Sunday, October 03, 2010

Oh, Cosmo…

It was always a bit silly, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t always this bad. Or maybe I’m just remembering it with rose tinted glasses because I started reading it when I was 13 and didn’t have enough life experience to realize how stupid it was.

Check out the latest article. Which addressed Breast Cancer Awareness Month by…discussing ways to get men to pay attention to your boobs. Um, isn’t the answer to this question as simple as “be in the room with a straight man”? OK, so I’m oversimplifying and attraction is a complicated thing, but still. It’s really not that hard for a woman to get men to look at her boobs. Really, if a man is at all attracted to you, he’s probably going to be more than willing to give your boobs plenty of attention.

So why, then, do we need a huge article full of what are apparently tips to get your boyfriend/husband/random UPS guy to go “OMG, you have boobs, that’s so hot!”? They’re boobs. They accomplish that just by existing. They don’t need a PR campaign.

There’s also the weirdness of responding to a disease that causes many women to lose their breast and, you know, die, by reminding everyone that boobs apparently exist as toys for men to play with. Notice that all the tips are about ways to make sure that your boyfriend/husband enjoys your boobs, not that you enjoy them. (Seriously, people, hot pasta sauce on the nipples? Ouch!)

I’ve always had weird feelings about all this because I’m kind of on the busty side. So in my experience the idea of having to go out of your way to persuade men to pay attention to your boobs sounds completely ludicrous. It’s like “10 tricks to get your child to eat ice cream” – no tricks necessary, this will pretty much happen by itself. Most of the time the real trick is how to stop men from focusing on your boobs when you’d rather they didn’t.

It’s a weird position that I’m in relative to the media attitude towards boobs, because I’m bisexual, and I like boobs, I really do. Trust me, straight guys – I probably check them out at least as often as you do. But there’s a level of empathy there that men don’t seem to have, for logical reasons. So, when I hear about, say, the topless coffee shops in Portland, my first thought is “ouch, second degree burns on nipples from hot, hot steam” rather than “yay boobs!”. But at the same time I can see the appeal, for a guy raised with the idea that boobs are essentially toys made just to make him happy.

Society encourages us to think of boobs as somehow separate from the woman they’re attached to, is the problem. For men this probably makes life easier – they can enjoy staring at boobs without feeling awkward, because they can turn off their awareness of the woman the boobs are attached to. But for women it creates massive cognitive dissonance, because it’s bizarre to think of part of yourself as essentially disembodied. And for women who’re bi it’s even weirder, because we have the same “stare at boobs” impulse as straight men do, but we also know what it feels like to be on the receiving end of the stare.

Also, I think part of my issue is how childish the whole thing seems. I have no problem with the fact that straight men love boobs – hey, it’s very much to my advantage that they do, so I’m not complaining about that – but there’s something so juvenile about the idea that they’re encouraged to act like they’re unable to recognize the fact that the boobs are attached to a person. It creates this weird situation where men are essentially trying to get past the woman who’s in the way and is blocking their access to her boobs, and they get all whiny and petulant when said access is not granted. Which makes me think of a baby crying for it’s mommy to breastfeed it, which just isn’t very sexy at all.

Just one more example of how sexism screws things up for everyone, I guess. If a man can only relate to a woman as a collection of disembodied parts, he’s going to have a hard time forming strong, emotionally rewarding relationships. If a woman thinks of her own body as being made up of disembodied parts, sex is going to be really weird and awkward and not very satisfying. It would really be to everyone’s advantage if people would learn to appreciate boobs in a more grown up way, as part of the whole person/experience.

Yeah, not holding my breath on that one.

1 comment:

UneFemmePlusCourageuse said...

Most annoying manifestation of this "separating the boobs from the woman" phenomenon? Those pink-ribbon stickers/magnets/shirts/signs that say "save the ta-tas." Oh, who cares about the woman attached to said "ta-tas" anyway? Who cares if saving said woman might actually come about through removing the "ta-tas?" Let's focus on the sexy boobies! Whenever I see someone with one of those signs/magnets/whatever, I just want to yell "you misogynist fuck!"