The recent release of a new baby doll that encourages young children to simulate the act of breast-feeding has stirred a controversy across the U.S. and has some adults branding the manufacturers as perverts and pedophiles.
Toy buyers around the world are inundated with choices of baby dolls to purchase for little girls that include dolls that pee, dolls that burp, dolls that drink from bottles and dolls that cry and now, thanks to one toy manufacturer, dolls that breastfeed.
Dennis Lewis, U.S. spokesman for Berjuan Toys, said “the whole purpose of The Breast Milk Baby is to teach children the nurturing skills they’ll need to raise their own healthy babies in the future. Breastfeeding is good for babies, it’s good for mommies and it’s good for society. We really don’t understand why this has created such controversy.”
The companies marketing plan focuses on both encouraging breastfeeding and religion, defending the sale of the doll by saying , "We’re being called perverts and pedophiles for promoting feeding our babies the way God intended? Churches all over the world are filled with images of Mary nursing baby Jesus, and yet we can’t imagine letting our daughters learn how important breastfeeding is for our society?”
While the manufacturer claims thousands of supporters online that have posted on their Facebook page, the opposition to the Breast Milk baby doll is equally as strong and vocal. They have created their own Facebook page "Against the Breast Milk Baby Doll" for those who oppose the sale of the doll.
The doll is being sold for $89 and has recently been introduced into the US toy market after being successfully sold in Spain. Children playing with the doll must first put on a specially made vest, that comes with the doll, that is adorned with two small flowers, positioned where the nipples would be on a woman and then as the doll's mouth is moved close to the the sensor in the vest-like top the doll begins to simulate suckling actions and sounds to closely resemble what should be a natural act.
"Critics say the doll is over-sexualizing young girls or forcing them to grow up too quickly, but the company and supporters have said the toys are meant to teach young girls about the nurturing skills they'll need later in life" according to ABC News.
Dale Livingston, administrator of the Facebook page, "Against the Breast Milk Baby Doll", said "She is not against breastfeeding and has taken quite a bit of flak on her Facebook page from supporters of the doll."
Livingston said, "Although breastfeeding is a pure and natural moment between both Mother and child, and it is certain that some children do "mimic" their mother's breastfeeding a younger sibling with a doll, is it necessary to force our own values onto our children at such an early age? Dolls are not typically created to enforce parent's values or to display and teach other natural and humane acts. Must we imply that breastfeeding can be done by even young girls and boys? This doll is excluding much needed information about breastfeeding, not every woman can breastfeed, by choice or not, there are many other circumstances that are not as effortless as putting on a floral bra."
Livingston thinks that "If the manufacturer promotes the education of breastfeeding to little girls then should also support the freedom of choice and include a bottle with the baby doll so that a child's imagination is not limited to just that natural act."
Some think the manufacturer has gone to far in their claims that God supports the Breast Milk Baby Doll.
Kera Wilson says, "She finds this extremely distasteful and rude and said this is a prime example of the professionalism of the company selling the doll." Wilson said "You do not use God to promote a product, it makes a mockery of religion and insults those who do not believe in God or who do not share the same opinions or choices in religion."
Some comments on the YouTube video's and Facebook pages have asked "what's next underage pregnancy play-sets" or another version of a doll which encourages young girls to get pregnant?
One Internet blogger, Momma on a Mission, said "She thinks the real issue here is that people are uncomfortable with breasts. People are uncomfortable with seeing breasts being used for anything other then sexual purposes. But the reality is breasts have a dual function and the primary function is for nutrition not sex."
Wilson thinks this is why other toy manufacturers have not released a doll that mimics breastfeeding because "they obviously saw that their was no need for little girls to learn to breastfeed at such a young age and they recognize that young girls can not breastfeed without... well... breasts."
Livingston summed up her thoughts by adding, "This is a disgusting representation of how many people attempt to persuade or shape a child's opinion with something they enjoy most, a toy. I think as parents we need to educate our children, on our own, in order to develop communication and parental confidence, and not rely on a product to do so for us."