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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Sexual Ethics and Politics » "seeing a baby attached to a boob"

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Author Topic: "seeing a baby attached to a boob"
faifai
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http://msnbc.msn.com/id/14065706/?GT1=8307

Apparently an article stirred the bubbling pot that is the breast feeding issue in America today (I for one was unaware that it even WAS an issue!) The cover of a parenting magazine had a picture of a baby nursing and people were outraged that the magazine had the nerve to put a giant breast on their cover.

A quote: "One mother who didn't like the cover explains she was concerned about her 13-year-old son seeing it.

'I shredded it,' said Gayle Ash, of Belton, Texas, in a telephone interview. 'A breast is a breast — it's a sexual thing. He didn't need to see that.'"

So, what do you think? Do you think it is inappropriate to have it as a cover? And what do you think about nursing in public? Is it a sexual ethics and politics issue like the article is making it out to be?

[ 07-27-2006, 11:29 PM: Message edited by: faifai ]

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-Lauren-
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Yes, yes, and YES.

I'm very proud of my younger sister's decision to breastfeed. It is unarguably the healthiest form of nourishment for a newborn, and above all, it's as nature intended.

I, in turn, am disgusted with people who make such a massive deal out of such a natural, beautiful process. Absolutely all of the breast-feeding mothers I have ever seen do everything they can to avoid breastfeeding in public, and even when they must, are very certain to find a secluded place and cover their "shame" with a blanket or maternity poncho.

My mother's friend was in her pediatrician's office and began to nurse her crying baby, covered, when a woman near her gasped in horror and proceeded to yell at her, demanding to know what could cause her to be so indecent, especially with other children around.

It's about time people hung up this silly idea that breasts are purely sexual organs and remember their ACTUAL use. Educate children as to how breasts function, perhaps by their normal exposure to suckling kittens and puppies.

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Heather
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OY GAVALT!

(I just yelled that three times in succession, but figured once would suffice here.)

The comments in that article! "Gross?" Was that commentor a ten-year-old boy, for crying out loud?

Breasts CAN be sexual things. So can ankles. And seriously, people used to feel this way about women's ankles, not even 100 years ago.

But breasts have the construction they have, physiologically, for breatFEEDING. Any sexual purpose they serve -- for the pleasure of their owner, or for onlookers of the breast -- is secondary. And quelle surprise, there are many times where for the oweners of breasts -- for most, most of every single day -- they are NOT sexual.

But boy: if that 13-year-old saw his Mom do that? You bet your butt he sure thinks they're only sexual NOW.

It is at least heartening to know that those kinds of responses were the minority, at least.

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wobblyheadedjane
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I've heard the argument that it's rude to have to watch a woman breastfeed while eating (in a restaurant for example.) Their solution? They should go to the bathroom, or the car. Wha? I wouldn't want to eat in a public washroom, nevermind force a woman to breastfeed in one. Watching people get needles weirds me out, but I would never make my diabetic coworker give himself insulin in the washroom! (And actually, seeing him do it day in and day out has greatly lessened my needle-phobias.)

But this hypersexualization of the breast really, REALLY irks me. So I echo Heather's OY here.

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princessArae
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this topic is on another forum i frequent and i thought i should share it with you.

"When I go to a zoo...
Monkeys have little monkeys sucking their breasts...
My wife is not a monkey!
We are civilized and can buy bottles.
ITS GROSS!!!!!!!
Trust me you little tree hugger...
We do not think it's beautiful!!!!
ITS GROSS!!!!
Its not natural to use toilet paper either.
Go save a whale or something!"

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~autumn~

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Mr. Matthew
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My wife breastfed our two children. Breastfeeding has so many advantages. It's wonderful.

My daughter breastfed for so long that my wife joked our daughter would be breastfeeding until she could spell it. It turned out not to be a joke. Our daughter stopped nursing at about two and a half, but before she did my wife taught her to parrot the letters N U R S E.

My wife didn't look for excuses to breastfeed in public, but when she had to she was able to mostly cover herself with her shirt or a baby blanket. Most people didn't even notice. It wasn't hard to not show her breasts, though I'm sure that the occassional person was offended. That was their problem, I thought.

I have a coworker, a man who's firsh child was recently born. I talk with him about being a father, and he appreciates it. One day he said to me, with wonder and surprise: "You know Matt, breastfeeding isn't even erotic."

He sense of unexpected discovery was so cute and naive that I couldn't stop chuckling about it. We still laugh about it once in awhile.

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daria319
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I'm in the middle of a debate about this on another messageboard right now. I'm supportive of breastfeeding in public as long as people are polite about it -- meaning they need to at least try to stay in one spot. Isn't that better for a baby's digestion to be still while eating anyway? I've noticed women walking around the local mall breastfeeding and griping about people who brush past them or bump into them. It's rude, not only to other people, but to the baby as well.

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cool87
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It's so weird.

For me, the main function of breasts is breastfeeding, it's not a sexual one. That's people who have associated breasts as something sexual, so it's totally subjective.

So when someone says something like it has been said, that just doesn't make any sense to me. Really.

There's so much more to be ashamed of, not just worrying about a son seeing a women breastfeeding. What about all the pornography on Internet, the sexual scenes in the tv shows that his 13 years-old son is likely to see on a much more daily basis ? Those don't have such an important purpose, biologically speaking.

And to be frank, he's 13 years-old and I'ld bet he's seen so much more already. I'ld take a guess that she was the one ashamed of that. Why ? I cannot quite understand.

[ 07-28-2006, 07:11 PM: Message edited by: cool87 ]

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Beppie
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princessArae, I'm not sure whether or not you meant that to represent your own opinion or not, but we can't really have any opinion expressed so disrespectfully on these boards-- if you indented to disagree with it, you should have stated as such.
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princessArae
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no that was a posting i found on another forum. i think breastfeeding is great and i give anyone who does it 2 thumbs way up. but i just thought that post worthy of sharing because everyone here seems so pro-public nursing. i figured i would share some views i had found that were anti-public nursing. and trust me, if you think THAT was rude, you should see some of the other postings on the forum. its a local forum that people from my town and other close towns frequent, and they obviously are very ignorant and/or narrow-minded. but thats what you get when you live where i do. *sigh* can't win...

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Beppie
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Thanks for clarifying your position. [Smile]

It's really important to be clear here, because without any indication as to your own views, it would have been very easy for someone to have misinterpreted your intentions, and feel quite hurt and/or offended.

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Wise Janet Weiss
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Ay-yi-yi.It's breastfeeding.People who oppose to feeding in public should come to Guatemala.they DEFINETLY would be in for a shock.


Oh.I stand with breastfeeding in public.

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summergoddess
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I am up for breastfeeding in public. I plan to be a mom within the next few years and breastfeeding is how I plan to nurse my future kids. I have the same beliefs as Miss Lauren on breastfeeding. I'll say it again. "It is unarguably the healthiest form of nourishment for a newborn, and above all, it's as nature intended.". Breastfeeding isn't erotic at all as mr. matthew mentioned in his post and i agree.
While I am comfortable with showing my skin as I love my body, this isn't the reason why I want to breastfeed in public. I just believe it's the most natural way to nurse children when needed.

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maybe
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Hypersexualization is a good term for it, wobblyheadedjane.

I have never been offended when a woman chooses to nurse in my presence. My mother used to say "Babes need to eat! It's the business of the mother and child, and the child should not have to wait for the mother to hide herself."

(Excuse my English, I have not written on this topic before!)

It is such a natural action! I don't understand why someone would have quarrel with this because it is just simply the natural way of things and such a benefit for the child. Why should one have to hide it?

The story reminds me of the Janet Jacksone hysteria where many reports suggested that children should never see a bare breast, which only reinforces the sexual taboo on the breast.

I don't think the breast is something sexual or shameful that needs to be hidden, and making this fuss eh... and as Ms. Scarlet wrote, it reinforces that idea to children.

I feel the fuss sexualizes breastfeeding by associating it with the sexual (and shameful) view of the breast and that this is an unwarranted stigmatization. Terrible! Society should embrace the human form as something more than erotic.

(I hope this made some sense!)

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Djuna
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I agree - breastfeeding in public is fine if needed, but people just walking along nursing is inappropriate.
Just a thought - newborn babies can DO breastfeeding, but 13-year-old boys are too young to SEE it? Hoy veh...
Also, the baby's head covers a lot of the breast, and it's really not that different to skimpy tops people wear.

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Heather
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quote:
but people just walking along nursing is inappropriate.
I have no idea what that means. No one is going to feed their child if it isn't NEEDED, whether they're sitting or walking.

You feed an infant because that infant is hungry, not because you have some desire to feed in public as you're just strolling along.

So, what do you mean here? And inappropriate for whom?

[ 08-28-2006, 05:02 PM: Message edited by: Miz Scarlet ]

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About MeGet our book!
Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

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Djuna
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quote:
I'm supportive of breastfeeding in public as long as people are polite about it -- meaning they need to at least try to stay in one spot. Isn't that better for a baby's digestion to be still while eating anyway? I've noticed women walking around the local mall breastfeeding and griping about people who brush past them or bump into them. It's rude, not only to other people, but to the baby as well.

That was what I was agreeing to. I hadn't realised it was so much earlier in the thread or I would have quoted it then. Sorry.

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“In a strange room, before you are emptied for sleep, what are you. And when you are filled with sleep you never were. I don’t know what I am. I don’t know if I am or not... how often have I lain beneath rain on a strange roof, thinking of home.”

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Nailo
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To change the mood of this thread a little, I am very proud and happy to say that the scandal over breast feeding does not happen everywhere. (Tuxy:¡Viva Centroamerica y nuestras mentes más abiertas sobre el tema!)

For Mother's Day (15th of August here) I got two interesting surprises which made me think of this thread. One, was that a couple of weeks before mothers day, 5 foot high signs on bus-stops began to appear everywhere with a frontal view of a baby happily breast feeding. You can practically see the whole nipple clearly except for what was being covered by the baby's mouth, and underneath it says "¡Thanks, Mother! (Breast milk is the best alternative for newborns)". On Mother's Day itself, there was a full page add. The top half of it was a big picture of a pretty young mother breast feeding. Underneath it talked about breast cancer awareness, and it even showed how to give yourself a breast check up, with pictures that showed (gasps sarcastically) whole, uncovered nipples on them!!

I am even more pleased to say that, although Costa Rica may be behind in many things, I haven't heard a single person complaining about any of the above! [Smile]

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"Love does not make itself in the desire for copulation, but in the desire for shared sleep." - The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera

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wobblyheadedjane
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Nailo, that's fantastic! Though I haven't heard any grievous outrage in Canada over breastfeeding in public, I can't imagine billboards and full-page ads being set up here either. [Smile]

With regards to walking around and breastfeeding, there are quite a few jumpers and snugglies that secure the infant pretty solidly at the mother's front, so I can't imagine walking around being any more detrimental than sitting for breastfeeding (latching and other practical issues aside.)

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daria319
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That's the thing -- the women I've seen complain did not have their infants secured. Personally, that would make me rather nervous, especially on the second floor of a mall. If they were in snuglies or something of the sort, I wouldn't feel so uncomfortable, but these few had a tendency to just walk around holding the baby with one arm, usually eating or talking on the phone with the other. I've heard of multitasking, but this is ridiculous. The poor kid's getting bumped into, YOU'RE getting bumped into, and you know you're in a heavy traffic area. Is it that harmful to walk about 10 feet, out of the crowd, and THEN go about your business? It's difficult to do ONE thing in a crowd, much less two or three!

Sorry if I'm on a rant here, but I spent some time at the mall this summer and got highly annoyed with a few mothers -- mostly not ones with infants, but from toddlers to about 5 year olds. Many of them were just allowing the child to run far ahead in crowded areas. That's just scary -- what if your child gets hurt, lost, or even kidnapped?

Personally, I think knowing not to do some of these things are just common sense.

[ 08-29-2006, 11:19 AM: Message edited by: daria319 ]

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napalmtheory
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The only time I've ever had a problem with it is when she hikes up her shirt over her shoulder to breastfeed. While I don't mind breastfeeding in public, I do appreciate tact.

With that said I'm pro-public breastfeeding, as is my boyfriend, who fully supports breastfeeding as a whole.

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Heather
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Hey napalm, you willing to examine WHY that bothers you?

I ask, because just like I asked jospeh, I think we could all really benefit from actually examining those feelings.

In other words, if breasts are for food, not sexual objects or advertisements, why is it tactless to have them seen when being used as food?

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Tillymac1
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Someone posted on here something like "breast is best"

I would like to point out that feeding a baby using the breast is only the traditionl way because way back in the day they didn't have bottles, or microwaves, or tolerance.

Just because it was once the ONLY way doesn't automatically make it the BEST way.

And what about the baby's preference? My baby cousin wouldn't accept his mum's milk, he just didn't like it. Is he a freak then? Is she a bad mother?

Breasts aren't JUST for feeding just as they aren't JUST for sex, they're for both.

And when I have a child, I don't think I'll be breastfeeding, purely because I don't want to and I don't think I'll enjoy it. If all else fails and it's the only option left then I will.

As for in public, well it's not an erotic thing is it? If anyone gets kicks out of it then that's their issue.

I do think that some women need to be a bit discrete though, and perhaps find a nice calm place where they won't be disturbed rather than a bus stop.

And just as a mother has the right to feed her baby in a cafe, I have the RIGHT to eat my lunch without having a woman doing something very personal next to me.

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logic_grrl
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Just because it was once the ONLY way doesn't automatically make it the BEST way.

Actually, if you ask pretty much any pediatrician, they will tell you that there is overwhelming evidence that breast-feeding is best when it comes to promoting a baby's healthy development.

Some women need extra support to make breast-feeding work, and for some it isn't an option for medical or practical reasons. But the evidence is very clear that where possible, it is the best option.

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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-J-
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Interesting discussion, but nothing much said about how we move forward from where we are (shame to the public beastfeeder) to a position of acceptance.

As Heather mentioned, over the past century, attitudes have evolved. Paul Harvey a few years ago did a "Rest of the Story" where he described a group of six that had come into this beach town, and went to the beach for a day of relaxation. They all took their tops off, and someone called the local town police, who came and found the topless sunbathers, and gave them all citations to appear in court. They were convicted and fined. If they did that today, we would think anything about it, because virtually all men are topless on the beach. That's right! These were MEN, not women. The law used to forbid even men from going topless in public.

Just a few hours ago, I was going thru my mother's high school year book from 1931. It was an all girls school in Boston and I was looking at the pictures. ALL of the girls were dressed to the neck and it was very difficult to even tell if they had breasts or not. When my yearbook pictures were taken in 1965, the girls did show some cleavage in their formal pictures and there were plenty of cheerleaders and swimmers who clearly had breasts.

We have come a long way from when ankles and legs were too sexy to be shown in public. What we need to see is the repealing of laws that make female breast exposure a crime. That will have to come from women, because men have no credibility on that subject. But just as the exposure of legs don't cause men to go into some sexual frenzy these days, so with the gradual exposure of the breasts will come a point where they no longer need the protection of law to keep them out of view.

We are still in an era where sex sells just about everything, and nothing says sex like breasts. That will only fade when breasts become more common in public view. When women will no longer feel that they must wear bras or be judged a slut by their fellow women, and that breasts do have nipples that can be shown thru a blouse or sweater or any other top without reprocussions. And that breasts can swing and sway as you move. And that it is acceptable for children to see that "real women have curves".

Women, it has to start with you, each of you pushing the envelope a little at a time. You dress a little differently, perhaps at first, just around the house. Maybe just a tee-shirt without a bra. You don't need to have a public parade where you all take off you tops and march down main street. Yes, I know they do that in Berkeley! Once you de-sexulize the female breasts, you have begone to win the cause and free yourselves of the shame of having breasts that feed babies in public. Given the progress over the last century, I'm certain that this will happen, but it's up to you how soon.

I can tell you, having visited a number of topless and nude beaches, that men don't get excited seeing a woman's breasts once they get used to it. It is just natural and so is breastfeeding. I've also seen a number of women's breasts feeding their children in public - on airplanes, in airport waiting areas, on park benches, and even in church. It is beautiful to behold the bonding between a mother and her baby feeding. Stop hiding it.

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logic_grrl
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Women, it has to start with you, each of you pushing the envelope a little at a time.

I'm certain that this will happen, but it's up to you how soon.

I'm all for your goals, but you know, putting all the onus on women to change things isn't so cool.

It's not as if men don't participate in propagating and reinforcing social attitudes and laws too.

Why should women be the only ones responsible for changing things?

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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000
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Yeah, I'm not really sure where you get off with the "men have no credibility on the subject". Are you telling me none of the police officers who arrest topless women or judges who fine them, are men?
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asex
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I've heard that in Africa when women are told they should cover their breasts by Americans, they wonder why when they're just sort of "there". There's nothing wrong with exposing them. When they're told that American men love breasts, the African women respond with "you mean American men act like little babies?" because why else love breasts besides being a baby who loves its food source?

And yes, AMERICAN. Europeans have no problem with breastfeeding. It is a perfectly natural way to feed your child, simple as that.

Heather, I think he means because she lifted her shirt nearly all the way off exposing a lot more than just what was using to feed the child. Normally, a woman would just pull her boob out of her neckline, right? A bit difficult in a turtle neck, so wear a V-neck or get breastfeeding clothing. Do they make that still? In the middle ages, the fabric over the breast was a panel that could be opened to let the baby suckle.

Whoever said "breasts aren't just for feeding, they can be sexual too", could you please explain what is sexual about boobs? They're just there. There's nothing sexual about them at all. You can't put a penis in them like you can a vagina. They just stick out and get in the way and hurt like hell if they get bumped.


Er....I don't know about you ladies, but I'd rather wear as little that makes it obvious that I have boobs as possible. Heck, I don't know what size I wear in women's shirts. I wear a men's small. You can tell they're there, but hopefully not too obvious. And yes, neckline at my actual neck (*gasp*) and hem that actually reaches all the way below the top edge of my pants instead of showing stomach (*gasp again*). Novel idea in this day, huh? Actually covering/hiding skin?

[ 11-02-2006, 07:50 AM: Message edited by: asex ]

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logic_grrl
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And yes, neckline at my actual neck (*gasp*) and hem that actually reaches all the way below the top edge of my pants instead of showing stomach (*gasp again*). Novel idea in this day, huh? Actually covering/hiding skin?

Not that novel. Contrary to the impression you may get from the media, there are plenty of women (and men) who prefer not to wear body-exposing clothes.

Me, I'm sitting here at my computer wearing an oversized sweatshirt and baggy men's jeans ...

Equally, there are people who do like to "show some skin", and that's their choice. Different people have very different standards for what's comfortable for them and what suits their style, and that's fine.

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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PenguinBoy
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I don't know whether it's nature or nurture, or whether it matters. But breasts are sexual, because they turn men on, which is an enjoyable experience, to be turned on. Maybe baby instincts and sexual instincts get intertwined (I DO think that's possible), who's to know.

There are not really any explanations I have ever heard for why breast feeding in public is bad. Or indeed any type of exposure. People have never given me a better answer than "because it's offensive". And I think that's all there is to it, people have almost been taught to be offended, and so they find it offensive.

We have also been taught, as a kind of language, just how words are offensive, that certain exposure is offensive. And it's the intent with which someone does this that makes it a direct insult. And if the intent for exposing your breast is to feed your baby, then I can't see how that would be justifiably offensive. But when you look at the history of it, it's understandable.

It's sad that people are distanced from their natural selves, and that they rely on there clothes and their make-up and their perfected image. That to engage in natural processes is embarrassing.

I think that the lady has a right to protest, as it is her view, but it's important that a magazine has the right to print an image when their intent is not one of malice or offence. At least it forces people to consider their own views.

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PenguinBoy
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By the way, asex, i'm from the Uk, and am european. and think it's bit of a sweeping generalisation to say that all of us have no problem breastfeeding. Which isn't true, and there are plenty of trends here that also feel they're too "civilised" for breastfeeding.

Not trying to have a go at ya, but just attempting to put to rest the idea of "grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side". balance.

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logic_grrl
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But breasts are sexual, because they turn men on

People get turned on (or not) by all sorts of things.

For the Victorians, it was improper for a lady to show her ankle, because to them that was flagrantly sexual. Equally, there are some cultures where it's normal for women to go bare-breasted all the time, and nobody considers that sexual.

And assuming that male desire determines what's sexual or not about someone else's body (regardless of how they feel about it) isn't really too cool, when you think about it.

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"Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it." - the Talmud

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PenguinBoy
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It is probably just a social thing! I'm not saying that it's not. I'm also not saying they should hidden because they turn people on (I should have said people instead of "men"), or anything of the sort. But the fact that people react to them sexually (no matter the reason why) involves them in what it is to be sexual.

I just said it to try and explain why they are considered sexual, to those who were baffled as to why.

I was not saying that it medically makes them "sexual organs".

Edited it so that it would make more sense.

[ 11-03-2006, 01:32 PM: Message edited by: PenguinBoy ]

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Bebop Bodhisattva
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What I find interesting is a lot of the same people who go insane at the idea that a breast ever not be concealed also hold up the burqa as a symbol of moral outrage, when that's kind of the logical conclusion of their train of thought. The nipple gets an extra thrill in societies where they're verboten, but all cross-cultural data shows that the het male brain is wired to respond to the face, hair and female bodyshape. So if the goal is to ensure that a woman never arouses anyone, the burqa is ultimately where we're headed.

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"This war all around us is being fought over the very meanings of words." - Chad Dumier, Deus Ex

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