Thursday, August 10, 2006

And another thing...

Ok, so I'm still riled up about the whole breast thing. And I think it's a fully justified, truly righteous indignation I'm working up.

You see, the part that has me the most upset is that it's women - W-O-M-E-N - who tend to make the most fuss about things like seeing breasts exposed. Women! It's our breasts we're bitching about!

You might think I'm making an unreasonably big fuss over this issue. In fact, it's an unreasonably big issue. Here's why (bear with me; it's a long explanation):

Men are biologically driven to seek sex. As soon as a young man hits puberty, it's pretty much up-periscope and he's dragged around by the end of his heat-seeking missile for a few years (more than a few). Now, guys, don't get mad. I'm not implying that you don't excercise control and take the reins back...but I've never talked to a man yet who didn't admit that he nicknamed his privates because he wasn't comfortable having a total stranger in charge of his life.

Women, on the other hand, are wired a bit differently. We love sex, but our biological drive is seated in another cradle. We have greater control over our physical desires but we're positively addicted to acceptance, love, and being the object of exclusive desire.

Add to this little mix the fact that, as my former mother-in-law (now resting, presumably in peace) used to say - "Yeah, little boy, you've got one of those, but I've got one of these, and with this I can get all of those I want!" Is it not true? My husband puts it quite succinctly. He asks simply, "If you're a woman, answer this question with total honesty: Could you, if you chose to do so, get laid tonight? Not necessarily with the person or under the circumstances you might desire, but could you have sexual intercourse with a willing partner tonight?" The answer is, in almost every single case, yes. And that translates to one thing: power.

Sexuality is powerful. Women's sexuality is extremely powerful. The biological imperative placed on men to spread the seed far and wide makes them vulnerable to this power. So how, without killing off your source for the very thing that renders you so vulnerable in the first place, do you right the power imbalance? You enlist the aid of an equal or more powerful ali.

Enter the church. What better way to reduce the power of women's sexuality than to declare it disgusting, filthy, defiling, sinful in its very nature and existence. "The hands that have touched a woman are not fit to handle the body of Christ." Filthy daughters of filthy Eve. Lusty succubi used by the devil to ensnare innocent men in a pit of carnal degradation. So filthy are women that some priests are required to be celebate in order to handle the Host. And it's obviously not Christianity alone that feels the need to protect against the evils of feminine sexuality. Look at Islam. And don't even get me started on cultures that perform ritual mutilation on women, excising the clitoris and part of the labia as a "right of passage."

And the worst part of all this? Women themselves have bought into it. We may not run around calling ourselves evil, filthy, or inherently unclean, but let one of us show a breast in public and Katie, bar the door, it's on! Let one of our sisters show a little too much leg or a bit more clevage than we think appropriate and we're slinging "slut" and "tramp" like poison darts. A flirtatious woman gets a little male attention while other women are quietly plotting her demise. Even the most non-sexual use of our bodies - pregnancy, childbirth, nursing - is subject to the madness. Case in point: The August 2006 issue of Baby Talk magazine featured a nursing baby on the cover. There was such an uproar about the cover that the magazine polled readers and at least 25% responded that they are upset or offended by the photo. Who reads the magazine? Women! Women with babies! Women with BREASTS! Read the article.

It's all about power, folks. And the sad part is that it really doesn't have to be this way. But you can bet that it will stay as long as the prisoners keep polishing the bars and making sure the doors shut tight. If women don't reclaim and own their own sexual power and learn to use it ethically and for the good of all, we'll always be evil daughters of evil Eve. If we're going to think anything is disgusting, it should be that. I know I'm ashamed.


  1. Another great post on the subject.

    Your statements on the balance of power between sexuality and religion are very interesting indeed.

  2. Thought provoking as usual Linda.

    How about this - breast are offensive to some because they are a concrete, ubiquitous link to our "animal" past (or is it "animal present")? People know that babies can be fed without involving breasts, so breast feeding (and by extension - breasts themselves) is capitulating the point that we're just like animals when it comes to child rearing (at least on the point of getting nutrition from Mama into baby).


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