Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Breasts ( • ) ( • )

Well, thanks to Eve Ensler and the Vagina Monologues, Jennifer James and the Black Breastfeeding Blog, Barbara Walters, Bill Maher, the Times Square Toys R Us, Applebees, Sugar & Spice's pediatrician, and a bunch of other people who both support breastfeeding mothers, and those who give them a hard time about nursing in public - I am now officially and completely obsessed with breasts.

I can't stop thinking about them. I think about my own breasts and my attitudes about them over the years. I think about other people's breasts and wonder how they feel about them and why. I wonder about my grandmother's breast for crying out loud!

I have spent the better part of today looking up books about the history of breasts and various attitudes about them in culture. It's very interesting to do a search on Amazon.com using the search terms, "breasts" or "boobs," very interesting, indeed - especially if you don't limit it to books.

I am so obsessed that I actually put a number of books on hold at the library -

Breasts: The Women's Perspective on an American Obsession by Carolyn Latteier

Fresh Milk by Fiona Giles

The History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom

And two documentaries - who knew there were documentaries about breasts.

Two books I couldn't get through the library, one of which is prohibitively expensive. I thought the other one was outrageously expensive as well, but it turns out there's a less pricey edition, which I will probably end up buying. The one I will get is:

A Social History of Wet Nursing in America by Janet Golden

The one I would really love (maybe I need to get off my butt and make a trip downtown to Strand) is:

Breasts, Bottles and Babies by Valerie Fidelis

Now I don't know just when I plan on reading all these books. I have the attention span of a flea these days. But I just NEED to delve into this stuff. I need to understand why we have the attitudes we do about breasts. Of course, I have my ideas...but I want more information on it all.

And then what am I going to do with this information. Well, I don't know exactly. I want to do SOMETHING that makes a difference, something that helps to change people's attitudes - because I really do think it's going to take a major shift in thinking about women's bodies in order to get to a place where women can openly and freely nurse their babies wherever and whenever and however they need to without being self-conscious and without fear of being harassed. Maybe it's a documentary. Maybe I will gather women together to start nursing openly in public places, I don't know.

I just know that something has got to change. Older women should be providing support and guidance for breastfeeding mothers rather than getting on TV and talking about how they should cover up (Barbara Walters). Men should be looking beyond the sexuality of breasts to appreciate the health benefits of this form of infant feeding rather than saying the only place food and breasts belong together is at Hooters (Bill Maher). Toy stores and family restaurants should be places where women can feel most at ease nursing rather than being asked to go to a basement or cover up with a blanket (Times Square Toys R Us and Applebees). And we shouldn't need laws in place to make this happen - nursing should be something normal and accepted without hesitation.

And I believe that we can change - that our perceptions and ideals around this subject are malleable. I mean for crying out loud, if we can go from wide legged pants to skinny jeans in a season, if we can switch from loving sitcoms to being immersed in reality TV in a few years, why can't we make the mental switch from seeing breasts as sex objects, to seeing them as a source of nutrition for children?

1 comment:

Elizabeth F. said...

I am obsessed with them too. It's a sickness I tell you!