A dad has shared a photo of a puberty book for boys that says breasts exist to make girls ‘look grown-up and attractive’, which sparked backlash on social media.
Writer and blogger Simon Ragoonanan shared his find on his Facebook page, Man vs Pink, with a picture of the page of the book that is meant to explain girls’ breasts to boys.
‘Wtf? From the Usborne Publishing book ‘Growing up for Boys’: Girls have breasts for two reasons – for feeding babies and looking grown-up and attractive,’ he wrote on Facebook.
The extract is from a book published only four years ago, in 2013, and it’s described by the publisher as a ‘frank and friendly book offering boys advice on what to expect from puberty and how to stay happy and confident as they go through physical, psychological and emotional changes’.
Simon’s post on Facebook sparked a fierce debate, with many standing behind the dad blogger and commenting to say how disappointed they were that a publication like this is still available nowadays.
One dad commented: ‘That’s seriously a book from this century? I’m a dad to 4 boys. They shouldn’t grow up thinking that breasts are there for their entertainment.’
A second wrote: ‘Usborne are serial offenders for girls v boys products. But never seen anything as bad as this. Breasts are not there for boys’ pleasure. And how awful for early developer girls if this is what their male schoolmates are being taught.’
Others understood the need to acknowledge breasts as a secondary sexual characteristic, but lamented the way that this was being explained to young boys: ‘I can see the importance of acknowledging that some/most boys will see women’s breasts as attractive. However, clearly the way that its worded is SO objectifying that it does a disservice to both boys and girls.
‘To ignore attraction and sexual response in the book would be a mistake (and it has a chapter on dealing with erections, for example) but this is NOT the way to help boys understand consent and taking responsibility for their own feelings/impulses.’
However, some didn’t see why this was causing concern, including one mother: ‘What’s the problem? A woman’s breasts are gorgeous and help to show how beautiful the female form is. Of course we attract the male of the species. Ask my husband after I have feed both my children. Fact is, you have to attract a mate to have kids to be able to feed said kids in the first place.
Simon responded directly to the woman’s comment, explaining why he thought this was an issue: ‘The problem is that the book is saying that looking attractive and grown up is a key purpose of the breast. It’s like saying the same about a woman’s legs. Nothing wrong with finding them attractive – and I do – but it’s not their ‘purpose’ to make a girl/woman look attractive or grown up.
‘We have legs to stand, walk and run on. We (probably) have 2 legs so our hands are freed up for whatever our ancestors used them for. Their perception in any sexual desire is secondary and certainly not their purpose.’
Usborne, who publish the book, have announced they will revise it and have apologised any offence caused by the wording used.