[quote]Seriously, they're just breasts. Every second person in the world has them.[/quote]
Whether we’re comfortable or not admitting it, breasts wield a great deal of power in this world. Not only do they have the physiological power to provide sustenance to anyone who has ever been born, but they also have a polarizing sociological grip on us.
As a woman who is rapidly approaching her very first due date, I’ve naturally been doing some research on breastfeeding, as, provided everything goes well, that’s how I plan to feed my unborn kid when he or she arrives. What I didn’t realize is just how much divisive debate there is out there regarding breastfeeding and all of the issues it brings up for us as a society, from the sexualization of breasts in general to senses of ownership many people have about them. We could very well assert, then, that our feelings about breasts are dependent upon social context.
We all recall the Time magazine cover from 2012 where attachment parenting mom and advocate, Jamie Lynne Grumet, is breastfeeding her 3-year-old child, right? People were up in arms about that (very non-sexual) cover, with grocery store chains going so far as to pull the magazine from the front registers to avoid offending people, yet we rarely hear objections to covers like this (very sexual) GQ August 2013 issue, where just as much breast is exposed as the Time cover, albeit presented in a completely different way. It seems as though it is acceptable for breasts to be sexualized on glossy magazine covers, but very much unacceptable for them to be represented performing their other (some would argue, primary) function of breastfeeding.
Put into real life, picture two women: one in a body-conscious dress baring some cleavage and dancing at a nightclub, while the second is at a family barbecue happily nursing her baby at a table, wearing an average nursing top and jeans. Everything is fine and everything is as it should be. Nobody is offended. Now switch the two women, wearing the same clothing, to the opposite environment and check your feelings again. Suddenly things are no longer fine and suddenly a lot of people are offended. Context.
One could argue that this one body part is the most loaded body part of humanity, at least in Western society, not only for their miraculous dual function, but perhaps because they are the most visible part on a daily basis of both the male and female reproductive systems. The other bits we can easily downplay with clothing (except, apparently, for Jon Hamm), but breasts are inescapable, protruding reminders of not just sex and sexuality, but also of the most basic source of sustenance for all of humankind, whether we want them to be or not.
To further explore the wonderful world of breasts in all their facets and glory, try out some of these ideas:
Visit: Take a tour around La Leche League International’s website for support, inspiration, and fantastic resources on all things breastfeeding.
Wear: Advertise your assets properly by fitting them into the right bras (amusingly and expertly guided by Jezebel here). Ah, what a difference the right bra makes.
Read: A woman’s relationship with her body is only as healthy as her relationship with herself. Start them young with information from The Girls’ Guide to Life by Catherine Dee.