Tuesday, October 18, 2011

De-sexualizing Breasts

Today, I am thinking about breasts. I keep reading comments from people who are offended when they see women breastfeeding in public, calling it indecent exposure, etc. These people are only able to see breasts in a sexual light.
Though breasts have been the center of male sexual attention for quite some time, in reality, all they are are collections of mammary glands, fat, and tissue- all made for breastfeeding. The fact that men like breasts is a pleasant side effect, but biologically, the breast has only one purpose, which is producing milk.
What about all the pictures that dominate our society’s media? There are so many sexy breasts around, popping out of bras specially designed to showcase them as appetizing treats for men. Doesn’t that mean that women’s breasts are part of their sexual organs? Well, no. Breasts are not part of the female reproductive system. A woman who does not have breasts can still have sexual intercourse and become pregnant. Breasts are erogenous zones for some women, but so are other non-sexual parts of the body.
Of course, breasts are body parts that are distinctly female, which attracts male attention. But they aren’t inherently sexual or dirty. Their main job is to nourish babies.
There are people who view breastfeeding in public as indecent exposure. Well, it isn’t! Some say that breastfeeding in public is acceptable as long as nobody sees the nipple. What kind of logic is that? Are nipples somehow evil? Is there something they can do that I am unaware of? As far as I know, human beings have nipples from birth on. Men have nipples and walk around topless all the time. Children have nipples. How are women’s nipples different?
My favorite are the people who get upset about the possibility of their children seeing a woman breastfeeding. But how will they explain this to their children?!? How about telling them the truth- that women have breasts that make milk for babies to drink. Just like every other mammal. How would these people explain it to their children of they saw an animal nursing at its mother’s breast? This is the way the world works! If you are unable to explain the basics of human behavior to your child, how is that the breastfeeding mother’s problem?
Unless we all start breastfeeding in public more, without shame, we won’t be able to reverse this trend of breastfeeding being seen as a sexual act. I try to nurse my son wherever we go now. I nursed him at the State Fair the other day. There was a family looking over and whispering to each other. It didn’t bother me in the least because I wasn’t doing anything wrong. Maybe I was even showing them the beauty of a mother breastfeeding her child…


  1. Well said! I fed Philip at the zoo last week and some kids that rode past on the train were staring and laughing... it made me sad...

  2. preach on lady!! I nursed Goose in public for over a year - I was always "covered" somehow, but only because it was more comfortable for me. I say nurse in public, and do it proudly!! I did it before, and I'll do it again! :)

  3. thankfully, i live in a BF friendly state, CO. I nurse where ever I need to. The only place I will use a nursing cover is in church. I hate that cover with every fiber of my being. My daughter is 13-months-old, and I have never gotten odd stares or commentary. That said, one of my closest friends called me one day about a month ago and gave me a very hard time about the fact that I was "still" nursing. It got ugly. She lives in the midwest and will only nurse her children to 6 months. I would love to hear your thoughts on extended nursing.

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