Just in time for those who like to stock up early on weird and controversial Hanukkah presents for their young relatives comes news of a baby doll which simulates breast feeding.
On so many levels this doll strikes me as disturbing in the extreme.
The name alone astounds: Bebe Gloton, which translated from its native Spanish apparently means Baby Glutton. Its maker says that it is designed to promote breastfeeding as a natural part of life. The (presumably) little girl “mommy” puts on a bib-like thingy with flowers where in real life her nipples would be, and then puts Baby Glutton to her flowers. The doll simulates sucking and needs burping.
Some commenters on this blog say that Bebe Gloton has tripped “gross out” alarms because of the way American culture has sexualized breast feeding.
I beg to differ.
But wait, there’s more! Here’s a toy Miele vacuum so that we can teach our children to covet $1,200 vacuum cleaners even as we allow them to sit in front of a television and veg out when they’re not in school.
There’s something perverse about buying children “aspirational” brand toy vacuums even as so many parents fail to give children chores or ever expect them to be able to wield a real vacuum.
Then again, perhaps my distaste is rooted in my aversion to housecleaning overall, let alone mock-housecleaning for kiddies.
But back to Baby Glutton.
What kind of name is that for a doll? Does the manufacturer mean to suggest that a hungry baby is a gluttonous baby? Are we instilling dieting-consciousness into our toddlers now through the names of their baby dolls? Does Bebe Gloton come with mini-candy bars for when it is ready to move onto solids?
I find the flower-nipple thingys a little disturbing too. If this is all about realism, why not put more realistic-looking nipples on the bib? Surely that wouldn’t fly because breasts, not breast-feeding, are sexualized.
This issue came up in a Jewish context a few years ago when a question was put to the Conservative movement’s Rabbinical Assembly about whether a woman is permitted to nurse her baby in synagogue.
I don’t know if I’d want to see a little girl – or little boy, for that matter – “nursing” a baby doll inside or outside of a house of worship.
I mean, my daughters both pretend-nursed their baby dolls by just holding them up to their own little-girl chests. I don’t need to train them for the real thing at such a young age. What’s next, giving our little ones purple nurples so they can get a “taste” of what a cracked nipple feels like?
Baby Glutton is spurring so much traffic to the manufacturer’s website that it was crashed, at least when I tried accessing it.
Well, let’s at least hope that some enterprising Israeli doesn’t come out with a Jewish version and call it Tinok Zolelani (Hebrew for Gluttonous Baby).