#43, A History of the Breast, Amanda Palmer, Boobs, Breast Milk, Breast Milk as Menstrual Blood, Breasts, Breasts and Fruit, Breasts Vs Boobs, Brian K. Vaughn, Cunnilingus, Desert Hearts, Diana Cage, Essay, Fiona Staples, Free the Breast, Fun Home, graphic novel, Holt/Cold, Humor, Hypersexualization of Female Breasts, Jean Fouquet, Katy Perry, Katy Perry Elmo, Katy Perry's Boobs, Knockers, Marilyn Yalom, May Sarton, Mrs. Stevens Hears the Mermaids Singing, Nicki Minaj, Nicki Minaj's Boobs, Pound the Alarm, Prime Numbers, Saga, sex, Sexual politics, Sexual Rhetoric, The Art of Asking, The Lesbian Sex Bible, The Travels of Marco Polo, Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels, Women Can Breastfeed WHEREVER THE FUCK THEY WANT, Writing, Yes I wrote an entire essay about boobs I know I write a lot about sex between men but I like women too you know
Thought experiment, file #43: consideration of the prominences located on the upper ventral region of the torso of homo sapiens sapiens, specifically of the female sex. Thought Experiment shall concern itself with the following: What’s the deal with breasts and boobs yo?
Boobs are not the same thing as breasts. Breasts are parts of women’s bodies responsible for feeding babies, and babies are pure, and innocent, and sexless. When was the last time you saw a sexy baby? Case and point. Boobs are different from breasts then because when I think of boobs I think of pornography. I think of beer commercials. I think of skinny women with their boobs packed into bras which are designed to press the flesh and blood of their bodies up close to the base of their chin so that we can see that flesh flex and ripple and flex while the women smile and entice.
Boobs to me is sex, but is this an empty observation?
Plenty of writers, commentators, academics, and cultural theorists who need tenure and so they write about something sexy to sell a book and help the review board forget about that incident last spring with the tennis star that left him divorced and looking for cash, have all written about the sexualization, and in many cases over-sexualization, of human breasts. It’s important to note that these theorists have almost entirely centered their attention on the female breast because that tends to be where this sexualization takes place.
Meditating on or observing the rhetoric of noticing sexy-boobs is really just an empty gesture. Unless one can add something to the argument a writer is really just masturbating on the page. I have tried at least twenty times to write about breasts on the internet. Doing my best to scrape together boob-puns and picture after picture of clever and terrible innuendos that rely on breasts for the joke to work. In the end all I’ve done is observe a lot of boobs, and I’m not sure whether I’ve really learned anything from the experience.
Buzzfeed has dedicated an entire “article,” if you can call the collection of photo series they do articles at all, over what Katy Perry has used to cover her breasts during performances and music videos. This includes, but is not limited to the following: whipped cream dispensers, candy, muffins, cupcakes, shells, pockets, a banana, film reels and even Elmo’s face. This last was purposefully salacious because she had recently appeared on Sesame Street performing her song Holt/Cold with Elmo and many mothers of children who viewed the program complained that her outfit was “unnecessarily sexual,” specifically, her boobs were bouncing around through the whole thing.
For my own part, if I have to pick a favorite it would be none of these because while the woman is certainly curvaceous, it’s her thighs that often leave me a puddle on the floor. I have no reasonable explanation for this. There’s just something about Katy Perry’s thighs.
This leaves me in the minority however because the mountain of discourse around Katy Perry’s body has to do with the big bouncing mountains of writing and blogging material on her chest: her boobs.
It seems those mounds of flesh are an endless fertile crescent for creeps on the internet who write up manifestos using creepy and fucking fuck expressions like “mounds of flesh.” It’s just that every time Katy Perry appears somewhere in culture somebody somewhere has to comment about her breasts. This is nothing new, because for close to two decades society decided to talk about Madonna’s vagina and who or what was visiting it regularly. Katy Perry is not Madonna, but like Madonna Katy Perry has used her body in her visual art as a means of establishing some sort of aesthetic. Her imagery tends to be sexual in nature, but unlike Madonna who tended to fuck on screen for attention, Katy Perry has often used her breasts to be both sexual, and funny. Her boobs aren’t pornographic, they’re something to look at but also to laugh at, and so while the rhetoric tends to be “look at Katy Perry’s boobs” the aesthetic is usually to the effect of, “Well, duh, she’s pointing right to them.”
My favorite book of all time is Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic and I’ve written somewhere around four or five essays about the book. In fact having finished it again recently I’ve considered returning to it and writing yet another in a long line of kiss-
assery. The power of the graphic novel to me is the combination of honesty, attention to detail, and the near constant literary references that make me feel special because I have a fucking Masters degree. The book is always an inspiration though, and I’m better for having it in my life because it helped me realize that I’m just as attracted to men as I am to women.
There’s plenty of frames in the book that make me pause and consider Bechdel’s aesthetic, but one frame always stops me. Allison is in college reading, devouring really, numerous books about feminism and lesbian identity and in one scene she is reading a novel while eating and Bechdel provides the quote:
This frame has the impact on me that it does because when I was young, and just starting to write reguarly, I would often compare a woman’s breasts and boobs to fruits like melons, peaches, or…yeah that’s pretty much it. I mean, what monster or hack would compare a woman’s breast to a dragon fruit? I suspect part of being a young writer, a young male writer, I should specify, is comparing body parts to food. I suspect this is a habit because when you’re young you’re still in high school and every high school teacher has to bombard their students with relentless symbolism because that’s all you’re going to do in college level English classes, apparently. Discuss how boobs feel like peaches, or jelly, or pillows, or sponges. Why can’t men write about a woman’s breast without using something else to describe them? Why do boobs have to be anything apart from boobs?
Being honest here, I think it’s because men don’t have boobs, we just have cocks and balls, and cocks are just these hard poles we rub until goo shoots out and balls are too tender to squeeze. When a man feels a breast however it is very much like the rest of a woman’s body: soft and alien. There isn’t any real frame of reference because there’s nothing a man can feel on himself that compares to a woman’s breast, and because fruits tend to be soft and “fleshy” and sweet it stands to reason that they’re the first thing a man is likely to think about when he’s trying to give his reader an erection.
This leaves a male writer’s female reader in a bit of an awkward position because it’s highly unlikely she’s ever compared her knockers to ripe figs or honeydew melons. She’ll probably just refer to them as breasts, and leave the word “knockers” to male writers like Mel Brooks.
I have many books in my library that deal with men, specifically, how and why men fuck, with each other. I have very few books about lesbian sexuality, and this often leaves me, to quote the great French philosopher Michel Foucault, pretty fuckin bummed in myself. Still there are a few books about women in my library, more than a few, and between my considerations of Katy Perry and Nicki Minaj (she’s next you see) I found a few books that deal with women and their anatomy.
A History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom has been sitting in my “to-read” pile for close to
a year, though in fact calling this now functioning shelf full of books a “pile” is an exercise in self-delusion. I have a problem and I intend to handle it, that’s what retirement is for. The book is unique however, not just because the cover is adorned with Jean Fouquet’s Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels which shows Mary as a European aristocratic woman bearing a single orb-resembling breast to her child, but also because it is part of a niche collection of books that center their attention on a single body part. Someone was able to fill an entire book with concepts and ideas that people have formulated about breasts, and while I haven’t read the book in it’s entirety I’ll open it from time to time and read a passage, and this one struck me at this reading:
Husbands often favored the use of a wet nurse, since it was believed that couples should refrain from sexual intercourse while the mother was nursing. It was widely thought that a mother’s milk was a form of vaginal blood, transformed from blood to milk as it passed from the womb to the breasts. The agitation of intercourse would have the consequences of corrupting the milk supply, curdling the milk, and might even kill off any fetuses that managed to be conceived. As for the aesthetics of breast feeding, many husbands did not like the appearance of their wives with a child at the breast. Nursing, a praise-worthy occupation for ancient goddesses and the Virgin Mary, was not considered attractive when practiced by highborn ladies. Many upper-class women, subservient to the eroticized ideal of a youthful bosom, were thus obliged to entrust their babies to wet nurses. (70).
I’m honestly not sure which part is more surprising here, the fact that husbands didn’t think breast-feeding was sexy or that breast milk is apparently menstrual blood. I should probably go with the blood though since men being stupid will hardly be much of a revelation.
I’ve never fully understood the male reaction to the Menstrual cycle given the fact that, as men, we’re supposed to be doing nothing but thinking about vaginas all the time. It would seem men like vaginas, but only when they don’t have to actually think about how they work. At work in this dynamic however is the difficulty of the Breast Vs Boob paradigm. Men like boobs when they’re these big squishy bags of fun that don’t have babies or reproduction attached to them, but the moment men consider a woman’s actual biology a boob becomes a breast again.
Breasts are reminders that sexuality is not a sterile or artificial construct, but a messy exchange of fluids that results in procreation and new life. When a Boob starts to leak milk it must be connected to a vagina, and there’s nothing like leaky Boobs then to turn men off.
I want to read Marco Polo’s Travels. I bought the book at the PeaPicker, a local bookstore in my hometown of Tyler, and I’ve always wanted to sit down and actually read it. There’s this idea that I would be really touching history by listening to the records of one of those who came before. This has nothing to do with Boobs, but I feel like it might have something to do with boobs. Or not. It’s still a nice thought.
Nicki Minaj is another one of those women in recent times who has gained a certain prominence in society for being a skilled musician, but also because she has very, very large boobs. And, to note, a rather large heinie. I say boobs and not breasts because there is usually not much earthiness to Nicki Minaj, or at least not in the songs and videos I’ve watched.
I wrote an entire essay about Nicki Minaj and her boobs, ultimately arriving at the conclusion that the sexuality model she was offering in the video for her song Pound the Alarm was largely artificial given the fact the entire aesthetic was building on carnival. As a mode of celebration carnival goes back to the Middle Ages where people would celebrate the life and death of the year by celebrating sexuality but also death and with this came many jokes about poop and farting.
Pound the Alarm has no reference to feces, or bodily odors for that matter, but it does have lots of Boobs. Nicki herself is always the center of the video and her breasts, her boobs, are always part of the display.
She bounces them.
She jiggles them.
She pushes them together with her arms and wiggles her butt.
And throughout the short film when the music hits a spike she will thrust her shoulders back making her boobs pop out at the reader. There’s nothing inherently wrong about this, and I don’t want to be the male writer who says Minaj isn’t allowed to advertise her body and sexuality. But looking at Minaj there is always a sexualization of her body being displayed or encouraged. Her breasts are not earthy or biological, they are part of some sterile sexual performance which is at the heart of her entire public persona. Sex is not about procreation it’s about fun, and her boobs are just part of the fun. Great big
jiggly bouncing fun at that.
Observing the observation of Nicki Minaj’s boobs is much like the observation of the observation of Katy Perry’s Boobs then. Whatever merriment and mirth is derived from watching whatever Nicki or Katy decorate their boobs with, at the end of the day they remain boobs rather than breasts, and the understanding is there will never be any babies suckling on them any-time soon.
[0777.091__Seventh Seventh Seventh]
In Desert Hearts Cay seduces Vivian finally by stripping naked and refusing to leave Vivian’s bed despite her protests. Put aside the fact the scene would flop appallingly if Cay were a man, Cay’s refusal eventually succeeds and the pair of them finally making love and thus providing a sexual denouement to the tension which has been building during the entire film. The first time I watched this scene however was not when I was twelve and supremely and erotically fixated upon “lesbian” sexuality (and I quote that because “lesbian” porn exists and it definitely wasn’t made for lesbians, or at least not the ones I know, they clip their fingernails). It was Gay Movie Night and I was hanging out with a group of friends all of whom were queer women.
The sex didn’t show any cunnilingus, it was just Cay and Vivian kissing and eventually suckling on each other’s nipples. It was shortly after this act that Vivian experienced an orgasm. None of my friends were entirely sure how this occurred, in fact there was a dubiousness that lasted until we finally shrugged and someone simply suggested, “Well, they were just chillin.” Chillin, of course, became synonymous with orgasm.
I became convinced rather quickly that lesbians possessed some secret power to bring their partners to orgasm simply by touching each other’s nipples and so I went to my library and looked in my copy of The Lesbian Sex Bible. Breasts only appear twice in this book, and only one has an entire quote, it reads as follows:
TOUCHING BREASTS AND CHESTS
Everyone loves breasts. We either want ours touched or we want to touch someone else’s—and often we want both. Touching her breasts and nipples releases a feel-good hormone called oxytocin that gets her excited and ready for sex. If your lover is more masculine, she might find that having her breasts cupped feels too girly. Instead, concentrate on playing with her nipples. Pull and pinch the nipples, roll them between your fingers, grip her tits girly, or stroke her chest as if it were flat. (84).
This passage was rather interesting largely because it contained the words “breasts” three times, and the word “tits” once. Tit is a word I’ve avoided because it honestly sounds too masculine, or else too sharp. I like the word Boob though because it has a linguistic curvature that’s fun to say. “Tits” isn’t fun, but neither really is “breasts.”
Whatever the case the passage left me disappointed because it revealed nothing of Lesbians’ secret power to give each other orgasms simply by stimulating each other’s nipples. Such is life.
[8.08__a return before final assessment]
I could read Marco Polo’s Travels, but I also want to read War & Peace before I die, and I haven’t even touched my hardback Plutarch’s Lives. There’s so many books I want to read but I don’t have time for. This thought has some connection to Boobs, I just don’t know what it is yet.
[011111111.111111110__another return before final assessment]
Amanda Palmer painted her almost naked body so that one half of her was the outward physical form, but the other half showed her muscles, tendons, nerves, and the child gestating in her uterus. She was pregnant at the time and so the belly that protruded outward from her physical form was not just for show, she was actually pregnant. This was not the first time Amanda Palmer “revealed” her breasts to the public. The internet abounds with pictures of her either in concert, in videos, or at public events periodically bare chested and simply not giving a fuck. As she is want to do. Even beside me while I write is a copy of her book The Art of Asking, which has her naked and covering her breasts with her arms while holding a flower.
There’s so much to be impressed about by Amanda Palmer, but I return to her New York performance because the image of an almost naked, pregnant woman standing perfectly still outside a library is something just indescribable. Her bare breasts are part of a performance, but rather than simply be about showing Boob, her breasts remain breasts because of the baby in her tummy that is clearly up for display.
It was a moment of pure honesty and a reminder of the biological function and purpose of breasts that was both challenging and fascinating.
The last few years have seen a rising of the “free the breast campaign” as women the world over have begun to push back against the sexualization, or over-sexualization of breasts, demanding the same rights as men to bare their chests without fear of social or legal reprisal. This cannot be attributed solely to Amanda Palmer, but the willingness to show her body as a means of both demonstrating the power of the body, as well as its own naturalness surely was a knock to the supremacy of Boobs.
The cover of Saga Volume 1 and issue #1, shows Alana holding the baby Hazel to her chest where the babe is suckling gently. The cover, and the book itself, garnered widespread condemnation by certain comic book fans who objected that a “family book” had such advanced material. The only problem with this criticism is that Saga was never a “family” book as it contains numerous scenes of violence and sexuality, however the initial charge of corruption due to breastfeeding remains the best example of the final separation between Breasts and Boobs.
Human beings are an ego driven species, and we tend to think about fucking a lot. And in the Information Age where millions of images of breasts can appear with just a few clicks of a button, the sexualization of breasts appears to be an seemingly unending, unmovable onslaught. Likewise the conversations about the hyper-sexualization of breasts can become a pedantic affair because conversations about sexuality can become heated rather quickly. In an environment where people don’t even like discussing condoms how can one create an atmosphere where nuance about women’s breasts can take place?
My own thoughts here are random, spotty, and really only amount to a collection of quick observations. In fact upon consideration it seems fair to argue that this “essay” was in fact just an excuse to download a lot of pictures of topless women. This is not a nuanced discussion at all, and Boobs remain Boobs and Breasts remain Breasts.
It seems the only sane response is to appreciate breasts as sexual protuberances until it’s time for the baby to be nursed. Because, and this is important, at the end of the day the kid’s gotta eat more than I need to appreciate a great pair of boobs. And besides, unless Playboy goes bankrupt anytime soon, there’s always gonna be a space for looking at Boobs.
All Quotes cited from A History of the Breast by Marilyn Yalom were taken from the Hardback Knopf edition. All Quotes from Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Allison Bechdel were from the Hardback Houghlin Mifflin Edition. All Quotes taken from The Lesbian Sex Bible by Diana Cage were taken from the Hardback Quiver Press edition.
Below is a link to the aforementioned article listing the varies garments employed to dress Katy Perry’s now famous breasts. I hope the reader enjoys and also takes the time to learn a little bit of history about breasts after “reading” this “article”:
Please find below a link to the wikipedia page for breast. Why? Because read the reference section. Seriously Wikipedia is changing, and even though your high school English teacher told you to never, never, NEVER use Wikipedia the only reason she told you that was because your lazy ass would have just copy/pasted the whole fucking thing and then you wouldn’t have learned anything. But now that you’re an adult, you can scroll down to the “references” section and see what research ACTUALLY went into producing the material that helped you bullshit your way through twelfth grade Health Class. Anyway, enjoy the page, and the boobs, and, more importantly, the FACTS about the boobs.
Below I’ve provided a link to the World Health Organization(WHO), specifically a page dealing with breast-feeding that provides general information, links to resources, and general health information.
I’ve also provided something similar for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
And finally here also is a link to Planned Parenthood:
On one final note I would like to offer my apologies to Katy Perry for my weird, creepy comments about her thighs. I’m not saying they’re not lovely to look at or that…that…
Ahem, sorry, as I was saying it was wrong of me to…to…
You know what I’ve lost whatever dignity I had here. I resign myself to being a pervert. Remember me well friends. And please don’t look at my browser history. It is a tale of sadness.