Monday, April 26, 2010

Attack of the Boobs

Photo taken in 1967 or 1968. The mother was on...Image via Wikipedia

Oh.My.Goodness - the concern trolling my Twitter pal (and new hero) Jen McCreight has received! In case you haven't caught my totally-unadvertised BlogTV show (tonight and tomorrow night at 9 EST!) and haven't paid attention to your Facebook wall, Twitter feed, or whatever methods you use to keep in touch with the rest of humanity, today is BOOBQUAKE day. I know I laughed when I first read about the Iranian cleric who claimed that female immodesty is the cause of Iran's many earthquakes. From Jen's blog BlagHag

On Monday, April 26th, I will wear the most cleavage-showing shirt I own. [snip] I encourage other female skeptics to join me and embrace the supposed supernatural power of their breasts. Or short shorts, if that's your preferred form of immodesty. With the power of our scandalous bodies combined, we should surely produce an earthquake.
It's a bit of harmless fun - a juvenile prank meant to mock and ridicule the cleric's claims, nothing more. And I for one think it's hilarious. (Of course, I also think is hilarious - because I have the maturity level of a 13-year-old boy.) Dressing "immodestly" is par for the course here in Florida because, well, it's 80-some degrees Farenheit most of the day for like eight months out of the year.

I read some of the comments on CNN's BOOBQUAKE story, and there was the mixture of catcalls and puns ("Glad you're keeping us abreast of this story! I find it titillating!") There were also, of course, slut-shaming messages along the lines of, "Well maybe immodesty doesn't cause earthquakes but it DOES cause women to not be respected and/or leads men astray." To this I say, what men have no responsibility for their actions at all? One feminist blogger's employee contacted me in the hopes I'd promote her boss on my blog. Here's the reply I sent, scrubbed for identity (because public infighting is bad for any cause. Just look at the GOP.)
I'm very sex-positive (although quite blushy myself) and I don't think a woman enjoying, celebrating, displaying her own body is automatically doing it for the benefit or titillation of male penis-having men, even if some number of them are likely to enjoy it. I think both the religious/shame-based AND feminist/concern-based modes of telling women to cover up can be equally damaging, and I had to fend off both attitudes a LOT during the 18 months I breastfed my sickly son.

I think the more Americans become comfortable with breasts as "those nice looking and useful parts of women" and the less we freak out about Janet's wardrobe malfunction, the higher our rates of breastfeeding will be. Women in European countries breastfeed at significantly higher rates and for longer periods of times, especially countries with topless beaches. I don't think men in those countries AREN'T pleased to see breasts, but no one makes as big a deal, which means they can actually be used for their *intended* purpose more.

Boobs are something I feel quite strongly about, and not in accord with many women around me. I AM participating in Boobquake today, and I frequently show cleavage in my YouTube videos. I do so exactly TO show a Baptist how his thinking that I ought to "cover up" is *exactly* the same as the Muslim who thinks women ought to wear burqas.
That's right, I'm pro-boobs. And I'm also pro-women using their boobs how they see fit. I definitely encourage nursing - the benefits really can't be over stated, for both mother and child, and I fought through thrush, oversupply, undersupply, milk blisters, plugged ducts, and nipple rejection in order to give my son the best in nutrition, antibodies, and IQ I could through the power of my magnificent, wonderful BOOBS. I never really appreciated my boobs till I used them for their evolutionary, biological purpose and now I have to say I'm a big fan of them. (Did you know breastfeeding reduces the risks of cancer for both the nursing woman AND the infant? It also reduces the infant's risk of developing obesity, eczema, and possibly even multiple sclerosis. Oh, and applying it topically to a cut can treat infections and reduce the appearance of scars, like your very own homemade Neosporin. Boob milk is almost magic!)

But I'm also cool with women using their boobs sexually. Most weeks when I remember to, I change my Twitter avatar to a picture of my bra, as part of the #BoobieWednesday campaign to remind women to do self-exams on their breasts. Why should men be the only ones to profit from the allure of the female breast, through advertising campaigns and the largely male-owned porn industry? Boobs are attention getting. (Hell, as my post from earlier this week has taught me, even knees that look like boobs are attention getting!) But the more we get over our hangups about boobs, the more likely new mothers are to use them to feed their children.

So I say - Boobs! Love 'em. Check them for lumps, treat them well, and they'll treat you well, too.

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