Mammary Glands Deserve Respect – Along With The Rest Of Us

Julia Cahill, "Breasts in the Press”

Julia Cahill, “Breasts in the Press”

My mammary glands are complex and they deserve respect. 

So says artist, Julia Cahill. “Breasts in the Press” is her commentary on their over-sexualized media image. And what better musical accompaniment than her rewrite of the black-eyed peas, “My Humps,” she adds?

Too often over-sexualization leads women and girls to become victims. Kelly Blevins’ “Ghosts” takes us there. Describing her painting she explains, “The hand of a ghost across the neck represents physical, mental and emotional abuse and how it becomes a permanent imprint in us.”

Or, in Rebecca Faust’s “Bound Feet” we hear this voice:

 

She’d have beaten her silent, but the girl was already obedient,

understanding that nothing inflames a man like disfigurement

or any other proof of a wife’s subjugation;

the need to be carried by opulent litter from place to place,

how if his paper house should catch fire,

she could not take 10 steps to safety but would burn.

Kelly Blevins, "Ghost"

Kelly Blevins, “Ghost”

Sometimes women can feel bound and free all at once. Artist, Eileen Hoffman, considers the color pink. Pink may hem us in, demanding femininity. Yet the color also “celebrates the power and brilliance of women within the construct of sexism,” she says.

Interesting she should say that since this country once held a great debate over which colors should be assigned to girls or boys. Pink is best for boys, some claimed, because it is so robust. And blue is so delicate that it is a better fit for girls.

Each of these artists, along with more than 100 others, share their art, their voices, and their relationship to feminism in the 2013 edition of “Les Femmes Folles: The Women.”

LES FEMMES FOLLES: The Women, 2013

LES FEMMES FOLLES: The Women, 2013

In some ways women are more bound than men, but in other ways, more free. Women are granted freedom to experience and express vulnerably and emotion along with strength. And where power is stifled we just move through a backdoor. All the while, oppression forges fortitude. Omaha artist, Cassie Clark observes,

To me there is something about women that is stronger, more beautiful — and yet more strange, more poisonous and alluring. There is a complexity to women’s minds and bodies that you don’t often find in a man.

“The Betties” bandmate, Heather Berney, adds:

A woman can be whatever the hell she wants. She can be delicate. She can be strong. She can be mean. And she can be beautiful. But she’s always and unabashedly a woman.

Or, male and female may dance together says vintage jazz dancer, Josephine Langbehn:

In swing dancing, the woman has as much voice as the man while dancing. It’s not a male dominant dance. I feel the dance is about creative expression, how you connect with your partner, and also how you both connect to the music. The dance is a dialogue between two people and both get to participate in that conversation freely. Anyone can swing dance; it doesn’t matter your age, color, orientation, all that matters is you have fun.

From the dance of man and woman, woman may become the fertile mother. Who, Alexis Krasilovsky suggests, should not take sh- from anyone:

Inana in Iraq

I’m the goddess of heaven and earth,

And this is my Mesopotamia.

The Tigris and Euphrates

Pour out of me.

My navel’s a primeval sea,

My ovaries, syzygies

So, you wanna fuck with me?

 

And whatever your dreams, actress, Misty Chaffins can only say,

“Just go for it! You have no idea what you are able to do if you never try!”

 

Les Femmes Folles: The Women. Edited by Sally Deskins, the anthology is available for purchase here

Related Posts on BroadBlogs
Dominance, Submission, Meaning & VOICE
Artists Urge: Break Limits, Follow Bliss
Man as Object: Reversing the Gaze

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on May 9, 2014, in body image, feminism, objectification, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. Anirban Bhattacharya -aka Abner Bhattacharya & aka Abian Bhattacharya

    I oppose breast implants because they are fake (excludes reconstruct surgeries for women who have had breast disease). If a woman has naturally nice big boobs as singer Katy E. Perry has (she is listed as DD but there are women with bigger boobs than her), then that is good. There is nothing wrong with a woman having small boobs. Most men want a woman with natural boobs-small, medium or big vs. a woman with fake boobs.

    I would even limit Viagra in most cases because those are performance enhancers. If a man is let’s say 25 years old and in a wheelchair, then I support him using Viagra to have sex with his wife or girlfriend and have kids with her because there’s a use which would be procreative. But I am against Viagra or any other sexual enhancement drug for old men because that’s like giving steroids to a football player after he has passed his prime. So I would limit Viagra or other sexual enhancement drug to straight men who are under 40 years old with a handicap to that they can father children which below a certain age it’s medicine, but after a certain age it’s perfornace enhancers comparable to Steroids as Viagra, Zestra are. I support fertility treatments and I support In Vitro Fertilization.

    Incidentally all things=, if you have an intact woman vs. a woman who has had tubal or hysterctomy, most men would take the intact woman. Same thing with a man who is intact vs. a man who has had a vasectomy, most women would choose the intact man. But what do you think of this?

    • Sterilization? Depends on whether they want any babies.

      Plastic surgery? I think all of our natural selves should be appreciated. No one should feel they Ned surgery to be ok.

  2. Agreed! Enjoyed hearing the quotes from women too. Nice point to discuss 😀 x

  3. I agree with Uxurious’s first comment. The beaches near me on the Costa del Sol, Spain has its fair share of topless women and after the first look of interest, to me it becomes normal to see women that way on the beach. Whereas when breasts are packaged in clothes enhancing their charms ie. nipples under t-shirts, uplifting bras and so on can be very sexy to me. That’s what focuses my attention on breasts, not the breasts themselves. ❤

  4. “physical, mental and emotional abuse and how it becomes a permanent imprint in us.” — This is exactly what I am coming to learn about my own experiences recently. The things that have happened to me will in some ways always be there, shaping who I am and how I react to the world today. However, I think that it is brilliant how many artists and writers take the opportunity to express their experience through their art so that the difficult subjects can be brought to light and hopefully change how the world views and victimizes women. In that sense we can be both emotionally vulnerable, and incredibly strong at the same time. Vulnerability requires strength. This is all very important stuff. Thank you for posting.

  5. Ironically when society sexualizes female breasts- it reduces them to a sliver of the totality of the beauty and sensuality that they can transmit if only viewed through a gaze that can really see them.

  6. With regards to the over-sexualization of women’s breasts, I can’t help but be reminded of the time when breasts became just “normal” for me. I don’t mean that I’m not sexually attracted to a woman’s breasts anymore, because I am, especially during intimacy with my wife…

    My breast ‘epiphany’ happened when I was a college student living in Montpellier in the south of France. I had gone to the beach, and a large percentage of the women were topless. They were having a good time with family and friends, enjoying themselves, sunning, swimming, reading, and just whatever you do on the beach. The whole environment was just so ‘natural’. Small children were mostly running around totally nude, and it was all so normal. No one was telling them to put on bathing suits or to be ashamed.

    But when I saw an extended family all together, a daughter who was topless, with parents (the mother was topless), and grandparents (the grandmother was topless), I realized that this is just life, and having breasts was just a part of being human. There was no sexualization or shame in it.

    That first day on the beach, I saw more breasts than I had my whole life put together up till that point. After that, it all seemed so normal and ‘non-sexual’. It seemed to be a much healthier attitude than what I found to be the norm in the USA. And to this day, I still believe that in general, Europeans have a healthier attitude and acceptance towards humanity and sexuality than that in the USA. Maybe the over-sexualization and objectification of women in America stems from our more puritanical backgrounds. I don’t know… just my two cents.

    • Your last sentence: for sure.

      Thanks for sharing your story. I may end up sharing it again someplace on my blog.

    • I’ve been to nude beaches here, and aside from the fact most of the women are above 50, breasts in themselves almost…yeah I just feel they’re definitely overrated as sex objects and fetishised too much. I more appreciate them as part of the whole, rather than obsessing over breasts in isolation. In fact I find fake breasts more of a turn off than anything. I prefer natural. Small and natural is preferable to big fake balloon tits lol.

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