On the subject of breasts…
In this post I will be talking about a part of the human body that is close to the hearts of many. Why do we seem to care about them so much? Should they be seen as indecent? How do I currently feel about them? I will share my thoughts on all of the above in this slightly unusual post.
Today I will be focusing on the topic of breasts. Boobs. Titties. Puppies. Mahatmas. And whatever else kids are calling them these days. I would like to delve into the world surrounding these two - often elusive - mounds of flesh. My personal relationship with breasts seems to have changed as smoothly as my transitions from infancy into childhood, and then into adulthood. I find it rather amusing that I spent the first twelve months of my life having them shoved in my face on request, and then the next decade or so having them hidden from me at every possible opportunity. As an infant, all I had to do was cry, and my Mother was more than happy to oblige. Two decades later, I feel that the tables could not have turned any more. Attempting to weep in the general direction of women at this stage in my life would most likely leave me a very breastless and disappointed young man indeed. I don’t seem to recall caring about breasts very much as a child, yet as an adolescent, the mere thought of them was enough whip me up into a state of immature excitement. Thankfully, as is the case with any healthy relationship, as I have developed and matured, so have my feelings towards this particular part of the female anatomy.
I think existing attitudes towards breasts in certain Western societies could do with some progress to be honest. At one end of the spectrum, they seem to be very closely associated with fertility and femininity. I accept this association, considering the fact that they develop for many young women during puberty. In combination with other key changes during this period of time, their appearance helps to create a very clear visual distinction between the adult female body and that of a young girl. However, at the other end of the spectrum, breasts are outright sexualised and fetishized, worryingly, in a way that is widely accepted and practised. I recently had a conversation with someone in which they defined breasts as ‘sexual organs’. Dear reader, I could not agree less. If you put aside social conditioning, media portrayals and advertising, you are left with two milk-producing glands used to feed infants post pregnancy. Now, within the context of sexual activity, the breasts may be stimulated to elicit a sexual response, I get that. But taking this into consideration, at the very most, I would only really classify them as erogenous zones. The ‘attentive’ amongst you may be aware of the fact that these vary from woman to woman anyway.
Perhaps the least desirable outcome of the sexualisation of breasts is the way that it has confused our concepts of decency and beauty. I have always been puzzled by women who are happy to freely walk around in a bikini, but feel the need to hide themselves when in their underwear (forgive me, but aren’t they essentially the same thing?). The fact that breastfeeding women are often put off carrying out their motherly duties in public is highly unfair on the poor babies who don’t care about our crazy social conventions anyway. No woman should be made to feel that they are inadequate or lacking in beauty because of their cup size. Yet, entire industries continue to thrive upon the idea that ‘bigger is better’, enticing women to buy fillet ridden push-up bras and to pump their chests full of silicone, an exploitative practice that can sometimes go horribly wrong. There are many aspects of the female form that I would consider beautiful, and it would be nice if we could appreciate it in its entirety.
For us to start viewing breasts differently, all that is needed is a bit of maturity, and a healthy application of context. I appreciate that it is sometimes more practical for breasts to be covered up, but surely this should be done in the name of providing support, and not in the name of decency? Maybe if we went our entire lives without having exposed nipples being censored out of television programmes, magazines and social networking sites, we would get to a point where we just didn’t care about them as much? After all, it is nothing more than the desire to see the unknown, which motivates people - men especially - to go to great lengths to see them; enter: adult entertainment, voyeuristic behaviour and beach bound holidays to continental Europe. Context will teach us that if a female is in a state of arousal, then of course within this specific scenario, her breasts are more likely to perform a sexual function, and thus may be perceived accordingly. However, if a woman simply wants to be more comfortable in hot weather, change clothing in front of others, or breastfeed in public she should have the social freedom to expose her body to whatever extent she pleases, without being labelled indecent or provocative. After all these are freedoms that men enjoy, despite having large pectoral muscles, broad shoulders and muscular abs, features that they are not born with. (Yes, I know, men can’t breastfeed. Ha, ha, ha).
Do you think there is anything to be gained from a change in perspective in the way we view breasts? Or are you convinced that I am just a massive pervert? I’d love to know. Thanks for reading!
Next week’s post: ‘I wish life was like a videogame’
Last week’s post: ‘Why the hell would anybody want to be a vegan anyway?’