Breasts may have myriad uses – from being a handy place to store cash to providing a comforting pillow to pals in distress – but their primary function can't be denied. First and foremost, the purpose of our mammary glands is producing milk to feed infants.
So it was no surprise that a puberty book sparked outrage with its claim that breasts develop "to make the girl look grown-up and attractive". The passage in the book, Growing Up for Boys by Alex Frith, which was published by Usborne in 2013, came to light on Sunday after Simon Ragoonanan, who blogs about fatherhood at Man vs Pink, brought it to light on Facebook.
"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," the passage read. "Virtually all breasts, no matter what size or shape they end up when a girl finishes puberty, can do both things."
The extract was widely shared and criticised on social media and Amazon, with many criticising it for implying that breasts exist for boys' pleasure. "Usborne are serial offenders for girls v boys products. But never seen anything as bad as this," one commenter wrote on Facebook. "Breasts are not there for boys' pleasure. And how awful for early developer girls if this is what their male schoolmates are being taught."
Meanwhile another wrote on Facebook: "My cock may or may not be attractive to women. But that is not its function. It wasn't created to attract anyone because it's my body part not a show for some random pervert. Same with breasts.... For those who think there's nothing wrong with this, think about it: it basically says that a person's body part exists for the gratification of another person... I sometimes think a woman has a sexy arse but women's arses did not evolve for my benefit."
Usborne issued a formal apology on Tuesday, saying it would revise the passage, reported The Guardian. But today it was revealed that the existing copies of the book would be removed from its warehouse and pulped completely. “Again we are very sorry indeed for any offence this has caused,” the company said in a statement, adding that the chapter had "aimed to explain and demystify to boys what girls go through at puberty, and to promote mutual respect and understanding.”
An updated version of the passage is already in development, the publisher maintained, saying it "stands against gender stereotyping, or any kind of objectification of women and girls,” and that the brand welcomes all feedback that helps them create "books that are engaging, educational, child-friendly and accurate, and which communicate the values of respect and understanding."