This is pretty much how we’re greeted if we flip through a fashion magazine, tabloid, “respectable newspaper”, or the latest #insertgenericfurniturestorename catalogue. It’s also what we see if we turn on the television, go online, leave our house, or look down while we pee. Eroticism, sex, body parts, and sensuality penetrate every aspect of our daily lives. We’re surrounded by it, we engage in it (unless we’re wearing promise rings, of course), and we use it to further every imaginable purpose, particularly to sell things. Advertising is probably the number one reason we see naked bodies and sexual innuendos everywhere. It is so common, we walk past billboards, posters, fliers, and magazine covers without even stopping to take a second glance at the shapely butt used to sell canned food or the breasts used to sell beer. We don’t even notice that everything from soda bottles to the color schemes on food wrappings are deliberately shaped in curvatures that are distinctly female in appearance. This is not to say I mind; I think the human body is beautiful, and I have no issue with being exposed to it daily. What I don’t like is the sickening double standard that coexists with our sexualized society. To illustrate what I’ve just mentioned, here’s a visual guide:
These are just a fraction of the thousands of “sexual-for-no-other-reason-than-to-sell” adds that we’re confronted with every single day. The many issues surrounding this are pointed out in this wonderful presentation called “Killing Us Softly“, by Jean Kilbourne, who’s been researching the effects of advertising on women since the 1960′s (note: this is only a 4 minute clip – the actual presentation is much longer). The issue I would like to point out, however, is one that’s been getting quite a bit of attention lately: breastfeeding in public. When first presented with the idea of a woman whipping out her breasts in public, most people tend to get a bit uneasy, because it goes against social norm (apparently, in our heads, we wear burqas), but let’s consider the facts:
- Breast feeding is the definition of natural.
- It’s how babies eat.
- It’s the only “real” purpose breasts serve (unless you count the arousing factor, which I know you do, pervs).
- We are confronted with breasts everywhere and – as women – we ourselves have breasts, so why should we object to them?
- OK, so maybe some of us have small breasts BUT THEY STILL COUNT!
- Cah Cah has lil’ tatas. Kinda rhymes.
Looking at breast feeding from this angle, why are some women still
thrown out of asked to leave cafés and other public spaces, simply for feeding their babies? Not only do we shame women for having to use formula, for daring to venture to the beach with their post baby bodies, for having postpartum depression, for being unable to shed the baby weight fast enough. Now we’re also shamed for breastfeeding because it “causes distress”? Why is it, that when breasts are used for their only functional purpose, people take offence? A few reasons. Firstly and predominantly because our bodies are not are own. We already know this from the sexual humiliation women are exposed to when we have active sex lives with multiple partners and are in control of our own sexuality. People take offence when women take charge of our own sexual nature and live out our own desires and fantasies. Our sexuality is not ours to enjoy, but societies’ to control. I can imagine something similar causing the “distress” from breastfeeding in public. People see breasts being used for something they are not regularly exposed to (like selling shoes, beer, or toolboxes to men), they witness a woman comfortable enough in her own skin (or a woman who doesn’t even think that it could be considered an issue by anyone) expose herself in an open public space, and (apparently) their whole world collapses. Men because they get boob-envy (BOOBS AREN’T FOR LITTLE KIDS!) and other women because our fragile self esteem and sense of utter self importance doesn’t allow other women to dress, act, or exist in a way that makes them more noticeable than ourselves. Perhaps we don’t like our partners looking at it – an irrational jealousy. Whether it’s any of the things I’ve mentioned or something else entirely, I’ve yet to be introduced to any decent supportive argument against breastfeeding in public. Do you have any?
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