Thanks for the Mammaries: A Handful of Thoughts on Breasts

suckle-upon-your-breasts-i-shall-consider-your-offerI like breasts. I don’t think I’m alone on this among heterosexual males, but I just wanted to lay it out there.

I like how they look, how they feel. I like soapy shower breasts. Bikini breasts and breasts in bras. Pointy, rounded, firm or floppy – I like breasts.

Many people – both men and women – seem to feel that large breasts are preferable, and we spend unholy amounts of money on breast augmentation.

Read zoologist Desmond Morris and he’ll tell you it’s because large breasts resemble buttocks, and since throughout most of human history the preferred position for intercourse was rear-entry – like most other mammals –  boobs that look like bums are favored. (Humans seem to be just about the only mammal for whom any other position is feasibly possible. It’s hard to imagine a cow elephant saying to her bull, “I want to be on top this time.”)

Evolutionary biologists argue that males prefer to mate with visibly healthy women, and breast size is an obvious cue to how much gynoid fat, found only in females, is being stored in a woman’s body, essential for the energy demands of pregnancy and lactation.

Professor of psychiatry Larry Young, who studies the neurological basis of social behaviors, says that attraction to breasts “is a brain organization effect that occurs in straight males when they go through puberty. Evolution has selected for this brain organization in men that makes them attracted to the breasts in a sexual context, because the outcome is that it activates the female bonding circuit, making women feel more bonded with him. It’s a behavior that males have evolved in order to stimulate the female’s maternal bonding circuitry.” In other words, men love to play with a woman’s fun bubbles because it stimulates her sexually, releasing floods of oxytocin (as happens when breast feeding), which in turn makes her more receptive and focuses her attention on her partner.

Media critics would tell you it’s the portrayal in films, television, advertising, etc. that fuels this obsession. And feminist film critic Molly Haskell (no relation to parental sycophant Eddie Haskell) claims that “the mammary fixation is the most infantile, and the most American, of the sex fetishes.” The fact is, though, that nobody’s quite sure.

What is sure, is that the plastic surgeons don’t care why 300,000 women a year in the US alone are getting cosmetic breast augmentation, they’re simply happy to receive the $1.1 billion that is being spent on boob jobs. Here in Hungary there’s a whole lotta silicone goin’ on, and outfits with names like Meditours have popped up all over the place, offering the chance to enjoy the sights of Budapest with freshly-bigger boobs.

Personally, I don’t go in for that stuff. When my wife got really fit after the birth of our second child her breasts shrank considerably, and I think she briefly, but not seriously, flirted with the idea of implants. She misses her grapefruit-with-a-cherry-on-top breasts, and needless to say so do I. But I tend to feel that the thousands of Euro she’d plonk down on stuffing her chest with silicone or saline would be better spent towards, say, a college fund.

Studying the searches on porn sites – a remarkably reliable way to gauge sexual interests across the globe – reveals that ‘busty’ is the second-most common search term (after ‘teen’), and sites like “Busty Babysitters” and “Busty Cops” cater to these love lump lovers. Young and chesty appears to be a preference shared by men from Russia to Zimbabwe, Canada to Japan. Not particularly surprising, I suppose.

What does surprise – and sadden – me, is all of the hullabaloo surrounding breast feeding in public in the US. When my wife’s sister gave her a batch of baby stuff that she no longer needed, in it was some sort of tent-like contraption, complete with poles and big as an umbrella. I asked what it was. It’s a breastfeeding tent, I was told. Are you shitting me? I asked.

Breastfeeding is the most normal, natural, and healthiest activity on the planet. Are we so prudish and Puritanical that we feel the need to stigmatize it? To attach shame to it? Breastfeeding has benefits for babies beyond belief, and it’s free. If a woman possibly can breastfeed her baby, then she certainly should, and making it socially unacceptable to do so in public is socially irresponsible to the point of criminality.

Here in Europe they seem to have a much healthier and more open attitude. Going topless is common on European beaches – although when I see the vermillion sunburns on British vacationers, I wish they wouldn’t – and even at public swimming pools, and no one gets up in arms. It’s hard to imagine the French freaking out about Janet Jackson’s intentional nip-slip during the 2004 Superbowl, while in the US there was general hysteria and insanity. (Interestingly, although many Americans were ostensibly shocked by this “outrageous” and “sexually explicit act,” the term “Janet Jackson” instantly became the most-searched term, image, and event in internet history, and led directly to the formation of YouTube.)

Of course, it’s not all fun-and-games titillation  when it comes to tits. My sister is a breast cancer survivor, who underwent a double mastectomy to save her life. The hubbub surrounding Angelina Jolie’s recent sensible preventative surgical procedure is a pretty pathetic indicator of many aspects of our modern infatuation with celebrities, scandal, and breasts.

Anyway, those are a few of my thoughts on a subject very dear to my heart. Feel free to share your thoughts on the twins if you like, but you needn’t feel obliged to share your photos. I’ll leave you with a few slang terms for lady pillows.

  • hooters
  • golden bozos
  • milksacks
  • yumyum bags
  • fun mountains
  • winnebagos
  • airbags
  • jubblies
  • ta-tas
  • knockers
  • bumpers
  • sweater kittens
  • pleasetellyourboobs

17 thoughts on “Thanks for the Mammaries: A Handful of Thoughts on Breasts

  1. I live in the US, and what I’m about to type may surprise or shock some people… I breast feed. In public. Without covering. (Take that, society!) Seriously though – why are restaurants like Hooters not offensive but a breast feeding mother is?? It’s shameful that society has put such a stigma on the most natural thing in the world. The only reason women have breasts is to feed her babies (pleasure for her mate is only a byproduct. BTW – add “Fun Bags” to your list…). So I feel no need to hide my baby when delivering his meal. And I dare anyone to say something to me as I’m doing so! There are laws protecting my right to breast feed in public, and by golly, my son has a right to eat. I’ll gladly offer a pillowcase to whom ever has the gall to approach me about my exposed breast in public: “If you wear this while you eat, I’ll gladly cover my son’s head while he eats, too.”

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    • An excellent point about Hooters (I find the entire business model a ridiculous one, but it’s apparently successful – the first Hooters in Hungary recently opened, much to my chagrin).
      Good on you for not feeling or showing shame for feeding your kid in public. The fact that there’s even debate about this strikes me as absurd.
      Thanks for visiting and sharing your comments. Cheers!

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  2. As a woman currently breastfeeding (and living in Los Angeles), I think there are certainly a good share of us trying to be more public with our boobs. I’m a shy person in general, so the “hooter hider” made it 100% more likely that I’d whip out a boob at LACMA, or The Grove, or anywhere else bustling with people. I like to think that I’m promoting bfing in public, and bfing in general, even if I am a little covered. 🙂

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    • There is definitely nothing wrong with being discreet – my wife generally used a shawl or something similar to cover herself when breastfeeding. A lot of it has to do with the comfort level of the mother, and if she feels more comfortable covered up then that’s great. But barring women who are breastfeeding from public spaces (as has happened in the US) is not only ludicrous but just plain wrong. Good for you for feeding your baby in public, and best of luck with the wee one.

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  3. I couldn’t agree more. My wife, who is European, is constantly rolling her eyes and the ridiculous prudishness of us yanks. I wish we could take the matter of fact clinical approach to breasts and nudity that the Europeans have. Nudity is only a big deal when you make it a big deal. I think if patents here just said “yeah, that’s a boob, so what. She’s feeding her baby” then it wouldn’t be the shocking display american parents make it out to be. I also think it’s hypocritical to make a big deal over breastfeeding since there seems to be no filter to the violence we’re willing to expose them to.

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  4. I find it amazing that we spend that much on boob jobs in this country and yet people are still always being thrown out of places for feeding their children. I’ve seen some pretty horrific comments made about women for breastfeeding in public. WIth my first I was scared and hid. WIth my second I didn’t care a bit and nursed him whenever and wherever he happened to be hungry. I LOVE that a man made any statement about this at all. Thanks for this tribute to titties (which might be a bit crass, but is my husband’s favorite term.)

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    • Really, the breastfeeding brouhaha is to me both inexplicable and unacceptable. We should be be encouraging women to breastfeed as much as we can, and being as supportive as possible when they do. Thanks for the comments! (I was a little concerned about this one – afraid I might offend some of our female readers.) Cheers!

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  5. Hey! I actually really like this site, even though I am really far from parenthood, I feel like I can relate to many articles 🙂 I liked this article about breasts, I was really shocked when I heard some of the people’s comments on Angelia J’s mastectomy, so I’m glad that there are some intelligent pieces out there 🙂

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    • What I love best about this comment, Gre Tee, is the shock with which you relate that you ACTUALLY LIKE this site. 😉 You know, I’m not sure but I think the idea about soapy shower breasts might have actually come from one of your FB posts. Anyway, thanks for visiting. I hope things are great with you!

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      • I was just schocked because most Hungarian blogs about parenthood (I admit I don’t read many) are always so “radical” and closed-minded, so I guess I generally started to hate all of these blogs. Anyway, glad that my facebook page gives you inspiration 🙂

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