Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Boobs Demystified

Once, the issue of breastfeeding meant a great deal to me.

I breastfed both of my boys and when I was a practicing doula, I advocated strongly for it. I tried to encourage my clients as much as I could, without becoming an overbearing zealot. Someitmes, it's a fine line to walk, especially when a woman is experiencing difficulties.

Now that breastfeeding is no longer a part of my life, I don't give it much thought. When I do, I can't really seem to muster as much passion for the issue as I once had. On one hand, this feels a little shameful. On the other hand, I think it's tempered the judgements and assumptions I might have once made with the kind of pragmatism born of hindsight.

So, there's this hullaballoo afoot, apparently; instigated by the always thought provoking Bill Maher, and a call to action. I'm a little slow on the uptake since my breasts have been retired from active duty for the better part of 8 years. But I think I can effectively rebut anything that has to be said on this issue, particularly if it is said by someone who is glaringly ignorant of the health benefits of breastfeeding, as well as it's importance in creating a strong and loving bond between mother and child.

Don't get me wrong. While I'm not a big Bill Maher fan in general, I like that he doesn't give a flip about public opinion, political correctness or the hyper sensitivity with which we seem to be collectively gripped these days.

But when it comes to this issue, I'm afraid he has ignited a firestorm that he is ill-equipped to extinguish. I'm not going to address his remarks point by point, because first, they were made with the express intent of generating controversy and inciting outrage. It's what he does and it should come as no surprise to anybody. And second, because he's a putz.

What I do want to address is a possible solution to this problem.

We need to demystify boobs.

In no other country are boobs so coveted, worshipped, lauded and adored as they are in the United States. In no other country are they treated with such reverence or such disdain. In no other country are people so shocked and outraged when they are put on display. And in no other country does their appearance cause so much adolescent sniggering or moral grandstanding.

Why? Because we have elevated breasts to near mythical status by deeming them lewd incitements to lust and fornication and covering them with all manner of clothing and contrivances.

I will not say that breasts are ONLY for feeding children. Anybody who does assert such a thing is sadly and inexcusably ignorant of the sexually inflammatory response they elicit on the part of other human beings; beings who are, intrinsically, sexual.

But perhaps this is one of those chicken and egg mysteries which can never be really solved. Did man, finding it wholly tantalizing and visually pleasing, sexualize the breast, thereby making it an object of intense desire? Or, did errant desire take a functional appendage and turn it into an icon of sexual titillation and desirability?

Whichever the case, the result remains the same. People like breasts. I like breasts. Although I am not sexually stimulated by breasts, I do find them very beautiful. But people are also shocked and dismayed by breasts, because they are sexual objects and as such, tabboo.

Recently, I was persuaded against my better judgement to let my boys watch a movie that I had deemed inappropriate for them. The main reason for my objection was the violence, but adding to my concerns was the nudity. I won't go into why I changed my mind, but as we watched, I found that while I could endure them watching the violence(albeit with no small amount of discomfort) during the moments of brief nudity, I felt horribly compelled to shield their eyes, fast forward...whatever, just do something to keep them from seeing the female breast laid bare.

I was shocked and disconcerted to find that the nudity bothered me much more than the violence. That is is how effectively we have been schooled to view the female breast as an obscenity. That is the depth to which the female breast has been villified, objectified, and sexualized.

So here's what I think:

We need to immerse ourselves in boobs. We need to see them on topless beaches. We need to see them plastered on billboards, taxicabs and busses. We need to see them on television, in magazines and on shining silver screens.

And we very much need to see mothers breastfeeding in public.

Only then will we ceased to be discomfitted by them. Only then will they cease to inspire shame and loathing, both in the wanting and in the posessing. Only then will people stop going to such great and sometimes violent lengths to avail themselves of them.

And only then will gentlemen like Bill Maher cease to titter like schoolboys behind one hand while shielding a surreptitious erection with the other when confronted by the sight of a mother feeding her child.

But then, I'm sure he can't help it. His masturbation analogy alone illustrates a certain sense of disgust and self-loathing when it comes to his baser instincts. And perhaps it is only through the forbidden, the shameful and the tabboo that he can be roused to sexual potency. To be sure, its a construct that we Americans have created and perpetuated with with our Victorian sensibilities and our Puritanical ideology.

Think of it this way...a century ago, it was considered unspeakably lewd to bare ankles or ears. They were, like the breast, verbotten due to their inherent eroticism. Now, we go about with them on display without giving it a second thought.

But...when was the last time you encountered an ear or ankle fetishist? Even among the plethora of sexual content on the internet geared toward every deviant taste you won't find a single porn site dedicated to ears or ankles. Not one.

Embrace your sexuality Bill. It's a good thing. Boobs? Are a good thing. And hey...I won't breastfeed in your bedroom if you don't ejaculate in my Applebee's. MMMKay?

Because the last time I checked, Applebees was an eating establishment. And a nursing bayb is most assuredly, eating. And breastmilk is most assuredly, food. A steady diet of breastmilk will yield a strog, healthy well nourished infant.

A steady diet of male ejaculate is unlikely to yield anything other than a whopping case of indigestion.

The analogy, like the argument, is ill-conceived and inept. And the exhortation that there is no deeper principle at work other than a failure to plan ahead is the worst kind of ignorance.

I'm not sure which bothers me more.


  • At 8:40 AM, Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said…

    Your last couple of paragraphs cracked me up, but I take the rest of the post is very seriously. I like your take on it, demystify the boobs and people won't be so uptight about seeing them in all their glory. Fantastic!

  • At 8:44 AM, Blogger painted maypole said…

    yup, I agree! :)

  • At 9:15 AM, Blogger thailandchani said…

    ...and the congregation shouted a hearty "AMEN"!

    I can't imagine the silliness that surrounds boobs, either. How they are constantly put into the giggle-behind-the-hand object of locker room fascination is beyond me.

    They're body parts with the specific function.



  • At 9:38 AM, Blogger S said…

    Awesome manifesto.

    Amen to all of it.

  • At 9:52 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As you were talking about demystifying the boob, I couldn't help thinking about how violence and even the language on the TV has changed.

  • At 10:08 AM, Blogger Bea said…

    The ankle analogy is a good one. It is a fact that certain men (and women) feel uncomfortable when they see a woman nursing her baby in a public place. The question is what we're supposed to do about that. Whose problem is that discomfort?

    In certain parts of the world today, men feel uncomfortable if women publicly display any parts of their body, including their faces. If we decide that their discomfort is the women's problem, there really is no limit to the restrictions women can be forced to endure in order to accommodate that discomfort.

    A few years ago, Ontario struck down the law making the exposure of women's breasts illegal. This is not a breastfeeding law - it means that a woman can go topless wherever she wants, whenever she wants. That first summer, there were a few topless women at beaches, and then everybody got tired of it. The fact is, women do not need to be policed in order to keep their bodies under lock and key.

  • At 10:48 AM, Blogger Casdok said…

    Amen from me to!!!

  • At 10:51 AM, Blogger Cathy, Amy and Kristina said…

    Wow. Fantastic post. And so very dead-on.

  • At 11:34 AM, Blogger flutter said…

    You crack me up, and I totally agree

  • At 1:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    You need your own talk show, woman. You say it so well, every single time.

  • At 2:08 PM, Blogger Mimi said…

    Well said! I agree!

  • At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I live in the UK and we do not get Bill Maher here. I use to watch his show "Politically Incorrect" many years ago. But had not seen him for a long time...

    I looked on youtube to find a clip of his "New Rules" for Sept. 14th when he said he did not want to see our tits. I hardly got through his monologue without shouting at my monitor, "You are such a fucking idiot." His humor is obvious and obnoxious. I prefer the subtle humor of Jon Stewart who is also very partisan in his opinions but at least he does not have the arrogance of Maher. Stewart also has the ability to poke fun at himself, something I notice Maher does not do.

    I too BF my two boys, like you BA. I would happily BF them at Applebees or where ever I happened to be. It is not about being an exhibitionist or wanting someone to google at you- it is about meeting your child's needs.

  • At 2:47 PM, Blogger jean said…

    I thought his piece was funny. I also think that if I want to breastfeed, tough shit on those around me. Breastfeeding is a personal choice. I choose to breast feed my son and I choose to be discreet about it. That was my choice. If others are uncomfortable then they should look away and mind their own business.

  • At 3:09 PM, Blogger Jen said…

    Genius! Really.

    I have to wonder, how much of what Bill Maher said was his true feelings and how much was intended as incendiary, publicity-enhancing, stirring of the pot?

    He's a moron. Here's to topless beaches.

  • At 6:55 PM, Blogger Liv said…

    Of course, ridiculously stupid coming from a man who practically lives at the Pl*yboy mansion... Breasts used for feeding? Does that really seem icky? Honestly.

  • At 7:37 PM, Blogger Ms. Skywalker said…

    I completely agree...and yet, it's me, bra on even in the throes of, well, you know.

    I'm going to blame this on those damn magazines with photoshopped perfection.

    Boob immersion. I'm pretty sure you could win the next presidential election with that platform.

  • At 8:38 PM, Blogger Her Bad Mother said…

    Exactly. EXACTLY. Let the unveiling begin.

    (tears top off.)

    (not really, but I will. And I'll take a picture.)

  • At 8:53 PM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I don't think I can ever eat in an Applebees again.

    The boob thing bothers me b/c it seems so ridiculous. Just let the babies eat and leave the poor mamas alone!

  • At 10:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Yeah. Let's all go topless. Glad I live in a warm clime!

    I breastfed too. One of the greatest things in my life. I nver did it in a restaurant. I went outside or to another room, but I did do it on an airplane sitting in the front rows that face each other surrounded by 5 men.Now I was discreet and coverd up, but we were having a conversation when the baby got hungry and I had to pop him on. I prefaced it by saying I had to do it and I hoped they were okay with it. They were all cool about it. It didn't bother me at all at the time, but now I think "How did I just sit there and talk to those guys with a baby sucking on my bare breast?"

    I've been to nude beaches and topless beaches in Europe. I've taken my son. It is one of his fondest memories! Of course he didn't want me to be topless, but I would have if I hadn't been with my cousin and his girlfriend. I say they are just boobs, just body parts and we need to get over it.

    I mean, yeah, they are sexual, when in that context, but I really think if I saw penises all day long I would not be thinking of them in a sexual way until I was with the one particular penis that I woud need for a sexual experience.

    Oh, and I like you last post too, but didn't get to comment on it. It inspired me to write a post on my blog. Thanks.

  • At 12:08 AM, Blogger said…

    Ugh. I cringed at the part where you were fine with the violence but felt horrified at the bare breast in front of your kids... I need to re-evaluate as well.

  • At 11:19 AM, Blogger Unknown said…

    very nicely said.

  • At 12:50 PM, Blogger Amy Y said…

    Here, here! :)

  • At 6:48 PM, Blogger Namito said…

    I think I'm glad I've been so out of touch. I completely missed this particular bit of ridiculousness.

    I was astonished, as a teenager, traipsing around Greece, that women thought nothing of going topless. One woman put it perfectly:

    "Here, your boobs are like your ears."

    But I still got a vicious sunburn on my back that day. Because I too, was programmed from birth.

  • At 11:40 PM, Blogger Alex Elliot said…

    I agree!

  • At 9:07 AM, Blogger Mad said…

    Rock on and NEVER SWALLOW.


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