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Where does the breast
obsession stem from?

 

Breast obsession

So, what is it about breasts that makes North Americans SO obsessed with them as sexual objects? In the course of history many different parts of the female body have been fetishes for men, for example ankles, necks, and tiny feet (in China)... so WHY breast obsession in our age?

It seems to be linked to the fact that breasts are viewed very strongly as sexual body parts, and NOT seen as "baby feeders." In fact, at least some Americans are about to forget their natural function!

In the fall of 1993, one of the undergraduate students in my 'Women and Culture' course was totally flabbergasted to discover that the biological function of women's breasts was for feeding children. With obvious shock and disgust evident in her voice she asked, 'You mean women's breasts are like a cow's udder?' That a young woman could reach college without ever having even heard of women using their breasts to feed their children is a sad commentary on American culture.
Katherine Dettwyler as quoted in The Breastfeeding Action Committee of Edmonton (BACE) report about Breastfeeding at Municipal Pools in Canada

If we can see breasts as the WONDERFUL means God created to feed and comfort babies, then the obsessions about them can disappear; men don't have to think that breast appearance somehow counts the most, and women don't have to obsessively worry about the size and shape of their breasts.

What about women who do not want to or cannot have children? How should they view their breasts?

Their breasts, as all women's, are essentially a "signal" or a reminder of how babies are fed. They are still like a "banner" that shows us what food babies get. Even if you are not going to ever breastfeed and use your breasts for that purpose, you can still appreciate the function of breasts, the wonders in breast milk, the efficient mechanism of how it all works (if you study a bit about it), and so on.

This obsession HURTS women and men in various ways that are not always obvious. For example: MEN become easy targets for pornographic advertisements that use breasts as the main enticement or keyword. Or, a woman may need to go braless for her breast health's sake, which then results in men ogling over her, making comments, and considering her only on a sexual level (see comment by Chris below).

I feel strongly that this breast obsession is a problem in the country I live in, the U.S. Please note that I am not talking about all men in what I'm saying below.

I am tired of the over-the-top responses I get from some men towards my breasts. I mean, it just gets ridiculous. Women are more than a pair of breasts, aren't they? What about my mind, my spirit? The breast obession that some men have make relationships between men and women very difficult.

Also, the idea of going brafree, a very healthy choice in many cases, is mentioned on this website and made all the more difficult because of this breast obession. I personally don't like to wear bras. I find them constricting and uncomfortable, even "properly fitting" ones. Also, my severe breast pain stopped when I stopped wearing bras. So, I choose not to wear them, and I have every right not to wear them. But, in the culture I live in, women are expected to wear them. And if I don't, then it's "my fault" if I'm ogled, stared down, commented upon, all because of this breast obsession. I'm suddenly, "fair game" for this type of treatment. These types of attitudes are insenstive to women and completely unfair. It turns men into an enemy in public, who won't allow me my right to live my life in peace, without having my boundaries violated as I go about my business. Yes, I can speak up and tell them to leave me alone, stop staring, all of which I have done. But why should I have to do this repeatedly? Why should women have to constantly deal with these intrusions from men? This breast taboo translates into breast disrespect and disrespect of women.

I don't feel like having men I don't know relate to me only on a sexual level, just because I have breasts and just because I don't want to wear a bra. My not wearing a bra is not intended to be sexually inticing to men. Like I said, it's about comfort and health for me. But the way many men interpret it sexually, without regard to any of my feelings or reasons, makes me very uncomfortable.

So, this is just one example of how Western attitudes towards breasts hurt women emotionally and also negatively affects relationships between men and women, thereby hurting men also. I'm convinced that if this obsession with breasts didn't exist, things would be so much easier for most women and men and women would have better relationships with each other.

Chris

But why does the American society view breasts primarily as sexual objects and not as baby feeders? Carolyn Latteier voiced it out this way:

"Well, I think it has partly to do with the fact that we don't breastfeed very much. I mean, breastfeeding rates have improved, but most women don't breastfeed very much or very long or in public. So when we see a breast, we don't say, "Oh there are those magical milk-making things."
Carolyn Latteier in Berman & Berman's TV program "All about breasts"

Let's see how that might come about.

Bottle feeding story

Baby is fed from the bottle, so he doesn't get to know Mom's breast as a food source and as the best pacifier. Also, if Mom never undresses or uncovers her bosom in front of her child, the child never gets to see breasts. Parents, society, TV, and media show breasts to be something forbidden, something to be covered, yet exciting and sexual, preferably large and upright, and the child easily ends up believing that way, as well.

But what if the baby is breastfed?, you might say. After all, most women do breastfeed their babies at least in the hospital. But they don't do it for very long! Let's imagine what happens in the weaning process.


Weaning story

Baby is breast fed in the beginning. But, maybe Mom has problems with breastfeeding, can't find help, and has to start supplementing with a bottle. This reduces her milk supply, and soon the baby is weaned. Or maybe Mom goes to work at six weeks and weans the baby completely at this point (she could have continued nursing in the evening and morning!).

I LOVE MAMA'S BREAST!

DON'T TAKE IT
AWAY FROM ME!

But for whatever reason, Mom weans the baby early on. But just because Mom quits nursing doesn't mean the baby wants to! The attachment and love for Mommy's breasts don't go away just like that. The baby loses its best source of food, yes, but it also loses one of its sources of comfort and security.

The babe is probably feeling along the lines, "Hey, don't take those away from me! Those soft sponges belong to me! You can't do that! Hey, nobody here cares about my feelings! PLEASE Mommy....."

This kind of early and forced weaning can hurt the baby emotionally. Deep inside the baby retains the feeling of wanting the breast. The baby still likes Mommy's breasts. He/she is still interested in Mommy's bosom and wants to touch it, cuddle the breast, feel close — and get the yummy milk (breast milk tastes quite sweet, sweeter than formula).

You can see this when weaned toddlers and babies are still interested in breasts and want to touch them. Unfortunately, many times the mother feels uneasy about it and maybe thinks it is "indecent" or "perverted" behavior. The father may feel the same and fear that his child (especially his son) is going to grow up to be "some kind of pervert." But that is not true! Little children don't think sexual things!

Then the mother tries to get her child to stop this "nipple twiddling" and breast cuddling. The child is probably taught that touching naked breasts is BAD, it is a "NO-NO". Now, if the mother never lets her children see bare breasts, it is no wonder that the child develops a curiosity towards breasts. The child stars thinking, "What is it about them? Wonder what they look like? Why do they keep them hidden?"

While the child is growing up, everything around her touts that breasts are forbidden, a taboo. We know that taboos just encourage curiosity. On top of that, the media presents breasts not only as forbidden but something exciting and sexual, which starts arousing sexual feelings especially in boys. Girls at least get to see their own breasts and often times Mom's too, which lessens this curiosity/excitement factor.

So, what started as innocent curiosity and love towards Mommy's breasts can be turned into sexual feelings in boys, whereas young girls start (often obsessively) worrying about the sexual attractiveness of their breasts. They worry about their breast size and shape, nipple size and shape, stretch marks, sagginess — about every aspect of their breasts, and quite often start wishing for breast implants, assuming that breasts need to be big to be attractive.

It all starts when you take the breast away from the child AND then make seeing breasts a forbidden no-no for the rest of the child's growing period. The end result is a distorted view of female breasts.

A weaned child still interested in breasts?

So what should you do if your already weaned child wants to touch mom's breasts and is very curious about them? Here's what to do: explain in the child's level of understanding what those pieces of flesh are for. Explain to him/her: "These are the milk bottles you drank from as a tiny baby. They are called breasts." Or, "These are like milk bottles. Milk comes out of them when babies suckle and they're called breasts." Show the child a few photos of nursing (from the Internet, for example). Give him/her a biology lesson (on her terms)!

PLEASE MOMMY... 

GIVE ME SOME MILK!

The WORST thing to do is to make a big fuss, to declare breasts a no-no and something totally forbidden (taboo). It's simple enough to tell the child what they are, and do so in a no-nonsense style, just sort of "no big deal", normal type of thing. That should satisfy the child's curiosity.

After a while, such curiosity will probably pass and something else will take its place... just don't make it any big deal. But IF the child keeps wanting to touch and cuddle for a long time, you can explain that "These are the milk bottles but they are my body parts and you don't have to touch me here all the time." You can offer a reason such as "...the nipple is so sensitive." But first make sure you've given the explanations.


So are breasts sexual?

This is a question that cannot be answered in a short space. Breasts are part of the "whole package" that makes a woman. They aren't sexual in the sense that merely looking at them in some everyday context (such as BREASTFEEDING) shouldn't make men instantly think about sex! Yet they are sexual in the sense that they are a female body part, and the whole female is sexually attractive to men.

We are not saying that men can't appreciate and admire women's breasts (as feminine and beautiful body parts), or that a man and a woman can't enjoy touching each other's bodies during their intimate relationship. We are saying breasts are not supposed to be an immediate "turn-on," or in other words a special obsession point for men.

beliefs about breasts

The advertisements and media images play to the idea that men are supposed to be "all ready" the instant they get a flash of a breast. That, we feel, is UNHEALTHY! However, breasts are a part of our femininity as women, and men can be, and ARE drawn to the whole female. It is indeed the whole woman, the entire feminine being who kindles and fans the flame of sexual desire for men.

On this website we aim to fight back against this sad trend where breasts are "elevated" into objects of automatic "turn-on" for men. Keep in mind, though, that this is NOT men's fault, because they have been culturally conditioned to see breasts that way.

So let breasts be like legs, hips, neck, face, and all the other body parts of a female—part of the whole female (and it's the whole that is sexually attractive to men). Breasts tie in with maternity: they signal that the woman is mature, capable of bearing and nursing children. They also REMIND us of their precious life-giving part in child-rearing. Perhaps YOU yourself were once nourished by those magnificent organs!

Some people mention to us Song of Solomon, which mentions breasts in a sexual context. People say that proves breasts are supposed to be "sexual." Keep in mind Song of Solomon CLEARLY places breasts on the same level as other body parts, such as the teeth, neck, and hair. Think of breasts both as "ornaments" (pretty) and as "magnificent" (because of their function—the process of milk production and breastfeeding is QUITE intricate). Song of Solomon definitely gives the picture of the WHOLE FEMALE as being attractive... (including breasts) but it does not in any way show breasts as some focal "ogle" point.


Vicious cycle

The LESS women breastfeed, the LESS people get to see the real purpose of breasts. At the same time media everywhere touts the view of female breasts as sexual. That in turn makes it harder for women to breastfeed, since many of the reasons for not breastfeeding are linked to the sexualization of breasts.

So the less women breastfeed, the harder it becomes for women to breastfeed. We have a cycle that self-promotes the view that the main purpose of female breasts is for something else than feeding babies!

The cure?

  1. First, let children be breastfed.
  2. Let older children and teenagers see breastfeeding moms and their babies.
  3. Let children and young people learn about breasts and breastfeeding. Let them see breasts used for their purpose.
  4. Don't make it a taboo, a forbidden no-no.

 



Visitor comments

After looking through your website I was in ecstasy! I feel like I am finally escaping the great American breast brainwashing. Since age 13 when I first was exposed to pornography I have been totally obsessed with breasts, the bigger, the better. My mother never nursed me even once as her doctor advised her to give me formula. Your website helped me as a male viewer to see the female breast as a natural part of the female body and not as some mystical sex object. My whole attitude toward women has changed as a result. All humans are naturally beautiful, created in the image of God. But the greatest beauty is the beauty inside. If two people can love each other then the externals are not nearly as important as what is in our souls and how we relate in love to each other.

Steve
As a guy, I have many pre-conceived images of what kinds of breasts are considered attractive (both sexually and visually) through various media channels.

I have been searching for a website that is both educational and respectful in its approach towards female bodies and I'm glad I have found it in yours.

Your home page's message and real life pictures of normal female breasts in your website's picture galleries has helped me greatly; by guiding my mind NOT to think of breasts as some kind of trigger to think about having sex or entertain any sexual fantasies.

I personally hope your website would not only help women of all ages to be more reasonably self-assured about their own body images, but would also serve as a educational platform for men from all walks of life to learn to seriously respect any female they see instead of viewing their bodies (particularly breasts) as mere objects or tools which trigger or help sustain sexual urges and satisfaction.

This website and its galleries can be part of the fight against porn, as long as the overall direction and tone of its messages are kept educational, conciliatory and non-judgmental.

To all the ladies out there, regardless of age and race, you are beautiful the way you are. Breast implants are not a true reflection of what females are endowed with naturally.

To all the men out there (especially those seeking to help themselves overcome lust and sexual addiction), let's work together to love and respect the females we see and interact with based on who they really are inside (their values and attitudes towards love and life) than treating their bodies as mere objects or tools to satisy us men.

Geo

I came across your site by accident because I just implemented a new safe search engine on my web site and typed breasts in it to see what results I would get. I was very interested in the comments and views here. As a man I have fallen prey to the media and have become obsessed with women's breasts. I was never breast fed and believe the first time I ever saw a breast was in pornographic magazine. I believe these experience rewired my brain and the media has only increased this faulty thinking. When having my son I was very involved in helping his mom breastfeed, from actually holding him to her breasts after his birth because she was too tired to helping pump with our manual breast pump. Unfortunately as a divorced single dad I am still struggling with this obssession. I utilize my bounce technique as often as possible in which my eyes will start to look at a women and then I imediately catch myself and look in the opposite direction. But it is still a battle. Do have any other suggestions on how to wean a 32 year old man from the breast? Thank you for your work.

The problem you experience is unfortunate, and unfortunately has been caused by the way the society teaches us to view breasts. To rectify it is not easy, but IS certainly possible!

The main solution has to do with rewiring the brain and getting rid of the association "breasts = sex" that has become so automatic.

Remember Pavlov's dogs? They trained the dogs to expect food whenever a bell rang. The media and pornography train men's brains to start arousal at the SIGHT of a female breast.

Consider breasts being on the same "level" as other female body parts, such as hands, lips, hair, face, legs, and so on. Then, seeing breasts alone won't be especially exciting. In other words, female breasts should just be "part of the package" of the female form, but not a special sexual object when viewed alone and in themselves.

One of the best ways to do this is to visit a topless beach where all the people - men and women - are at ease, and the atmosphere is totally non-sexual. There will be breasts all around you, and when you see them a lot (IN A NON-SEXUAL SETTING), they become very usual, nothing special — and even boring!

We have received reports on how this truly works. So, if economics allow, consider vacationing in the Caribbean. Still pictures can help some too; however, the live situation is better because you will EXPERIENCE how the women are just going about their normal things, and it is not sexually provocative.

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