Feminism Fridays: Why Are Boobs So Sexy?

I’m hoping to build the content and consistency on my blog, and so I’m going to try introduce a weekly post, about feminism. They say write what you’re passionate about, so here goes… Welcome to the first of (hopefully) many Feminism Fridays!

I was watching a Miley Cyrus interview with Jimmy Kimmel the other day, and she naturally had on one of her “risqué” outfits, nipple pasties included. Her outfit was the subject of their discussion, and she raised an interesting point about the censorship of female nipples. She argued that women are forced to cover their nipples, a body part that both male and females have. Yet, what society is okay with seeing is the fleshy, fatty part of the breast, which is unique to females. Women can wear dresses that show off side-boob, under-boob, any type of boob really, but once the nipples come out, it’s a whole other story. So why are women forced to cover up something that is shared by both men and women?

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Breasts, just like so much of the female body, have become incredibly sexualised. Which, honestly, I never really understood. What is so sexy about two big (or in my case, small) lumps of fat on our chests? They are, fundamentally, there to nourish and feed babies. These lumps of fat that are really just a nuisance most of the time, are there to give milk to children, should we have any, are for some reason coveted and deemed sexy.

I could go to any shop and pick out at least three dresses that are designed to highlight the breasts. To accentuate them, or even push them up. To make them more noticeable, to make them bigger. Breasts are sexy. But what’s not sexy is those two circles in the middle of them; the nipples. Men are free to walk around beaches, even a normal street on a normal day with no top on. But if a woman does it, she is subjected to cat calling, slut shaming, and hoards of abuse. There are hundreds of articles on the internet dedicated solely to “nip-slips” of celebrity. “Oops! X had a bit of a fashion faux-pas and reminded us that she has nipples, a body part that both men and women have!” We may be encouraged to show off our boobs (but in a tasteful way, of course), but encouraged to hide our nipples.

Finding the balance between sexy and “slutty” is hard. Girls are told from a young age to pull their tops up, to cover up. Hell, I’m still told to pull my top up. God forbid someone see the beginnings of my two lumps of fat. But at the same  time, we are bombarded with low -cut tops and dresses, designed for the purpose of revealing the breasts. Yet we are still told to cover them, and to cover ourselves. They’re our “private parts”.

But, breasts play no part in the reproductive system. Yeah, they may be included in the act of baby-making, but when it comes to conceiving, they are not needed. Vaginas? Yeah. Sort of necessary. A penis? Comes in handy too (no pun intended). But breasts? They play no role in the conceiving of a baby. So why are they treated the same way as the real reproductive parts are? Breasts don’t make the babies. They feed them. Better start going around the farms and covering cow’s udders. They function the same as breasts, but I don’t see cows having to spend 25 euro on a bra to hide them.

Let’s round up what we know so far. Women’s nipples must always be hidden, but the 60 year old man on the beach with the saggy man breasts can flaunt his stuff. Cool. Department stores can parade huge posters of women in their lingerie, with push-up bras to maximise their assets. Okay. So no nipple, but boobs are okay. But- plot twist! Boobs are only okay in a sexualised context. When they are fulfilling their role, however, by breast-feeding a child,that’s not okay. In a lot of places, it’s severely frowned upon. Em, what?

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Once we take breasts out of a sexual context, all hell breaks loose. I’m not sure how it is anywhere else in the world, but in Ireland, breast-feeding, though very common, still has a prejudice around it. Women are shunned when they feed their children in public places, even though what society fears is hidden; the nipple. The nipple is hidden, and what you can see, if you can see anything beyond the suckling baby, is some breast. Just like in the pictures of models in lingerie. Just like in those cut out dresses. But wait, a woman feeding her child isn’t sexy. We must shame her! How dare she feed her child in public! I don’t want to see that! I can see some of her breast, it’s disgusting. But doesn’t this actress one the red carpet with the low-cut dress look amazing? I wish I had boobs like that! *rolls eyes*

Women are constantly sexualised, by both men and women alike, yet if we play into that sexualised view by embracing our sexuality, whether that be acting on it or via our clothes, we are shamed. Branded a slut, a whore. Yet, women cannot feed their child without being shamed for doing something maternal, and not sexual. It’s like we are degraded for using our breasts in a non-sexualised context. Some people are uncomfortable with seeing women breast feed, but that comes down to the sexualisation of breasts. We are taught that we’re not supposed to see bare breasts unless in a sexual situation. Their function is over-looked in favour of their sexualisation.

People are accepting of the fact that women have breasts. Yet, the fact that these breasts are accompanied by nipples seems to send people in a tizzy. Both men and women aren’t comfortable with seeing women’s bare breasts. Even us girls, who are very familiar with the female anatomy. We are brought up with the mind-set that breasts are sexy. For use in sexual acts, thus making them “private parts”. We are taught to not look at them, and if we do, to not comment. We are brought up to want bigger boobs, because the bigger the boobs, the sexier we are. When really bigger boobs just bring bigger back pain.

It’s so hard to shake off what has been so deeply embedded in society. I am a supporter of the “Free The Nipple” movement, yet even I would be hesitant to walk down the road with no bra on. Sometimes, I can’t even go out without wearing a bra on underneath my top, should someone see the outline of my breasts. Bras seem to have a double function. Not only do they hold our chest lumps in place, they also smooth down the shape of them, so people don’t have to know we have nipples. Bras give the chest a nice rounded shape, with no hint of nipple, so I won’t make people uncomfortable with something we are all born with.

With a pair of breasts, comes great responsibility. There is a fine line that us women are forced to maintain. Highlight your breasts, show them off, but in a classy way. Ignore the fact that women have nipples. Disregard the fundamental function of breasts, to nourish children. Try to maintain the patriarchal viewpoint that breasts are sexy. But it seems to me that we have another responsibility; to try break that stigma. One nipple at a time.

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5 thoughts on “Feminism Fridays: Why Are Boobs So Sexy?

  1. Well I saw a pair of breasts and had to click on this post first! Seriously though thank you for visiting my blog and I am glad I checked yours out because I can tell that I am going to enjoy your perspective. You are an excellent writer and clearly edit your posts, something you’ll have noticed I don’t do often enough!

    The ex-girlfriend I mentioned in my post that you read told me that one of the reasons why we might find breasts sexy, and perhaps more so a good bit of cleavage is that it then resembles a butt which we are designed to want to go after. I don’t know how rooted in research that observation was as she only told me that verbally and I don’t know the source, but it made some sense. Although clearly we know that there was a time when the exposure of an ankle was as exciting as we think breasts are today so the socialized aspect of it all still seems to be the overlying truth. I went to the Burning Man festival back in 2008 (not sure if you are familiar with it) and there, there is a lot of nudity and toplessness. When I first arrived I have to say it was pretty hard not to stare at all the topless women, but I have to say that after about 5 days I hardly even noticed. The sex appeal factor dropped considerably after what I thought was a short period of time. It does seem there is this aspect of humanity that finds the revealing of what is hidden appealing. Regardless of the fact that they have a biological function it seems clear that if stopped treating them like something that shouldn’t be revealed we’d probably stop sexualizing them. At a biological level there is always going to be some physical aspects that are going to be alluring to us, but I think in a lot of ways we’ve removed the variety by defining sexuality in such narrow ways. I mean there are hunter gatherer tribes that are almost completely nude…they should be having sex constantly if exposure was the answer to why we are attracted to each other. More to the point I think we could be a lot more okay with sexualizing certain non-sexual body parts if it wasn’t for the stigmas you describe. Exposure is not an invitation to sex or an indication on the promiscuity of a woman. It’s just exposure…maybe a woman does want to turn a man on…but its not necessarily you…and she’s probably looking for someone who has more depth to them than just the ability to be turned on by breasts. More importantly she could just be dressing that way because it’s how she wants to feel and it’s really not about anybody else at all. It’s simply self-expression.

    And you’ve done a wonderful job I describing the no-win scenario many women face today. Laws are in place for women, but it’s the unwritten rules that hound a woman’s every decision. There is still this undercurrent in society that wants to control women. It’s so tiring….it’s so old. Can’t we just stop? 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, thank you for your comment! I’m so glad you liked the post and the blog, I’m looking forward to reading more of your posts 🙂

      I agree with everything you said! I think that the sexualisation of them is a social conduct, like what you said about the ankles! It frustrates me so much, particularly because I am victim to it, that there is such a needless stigma around breasts (in my eyes). What you said about the festival was really interesting. Of course, when exposed to bare breasts, even I know wouldn’t know where to look! But the more you saw them, you just got used to it and it became normalised. That’s why i think it was a societal invention, because just a few days of topless women and it was easy to forget. What a women puts on her chest, or does, is most definitely up to her and her business, yet it is these unwritten and understood rules that govern what she does. But it’s a difficult situation, because although, as you said, exposure does not constitute an invitation to sex, there are some individuals that would deem it so. And you’re absolutely right. It’s incredibly old, and you would think in 2016 we would be past it all. But it’s not going to be an easy job!

      I’m also glad to see that there are some men who can power through the post, one my classmates told me he intended to read it expecting to see pictures of breasts, but I’m afraid he was disappointed!

      I really appreciated this comment and how much you engaged with this post. Thank you! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It was a very engaging post so you are very welcome! For me blogging is about simply chronicling my own thoughts more than wondering if anybody reads them and it’s clear that you think deeply about important things and I feel that you bring up issues that are important for us to talk about even if we disagree. Part of why change in this area can be so slow is because for the longest time this was something you didn’t even talk about. It was taboo. So I feel it’s important to support anybody who is adding to the discussion and trying to consider other points of view while bringing an important issue into the spotlight is worth everybody’s time. The introspective nature to your writing too, also appeals to me personally because I always love people who are challenging themselves personally to more. 🙂

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      2. Yeah, my blog initially started out as my thoughts and I didn’t care whether anyone found it or not. But as I got more aware of deeper issues, so did my blog! It’s so important to even try attempt to think about issues like this, even if it challenges your own personal ideas. If we all do that, maybe talking about these things won’t be as difficult.

        Liked by 1 person

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