There's no consensus yet about the wisdom of a Spanish toy company making a doll that simulates breastfeeding. If consensus does eventually solidify, hopefully it won't be around Joy Behar's take. For “The View” host, the doll is a direct attack on feminism.
The doll, Baby Gloton (“gluttonous baby”), is sold with a halter top for the owner to wear, embedded with computer chips where a woman's nipples would be. When held to the chest, the baby moves its lips and makes a sucking sound. When moved away, the baby cries or can be “burped” like a live baby would be after a feeding.
“You know, to me, it's like programming little girls for their future. You know, just in case you want to have a career, no,” Behar stated in her opposition to the doll. She offered her own experience as proof of this “programming.” “I always played with dolls so when I became a woman I wanted a baby. But I think that had to do with that,” Behar explained.
Behar didn't appear to think that biology or the “motherly instinct” many women have had any role in her desire to become a mother.
Host Barbara Walters offered Behar's co-panelist Elisabeth Hasselbeck as an example that women can have a career and breastfeed. Hasselbeck, nine months pregnant with her third child, chimed in, “You can breast-feed and have a kid. You can open a briefcase. You can do both.”
Hasselbeck expressed some concern about the sound effects and the motion of the doll's mouth, but otherwise appeared nonchalant about the concept. She noted, “Grace [her 4-year-old daughter] will pretend to breastfeed because she'll see me do it. And I think that's fine.”
But co-panelist Sherri Shepherd harbored doubts. “I know that little girls pretend and little boys pretend but I just don't know if I want to see Grace with this baby up sucking on her – something's weird about -,” she said. Later she reiterated her stance. “It's just the visual is just a little creepy for me.”
Argument against the doll in other media outlets varied. FOXNews.com health editor Dr. Manny Alvarez, supports breastfeeding, but said a doll such as this could have unintended effects. “Pregnancy has to entail maturity and understanding. It's like introducing sex education in first grade instead of seventh or eighth grade. Or, it could inadvertently lead little girls to become traumatized. You never know the effects this could have until she's older.”
For others, such as blogger Ilina Ewen, the doll is beyond the maturity of the children for which it's marketed. “There are just things that I think kids are too little to understand,” she told ABCNews.com.
Dr. Ronald Cohen, medical director of the Mothers' Milk Bank in San Jose, told ABC News “that anything which reminds young girls that their bodies are something other, and more, than sex objects, is a very good thing” but he also noted, “On the other hand, encouraging young girls to want to have babies at a very young age may not be so great.”
But Jillian Bandes, political reporter for Townhall, put the doll's propriety in the proper context: it depends on the parents who allow their children to play with the toy. She argued, “If parents purchase the doll for more-mature children and educate them on the nature of breastfeeding and the need for privacy in the comfort of their own homes, perhaps the toy could be a bit of resource.”
But for Behar to claim the doll limits little girls' career options is beyond the pale when women from all walks of life, for whatever the reasons, have successfully juggled motherhood and work.