Legitimate sporting challenge or misogynistic titillation? This is the question being asked of ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’, a newly televised ‘extreme sport’. “Of course this is legitimate sporting activity in the tradition of extreme sport challenges,” opines Dave Numpty, Controller of Sports Programming at UK digital channel Runner Up TV, which is to start screening the new sport later this month. “It’s really just a logical extension of things like ‘extreme ironing’, which was in vogue a few years ago – it is all about making everyday activities more exciting by performing them in extreme circumstances.” ‘Extreme Ironing’ involved people climbing mountains and setting up ironing boards on dangerous ledges before proceeding to iron their shirts. “It was an attempt to make extreme sports seem more accessible to ordinary viewers at a time when they were declining in popularity,” explains media expert Dan Pratt. “Part of the problem was one of familiarity breeding contempt. After all, stuff doesn’t seem extreme after you’ve seen it dome over and over again. On the contrary, it becomes routine. Also, people tended to associate the extreme sports scene with pumped up guys like Vin Diesel, making it difficult for regular people to relate to them. Hence ‘Extreme Ironing’.” Pratt believes, however, that ironing was a poor choice of everyday activity to try and incorporate into extreme sports. “The problem with this is that ironing is simply boring,” he says. “Whether you do it on a mountain ledge or in your living room, it’s dull. That said, the underlying idea – of making an everyday activity extreme in order to broaden the popularity of extreme sports – is perfectly sound. They just needed to pick a different activity, one which, unlike ironing, could be combined with a variety of extreme sports. Which is why ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ could be a winner.”

Indeed, Numpty has high hopes that ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ will provide his channel with a major ratings boost. “We’re confident that it will provide us with a much broader viewing base than we have at present,” he enthuses. “Sports-based channels are notorious for the extreme male bias their typical audiences demonstrate. We’ve no doubt that ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ will help redress this balance by providing a new sport specific to women. Not just women viewers – it will be exclusively showcasing female athletes (unless they can find some lactating men). Let’s not forget that women’s sports are notoriously poorly served by TV, so we’re really blazing a trail here!” The TV executive promises that ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ will provide a far more varied and exciting viewing experience than ‘Extreme Ironing’. “I can guarantee that it will cover the full gamut of extreme sports,” he says. “Not only are we going to have women breast feeding their babies half way up a mountain, but they’ll also be doing it whilst white water canoeing, (it would be bloody difficult to set an ironing board up on a canoe), skate-boarding, BMX biking or even hang gliding!” The nature of this new extreme sport also brings the advantage of a guaranteed high turnover of competitors. “One of the big problems with any sport is that they are often dominated by a handful of top competitors for long periods,” Numpty explains. “This can often lead to staleness and viewer boredom – they feel that they are watching the same thing over and over again. The beauty of ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ is that each competitor has only a finite career span – once their kid gets too old to breast feed, they’re out! Until they push out another one, obviously.”

Not surprisingly, Runner Up TV’s plans to screen ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ haven’t met with universal approval, with many women’s groups being highly critical of the station’s decision. “All this nonsense about showcasing female athletes is just a smokescreen, a justification for showing naked women’s breasts on TV,” declares noted feminist writer Susie Slingback. “It’s quite obvious that the target audience isn’t women, but put the sort of men who watch TV with their trousers around their ankles and a box of tissues next to their remote.” She is particularly angry that the TV station is attempting to subvert a key part of motherhood to provide misogynistic entertainment to sex starved male chauvinists. “It’s quite outrageous that they should be turning a natural function – one unique to women – into pornography,” Slingback says. “They are simply serving up smut under the guise of presenting a new ‘woman empowering’ sport. It’s the sort of thing I would have hoped that TV executives had left behind years ago!”

Slingback has proposed that Runner Up TV should consider a similar programme featuring male competitors. “Whilst it is difficult to think of a natural function unique to men which they could combine with performing extreme sports, there a few which are generally confined to the male gender,” she ponders. “We could perhaps have ‘Extreme Defecation’, where they have to take a dump, on camera, whilst half way up a mountain, or suspended upside down from a ledge, or maybe ‘Extreme Urination’, having to hit a target with a stream of piss whilst hurtling past it on a skateboard.” But the writer believes that, ultimately, there can only be one real candidate for a male equivalent to ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’. “It has to be ‘Extreme Masturbation’, obviously,” she says. “How apt would it be if they were forced to screen footage of beer-bellied, balding men attempting to manipulate their flaccid members whilst simultaneously trying to fly a hang glider? Perhaps they could be shown the highlights of ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ on their mobile phones to try and help them get it up?”

Numpty has rejected Slingback’s criticisms, arguing that ‘Extreme Breast Feeding’ is actually a celebration of motherhood. “I don’t like to play the public service card, but I think that we are actually encouraging breast feeding by making it appear more glamourous and exciting,” he says. “And so what if, by giving us a legitimate reason for showing bare breasts, it caters to the sexist lad segment of the TV audience? Surely that would be unique? Sports programming that appeals to both feminists and pimply sex-starved teenage boys!” He also rejects allegations that ‘Extreme Breast Feeding is putting the participants’ babies at risk. “Sure, there are bound to be people claiming that extreme breast feeding would be dangerous for the participants’ babies,” he says. “But babies are resilient, you can drop them a few times without doing any real harm, (or so I’m told). I mean, surely exposing some babies to a bit of risk is worth it if it means that you can glorify the institution of motherhood?”