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Is the Bikini the Burka of Western Culture?


In the civilized West, Americans are hands down the most prudish about the silliest things. It seems hard to believe, but we are so squeamish about the female breast it’s almost embarrassing to any critical thinker.  Of course, there is the uncivilized world where women are beaten by sons of pigs for showing their ankles.  So by comparison we’re still pretty forward-thinking.

I just read the article about Elle magazine and the picture of a model breast feeding that was pulled off the cover.  Pathetic.

The last time public breastfeeding raised its natural and benign head, I guess around January, I was on my morning commute, listening to my favorite morning talking heads, Brian Wilson and Larry O’Connor in DC. When the subject was raised these two otherwise worldly guys took a position that surprised me.  Still, they did poke a bit of fun at the visceral reaction such a simple and correct activity sparked in some of the listeners.

But then Larry, who is usually the edgier of the two said that while it might be okay to breastfeed outside the house, he suggested the mother find a discreet place to “do it”.  That was silly enough.  Then he said, “I mean have a little modesty.”

Modesty?  Really? Are we all so terribly delicate?  Is the fact that a child needs food a secret?  Is the source of the proper food an object of immodesty?  Well, come to think of it, in this twisted world it actually is.  Think about that.  How twisted is our sense of imagery? How odd are we in a world where the UFC is among the most highly rated sporting events, that a woman holding their child to her nipple should evoke the least reaction in all but the most stupid and backward among us.  Meanwhile, porn is still the most streamed online entertainment.  50 Shades, the Movie, sold out in record numbers in Mississippi and Alabama to mostly married, “Christian” women.

During that morning radio segment, a caller asked why women couldn’t go to the rest room if they – get this – thought they had to do that kind of thing.  Thought they had to?!  I’ll check the statistics and get back to you, but the actual feeding part is probably important for the baby.  And using your breast is not only considered the healthiest but also an economically sound idea.

And the restroom?  I don’t think you can sniff glue anymore, so the lady was probably doing crystal meth.  The restroom?!  Here’s a thought.  How about when you see a woman breast feeding, if you REALLY need to pretend your offended, how about you take your Big Mac in the restroom and eat it?  I’m sure the ambience will enhance the experience.

Soldiers blown into vapor?   Sure!

I just watched Saving Private Ryan on commercial TV.  The carnage depicted is both a cinematic achievement and gruesome.  Can you imagine the uproar, if they had a segment with the troops having a weekend pass before D-Day and one of them has realistic looking sex with his British girlfriend?  Oh, the do-gooders, most of whom would watch the rest of the movie and just say such is life, would be apoplectic that Ed Burns might have played with a woman’s tits and might have been shown humping.  

The director’s cut of Apocalypse Now had the sex scenes that had been deleted from the original because they were too racy for a movie about a half crazy soldier being sent into the jungle to kill a totally crazy fellow officer. There were beheadings, a brutal animal sacrifice and death in all sorts of entertaining forms.  But nudity? Gasp! We are at the point, as a society, that the human body and in this case, sex is off-putting.  The carnage? Meh…

Anyway, all his got me thinking.  What is our fascination with the female breast?  And why the phony revulsion?  And yes, it is phony.  Guys love boobies, so do lesbians and even most gay men and straight women can appreciate a firm knocker.  I believe the answer is a simple one.  It is the denial of the thing that makes it an object of lust and fascination.  The moralist, especially the religious moralist will tell you it is the other way ’round.  They are wrong, of course.  The simple fact is that long term exposure to a thing renders it mundane and hiding it, while ironically enhancing it as women often do, makes it a more valued commodity.

When put in those terms, the whole hide-the-tits thing becomes wrong on so many levels. First, it is clearly a dark ages prohibition and a loony double standard.  Why can a man walk down the beach without a covering his chest and a woman cannot? Who legitimately gets to enforce that one? This especially when many men work so hard to make theirs the object of desire and admiration and others are so out of shape that they have bigger, baggier boobs than many women.

It is because the milk they may sometimes contain is to feed offspring, which is a markedly female attribute.  When man discovered private property near the beginning of our agricultural development, the woman was added to that property.  That thing that feeds my young is not going to be the purview of competing males.  Thus, put a top on, bitch!

Some are finally saying, “Stop the silliness”

Did you know that it is legal for a woman to walk topless in Washington DC?  I wouldn’t recommend it considering the nature of some of the scum that populate the city.  And I don’t mean just the politicians. Having been taught the boob is an object of sexual desire and an exposed boob makes the owner fair game, they may grope you.  But every August, women take part in an annual demonstration for the right be as uncovered as men can be, and topless they do march.  Brace yourself!  There are boobies behind this link!

We tell ourselves that we make women cover more of their bodies out of respect for women.  Right.  And Muslims bury their women in blankets for, according to them, the same reason.  You don’t really buy that when Habib says it.  Why do you pretend to buy the notion here?

The answer is simple peer pressure.  Your church buddies will label your wife a hussy and you weak if she shows a goodly portion of boobie.  Your friends will secretly ogle your wife and envy you and then say that’s disgraceful.  The golf buddies, because of our dark ages prohibitions, would be fascinated and therefore a threat to your property.  If you are a woman, you may have a man with the insecurities listed above, as well as being around a lot of women afraid for whatever reason to bear their own chests. They will therefore berate the woman who would.

We pass this social silliness to our offspring and teach them to be ashamed of their bodies, telling them that god wants them to be, or that society expects them to be, ashamed.

Enough about pretending to be afraid of boobs.  Let’s return to the woman who breastfeeds her kid.  We’ll say she’s in a Pizza Hut. It’s time to feed the kid.  How many of you ever saw a woman stand, remove her shirt and bra and hold the kid up in the middle of the room to feed?  

None of you, that’s right, very good.

The fact is she will raise her shirt enough to let the little tyke get to the nipple, manipulate her boob just a bit to keep from giving the kid brain damage from a lack of oxygen, and some will even take the extra step of laying a small towel or cloth diaper across knowing that there might be a cry baby around waiting for a chance to be a loud, self-righteous cry baby.

She is hurting no one.  She is providing critical nutrients to her child.  If you are one of the cry babies I mention here, do the world a favor.  The next time you see a woman breast feeding her kid in a restaurant, grab your pizza and your 32 ounce drink and head for the restroom.

For the rest of us; it is time to demystify the boob. Unless you are prepared to admit that you are deep down, as backward as the old school Muslim, let women dress by the same standard we apply to men; at work, at the gym, on the beach, wherever.  I could go on with suggestions about quitting the prohibitions on the male or female body in ads and TV shows, but you get the idea already.

Enjoy the body for what it is.  Don’t pretend to be offended.  Let the bikini be the visual enhancement  it was designed to be.  You clearly love what it enhances!  Don’t make the bikini the burka of western culture.


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