When I was growing up my parents told me I could be anything, do anything I wanted. Well, within reason and with a a lot of hard work and study.
In my first week of high school my science teacher set homework. He asked the class to write a list of things only girls could do, and one only boys could do.
I looked at him, and with all the will a twelve year old could muster, told him the only difference was we could have children and they couldn’t. I didn’t have homework that night. The rest of the class, they made lists.
What bothered me then was that students in the class genuinely thought there were differences beyond the obvious anatomy. What bothers me even more is that thirty years on people still think this way.
I thought society would have moved forward.
Yet, here I am in 2013 and I still have these conversations with my kids about this stuff.
When my son asked me when I thought it was in history that breasts became a sexual object more than a source of food I had no real answer. But I was more than a little cuffed he thought about it and asked the question.
I don’t want to have to keep on having the same conversations with my children. I don’t want to have to explain to my daughter that actually, no one has the right to tell her what she does with her body.
While people think it is acceptable to shame women for showing more then they intended, tell them to breastfeed with more modesty and to keep it classy, and think it is acceptable to advertise with what is little more then soft porn, I have to keep on having these conversations.
This is not a new topic, but it is one I will keep banging on about.
Growing up, navigating the world is hard enough. Add into that the constant media message that says others know best when it comes to female bodies; that female bodies being objectified is the norm, everything gets just that little harder.
The current social media topic of breastfeeding is another example of women being told what to do and how to use their own bodies. David Koch has completely missed the point in the two articles of his I have read on the matter after his initial comments. In both he attempts to justify his position by talking about his discomfort, and his perceived discomfort of those in the vicinity of the breastfeeding woman. In relation to his own four children, he says that we breastfed our children, which I am fairly certain is not entirely accurate unless he is in fact female; and goes on to say they managed to do it with a cloth draped over the feeding child.
I assume his wife was comfortable with this arrangement. I know many women prefer to feed in this way. I also know many who do not wish to feed in this way. I know many more who prefer to bottle feed. The point is, it should be what works for the mother and child. Full stop. No one else gets a say.
What I mostly object to is a man feeling he has the right to tell a woman when, where and how she can use her breasts for their intended purpose.
The argument that it is hard to look away from breasts is bullshit. Yes they are magnificent. I kind of love mine. They fed and nourished two children. The problem is media at large sends the message that breasts are sexual objects and are there to be looked at in a sexual way. All the time.
Breasts can be sexual. They are sometimes. There is nothing wrong with that, if that is the intention of the woman they belong to. But I can pretty much tell you from experience a breast with a child attached to it is beautiful in a utilitarian way. Not sexual.
Media tells us through images time and time again that breasts are there for the pleasure, the judgement, the opinion of those they do not belong to.
Another example is this online article on Kim Kardashian. It makes me very uncomfortable. I know she is in the public eye, I know she uses the media to her advantage, but does that give anyone the right to tutt at the amount of breast she is exposing while pregnant? The piece even asks readers if her look is slutty. Is it a question that needs to be asked? I don’t think it does.
You see, the point is, when media in general begin to weigh in on women and how, when, where they expose their breasts, I get more than a little concerned. Something has been lost. It becomes more about the breasts than about the person. The human becomes detached from the breasts. It is objectification. And I for one am over it.