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Dating website billboard sexualizes breastfeeding

Monica Beyer is a mom of four and has been writing professionally since 2000, when her first book, Baby Talk, was published. Her main area of interest is attachment parenting and all that goes with it, including breastfeeding, co-sleepin...

Moms outraged over sexual implication

A dating website billboard, which was taken down in Los Angeles due to complaints, plans to roll out 20 more across the nation. The problem? It depicts breastfeeding in a sexual manner, and moms feel it sullies the image of a breastfeeding relationship.
Breastfeeding mom

“Jealous?” asks the billboard for CougarLife.com. The ad department for that website could have taken any number of angles to share their point — older women who date younger men — but, to the ire of women everywhere, they chose to depict a breastfeeding relationship, and have even gone so far as to pixelate the contact point between the two, like you see on images that show adult content.

Rolling out 20 more

The initial billboard, which went up in Los Angeles, was taken down due to complaints. It was located near a popular farmer’s market which is heavily utilized by families, but the outcry hasn’t stopped the company from planning to put up 20 more around the country.

Miss CougarLife.com Marlo Jordan maintains that it did in fact belong there, but it seems that she’s missing the point. "There was no reason for this billboard to be taken down prematurely," she said. "The [West Hollywood] Farmers Market was actually the perfect place to showcase this ad. There is nothing more natural than a woman breastfeeding. People may have been offended by the message of older women dating younger men, but I find that shocking in this day and age."

Sexualizes breastfeeding

The problem is that Miss CougarLife.com doesn’t seem to grasp what the issues really are. It’s not because it is a breastfeeding photo, and it’s not about older women dating younger men. The issue that moms take offense to is that the billboard insinuates a sexual tone to the pair’s breastfeeding relationship by drawing a parallel between an older woman and her younger boyfriend.

“This is not racy,” explained Molly, mom of two. “And there is nothing wrong with a photo of a woman breastfeeding. This is disgusting only because it sexualizes the act of feeding our children. How could anyone think this is okay?”

Claire, mom of one, totally agreed. “Is this for real?” she asked. “This is a prime example of how sexualized our bodies have become. This ad is perverse, drawing parallels between acts of a sexual nature and breastfeeding, and even more so because it's for younger men looking for older women.”

Marketing ploy?

Others feel that, while terribly misguided, the marketing department for the website was nothing short of brilliant. “Pretty sure this was done with the intent to arouse controversy,” said Skye, a Facebook user commenting on The Feminist Breeder’s discussion of the billboard. “They spend a little money on a ridiculous billboard that has nothing to do with the product they're actually trying to sell and thanks to the help of an enraged public it goes viral. Now millions of people who never would have seen the billboard know about it.”

Bottom line

Regardless of the true intent or questionable goal, most feel that it’s sad to see a step backwards for breastfeeding moms and their babies. Breastfeeding is simply a normal way to feed a baby. Back before baby bottles and formula use became widespread, nobody blinked an eye when a mother breastfed her child. Now, despite the media (and your local swimming pool) showing more breast than a mother does feeding her child, it has become almost taboo.

Many also feel that advertisements — like this billboard — do more to hurt the public’s perception of a breastfeeding woman than they do to promote their own business. “That is vulgar,” said Erika, mom of one. “And it sets back our cause.”

More on breastfeeding

Pink breastfeeds in public, gets the stinkeye
Why you should breastfeed your toddler
Alicia Silverstone's milk-sharing program compared to slavery

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