when to stop breastfeeding is complete without a Little Britain reference:…
Posted by aureolaborealis on May 14, 2012 at 12:25 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Commenting on this item is available only to registered commenters.