Rabbi Schmuley, self-proclaimed 'America's Rabbi' and star of the reality TV show Shalom in the Home, wrote an article for Beliefnet called Moms, Don't Forget To Feed Your Marriages. In this article, he says all kinds of misogynistic, chauvenistic, and otherwise charming things.
Here are some of the gems:
"Furthermore, I said, her obsession [breastfeeding] had turned one of her most attractive body parts into a feeding station, an attractive cafeteria rather than a scintillating piece of flesh."
"Similarly, with the example of breast-feeding, a wife who spends a year giving all her emotional and physical affection to the baby has left her marriage a barren wasteland, bereft of romance and affection."
"Obviously, breast-feeding is not the same as carrying on an extramarital affair. But when a mother gives her breasts to her son and takes them away from her husband, the effect on the marriage can feel the same."
"In the end, there are two effects of breast-feeding that we often refuse to acknowledge. One is the de-eroticization of a woman's body, as her husband witnesses one of the most attractive parts of her body serving a utilitarian rather than romantic purpose. This is not to say that breast-feeding isn't sexy. Indeed, the maternal dimension is a central part of womanliness. But public breast-feeding is profoundly de-eroticizing, and I believe that wives should cover up, even when they nurse their babies in their husband's presence."
" That is just too erotic a part of a wife's anatomy for it to become a mere birth canal." [regarding whether or not fathers should watch the birth of their children]
"When a husband ceases to see his wife as a woman, and begins to see her as "the mother of his children," a negative trend has begun in his mind that can only subvert his erotic interest."
Where to begin. Rabbi's comments speak very loudly about the pervasive sexualization of breastfeeding in our society. Blogger tells me sexualization is not a real word, but I beg to differ.
Rabbi refers to himself as a marriage expert, and crusading against the rising divorce rates in this country. Here's the thing: if a man views his wife as nothing but a sexual object? THAT IS A PROBLEM FOR THE MARRIAGE. It would be a problem if a woman viewed her husband as a sexual object, too, don't misunderstand me. How is it less erotic for a man to view a woman as "the mother of his children"? Wouldn't that whole situation further endear the woman to the man? (In normal circumstances... I know that there's not always love for the baby mama.)
I get that sex is vital to a marriage. But to suggest that breastfeeding a child past 11 months will diminish a marriage is a total cop out. I'll tell you what breastfeeding a child past 11 months diminishes... it can diminish a mama's energy. It can diminish the number of things that get done in a day. It can diminish a mama's capacity for feeling sexy about herself; it can diminish her ability to put out on a moment's notice.
And to refer to a vagina as a mere birth canal? Seriously? There is nothing MERE about birth, and I find it hard to believe that someone who has witnessed so many births could refer to it as such. Also as difficult to believe? That someone who has made so many babies and has (what can only be assumed as being) a super active sex life, could refer to a vagina as a mere birth canal. That demonstrates a CLEAR lack of imagination. Anne Shirley would shake her little red head at you, Rabbi.
A while after publishing the superbrilliant article, Rabbi published a second essay on his website in defense of himself. It was more of the same Preserve The Erotic Nature of The Breast Campaign that was laid out in his first piece. Because apparently that is what this society needs is more erotic images. More sex, less nurture. More graphic representations of women to put us on a higher pedestal so y'all can stare up our skirts at our "mere birth canals". More visual images that cause our little girls to grow up with unrealistic expectations. Brilliant.
A marriage does not fall apart because of breastfeeding. Anybody who tells you that is lying. Because honestly, people? I'd be divorced by now if that was the case. I have been breastfeeding for more than half of my marriage, and I don't plan on quitting either any time soon.