Sunday, March 14, 2010

On The Sexualization of Breasts

Have you read any anthropological work looking at cultures where long term breastfeeding is more common than it is in North America and whether people there who are sexually attracted to women are any less obsessed with breasts as a sexual organ?

I have a hunch.

I suspect that where long term breastfeeding is more or less the norm, breasts are more like elbows or noses - generally unremarkable body parts, ones with a very important function for mothers who are able to breastfeed, but just body parts.

I think what tipped me off to this was the ever provocative Wonderkarin who awhile back tweeted a question, something to the effect of do your partners suck on your breasts during sexual play? It hadn't occurred to me that this might not be normal, but trust me, after using my breasts to feed my baby, I've definitely felt squeamish about them still being sexual. Wonderkarin lives in Sweden where long term breastfeeding rates are much higher than in North America.

So, anyone have any data on breast obsession versus long term breastfeeding rates, or am I on my own here? Maybe this is the real reason I did an undergrad degree in Sociology: to get me started on this. Because I have so much time on my hands!

Please tell me this work has already been done?

1 comment:

Maman A Droit said...

I agree about them seeming less sexual during/after breastfeeding. Now my concern is to keep them "clean" so they are ready to feed baby at any time, lol.

My theory on attraction is that on some instinctive level, things that make you seem biologically capable of continuing the gene pool like wide hips and large breasts (whether or not they actually have anything to do with your fertility, birthing ability, or breastfeeding ability) are going to be subcosciously or consciously attractive to males.

Of course humans can look past that and choose mates based on other attributes like personality, love, etc., but I think those instincts are still there too.