It is the section on breasts that has drawn criticism, after writer and blogger Simon Ragoonanan, who blogs about fatherhood at Man vs Pink, posted a page from the book on Facebook. “What are breasts for?” writes Frith in the extract. “Girls have breasts for two reasons. One is to make milk for babies. The other is to make the girl look grown-up and attractive. Virtually all breasts, no matter what size or shape they end up when a girl finishes puberty, can do both things.”
Breasts are indeed a secondary sexual characteristic of post-pubertal women. They thus do signify having grown up. They are also a sexual attraction. So, the complaints must be about the milk, right? Because our close cousins, the apes, have their milk glands in the same place, obviously, but not breasts. Thus the function of the breasts is not milk but perhaps the age marker, perhaps the sexual attraction.
Or maybe something else entirely.
“This just seemed awful and completely unjustifiable,” Ragnoonanan told the Guardian. “Usborne are serial offenders in peddling gender stereotypes to kids.”
Oh, no, look, the complaints aren’t about that at all.
But Nicholls said that describing the “other” purpose of breasts – “to make the girl look grown-up and attractive” – was “extremely problematic”, because it “reinforces the sexualisation of breasts which makes girls and women self-conscious”.
Look, the underlying question here is why do human women have breasts and our close cousins not? No, it’s not the milk functionality. So, what is it? The apes do get swellings when the mlik glands are in use, but not normally. So, why?
It’s like trying to understand human sexuality without grasping the difference between oestrus and the menstrual cycle. You’re just not going to get to the right answer until you explain these differences.