Times Magazine often decides who should be doing what. At least the people all over the world, who have the fixation about the United States of America, think so. If someone or something makes it to its cover page, that person or thing becomes a thing of beauty and a joy forever, at least to the ones I earlier mentioned. Times magazine represents the international hegemony of not only political aesthetics but also aesthetics of politics. That’s why this picture, a model breast feeding a child (model) becomes important and a thing to be discussed. Published in the latest issue, this cover page has raised several eye brows across the world. Eye brows because feminists generally do not shape their brows and they can raise them.
Are you Mom Enough? Asks the cover page. The article in question talks about the new age woman and the need for breast feeding. Breast feeding is something natural to all the mammals. What we call breasts is a pair of lactating devices seen quite visible amongst the female species. Human beings are vulgar in nature and they have made each part of the body a sexual device. You must be remembering how the cosmetic industry recently pitched in to whiten the vaginal areas by introducing a new cream. Vaginas world over Unite, you have nothing but to lose your blackness, the advertisement seemed to say. Feminists and the right thinking people got really angry on it. Market has become too intrusive; it creates desires to whiten your penises and vaginas. And to lose appetite and keep a zero size you can even shorten the length of your intestine through surgical operation. I am sure one day sex become quite exciting in the lacks than in the visible and the tactile.
So what is the problem with breast feeding and this cover page, you may ask. If you are a super mom you should breast feed. Cosmetic industry once thought that breast feeding caused the sagging of breasts all over the world and caused a sudden fall in female grace and beauty. The mammary glands became a quick obsession and women were asked to stop breast feeding to protect the beauty. Protect the beauty for whom? For men, of course. They are the permanent infants who want to play with the breasts of women right from mothers, to wives to strangers. Women are asked to use pin to puncture the prying hands while travelling in crowded buses because Indian men would like to grope whatever seen rounded in the female anatomy.
Feminists say that this article and the cover page in Time Magazine are objectionable because in the name of promoting breast feeding it is enhancing desires amongst men to play more with breasts. Look at the picture. A three year old boy standing in front of his ‘mother’ and sucks her nipple. The problem is that the whole world knows that this is a model and the child is not her real son. This very knowledge makes people think that there is something unnatural about it. And also nobody thinks that a three year old boy would be still having a staple diet on his mother’s milk. May be this cover page must be for a change. Often breast feeding is illustrated with a mother and infant suckling and both averting their face away from the gazing people. Here the case is different. Both the mother and son are looking at the gaze of the onlooker; yet it is not a political counter look. It is a kind of titillating surprise that they want to impart. Reason, a suckling mother would have tender feelings in her face and posture. Here the model stands a bit proud though that does not transform into a motherly pride.
Why this picture is offensive? It is offensive because it is pure sex that is connoted here. If you ask me if sex is something wrong, I would say sex is not wrong but open display of oedipal love is something objectionable. There is not a single man on the face of this earth who never had had sexual fantasies about his mother. I used to have. Because, mother’s body is the first naked woman body that any male see in the world. It is quite natural to push such scenes behind the mind. But in the subconscious it works and sexual fantasises come up when you are really pathetic in your mental state. And oedipal complex is something that anyone cherishes secretly. This picture is all about the open display of oedipal love. There is no women’s empowerment through breast feeding in it.
Now, in our Indian context, if you ask what is this fuss about breast feeding all about? Apart from the middle class and upper class societies, the majority of women in India are not concerned with their body mass index when it comes to breast feeding. They happily feed their children and I believe we have made legal provisions for the working mothers to have six months of maternity leave so that they could breast feed their newly born kids. No man in particularly sexual when he sees a woman breast feeding a child even in the public space. In fact, more than the breast feeding women, the men avert their eyes if they chance upon a woman feeding her child. In India, people do not take offense if a woman breast feed a child and a baby animal at the same time. But the Americans often see sex in everything.
But a three year old child is not breast fed by a young woman in public like the way Time magazine has shown. As a child I was very curious to play with my mother’s breasts. I used to wait even when I was seven or eight years old, at the door of her room where she changed her clothes. If I got a chance to go inside the first thing I did was squeezing her breasts. It was obviously a sexual act, which I did not know had sexual connotations. I had a happy breast fed childhood. Also like any other man who fantasizes drinking milk from breasts I too had it and I also tasted it as a grown up man. Let me tell you it does not taste that great.
Anyway, Time magazine cover page must be treated as super shit and it is all made for male gaze. It is covert sex or pornography in the name of promoting breast feeding. It has killed the innocence of that child (who knows a three year old does not have sexual fantasies). It has made the model yet another object of desire, nameless and faceless. The image is pornographic because it adds to the male fantasy that they have quick suckies behind the doors in the same posture (I have done that).
Postscript: Recently a friend of mine forwarded a joke via sms. It said: Why men look at women’s breasts? Answer: They can focus on two things at a time.