On New Year's Eve, I actually had one person (who shall remain nameless) tell me that he had never seen another woman's breasts but his wife's. (This was after I told him that no one in the room would mind if she nursed without a blanket.) After we all got done rolling our eyes, I reminded him of all the strip clubs he had gone to while single. He turned to me, and with a perfectly straight face, replied, "Yes, but those were professional boobs. Hers are the only natural, preservative free boobs that I have seen."
While there is probably room for argument about that (but alas, that is another topic for a not so public place such as this blog...) it got me to thinking about the role that breasts play in our society. I dug around, did some research, and found that bra burning feminists are actually a myth. I saw pictures of all kinds of breasts, and the nipples, and found a really interesting article on how nipples are not necessarily an erogenous zone. This then naturally led me to the objectification of women, specifically as sex objects.
I don't know that all of the men in my life realize how insulting that is, not only to the women they are objectifying, but to themselves. As if they are only a mass of hormones, completely unable to suppress their sexual desires. As if they can't possibly be expected to have feelings, as if they aren't men unless all they want to see are boobies, boobies, and MORE BOOBIES!!! I once had a college professor, in the course of discussing this very thing (men's "obsession" with breasts) state, "Anything more than a mouthful is a waste." Why do men have to see breasts to be turned on? And why is it considered automatic that any and all glimpse of a breast will automatically turn a man on? Cause quite frankly, if a man is turned on by a woman's breast while she is breastfeeding, that is more disturbing to me than the actual sight of her breast doing what it was designed to do. Along those lines, if men (and women, for that matter) have issues with breasts being out while feeding because they are "sexual" or because breast feeding is "disgusting", what the hell does that say for the future of the human gene pool that we are letting these people reproduce? That we are unable to control our sexual urges to the point of feeling a Puritanical need to automatically cover up a breast DOING WHAT IT IS SUPPOSED TO DO??? Good God, it is not as if a grown man was nursing with the intent of arousal! It is a baby satisfying the first biological need we all have...to get nourishment! Not the other one that apparently men are unable to control... Furthermore, why is it OK for some men to have their shirts off when they probably have larger breasts than some women, but if a woman is to feed a child in public without covering, she is judged to be some kind of hippie rebel, hell-bent on destroying the American family, and probably (*GASP!*) a lesbian feminist who worships Satan and is actively recruiting innocent, impressionable American youth into her army of destroyers.
What really is behind the whole breast thing? Is it that we as a society are truly that uncomfortable with our sexuality that anything that is remotely sexual we cover? I don't necessarily buy that...look at how sexual messages are used in advertising, for instance. Is it that breasts have been sexualized since the advent of formula? Well, maybe....it used to be the sight of a woman's ankle that drove men nuts until skirts got shorter. Is it a way to keep women in their place...by not allowing them to nurse in public, we are therefore surreptitiously confining them to the home, which therefore perpetuates male privilege? And for those women who say breastfeeding is disgusting, could it be that they are unknowingly participating in the continuation of that male privilege because it benefits them? That by being judgmental of another woman's child-rearing practices she is making herself feel superior and thus clamoring up the ladder of society as far as she can go (until, of course, she hits the glass ceiling...)
I am sure that there are some people out there who would read this and automatically dismiss it out of hand as nothing more than an angry feminist rant. They will tell me that I am actually sexist towards men, that I just need to get laid, that women already have it better than men. Really? Women are superior, huh? So why the fuss over showing breasts while breastfeeding? If we have such an elevated status, that would not matter because we would just crush you men. Think carefully about all of the things that default to the "male" as the status quo...men being the breadwinners, women taking men's last name when they marry, men being studs when they have sex, but women being sluts, the value we place on being strong (both physically and emotionally) and independent. First of all, I take exception that these are "male" because then if you are male and don't possess these characteristics, you are somehow less than. Secondly, who got to decide that these were desirable characteristics for you to have versus their opposites? And finally, why is it NOT OK for a female to have these characteristics? When women are allowed to possess these characteristics, when women are allowed to breastfeed in public without backlash, when a woman's breasts are not objectified as either "natural" or "professional"...hell, maybe once the woman herself is not put upon a shelf as a pretty thing to be played with when a man wants to or when it is time to reproduce...when women are valued for the contributions that we make and who we are as people versus some kind of feminine/masculine standard...and once men realize that these kinds of behaviors hurt them too...maybe then, we can finally say that women are equal. Not superior, as some men say now because they hate to see the privilege they got through nothing more than the right sperm meeting an egg disappear...but equal. Then maybe, we can move past breasts and using sex as an excuse to keep women in their place.
Just a rambling bit of my thoughts...where else can I admit that I have been thinking about breasts all weekend without people looking at me strangely? Of course, if things were truly equal, I could admit that and no one would...