Tuesday, July 13, 2010

multi-purpose, we are!

After my participation in the Carnival of Nursing in Public and a related phone conversation I had with my brother Matthew, I got to wondering: What is it about breasts that makes it so difficult for people to appreciate, accept, (even celebrate?) their multi-functional nature? (This is a comment-turned-post in response to Lauren at HoboMama's post on Christianity's effect on breastfeeding.)

The first day of the carnival was dedicated to posts about "creating a culture of breastfeeding in a hyper-sexualized world". This is obviously the big reason that people are anti-breastfeeding in public. I assume that they think, because of cultural influences, that breasts are innately and primarily sexual organs, and should not be exposed in public, because if you are exposing your breasts in public, you must be doing something lewd or inappropriate. Breasts were obviously intended and created by nature (or God) to feed babies. They make milk, after all! Humans are the only mammals who grow their breasts prior to needing them for feeding purposes. Maybe that is what confuses the situation?

But regardless of any of this, what confuses me the most about this argument that breasts are sexual things is that there are many parts of our bodies that are used for sexual purposes as well as practical, functional purposes. For instance, the male urethra is used for expelling both urine and semen; the vagina is used for birthing babies and, well, making them.

So then the argument becomes: But it isn't socially acceptable to urinate or give birth in public, so why should people breastfeed in public? My answer to that is: Because it provides nourishment, comfort, and love to a child. (As my brother put it in our phone conversation, "How can you be against feeding babies?!")

Just about any body part can be considered sexually attractive, fetishized, or used for sexual purposes. When we eat, drink, talk, laugh, or sing in public, are we denying that mouths are used for kissing? I think not—we are just celebrating that mouths have many purposes (many more, even, than breasts)! Aren't our bodies simply amazing?

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