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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Breast Implications #7: Conclusions

With this post, I finish up the research that we included in our zine. I will continue to post in this series, but it will not be as often and if will be solely my research, observations, inclinations, etc. This post is kind of an overview of what has been in the series already as well as some conclusions and discussion questions.


Original Research Questions

  1. How do sexualized breasts in U.S. popular culture affect how women see their own breasts? Is there a more positive or negative effect?
  2. How do women's views of their bodies and their breasts affect the choice to breastfeed in the U.S. and in other countries?
  3. How does the breast place people in nature?
Mission Statement

The purpose of our senior seminar project on breasts was to bring attention to the idea of "there they are, but there they aren't." We are stampeded with images of breasts in our society, but we do not often talk about them on a social, cultural, or biological level. Breasts are a unique part of the female body but their invisibility perpetuates oppressive norms that women face on a daily basis.

  • We rely too heavily on popular culture representations of breasts and as a result, women's relationships with their breasts are negatively affected.
  • Viewing breasts as working or lactating allows women to develop a more positive relationship with their bodies and breasts.
  • The breast is more than thing that can become diseased. They are a unifying force and they are hope.
Discussion Questions
  1. Examine your investments in your breasts or the breasts of others. What do these investments mean for who you are?
  2. Why do so many women lack a positive relationship with their breasts?
  3. Do you believe women think their breast size is vital to femininity?


Clarissa said...

"Viewing breasts as working or lactating allows women to develop a more positive relationship with their bodies and breasts."

-This sounds like we can't have a positive relationship with our own body parts unless said body parts serve a societal purpose. I don't understand how seeing women as baby-producing and baby-feeding machines is any more positive as seeing us as pleasure-producing machines.

Laura said...

Not that we can't have a positive relationship without a societal purpose. The point was that in a society that values breasts more for the "working" purposes instead of their sexual purposes allows women to develop a healthy relationship. It's still possible to develop a healthy relationship in a society that highly values the sexual aspects of breasts. But in a society that values breasts for how they look instead of what they do, women are constantly comparing and thinking their breasts are not good enough.

Clarissa said...

"But in a society that values breasts for how they look instead of what they do"

-What they do for somebody else, though. Why not concentrate on what our breasts can do for us instead of talking so much about whether we want to serve either men or babies with them? Just concentrate on the pleasure, enjoyment, and fun they bring us.

In a society that will value breasts solely as breastfeeding tools, women will still be "constantly comparing and thinking their breasts are not good enough." Only then the comarison will be based on whether you can breastfeed, for how long, how many babies you have breastfed (and given birth to). Yet again, women who can't perform these tasks very well, will feel marginalized.

The only way to avoid this unhealthy attitude towards breasts is to concentrate on the pleasure women derive from them. Men can have a free use of all their body parts, without deciding whom to please with them. It's unfair that a woman can only see herself as torn between a man and a baby. And there is no place for her own desires.

Laura said...

I think this also comes down to if women (and people in general) have pure desires or just the desire to be desired. I don't have an answer to this question, it's something I think about a lot and something I've discussed in feminist theory class before. Can women concentrate on the pleasure they derive from their breasts (desire this pleasure) or will they only focus on the desire for their breasts to be desired.

I think it is possible for women to focus on the pleasure that their breasts give them, but that is a very very big feat to accomplish in a society that sexualizes breasts to no end.

I still think that seeing breasts as something other than pleasure-giving entities (whether for others or for themselves), women can have a more healthy relationship with their breasts. This can be through viewing them as "working" breasts. Or as creative entities (see my Breast Implications post on Boob Art).

Laura said...


And Clarissa, thanks for your great discussion on this topic. It's awesome to hear others perspectives and it makes me think about where I stand on the issue even more.

Clarissa said...

There is a danger here of falling back into the patriarchal model where a woman's primary goal is child-bearing and child-rearing. There are more and more women every day who decide not to have children. Women who do have children, only spend a short time breastfeeding. What will the "purpose" of our breasts be when we are not using them for breastfeeding? And yet again, what about women who can't or won't breastfeed? Do we promote the idea that they are somehow "broken" or not "real women"? These are the dangers of this approach.

P.S. You have a very good blog. I'm looking forward to many more discussions in the future. :-)

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