The Breast Fetish Is Natural? Afraid Not.

Got milk?

Got milk?

Science has shown that human females develop breasts as a secondary sexual characteristic that signals a woman is of age to reproduce. Breasts in other mammals only enlarge with pregnancy. And, female nipple stimulation lights up the same area of the brain as clitoral stimulation.

Comments like that come in response to this post: Men Aren’t Hard Wired To Find Breasts Attractive.

There, I argue that the breast fetish is socially constructed, and not biologically-based. Some readers tell me I’m wrong.

Here are their thoughts, and mine:

But first, a definition:

Fetish: a form of sexual desire in which gratification is linked to an abnormal degree to a particular object, item of clothing, part of the body, etc.

Breasts are a secondary sex characteristic. (But beards are, too)

I never said that breasts weren’t a secondary sex characteristic.

But men are not hardwired to find them arousing.

Secondary sex characteristics like breasts and a waist-hip ratio of around 0.7 on women, or facial hair on men, all indicate maturity. But only one of these things has been culturally fetishized, creating sexual arousal.

Also, men and women both develop pubic hair at puberty. Does pubic hair make our genitals more arousing? If today’s porn is any indication: no.

Meanwhile, the vagina and clitoris are PRIMARY sex characteristics and even more responsive than breasts, yet they aren’t fetishized. And they only attract about 2% of Internet searches.

Prepubescent features are sexy?

Meanwhile, blonde is considered the sexiest hair color. Yet few females past puberty naturally have that color. Like the breast fetish, the wide preference for blonde is a social construction.

13-year-olds are ready for reproduction?

Actually, enlarged breasts only identify a mature-ish female. I say “ish” because they often enlarge around age 11 — not all that mature. And I’ve known a few 13-year-olds with C-cups. Hopefully, guys won’t feel like they are ready to start reproducing.

Where girls do conceive children as soon as they hit puberty, they are more likely to die in childbirth.

And they often develop fistulas — a hole between the vagina and rectum — while in labor. That hole causes urine and feces to seep out, creating an odor. In societies where girls bear children at young ages, fistulas — and the stench that accompanies them — often drive the girls out of their communities. That’s not emotionally healthy, survival becomes more difficult, and so does reproduction.

So yeah, breast development does indicate maturity. But that doesn’t mean that girls should start having sex.

Breast and clitoral stimulation work similarly, so the fetish is natural?

Breast and clitoral stimulation both arouse, it’s true. But is the purpose to enhance sex? Or to motivate breast-feeding and encourage a child’s survival?

Maybe there’s a dual purpose. Maybe the fetish is visually-oriented to encourage men to stimulate their partners. But when a couple is going at it, they will surely figure out the whole nipple arousal thing, sight unseen.

And if the reason why breasts are fetishized and obsessed over in our culture is because they are sexual, then why isn’t the clitoris also a visual focus in our culture? Especially since it is even better at creating sexual stimulation than breasts are?

And nipple stimulation can be fun even in the dark.

Plus, the fetish disappears with long-term partners. Yet long term partners don’t quit breast play.

Meanwhile, most Americans think larger breasts are more visually arousing. But it actually depends on the guy. And smaller breasts typically respond more strongly to touch…

… And then some women get breast implants to make their boobs look bigger, after which about 1/3 of the “surgically enhanced” no longer feel much of anything, at all.

Bigger breasts make better moms? 

Do bigger breasts make better moms because they produce more milk? No. All breast sizes provide adequate milk.

Do bigger breasts mean that women have more gynoid fat, indicating long term reproductive value? Well, gynoid fat can be distributed in a number of ways — maybe more up top or more in the hips. But you only need so much of this fat and non-starving women have plenty. Slim Japanese women, without implants, are typically A-cups. But perfectly healthy reproducers.

Unlike nonhuman mammals, breasts are “out there” 

Unlike nonhuman mammals, breasts are “out there” so that men can find them arousing, right?

Unlike nonhuman mammals, the penis is “out there” so that women can find it arousing, right? Except that most women don’t find the penis visually arousing.

If you think otherwise, you may be watching too much porn. And believing what you see.

Also, protruding “breasts” perhaps called something else — like udders — exist on other mammals too. Like cows and goats.

And why do men get turned on by cleavage when it’s not natural? You need clothing, like a bra for instance, to create it.

Why would women learn the fetish?

Meanwhile, there is some evidence that women can learn the breast fetish, too, as I’ve written before. And how would that aid reproduction?

Men everywhere are interested in breasts

The assertion that men everywhere are interested in breasts stems from prehistoric artwork that depicts large genitalia and breasts.

The notion that this reflects some sort of fetish comes courtesy our cultural prism. Men today are bombarded by pornography and pornified images in mainstream media, so it’s not surprising that they would interpret the artwork as prehistoric pornography.

And yet men in tribal cultures don’t have this fetish. And tribal life constitutes our earliest human beginnings.

More likely, these earliest peoples were obsessed with ensuring that life was created and nourished. Babies came from women’s genitals and were fed at the breast. So these images were likely created to harness the powers of the universe to propagate life.

You don’t find the fetish in every culture

Straight Western women can find breasts arousing, but tribal men do not.

That’s right. You don’t find the fetish in every culture — which means it cannot be biological.

The great bulk of our human past consisted of tribal societies, where women’s breasts weren’t considered erotic. And yet humans somehow manage to reproduce, anyway. How could the fetish have evolved to aid reproduction if it didn’t exist?

But is this fetish natural – so long as men aren’t desensitized from overexposure? See this: Fetishes are Natural – Unless Desensitized?

Think the fetish is adaptive? Nope. See this.

Am I trying to shame men?

Some guys think I bring this up to shame them. I’m not. I don’t care if they find breasts arousing.

But I do care when our cultural obsession leaves the majority of women feeling like their breasts aren’t good enough. (Which leaves them obsessing over how they look and distracted from sex — which is not so great for men, either.) For more on that, see this: The Trouble With Fetishes.

I am also fascinated by the social construction of reality, including the social construction of this fetish.

Related Posts on BroadBlogs

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 February 2, 2015, in body image, feminism, men, psychology, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 129 Comments.

  1. Pubic hair comparison: absolutely perfect.

  2. A different point of view. Men do find breasts sex-arousing. And you’re right that every culture doesn’t look upon the breasts in the same way. Tribal women find it natural as they roam without covering their breasts. It’s common to their men and they don’t get aroused by the sight.

    • I’m not sure if you are saying that I have a different point of view or you do. For sure, I have a different point of view than most people, who don’t stop to realize that the breast fetish is not found in all cultures, which means that it cannot be biologically-based. Especially since it’s the earliest cultures – where evolution creates our desires – that you don’t find it.

    • You are incorrect..I recently saw a documentary in which a black (tribal) African man was chastised by a voluptuous woman because he fondled her generous breasts. His reply was that his hand had a mind of its own and he couldn’t help himself.

      Psychologists will tell you that the attraction to the breast stems from breastfeeding and the belief in children that the breast represents warmth and comfort from the mother. This could explain why women are nearly as sexually attracted to the breast as men. The fact is that any feelings or relationships involving mothers and offspring are, by definition, sexual.

      Sexual response is 90% psychological, so it is no surprise that attractions (fetishes such as pubic hair) can change, then change back due to social reasons, but the basic attractions remain toward the same body parts. It’s similar to changes in fashion, in which dress preferences continuously recycle. There still exists attraction to the vaginal mound and split (the “clam”), and there is also attraction to hair between the mound and the umbilical (called the “runway”). There are numerous ways that pubic hair is trimmed that remain attractive to many.

      • I’d like to see that documentary. I’ve never heard of a tribal man finding breasts arousing. So I would like to know more about what was going on in that instance you discuss — and even if it is true.

        There is nothing in their culture that would create such a fetish. What you need to create this sort of fetish is creating sexual tension by selectively hiding and revealing, and creating even more sexual tension by saying that something is super sexy and then telling people “Don’t look!” And then culturally obsessing over it.

        Very little in humans is instinctual. We primarily live in a symbolic world. And the social creation of the breast fetish is one example of that.

      • Neither of you, Charles or BroadBlogger, cite any references, which would be enormously helpful to a critical review of the issue.

        Charles: “I recently saw a documentary in which…” Really? Which one? Where can I see it? “Sexual response is 90% psychological…” For whom? According to whom? “Psychologists will tell you…” Which ones? Will they tell me that b/c they have good evidence or simply b/c they believe it and they believe their opinion is important? Citations, please.

        BroadBlog: “Straight Western women can find breasts arousing, but tribal men do not.” Again, according to whom? Citation, please. It’s a pretty big leap in reasoning from “Men don’t make a big deal about breasts” to “men don’t find breasts arousing.” “Except that most women don’t find the penis visually arousing.” Notwithstanding your jab that someone with a different view might be watching too much porn, this has not been my personal experience, dating back to teenage experience in the 80s. And, citation please. “Plus, the fetish disappears with long-term partners. Yet long term partners don’t quit breast play.” Are you using a fixed, or fluid definition of “fetish”? If fixed, what is it? I’ve been with my wife more than 15 years, and I’m pretty sure I feel the same way about them now as I did in the beginning. Citation?

      • Here you go.

        “Straight Western women can find breasts arousing”

        Did you see this post? I’ll write a longer one later that includes even more data.
        Women Learn the Breast Fetish, Too https://broadblogs.com/2010/11/29/women-learn-the-breast-fetish-too/
        or this:
        Women Making Love to Themselves
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/09/28/women-making-love-to-themselves/
        Also, if you look at post comments you will see men asking me why straight women often say they get aroused by looking at women’s breasts. You’ll see women who couldn’t understand why they could find breasts arousing, despite being straight, thanking me for the post.

        WordPress also lists the phrases people use to get to my blog. At one point I decided to make a list. So here is a partial list:

        do women have breast fetishes women look at other breast is it normal for women to have breast fetish females with breast fetish im not gay why am i attracted to breasts straight girl with boob fetish looking at women’s bodies mean i am gay straight women who like breasts why would a woman be aroused by viewing another womans large breasts I’m a female and not a lesbian but i get turned on seeing women naked than seeing men naked. What the heck is wrong with me! … women aroused by looking at breasts [search!]
breast fetish in straight women girlfriend turned on by looking at nude women

        My blog has also been cited on sites like Yahoo.answers when people ask questions like this:
I am a woman and enjoy watching lesbian porn and thinking about girl on girl when i get myself off. I’ve never been attracted to another woman only guys. I would never want to have sex with a woman. Does this make me a lesbian or bi? http://www.answerbag.com/q_view/325571#ixzz1DFxU5gv6
Am I gay or is it common for straight women to be turned on by other women’s bodies?
        http://ehealthforum.com/health/straight-but-masterbate-to-the-thought-of-lesbian-t186527-a1.html

        but tribal men do not find breasts arousing.

        This is common knowledge. Do you think that while the women are walking around topless the men constantly have a hard on?

        “Except that most women don’t find the penis visually arousing.”

        see these: Women Aren’t Visual? It Depends
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/06/22/women-arent-visual-it-depends/
        Men, Women React to Male/Female Nudity
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/01/19/men-women-react-to-male-female-nudity/

        + I cited Chivers’ findings when she hooked women up and measured blood flow — flat lined when looking at a penis.

        “Plus, the fetish disappears with long-term partners. Yet long term partners don’t quit breast play.” I’ve been with my wife more than 15 years, and I’m pretty sure I feel the same way about them now as I did in the beginning.

        You are the first guy who has said that on my blog. Some men have personally told me this. And plenty of other men agree with me on my blog. Like one who specifically said he can’t figure out why people act like breasts are important when choosing a partner when they aren’t that exciting after a while (on the same woman). And why would men have ever purchased men’s magazines if they could just look at their wife and get equally aroused?

        And really? You can just look at your partners breasts and get aroused like you did when you first met her?

        Finally, why do you care whether or not it’s natural? What difference does it make to you?

      • Just as an example of what seems a more balanced treatment, complete with citations… https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201305/sexual-wiring-womens-breasts

      • I’m not sure if you think that this post disagrees with mine. It doesn’t.

      • Hi Georgia, (I hope it’s okay to use your name, rather than the name of the blog.) For whatever reason, I have to keep responding to the original comment instead of your new ones, so apologies for this not directly following your new comments.

        You appear to be irritated that I’m asking for citations or pointing out that they lacking. Perhaps I’m misreading you (so many normal language cues are missing in asynchronous, text communication), and I hope I am, b/c that would be disappointing to see in someone with a Ph.D. in the subject in question and who teaches Sociology and Women’s Studies. Anyway, to some degree, I am echoing your sentiments regarding Charles’ post–I would like to see that documentary–and then extending it to other statements made in both of your posts.

        In any case, in reply to my comment, you wrote:

        Here you go.

        “Straight Western women can find breasts arousing”

        You’ll note that in my comment, I quoted your whole sentence, which included “but tribal men do not find breasts arousing” and that my comments focused on the latter. I wrote, “It’s a pretty big leap in reasoning from ‘Men don’t make a big deal about breasts’ to ‘men don’t find breasts arousing.'” I really don’t doubt that women find other women’s breasts attractive; I’m familiar with the phenomenon, though I make no claim to knowing how far that attraction goes in most women. If I did doubt however, citing your own blog and pointing out that sites like Yahoo.answers have cited your blog would not convince me. The quality of answers on sites like those range from insightful to nonsense to absurd. Anyway, I had read your other posts, one of which, cites one study–Chivers, but that isn’t cited here (where I replied to both yours and Charles’ comments), and it has no bearing on the claim I’m interested in.

        I think we _do_ have one point of disagreement on that issue: you appear to take women’s attraction to the breasts of other women as evidence that attraction to breasts is socialized, but this fact in isolation can be interpreted in any number of ways, and I don’t see any reason to lean that direction.

        “but tribal men do not find breasts arousing.”

        “This is common knowledge. Do you think that while the women are walking around topless the men constantly have a hard on?”

        Common knowledge for whom? As I’m sure you know, lots of things that are “common knowledge” turn out to be commonly held false beliefs. I do not think the men walk around with a constant erection. If I’m not mistaken, that is physiologically impossible or, at least, difficult, taxing, and dangerous. But the fact that they don’t walk around with an erection is not evidence for the claim that they aren’t attracted to breasts. The most obvious indicator of that fallacy is the fact that male doctors in our own culture do not have erections while examining female patients. Similarly, I suspect that, for male photographers who shoot nudes, sporting constant erections on the job would probably hurt one’s professional reputation. Finally, as far as I know, men in our own culture do not become aroused when viewing documentaries including topless tribal women engaged in routine activities. In each of these situations, it is context, not the state of undress, that determines the arousal.

        “Except that most women don’t find the penis visually arousing.”

        “see these: Women Aren’t Visual? It Depends
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/06/22/women-arent-visual-it-depends/
        Men, Women React to Male/Female Nudity
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/01/19/men-women-react-to-male-female-nudity/

        “+ I cited Chivers’ findings when she hooked women up and measured blood flow — flat lined when looking at a penis.”

        You actually cited Chivers in a different post, not this one, but whatever, I have it now, along with a study you cite in one of the two of your own blog posts that you cite. Intriguing, b/c it hasn’t been my direct or indirect experience (speaking with close female friends). Again, so much is socially constructed–perhaps women are not attracted to penises, because they are not permitted to explore them or be attracted to them on their own terms, but are expected to interact with them in a role dictated for them.

        “Plus, the fetish disappears with long-term partners. Yet long term partners don’t quit breast play.” I’ve been with my wife more than 15 years, and I’m pretty sure I feel the same way about them now as I did in the beginning.

        “You are the first guy who has said that on my blog. Some men have personally told me this. And plenty of other men agree with me on my blog. Like one who specifically said he can’t figure out why people act like breasts are important when choosing a partner when they aren’t that exciting after a while (on the same woman). And why would men have ever purchased men’s magazines if they could just look at their wife and get equally aroused?”

        Lots of reasons. Not everyone buying the magazines or browsing porn on the internet are married men. Of those that are married, not all (unfortunately) ever found their wives particularly attractive in that way, not all respect their wives or any other woman as anything other than objects, not all of them have wives who are “available” to them, some simply appreciate variety–not in a way that tires of the familiar but in a way that wants a variety of the familiar (By analogy, how many truly food firsts do you have every month? Most of us rotate through mostly familiar foods that we really enjoy. There is a similar, but weaker pattern with hobbies and other activities, even interactions with all but our favorite people with whom the pattern, though still present, becomes still weaker. And, I apologize; I don’t have a citation for this last bit, but I’m happy to let most of the analogy drop if you don’t concur with the observations.)

        “And really? You can just look at your partners breasts and get aroused like you did when you first met her?”

        Yes! I’m smitten. And have been.

        “Finally, why do you care whether or not it’s natural? What difference does it make to you?”

        Whether or not what is natural? Did I ask whether something was natural? Do you mean what do I care whether or not what you call the breast “fetish” is natural? If so, I’m not sure where your question is coming from? Again, without the visual and tonal cues we usually get in natural conversation, this question comes across as confrontational (which would be strange coming from someone who thought the topic was interesting enough to blog about), but could be one of a genuine interest. I’m a curious person. I think I stumbled upon your site following a Google search for some other question, then saw a link to this blog entry, followed it, and found it intriguing. I’m curious about lots of things, including human nature, people’s beliefs, the evidence people provide/accept/seek for their beliefs, and so on.

      • First, if you would like me to respond in the future you must write shorter comments, and cover your various questions over a longer period of time, because I just don’t have time to routinely read long comments like this. See my comment policy https://broadblogs.com/comment-policy/

        I’ll make an exception this time.

        Also, when people give me a lot of comments I manage them by waiting a few days to respond.

        I gave you citations in the original piece, and you didn’t seem to see them. (Yeah, that’s a little annoying.) Since I assume that people will have already read the original piece I didn’t offer the citations again in my “comment on other peoples comments,” here.

        I cited research from Meredith Chivers on women learning the fetish, and from Pamela Paul’s “Pornified” on men — in the original post.

        Everyone knows that tribal men aren’t constantly aroused by the topless women that they are constantly surrounded by. The don’t learn the breast fetish. This is so well known that no one has even bothered to do the research. You even acknowledge it, yourself.

        I’ve also given you personal experience, which you may or may not believe. But that’s up to you. Like my Iranian student who got men all hot and bothered when she let a little bit of her hair show. Or my parents telling me about my grandmother posing provocatively by letting her ankles show.

        The first time I heard that continental European men, in some countries like France, stopped experiencing the breast fetish was in an undergraduate class in marketing (dad thought I should have a practical undergraduate degree). One of my professors told us that by the late 70s Europeans were using topless women in ads because it caught the attention of both women and men, but by the mid 80s it was so blasé that no one paid any attention anymore. Since that time I’ve heard a number of European men wonder aloud why American men think breasts are so exciting. Some have written about it in my blog comments, if you search through them. Many men have also told me — on the blog and in real life — that when they have been in a relationship with a woman, after a while her breasts stop having a fetish effect.

        The fetish is created by 1) selectively hiding and revealing — creating tension, 2) telling people that something is super sexy “But don’t look!” — creating tension, and 3) culturally obsessing over the body part.

        If you (most men, anyway) can see a partner’s breasts without all that tension, It goes away. You may be an exception.

        You say, “I do not think the men walk around with a constant erection. If I’m not mistaken, that is physiologically impossible or, at least, difficult, taxing, and dangerous. But the fact that they don’t walk around with an erection is not evidence for the claim that they aren’t attracted to breasts.”

        What you describe is the definition of behavior sans fetish/arousal effect. That’s what fetishes do — create sexual arousal.

        Fetishes are dependent on symbols. And symbols are dependent on context, as you mention.

        Of course “no fetish” doesn’t mean that women’s bodies are not judged and found attractive — or not. As I said before, in our society every inch of a woman’s body is judged for how attractive it is (by cultural standards).

        And it’s super-hard on women’s sexuality. And self-esteem.

        And on men’s sexuality too. In these situations, which regularly occur: either 1) guys are noticing that their partners don’t look like the culture ideal or 2) the guy is perfectly fine with his partner’s body but she’s distracted, worrying that she’s not hot enough. (I surveyed my women students and 88% of them experienced this problem at least some of the time. That does not get you in the mood.)

        Also, about 80% of women have poor body image. And about 2/3 of them think their breasts are inadequate.

        If you haven’t seen these yet, take a look:

        Lose Virginity, Lose Self-Esteem?
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/04/20/lose-virginity-lose-self-esteem/

        Does Sexual Objectification Lead to Bad Sex?
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/07/27/does-sexual-objectification-lead-to-bad-sex/

        But a lot of men just don’t care about women’s self-esteem or sexual experience — or realize how it can hurt their own. So they keep insisting that men are biologically driven to want sex with a certain sort of look. Yet the whole phenomenon is learned and varies with different cultures.

        The perspective you advocate causes a tremendous amount of problems — and unnecessarily so.

      • I just saw your new comment and it’s way too long. You’re going to have to break it up into smaller questions and ask over a period of time.

      • BroadBlogs wrote
        “I’m not sure if you think that this post disagrees with mine. It doesn’t.”

        In response to
        Just as an example of what seems a more balanced treatment, complete with citations… https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-human-beast/201305/sexual-wiring-womens-breasts

        I think it provides a more balanced view, which is what I wrote when I posted it. It does not specifically dismiss a socialized component to men’s fascination with breasts in our culture (nor did I), but (1) it, and the related post cited in it, also cites evolutionary reasons for men’s interest in breasts, (2) notes that men are still interested in breasts, even in subsistence cultures where they are not overtly eroticized as they are in our culture. Here is another source that follows the evidence in that direction–http://www.livescience.com/23500-why-men-love-breasts.html.

        Western, and particularly, American culture doesn’t just eroticize breasts, it eroticizes the human body, period, but especially the woman’s body. Men, as some other commenters pointed out, are attracted to lots of areas of the woman’s body, some as, or almost as, equally as the breasts (and since no studies that I know of have revealed erogenous links to the brain for those parts, it would seem that those are the ones fetishized) and you point to the fascination with large breasts (which are unnatural) being a sign that the interest is fetish and not natural. But not all men in our culture are fascinated with large breasts and, if it is learned and women learn it too as you point out, then women in the studies you cite should also be fascinated with large breasts. Are they? (That’s a sincere question, I didn’t see any claims along those lines in your posts or related links.)

      • Men are interested in a lot of things that they’re socialized to be interested in, fetish or not. Pretty much every inch of a woman’s body is scrutinized, even if not fetishized.

        It makes for really bad sex for all involved.

        Like I said in my post, the most likely reason that the breasts feel erogenous to women is to encourage them to breast-feed.

        With regard to your last question, our personalities and preferences come from a mix of three things: biological personality + social experiences + culture.

        You will find variations among humans because these things vary with each human.

        Evolutionary psychology is unbalanced. There’s even more than one school in that discipline — which contradict each other. And one school contradicts itself.

        Many have critiqued it including well-known books like Sex at Dawn and “What do women want?”

        For more on problems and contradictions see these posts I’ve written:

        Evolutionary Psych’s Double Standard
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/04/27/evolutionary-psychs-double-standard/
        Are Women Naturally Monogamous?
        https://broadblogs.com/2010/12/20/are-women-naturally-monogamous-2/
        Are Men Really More Polygamous?
        https://broadblogs.com/2013/06/03/are-men-really-more-polygamous/
        Guys Just Wanna Have Relationships?
        https://broadblogs.com/2012/11/28/guys-just-wanna-have-relationships/
        Women Want Casual Sex? Yes and No
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/03/23/women-want-casual-sex-yes-and-no/
        Women Want Emotionally Connected Sex. Why?
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/07/20/women-want-emotionally-connected-sex-why/
        Why We Lie About Sex Partner #’s
        https://broadblogs.com/2013/06/05/why-we-lie-about-sex-partner-s/
        Chimp Study: Assault Aids Procreation?
        https://broadblogs.com/2014/11/21/chimp-study-sexual-assault-aids-procreation/
        Racism: Genetic or Learned?
        https://broadblogs.com/2013/02/01/racism-genetic-or-learned/
        Black Isn’t Beautiful Claims Evolutionary Psychologist
        https://broadblogs.com/2011/06/06/black-isn%e2%80%99t-beautiful-claims-evolutionary-psychologist/
        Women Want Betas
        https://broadblogs.com/2013/08/12/women-want-betas/

  3. Another terrific piece.

    There is no question that many many men have this fetish for breasts. I think White men are far more so fascinated by breasts than we Black men. Just my observation. Black men are more turn on by a woman with a great rear. At least I am. LOL.

    I have a question for you. I was reading a piece that stated that arousal creates desire in a woman. But, I read the opposite in another book. So, which is it? Or is it still being debated. I think I read about this a few years ago also in the “Sex at Dawn” book. Can’t remember.

    • Thanks. And:

      It depends on what you mean by arousal — which could be the source of your confusion.

      Some studies have found that blood rushes to the vagina whenever women see anything that looks sexual, Including bonobos having sex. But blood rushing to the vagina is a different from FEELING aroused. The blood rush seems to happen to protect the vagina from any possible damage that could occur from having sex w/out lubrication — whether she feels turned on or not. I doubt that too many women actually feel aroused by watching bonobos have sex. So calling a blood rush to the vagina “Arousal” would not necessarily be associated with feeling sexually excited.

      On the other hand, a woman may feel her clitoris grow excited (literally and figuratively), and register that as sexual excitement that she actually FEELS. If that happens then that aroused state would create desire in a woman.

  4. What a great discussion. Whether they are fetishized or not, breasts are pretty great. But I’m curious, why do you think this social construction around their attractiveness has occurred?

    • Sexualization of the body occurs through covering, or selectively hiding and revealing. There are a number of examples where this has occurred, which I talk about in my original post, such as breasts, ankles, hair… So I can only guess that since you find this fetish in societies where people wear clothing, and you don’t find it in societies where they don’t wear much, that it has something to do with the breast being covered. Once you start wearing clothing, and that part of the body being the most obviously different from men’s, a question arises: What’s underneath there? It’s also mysterious! And intriguing.

      • Wow, their purpose seems so obvious but I have never really thought of clothes in those terms. Very interesting! Thanks for the explanation!

  5. Do add to huggy’s view. It’s true that men and maybe more so white men are obsessed with boobs, and black men more so toward the booty. Though there are plenty of white guys that like and are aroused just as much by a nice ass. I know you bring up the breast fetish particularly, but though a woman’s ass is not as taboo as nipples being shown. To me, it seems like women’s butts are fetishsized as well. If not as much as boobs. And then it brings up, if something is covered but you can’t see it, it creates a shock value and strong interest. But then again while nipples are covered, there are times in non rated r things where a woman’s bare ass is shown or g string or thong. However, though men being able to see that nakedness and it sexual, but less taboo, it’s about equally arousing to men.

    You’d think breasts would be, since nipples and breasts are bare less than the bottom part. So how much is it not seeing something vs a curvy attractive body part that is shown off and flaunted and clothes fitted to accentuate it? Men have seen women in thongs plenty of times, but you have a particular women with a particularly nice ass and hot and posed or moving in a certain way in a thong or like that and men will get just as aroused by it as naked breasts. Maybe more so depending on the context. Actions and poses are strong arousal promoters just as much as nudity or maybe even more so.

    • I talk about the breast fetish because we don’t talk about the butt fetish as much. In the former seems to be a bit stronger in that if you look at porn searches, Breasts are a much more common target. And I suspect that is because you see butts it’s a lot more often. They aren’t as forbidden, So they actually seem to be less of a fetish.

      The thing is men can get aroused at any hint of sex. Which in a way is kind of my point. I talk about how, even without the breast fetish, guys get plenty aroused by their partners.

      • But if you look at playboy, nude pictures of women, there are just as many pictures from the backside of the nude woman as front. It’s basically alternate with boob and ass shots. If you actually see advertisements for porn, close ups of the ass are shown just as much as boob shots. So even though boobs being more forbidden, ass is just as arousing to men. You ask men their favorite body parts as far as arousal goes or visual goes and it’s just about 50/50 split. Some finding them equally arousing or it alternate with men in favor of boobs and ass.

        Those porn searches can be from maybe teenage or 18 year old boys and curiosity. After the curiosity is over and young men or older men look porn, I think it’s in search of both. That’s why I bring up shapes and flaunting, because if thats the case boobs should be more arousing. They create more shock value, and curiosity, but as far as ogling and lust goes, it’s pretty equal. And to show how there seems to be close or just as much of an ass fetish. I don’t think there’d be all these ass dances or goofy trends like “twerking” and I mean there’s a music video for crying out loud called “booty” with Jennifer Lopez and Iggy Azalea, ha, both women known for their asses. If that isn’t a sign of a pretty strong fetish, then I don’t know what is.

      • Well, they’re both fetishized. Almost all the time the derrière is covered.

  6. Interesting discussion, Georgia… Just visualise a scenario where a nude woman suddenly finds a stranger breaking into her room. Her instinctive reaction will be to cover her breast with both her hands; it clearly indicates breasts are the most focal point of sexual arousal, which is why her hands reach over it instantly in a protective posture. As a vital part of female anatomy, breasts serve a biological, sexual and aesthetic purpose…best wishes… Raj.

    • Actually, that is a good example of the cultural construction. Here’s why:

      Of course someone who lives in a society with the breast fetish would likely do that.

      A woman from a tribal society would not.

      A woman from Saudi Arabia would cover her entire face.

      Which all go to show that these things are culturally constructed.

  7. “The thing is men can get aroused at any hint of sex”

    I think it’s more than the hint of sex, it’s the visual cue and aesthetic and lust from seeing something shapely like nice hips and butt in certain clothing and men are drawn to curves and that’s why a nice butt draws and arouses men just as much as boobs, because their are curvy, protruding parts of the body that stick out and can be accentuate with clothing. The stomach you can’t do that for or feet. Legs you can, but they aren’t outwardly curved like breasts, and butts.

  8. BB
    I am thinking out loud here. Because of the Christian ideology of separating babies from their mothers almost after birth, versus many African cultures carrying their babies for a long period of time after birth, I am wondering how much of this “obsession” isnt really that deep emotional conflict that comes in Western/Christian cultures were men are seeking to have that “oral stage,” emotional phase of development satiated?
    Great Post!
    JIm

    • I don’t really see why that should make a difference. And should that make females want to suck on something as well, Like a penis. If women were actually the way they were portrayed in porn that might make some logical sense. But they aren’t. While men have a breast fetish women don’t have a penis fetish. Women don’t masturbate to nude images of men. And they don’t get nearly as excited about seeing the male member as porn stars do.

      And what explains the butt fetish?

      Freud had some interesting theories. You can’t prove any of them. But you can disprove some of them. Looking at Freud’s phallic stage, he theorized that women’s inferiority complex (versus the male superiority complex) came from girls realizing that they just had a small clitoris while the boys had a big penis. And this was supposed to have occurred from ages 3 to 5. Yet we know that most children that age think that all children have the same genitals as they do. Boys think everyone has a penis and girls think every one has labia.

      Meanwhile, men who live in societies where breasts are more commonly seen, Like Continental Europeans in the late 70s/early 80s, don’t see breasts as any big deal. Men who get saturated with porn often lose the breast fetish. That wouldn’t happen if it were based on the oral stage.

      Meanwhile, other parts of the female body that have been covered, or selectively hidden and revealed — creating tension — have also been eroticized. Like ankles, hair and faces.

      Any body parts that are covered or selectively hidden and revealed because they’re deemed “so sexy” — like ankles, hair and faces — become eroticized. The mystery, the tension of wanting to look but feeling like you can’t… That all creates the eroticization.

      • “While men have a breast fetish women don’t have a penis fetish. Women don’t masturbate to nude images of men.”

        That’s the trend, of course. But obviously not in absolute terms

        Women are also proven to have a lower libido, so that in itself probably correlates with sexual fetishes.

      • That’s the trend, of course. But obviously not in absolute terms

        We are all in next of three things: culture, individual experiences, and the personality we are born with. So you get cultural patterns and individual differences.

        And yes women have a lower libido, which is likely more time to culture then biology: Men Have Higher Sex Drive. Why? https://broadblogs.com/2011/01/31/men-have-higher-sex-drive-why/

  9. BB
    I am really thinking out loud here.
    I think that a lot of factors come into play. Victorian mores, separation of boys from girls at the early age when they had to work in the fields, are just two examples of what I see as just as much an unconscious drive as is the manifestation of it in the acts/actions we do and take to continue to repress our shadow self.
    One thing you said I found very interesting. You said, “Women don’t masturbate to nude images of men.” I am sincere in this question as I would like to contemplate it in reference to the unconscious. What do they fantasize about? How empirical is the data that is behind this theory.
    I appreciate you talking about the tough issues that not many want to. It feels uncomfortable and yet is necessary.
    Thanks
    Jim

  10. Tossing aside the erogenous value (Which I think it might be subjective thus quite relative) , and keeping in mind that this statement is cultural as you have pointed out above I ‘d say that I am also fascinated by the social construction of this fetish…
    Don’t you think that huge breasts might be intimidating to men in general?… This is just as a sort of discretion here and considering the performative sexual factor…
    Best regards, Aquileana 😀

    • For humans, the world is symbolic for the most part. So how are large breasts understood symbolically? They could be understood as super sex symbols. They could be understood as intimidating — large and overtaking. And if one were to make a parallel to the penis envy that Freud insisted women have (because they just have a tiny clitoris compared to a big penis) you would expect men to have breast envy.

      • The last point is interesting and accurate indeed…
        Huge breasts would reduce the negative effects related to the female complex of castration somehow… I have never thought it that way!. Cheers and thanks Georgia!. Aquileana 😀

      • Well, if Freud were right. Few (if any) girls feel inferior because they don’t sport a huge penis — but Freud would (and did) tell us that we really do, it’s just hidden in our unconscious. Meanwhile, in the 1920s when women finally got the vote in the US — and were beginning to feel a bit more equal to men — the style at the time was to bind your breasts to look as flat-chested as possible. So apparently having big breasts didn’t make women feel superior. And that’s symbolic too.

        Of course, a different theory as to why women feel inferior is because society basically tells tells us that we are, with men taking pretty much all the power positions of presidents, Congress, religious leaders, Business leaders, publishing leaders, heads of home… And using words like “man” to describe all of us. Well, I could go on…

  11. Well said- so much of what we see and how we see it is conditioning. I was especially struck by the comment about prepubescent features being sexy- it’s more that we sexualize them. And that’s an important issue to delve into as well and how it impacts young girls to be sexualized at such a young age.

  12. A very interesting post and comments, I can’t add anything else but it is a great read!

  13. Very interesting post!
    I have heard that smaller breasts are actually more sensitive, but the part about some surgically enhanced breasts losing sensitivity surprised me, that is not something the cosmetic surgeons advertise!
    Can you enlighten me though (and apologies if I missed it) – if the fetish has been socially constructed does that mean that it can be as easily socially deconstructed? If so, any idea how long that would take? One generation? More? Thanks for such a thought provoking post!

    • It can be easily deconstructed. And it can take about one generation. That’s what happened in Europe in the late 70s/early 80s. But you need certain circumstances for that to happen. Like women would need to stop covering– Which is what happened over there. Or, of course, some men get over exposed through a steady stream of pornography. Not sure how much porn it takes for that to happen. Because they also live in a world that continues the intrigue– A place where women are generally covered up.

  14. I agree with you that breast fetish is not natural. I think sexual arousal happens on the hidden stuff. In our culture, women’s breasts are asked to hide from their appearance. Thus, many men developed this fetish since they can’t be free to touch or look at their mothers’ breasts. Women usually don’t have this fetish because they do have their own boobs. Women are so familiar with their boobs that they generally will not develop such fetish. Other fetish such as foot fetish, stocking fetish and etc. I think they work in the same way. If people can easily get one kind of stuff while they are growing up, they will not develop such fetish related to that kind of stuff. For instance, if men can freely wear women’s tights, there would be much fewer stocking fetish among men. Just think of the number of stocking fetish among women comparing to that number among men.

    • Women seem to be less likely to develop this fetish, Despite the fact that society selectively hides and reveals them. I suspect this is for a variety of reasons, including the following:

      . Since women own them, They’re more likely to see them, and get used to them
      . Since women are judged by their breasts they’re more likely to move into a mode in which they are judging, And perhaps resenting, other women’s breasts. When you are feeling anxious like this, you are not going to be feeling sexually excited
      . The breasts aren’t attached to the body of a person that straight women are more naturally attracted to, so that will reduce the fetish, perhaps significantly

      That said, there is a lot of evidence that women learn it, too. A lot of evidence from Meredith Chivers and Marta Meana — a couple of sex researchers who Daniel Bergner talks about quite a bit in his book, “what do women want?”

  15. This is a different way of looking at the subject that I had never really considered. It is an interesting way to look at it and l like the perspective. I totally agree that the breast fetish is just that, a fetish, within our country. I don’t necessarily think that just because a young girl goes through puberty and her breast enlarge that men will instantly want to a sex with her or think that she is mature enough to reproduce. I do however think that it is a sign of sorts saying that she could technically reproduce at that time or sometime in the near future. The breast fetish is something that our culture has created just like the butt fetish, lip fetish, or foot fetish. These things that people are interested in are not necessarily natural but for whatever reason they find them attractive. Something doesn’t have to be natural to be attractive but in order for it to be biological it has to be natural. I completely agree with you about it being a culture created thing.

  16. Interesting statement about pubic hair.

    When I hit puberty at 11 I personally neither liked pubic hair. However, once I became more confident sexually I am more an more disturbed by the trend of shaving it all off. You mentioned pubic hair as having got out of vogue today. No word about female armpit hair though, which used to be very common a few decades ago (even in porn, European porn at least).
    I personally think a woman looks better when she has her natural body hair (which also includes armpit hair). We just aren’t used to it and we are culturally conditioned to see it as gross. But having seen attractive young women who don’t shave my natural biologically inclination to preferring it like that resurfaced. Only from the age of 20 and older did I learn that, because before you would almost never see such women.

    However, as a teen I already sometimes saw such women in older European films but also I used to have dated a girl who didn’t shave her armpits. I didn’t like it, but I ignored it and was madly in love that it didn’t prevent me of liking her. She played a minor role in it though, as when I look at her today she means nothing to me and I even find her not-attractive (not even physically). But it’s indicative to me in a way that even men who are conditioned to find female body hair repulsive to still be able to get aroused by women with natural body hair.

    I do believe the pubic hair removal trend is one that might get reverted sooner or later anyway. The wedge-shaped bush might make its popular return. I don’t mind, as there will always be people who deviate from the mainstream.

    • Thanks for your thoughts. And yes, people will often deviate from cultural ideals. For instance, I know a lot of men who claim they love big breasts, but have been interested in women with small breasts. But a lot of small breasted women don’t realize that, and that hurts both their self-esteem and their sexuality.

  17. Very well written post indeed. I couldn’t add anything more to the discussion:) and that doesn’t happen always.😊

  18. I agree with a lot that you are saying. Female breasts are definitely exposed mainly in sexual situations. Men can go topless in many non-sexual settings. For example: men can do yoga topless at my studio. None of the women do. In fact, many women often times cover up their chests even in the locker rooms. Do you see sexual attraction defined as who you ideally want to have sex with rather than just who may be somewhat arousing to look at in a general sense mainly because a certain body part, like breasts, which are associated with sex? There is a difference between being aroused by breasts because of their general sexual connotation vs. personal sexual desire, correct?

  19. I agree that finding breasts to be inherently sexual is certainly a social construct. The fits people pitch when women breast feed in public are a ridiculous example of how strongly people feel about this. This shows that the generally accepted idea is that breasts are sexually explicit in nature and not in fact mainly in existence to feed babies. I think this also ties into our culture of modesty. As breasts are inherently female, exposing them is viewed as indecent, as an invitation or as deliberate provocation. So fetishizing them, along with other female body parts comes from the fact that our culture objectifies women to such an extent that natural body parts are viewed as shameful. Dress codes in middle school reflect this as young girls are told to cover up in order to protect the boys’ education as they will have no control over their desire to ogle cleavage and this will be a distraction. Surely this places shame upon the girls and takes responsibility away from the boys. From what my friends and I experienced growing up, development goes hand in hand with being viewed as sexual. Regardless of age (for one of my close friends she was barely 12) getting hit on/cat called began as soon as fuller breasts were visible. The over fetishization is yet another symptom of sexism/double standard that is in place which dictates how men and women should behave.

  20. I agree. Nudity is not the same thing as sex. You can be nude without sex occurring or feeling sexual feelings. One example is breast feeding. However I am very skeptical of the social constructivist/constructionist explanation and constructivism in general. I don’t consider belief to be the same as truth. What’s true may be different from what’s believed because beliefs are thoughts whereas the truth of things is beyond our thoughts and concerns the things themselves. I consider people’s misidentification of nudity with sex and sexuality to be an error in thought and not a version of reality.

    • When the truth is that most of human reality is socially constructed, it must drive you nuts.

      And we know it is because there are cultural patterns to these things. What seems like reality for one community is different for another.

      Thinking that everything has innate truth is a lot easier to imagine. And yet we know that this is impossible when we see how differently different cultures understand things.

      On the positive side, the fact that most of human reality is socially constructed gives humans much greater freedom than animals have, who are much more instinctual.

  21. You lost me at ” most women don’t find the penis visually arousing.” Really? I, personally, find the penis arousing. But, then I may be a rarity in that I am a woman that has not been sexually abused. I have known lesbians who do not find the penis visually arousing, and a few hetero women who also do not find the penis visually arousing. However, those women had been sexually abused as children. Do you have any studies to back up your statement? Why do women in large numbers watch gay porn if they do not find penises arousing?

  22. “That’s right. You don’t find the fetish in every culture — which means it cannot be biological.”

    This is a poor argument. There are very few universal attraction triggers – health, youth, and symmetry (beauty) are 3 of them. Just because a small fraction of males don’t find breasts as attractive proves absolutely nothing. Different races could’ve developed different preferences.

    “13-year-olds are ready for reproduction?”

    No but they’re close. Remember that girls mature faster today than in the past. Also remember that the life expectancy for humans was very short (~30 years).

    “Breasts are a secondary sex characteristic. (But beards are, too)”

    Another poor argument. Women’s bodies are meant to physical attract men not the other way around.

    “Unlike nonhuman mammals, breasts are “out there””

    See above.

    “vaginas are a PRIMARY sex characteristic and even more responsive than breasts, yet they aren’t fetishized”

    Men cannot normally see a woman’s vagina but he can always see her breasts. When humans began walking upright, a woman’s advertising moved from her rear to her chest. This can be seen in other more upright primates as well.

    From: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201004/why-do-breasts-mesmerize

    “Human females aren’t the only primates with fertility signals on their chests. The Gelada baboon is another vertically oriented primate with sexual swellings on the females’ chests. As we’d expect, the Gelada’s swellings come and go with the females’ sexual receptivity. As the human female is potentially always sexually receptive, her breasts are more or less always swollen, from sexual maturity on.”

    “Why would women learn the fetish?”

    Anything can be fetishized. You are acting like this is some zero sum game where breasts must either do nothing sexually or be fetish. Fetish is a very strong word. Too strong for this discussion.

    “Bigger breasts make better moms?”

    Not exactly but breasts have been shown to be a signal for reproductive health.
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691716/

    So breasts…

    1) Develop at puberty when a woman is now fertile
    2) Are mostly fatty tissue (remember, nothing that costly evolves without a purpose)
    3) Are a signal of reproductive health
    4) Are a sex organ that lights up the brain exactly like a woman’s genitals
    5) Have been obsessed over since caveman days (cavemen drew lots of pictures of women with oversized breasts)

    But according to you, men aren’t hard wired to like them? So for no reason at all women store all this fat in their breasts?

    If you truly disagree then explain why women evolved to store fat in their chests? Explain why human females evolved these “cumbersome appendages”?

    • There are very few universal attraction triggers – health, youth, and symmetry (beauty) are 3 of them.

      That’s because the meaning of most of the world for humans is symbolic, Not natural, Including the breast fetish. And that is good because it frees humans from imperatives. Humans have more freedom than other species for that reason.

      Just because a small fraction of males don’t find breasts as attractive proves absolutely nothing.

      It’s not a small fraction of males. If most of human history. And it varies with the culture.

      When you don’t do something to create a fetish:

      • Selectively hide and reveal — creating sexual tension
      • Declare a body part sexy, and then say, “Don’t look at it!” — creating sexual tension
      • Obsesses over the body part: The camera zeros in on it. People talk about it incessantly… Because it is declared so sexy.

      you don’t have a fetish.

      And so we don’t fetishize the penis, vagina, clitoris…

      And people in societies — whether tribal societies or parts of Western Europe — who don’t create the fetish don’t experience it.

      The creation of the fetish leads even women to learn it. Clearly it is not natural but a social construction. No biological reason for women to learn this fetish.

      “13-year-olds are ready for reproduction?”
      No but they’re close. Remember that girls mature faster today than in the past.

      Sure. But they shouldn’t be having babies. It’s unhealthy for them to.

      Women’s bodies are meant to physical attract men not the other way around.

      Says who?

      Women aren’t supposed to find men attractive and yet they’re supposed to have sex with them?

      Incredibly poor argument.

      Men cannot normally see a woman’s vagina but he can always see her breasts.

      He can’t see them if they are covered up. But the fact you mention is largely what probably creates the fetish. What is this thing that is covered up that we never see? It so mysterious and intriguing. It’s the covering that creates the fetish. Not the biology — not fetishized where it’s not covered.

      “Why would women learn the fetish?”
      Anything can be fetishized. You are acting like this is some zero sum game where breasts must either do nothing sexually or be fetish. Fetish is a very strong word. Too strong for this discussion.

      Well you just made my point. Thank you.

      And fetish is the whole point of this discussion.

      “Bigger breasts make better moms?”
      Not exactly but breasts have been shown to be a signal for reproductive health.
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691716/

      Now you are being racist? Because the average cup size of an East Asian woman is an A cup. Are they less healthy than women with a D cup? The average cup size in the United States used to be a B before of obesity and implants made the average a C. Do obesity and implants signify healthier women?

      So for no reason at all women store all this fat in their breasts?

      Women also store fat everywhere else. They store fat in their stomach. Does that make them sexy? (Well, it does for W. Africans because of how they construct “What sexy”?)

      And evolutionary psychology is full of holes, as I discussed in the links I already sent you. So don’t send me links from them and call it science. (There are you in two schools of contradictory thought in evolutionary psychology.)

  23. “It’s not a small fraction of males. If most of human history. And it varies with the culture.”

    No, it’s definitely a small fraction. Tribal men do not make up most of the world’s male population.

    “Women aren’t supposed to find men attractive and yet they’re supposed to have sex with them? Incredibly poor argument.”

    I never made any such an argument.

    My statement pointed to the fact that women are the advertisers and men are the buyers. Obviously, attraction has to be mutual.

    “He can’t see them if they are covered up. But the fact you mention is largely what probably creates the fetish. What is this thing that is covered up that we never see? It so mysterious and intriguing. It’s the covering that creates the fetish. Not the biology — not fetishized where it’s not covered.”

    This is objectively false. Even in countries like France where women routinely go topless, men remain obsessed with them.

    Evolution not society is what created men’s fixation on breasts.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-young-phd/breasts_b_1910401.html

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100129578/is-it-really-the-west-thats-breast-obsessed-or-just-men/

    “Now you are being racist?”

    That was a scientific study. Facts are not racist. Biology does not care about political correctness.

    “Women also store fat everywhere else. They store fat in their stomach. Does that make them sexy? ”

    No, that doesn’t make sense.

    Breasts, especially large ones, are costly and they hamper movement. There MUST be some advantage to them or else women would not have them.

    Literally every part of a man or a woman has a good explanation even if it’s vestigial it at least had a function at one point. To assert that for no good reason women grew fatty deposits on their chests isn’t logical.

    It makes tremendously more sense that “advertising” moved from a woman’s rear to her chest.

    This is obvious to nearly everyone. Men chose women with more prominent breasts and through sexual selection, all women developed them. Nature has shown this in other upright primates.

    I repeat:

    From: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/sex-dawn/201004/why-do-breasts-mesmerize

    “Human females aren’t the only primates with fertility signals on their chests. The Gelada baboon is another vertically oriented primate with sexual swellings on the females’ chests. As we’d expect, the Gelada’s swellings come and go with the females’ sexual receptivity. As the human female is potentially always sexually receptive, her breasts are more or less always swollen, from sexual maturity on.”

    “By the way, what difference does it make you whether the fetish is biological or a social construction?”

    It makes no difference at all. I’m only interested in truth. Science has shown it’s biological.

    • First, you write so much and so often that the only thing I’ll end up doing is responding to your comments if I don’t limit the amount of time I spend on them. So in future I will keep responses to your comments down to once a week.

      Although I hardly see much point in responding since you don’t pay any attention to anything I say. You just repeat the same points over again. I’ll try one more time on some of these, And then I will delete them if you bring them up again.

      “It’s not a small fraction of males. If most of human history. And it varies with the culture.”
      No, it’s definitely a small fraction. Tribal men do not make up most of the world’s male population.

      You aren’t paying any attention:

      The bulk of human history has consisted of tribal societies. In fact that is ALL that existed for the bulk of the human experience — including during the time that evolutionary psychologists keep going back to to explain why we are the way we are. There has never been a tribal society that had a breast fetish. You need the following elements to create it, And they don’t exist in tribal societies:

      • Selectively hide and reveal — creating sexual tension
      • Declare a body part hugely sexy, and then insist, “Don’t look at it!” — creating sexual tension
      • Obsess over the body part: The camera zeros in. People discuss it incessantly… Because it is deemed SO SEXY.

      It’s the covering that creates the fetish. Not the biology — not fetishized where it’s not covered.”
      This is objectively false. Even in countries like France where women routinely go topless, men remain obsessed with them.

      Men from European countries have written in to say that while they do find breasts attractive, just seeing a naked breast is not enough to spark arousal. (And I am talking about the fetish, not finding something like legs attractive.) I have known European man who can’t figure out why Americans are so obsessed with nudity. In the 1970s advertiser started using topless women to advertise because everyone — male and female — looked. But after a while toplessness became blasé because you saw everywhere — beaches, billboards, television. Now if you go to France you rarely see toplessness. Every now and then some beaches in the south of France. And a lot of those are women in their 60s an 70s. It’s actually usually American women who go topless now at those beaches. Europeans are more covered up now than they used to be.

      Evolution not society is what created men’s fixation on breasts.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/larry-young-phd/breasts_b_1910401.html
      http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tomchiversscience/100129578/is-it-really-the-west-thats-breast-obsessed-or-just-men/

      Like I told you, evolutionary psychology is full of crap.

      “Now you are being racist?”

      That was a scientific study. Facts are not racist.

      It is not a fact that A cup, East Asian women, are less healthy than D cup Russian women. Some of the healthiest communities on the planet are in East Asia. Check out the scientific data. But your argument that bigger breasts indicate healthier women is racist, because no data backs you up.

      “Women also store fat everywhere else. They store fat in their stomach. Does that make them sexy? ”
      No, that doesn’t make sense.

      Evolution does NOT ever develop things “just because”.

      My comment to you: If you really want to sell people on your idea, you’re going to need to come up with a better explanation than “Evolution does NOT ever develop things “just because.” It is not believable. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.

      So how do you explain that — prior to obesity and implants — the average breast size of women in Japan was A and the average breast size of the United States was B if it is healthier to be a C or D? If it evolutionarily advantageous to be a C or D that should be what you usually find. Bs and As should die out. That’s not what happened.

      It’s a lot easier to nurse babies if you have protruding breasts and don’t have to lie on your stomach like a cat or stand over them like a cow. But even women with small breasts develop larger ones when they are nursing. It’s typical for women to go from A to D. But they don’t need D all the time — just to feed babies. Then you don’t need them anymore. And they go back down.

      Breasts, especially large ones, are costly and they hamper movement. There MUST be some advantage to them or else women would not have them.

      The fact that they are costly and hamper movement must explain why the typical breast sizes are A and B. Without obesity and implants.

      Men chose women with more prominent breasts and through sexual selection, all women developed them.

      So why is the typical breast size A and B? Without obesity or implants? The prevalence of A and B suggests that men were choosing women with smaller breasts.

      “By the way, what difference does it make you whether the fetish is biological or a social construction?”
      It makes no difference at all. I’m only interested in truth. Science has shown it’s biological.

      If you really meant that, then you would stop insisting that things that are false are true.

      By the way, I’m am a scientist and not just a blogger. I have a PhD from UCLA in sociology with a focus on social psychology and gender. That’s social science, my friend. All the research you cite is also social science. But there are debates among social scientists. And the science you keep citing is evolutionary psychology. There are two schools of evolutionary psychology that disagree with and contradict each other. One school contradicts itself — the school you keep referring to.

  24. “Men from European countries have written in to say that while they do find breasts attractive, just seeing a naked breast is not enough to spark arousal”

    Am I misunderstanding your whole argument? Are you saying that men do find breasts attractive but not normally on the level of “fetish” without societal influence?

    If so, I agree with you and please forgive me.

    There’s no doubt a man’s attraction to breasts is amplified by society.

    Just want to clarify:

    “It is not a fact that A cup, East Asian women, are less healthy than D cup Russian women. Some of the healthiest communities on the planet are in East Asia. Check out the scientific data. But your argument that bigger breasts indicate healthier women is racist, because no data backs you up.”

    Neither the report nor I said anything about health. I said “reproductive health”. The data from the report shows that women with a smaller waist and larger breasts were more reproductively healthy (i.e. more likely to get pregnant). The difference wasn’t much. Women of any body type can conceive.

    See diagram on page 2
    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691716/pdf/15306344.pdf

    “So how do you explain that — prior to obesity and implants — the average breast size of women in Japan was A and the average breast size of the United States was B if it is healthier to be a C or D?”

    It’s a risk/reward scenario like most other things in evolution. Breasts hamper movement and are a costly investment. You’d also expect all men to be “tall” since tall men have advantages and are preferred by women but that isn’t the case either.

    Also, isn’t it possible that Asian men don’t have as much interest in breasts as Caucasian and African men do? We know African men prefer larger women. Men from different cultures often have different attraction triggers.

    Sorry for blowing up your blog. I’ll leave the last word to you. I get passionate about science and research.

    • You say that science agrees with you, but the article you sent specifically said that they were only guessing that the numbers meant that women with larger breasts would be more fertile. They didn’t actually know. And is that data point the only relevant factor, anyway? Clearly not. At the least, the researchers said that the waist-hip ratio was a more important factor. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1691716/pdf/15306344.pdf

      But let’s say that the number the researchers were so interested in is an accurate indicator that a woman is particularly fertile, so that a woman with large breasts and the right waist-hip ratio would be super fertile. Does that mean that she will be more likely to reproduce her genes? Would a woman who keeps having children without rest be more likely to die in childbirth? And not be able to care for and feed her children, either breast-feeding or otherwise? Might motherless children be more likely to be deprived and less likely to thrive and reach adulthood?

      And, it turns out, men are more likely to prefer large breasts if they are poor, hungry, and want a lot of kids.
      https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/head-games/201305/what-is-it-about-men-and-breast-size

      Since most men these days want a small number of children, most men should prefer women with smaller breasts.

      I’m not convinced that this data proves their theory, anyway. Richer men are more likely to be exposed to high fashion models in advertising, who tend to be small breasted. And bigger breasts seem more attractive when you’re hungry? Maybe there’s something to it. Or does it trigger something about mother’s milk from the man’s infancy? Or is something symbolic involved? She looks like a woman with meat on her bones, symbolically? Did they test to see if women who were heavier, overall, were more attractive to men? Or was it just the breasts? Because if you want more meat on the bones then women who are heavier overall should be more attractive. Or is there something else that I haven’t thought of?

      But if it’s important to you to believe that men who prefer larger breasts are more poor and hungry – because that’s what science says – then be my guest.

      If you are man, then whenever you rave about how great big breasts are the people around you can feel sorry for you because you are impoverished. If you are a woman, then lucky you, you get to attract the most impoverished guys. Because that’s what science has determined, Right?

      Meanwhile, the average breast size of a porn star is a B-cup.
      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/19/average-porn-star-bra-size-weight-hair-color-millward_n_2717326.html

      And some pretty flat-chested women have been voted “Sexiest woman in the world,” Or “Hottest woman in the world,” Like Keira Knightley and Mila Kunis. And a number of other flat-chested women have been in the top 100 list of Maxim and FHM. Kristen Stewart and Paris Hilton are two who come quickly to mind. Oh, and Kate Middleton married a Prince, a man who had his pick up pretty much anyone.

      And as I asked before, how do you explain that — prior to obesity and implants — the average breast size of women in Japan was A and the average breast size in the United States was B if it is reproductively healthier to be a C or D? If it’s evolutionarily advantageous to be a C or D that should be what you usually find. Bs and As should have died out. That’s not what’s happened

      And there are cultural differences. And it is culture, not genes. The preference that richer men have for smaller breasts is probably cultural. Men who watch a lot of porn often talk about how it changes their preference. And the female ideal varies at different points, historically. Sometimes the fuller-figured woman is thought more beautiful, and sometimes slimmer women are thought more attractive.

      People who don’t study cultural variation tend to make the fundamental attribution error. You can’t see the invisible forces that lie behind a phenomenon, so you attribute the cause to something that seems more obvious. And we commonly attribute things to biology, while ignoring social factors. That’s especially true of biologists and psychologists.

      Maybe you meet someone who acts rude. You didn’t see how badly the day went, which caused them to be on edge, so you assume the cause is biological: she’s just a mean person.

      You live in a culture that worships breasts, and especially large ones. And you assume that it is biologically based. You don’t see the cultural factors that go into creating something like a (big) breast fetish.

      As I said, biologists and psychologists are prone to this. Sociologists and anthropologists are more aware of cultural variation that almost everyone else is unaware of. Where there is cultural variation, the cause cannot be biological.

      Yet some people are are absolute zealots in insisting that the breast fetish is natural and that big breasts are naturally preferred.

      I have to wonder about the motivations of these people.

      There may be a few science zealots who don’t understand how flimsy and controversial the science that they champion is. But since the issue is SUCH a big deal to them, I have my doubts that the motivation is pure science. People get much more heated by emotion than rational thought.

      The motivation? More likely (1-3, below):

      1. Men who feel ashamed about having a (big) breast fetish, and want science to make them feel okay about it — even if that means making a lot of women feel horrible about themselves.

      (As I wrote in this post, I really don’t care if men get aroused by breasts, Or even big ones. I do have issues with all of the problems that our cultural obsession creates — and that an insistence that this is all natural creates — which I describe below.)

      2. Misogynists whose goal is to make women feel bad about themselves.

      3. Women with gi-normous breasts who don’t feel good enough with mere cultural and male adulation. They must also insist that they are genetically superior to most everyone else.

      Here’s why I have a problem with the idea that the breast fetish is natural — and particularly that a big breast fetish is natural:

      About 80% of young women have poor body image. Most don’t have big breasts. So they can internalize an idea that they are somehow unattractive and inferior. That’s really unhealthy.

      Some women feel like they must get breast augmentation to feel good about themselves. Any surgery is dangerous. And about one-third of these women lose sensation in their breasts. That makes it more difficult to enjoy sex, too.

      Here are more reasons why the breast fetish makes it difficult for many, men and women alike, to enjoy sex:

      Women with smaller breasts get so distracted worrying that the guy she’s with won’t find her attractive that she can’t enjoy sex at all.

      Even if the guy she’s with is perfectly happy with her small breasts, her worries are a turn-off for him.

      If a woman has big breasts and is proud of them, she will often spend more time showing them off than enjoying sex. Which isn’t so great for him, because most men want their partner to be enjoying sex — not just obsessing over how they look.

      And men who watch a lot of porn sometimes talk about how it has affected their taste in women. Maybe now a guy has a strong preference for DD. And when he gets in bed he can’t enjoy sex unless his partner has that bra size.

      Does Sexual Objectification Lead to Bad Sex? https://broadblogs.com/2011/07/27/does-sexual-objectification-lead-to-bad-sex/

      Since the science is so flimsy, why promote an idea that is so hurtful in so many ways?

  25. Here’s something you will find interesting:

    Tribal men of the Hadza tribe do find breasts arousing and actively seek out mates with large breasts (among other things).

    “Even though men’s interest in breasts may increase where women are clothed, the interpretation that men in nude cultures do not find breasts erotic is erroneous. Based on numerous interviews I conducted with the Hadza, men find breasts erotic, even though women usually do not cover their breasts» – Marlowe, F. 1998. The nubility hypothesis: The human breast as an honest signal of residual reproductive value. Human Nature 9 (3):263-271.”

    See the bottom of page 7 of 13 in the study
    http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.399.2912&rep=rep1&type=pdf

    “When I asked men if they found female breasts attractive, 94% said yes while 6% said they didn’t care about them. Most men who cared about breasts liked them big and round and firm – “like those of young women,” they would often say. 70% used one or more of those adjectives while 27% said all kinds were good and 3% said they liked small breasts.”

    Just some food for thought 🙂

    • First, he never said that the men experienced a breast fetish.

      He said that in that culture men looked for large breasts. And then he suggested the reason might be something that resonates with our own cultural bias.

      In our own culture men often prefer long slim legs. But they don’t have a fetish for them. Or they may prefer blonde hair — without an actual fetish. In fact, our cultural body preference for women most closely matches AIS males: genetic males who are insensitive to testosterone (And who are overrepresented among models: large breasts and long, slim legs).

      And in fact, men in different cultures value different sorts of body types and body parts. In some places men prefer obese women, And other places they prefer skinny women… etc.

      If men preferred large breasts as a sign of fertility, then all men, throughout history and regardless of culture, would have that preference.

      They don’t.

      Without obesity and implants the average breast size in Japan is an A-cup and in the US a B-cup. As it happens, many different cultures have different preferences. Even in a culture like ours, Where large breasts are worshiped, there is a lot of variation in men’s preferences. And in fact, the average breast size of a porn star is a B cup.

      Otherwise here’s some other food for thought (some points from a reply I wrote to someone else and will eventually turn into a post so that I can just insert a link):

      Let’s say that large breasts indicate that a woman is super-fertile. Does that mean that she will be more likely to reproduce her genes? Would a super-fertile woman who keeps having children without rest be more likely to die in childbirth? And not be able to care for and feed her children, either breast-feeding or otherwise? Might motherless children be more likely to be deprived and less likely to thrive and reach adulthood?

      And, it turns out, men are more likely to prefer large breasts if they are poor, hungry, and want a lot of kids.
      https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/head-games/201305/what-is-it-about-men-and-breast-size

      Since most men these days want a small number of children, most men should prefer women with smaller breasts.

      Evolutionary psych is full of crap (once it got into the hands of lesser minds than Darwin — who himself critique the theory, pointing out that in on the upper classes of his time men were more interested in a women’s resources than in her looks).

      But if it’s important to you to believe that men who prefer larger breasts are more poor and hungry – because that’s what science says – then be my guest.

      If you are a man, then whenever you rave about how great big breasts are the people around you can feel sorry for you because you are impoverished. If you are a woman, then lucky you, you get to attract the most impoverished guys. Because that’s what science has determined, Right?

      And some pretty flat-chested women have been voted “Sexiest woman in the world,” Or “Hottest woman in the world,” Like Keira Knightley and Mila Kunis. And a number of other flat-chested women have been in the top 100 lists of Maxim and FHM. Kristen Stewart and Paris Hilton are two who come quickly to mind. Oh, and Kate Middleton married a Prince, a man who had his pick up pretty much anyone.

      So why are some people so zealous in insisting that the breast fetish is real and that men have a preference for large ones?

      These are the only possibilities I can think of (1-3, below):

      1. Men who feel ashamed about having a (big) breast fetish, and want science to make them feel okay about it — even if that means making a lot of women feel horrible about themselves.

      2. Misogynists whose goal is to make women feel bad about themselves.

      3. Women with gi-normous breasts who don’t feel good enough with mere cultural and male adulation. They must also insist that they are genetically superior to most everyone else.

      Here’s why I have a problem with the idea that the breast fetish is natural — and particularly that a big breast fetish is natural:

      About 80% of young women have poor body image. Most don’t have big breasts. So they can internalize an idea that they are somehow unattractive and inferior. That’s really unhealthy.

      Some women feel like they must get breast augmentation to feel good about themselves. Any surgery is dangerous. And about one-third of these women lose sensation in their breasts. That makes it more difficult to enjoy sex, too.
      Here are more reasons why the breast fetish makes it difficult for many, men and women alike, to enjoy sex:

      Women with smaller breasts get so distracted worrying that the guy she’s with won’t find her attractive that she can’t enjoy sex at all.

      Even if the guy she’s with is perfectly happy with her small breasts, her worries are a turn-off for him.

      If a woman has big breasts and is proud of them, she will often spend more time showing them off than enjoying sex. Which isn’t so great for him, because most men want their partner to be enjoying sex — not just obsessing over how great they look.

      And men who watch a lot of porn sometimes talk about how it affects their taste in women. Maybe now a guy has a strong preference for DD. And when he gets in bed he can’t enjoy sex unless his partner has that bra size.
      (See this: Does Sexual Objectification Lead to Bad Sex? https://broadblogs.com/2011/07/27/does-sexual-objectification-lead-to-bad-sex/)

      Since the science is so flimsy, why promote an idea that is so hurtful in so many ways?

  26. Interesting post. The idea that men aren’t naturally attracted to a women’s breasts was striking considering the amount of attention breasts get here in the states. The social norm is that people prefer larger breasts over smaller breasts, thus creating an issue for the average american woman. The article brings up excellent points that clarify that the large breast fetish is a social preference rather than a biological sign of maturity and a more capable mother. My belief was that men before modern times considered the size of a woman’s breasts as a sign for choosing a partner who could feed any children they have. Until reading this article, it was easy to confuse this piece of social conditioning for something like natural biological behavior. The size of a breast does not affect with milk production, although visually it may seem that way, considering the amount of deep thought spent of whether there is correlation between size and production. It seems people mistakenly chalked this one up as the bigger the better.

  27. Catalina Becker

    I don’t care much about the size of my breasts, though growing up, people liked to poke fun at them being small or whatever, but to me it’s like the size of my feet: so they’re a certain size? I just wear the right shoe or bra size and move on with your day. I’m not personally concerned on how my breasts or my feet measure up to fetishists’ preferences! It bothers me that people are made to feel self-conscious of their breast size, because they have the idea in their head that breasts are supposed to be attractive in that way. But what bothers me most, honestly just because it effects me directly, is knowing that my breasts create a reaction in other people and I wish they wouldn’t. I’m a somewhat fashion-forward dresser and I have quite a few items of clothing that are thin, sheer, or have deep v-shaped necklines. With a lot of these items you simply cannot wear a bra, and while they sell all sorts of products to hide your nipples, that just seems weird and if I’m being honest, I don’t have time for that. So sometimes I just go without and I feel fine, at least at first. That is, until I start to notice the men staring directly at my breasts, and then I feel majorly disgusted. Even though I don’t sexualize breasts (mine or anyone else’s), knowing that other people do limits my ability to be comfortable with my body.

  28. Jennifer Malcolm

    It was fascinating to read this piece and to reflect on the breast fetish or lack of from a socio-cultural view of various cultures. It seems that the more exposure to something the less effect it has on you. I wonder if it is the same idea of being squeamish or interested in needles/blood? The longer I have been around people who are injured the more natural the body and all of it’s functions and body parts become. I am a woman who thinks that women are beautiful, although I am not sexually attracted to them. I would say that over time traveling or going to festivals where nudity is allowed that to see people walking around with the particular body parts they aren’t “allowed” to expose in modern society are just out and they are comfortable in doing so. The more breasts I see, or penises I suppose, the less it makes me uncomfortable because it is not fetishized. Is our breast fetish the reason why some people think that breast feeding in public is natural and other people are repulsed by it? Yet they don’t know why.

    When reading the comments it makes perfect sense that an indigenous person would not care that women do not wear tops. I don’t believe I’ve ever considered this in depth before, so I thank you for your post on it. A social construct in plain sight!

    • Thanks for your thoughts on this. When I learned about the social construction of sexuality, including this topic, a lot of things started making a lot more sense to me.

  29. I find breasts arousing. However that, like gender, is a big social construct.

  30. Jonathon Howell

    The way I see it is this. It’s easy to see why the breast fetish isn’t considered natural. Mainly do to the fact that breasts tend to be put in the spotlight in a good number of cultures. But to say that attraction to breasts isn’t natural in some cases is somewhat misleading. For the record, I’m not able to post any links in this forum because I don’t know how, I don’t know of any and I can’t do it because I’m using my PlayStation’s browser. When it comes right down to it, a man can find just about anything attractive on a female. Even in tribal cultures. Especially if a man comes across a women that he finds deeply attractive. Everything about her may arouse or intrigue him. Her body, her hair, her legs, and yes, her breasts. This could even occur in tribal cultures that don’t have breast fetishes. His reaction may not even be to suck on them, but to simply feel them. Of course, that said man may want to taste said woman. A fetish may or may not be responsible for that. Even if a person hasn’t been exposed to fetishes, that itself doesn’t mean that they won’t find certain features on their partners attractive. In cases of sensuality, two partners may start rubbing each other all over. I do agree that the breast fetish isn’t felt everywhere. Not everybody has a thing for breasts, but I wouldn’t say that attraction to them is completely unnatural.

    • Sure, we can all find people attractive for a variety of reasons. But The breast fetish is a social construction. And the way you can tell is that it isn’t found in every culture.

  31. When it comes to sexual arousal, fetishes, and so on what neuroscientists have found is that most of what becomes arousing to individuals has strong links with early development and environment. The brain is very plastic, and while we come into the world pre-programmed to become aroused, to lust, and desire what actually triggers those feelings and drives is not pre-determined. Breasts may be arousing because they are sexualised and fetishised in many cultures. This may have to do with breast feeding, and the nurturance that can come from this act. Women and babies receive a large dose of oxytocin in their brain during breast feeding, and men and women also receive oxytocin to a lesser extent during orgasm if it happens with another person. Anyway, the point is that most things that become erotic are not necessarily erotic to us inherently, we eroticise them for different reasons, and because of our different experiences.

  32. Yeah, it’s not found in every culture. But that doesn’t mean that there can’t be a natural attraction to breasts. Like I stated in my previous comment, a man may get turned on by simply seeing a beautiful woman. Everything about her, including her breasts, might arouse him. Again, that could occur naturally. Even in cultures that don’t have the breast fetish. In that case, it’s not just the breasts that stimulate an attraction. The female in general might get him aroused.

    • Sure. That natural physical attraction is simply different from the breast fetish.

      Women do that with men and all the time, even though no part of the male body is fetishized.

  33. Jonathon Howell

    That depends. There are plenty of male fetish sites out there these days. Some people like the idea of seeing “well endowed” men showing off their goods. Plenty of women out there tend to find penises arousing. Some like the idea of men “yanking” it out. Some women get aroused by seeing athletic men without their shirts. Different strokes. In any event, I do respect your article. It was well written. I definitely agree that the breast fetish isn’t found in every culture, but I still say that attraction to breasts can be natural in some cases. Thanks for reading my comments and allowing me to post here.

    • Yeah, my biggest concern is that the fetish leaves our society focusing on the size and shape of women’s breasts. That leaves women – most of them actually – worried that they don’t measure up. And that leads to things like low self-esteem, getting unnecessary surgery that can harm them, and being very distracted in bed, so that they can’t enjoy sex. And none of these things are good for either women or men. I surveyed my students and found that 88% of the women had a hard time enjoying sex, at least some of the time, because they were worried about how their bodies looked. If we didn’t act like it is such a big deal – and the fetish makes it seem like it is – we wouldn’t have these problems. I should say that men tend to be much happier with their partners breasts then women realize — although plenty of women have written in about negative comments they have gotten from male partners, too. But the culture makes it seem like all men want A type of breast that most women don’t have: Big and perky. And perfectly shaped.

      I also dislike the fact that our culture makes a huge deal about big penises, too. That isn’t so much to do with a fetish, which very few women experience. The root problem with this is more the identification of a big penis with being a real man. Both of which I think are harmful. And I have written about that a bit on my blog, too.

  34. Yeah, I definitely agree that our society has a tendency to create impossible standards for people to measure up to. That doesn’t just apply to breasts, either. There’s a huge problem with fat shaming in this country. No pun intended. Men and women tend to get looked down upon if they have a little weight on them. According to “society”, the only way for a woman to be considered sexy is if she’s skinny. Fashion magazines have posted pictures of incredibly thin women over the years and expect every woman out there to live up to said standards.

    Because of this, a lot of women out there development self esteem issues because they feel that they’re too fat to be considered beautiful. Personally, I don’t mind a woman with a little weight on her. I like thin women too, but I don’t turn my nose up at girls that have some junk in their trunk. With that being said, fetishes themselves aren’t a bad thing. Just about everybody has a fetish. I like boobs myself. I think they’re great. Size doesn’t really matter to me. Attraction definitely does, but I’m not picky. Not all men like big breasts. Some like smaller boobs.

    What we should be doing is encouraging people to be happy with their bodys, not setting impossible standards for them to measure up to. If a woman wants big breasts, that’s great. If she’s happy wither her current bust size, that’s great as well. Either way, she shouldn’t be forced to change herself in order to please everybody.

  35. I’ve found it fascinating that everything else BUT attraction to breasts is considered a fetish. Shoes? Feet? Plus size? Western society throws those people into the “Do Not Touch” category…but breasts? Nah, can’t possibly be a fetish. 😀

    I think it’s so ingrained in the cultural mindset that it is hard to look past. Thanks for the great post 🙂

    • Yeah. Although some people do call it a “breast fetish.”

      And this is a culturally created fetish — and as such, it’s so widely experienced that people think it is just natural. (Weird when straight women experience it, then. Not so natural.)

      btw, I had 16,000 shares on this post. And then edited to add 5 words because of a comment someone made — I was hoping to clarify a point. Hit “repost” and LOST ALL OF MY “SHARES” on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest… Everything went to “0”!!!! … Starting over.

      Never mind. I was talking to Support at WordPress last night — 1 a.m. — checked it this morning and it still only had 39 shares — since I destroyed it on Wednesday. But just checked, and I’m up to 18,000!!!! (Whew!)

  36. This might dissuade some cashfuls of people from improving their breasts via surgery so it’s a dangerous article

  37. I would love to share some pictures that contradict your entire hypothisys, but im sure it would be flagged as porn or something.

    • I don’t get how a picture would disprove the hypothesis. Of course most men in our society would find it arousing (I’m assuming, Based on how you describe it) since they were born in this culture.

  38. Although I agree with you that it’s quite clear that culture plays a significant role in what aspects of the body are sexualised, I’m afraid it doesn’t follow that there is no biological instinct to find certain areas of the body more sexually attractive than others, especially as with this case, breasts.

    Your claim is that there is no biological instinct for men to find breasts attractive; it is purely culturally created, by fetishisation. Your main evidence for this seems to be the large amount of people who live in cultures without female breasts being covered, combined with the evidence that seemingly non-sexual areas can provide arousal. I see where you are coming from, but I believe you have missed one key possibility, which is both likely to be true and supports the idea that breasts are naturally attractive to homosexual men.

    The key idea which you seem to have missed is this: cultural factors can desensitise as well as fetishise.

    Acknowledging the possibility for desensitisation explains why tribal cultures can live without female breasts being covered, without constant male arousal. You approach this issue as if it is our cultures fetishisation which has led to the breast to being an object of sexual desire; but the alternative is that other culture’s desensitisation has led to their lack of sexual desire at the sight of breasts.

    This mechanism also explains the evidence which we find of people becoming desensitised by pornography, and the process of desensitisation is well documented as existing for many normal biological/psychological mechanisms (extreme violence and empathy for example).

    Rather than sexual desire for breasts being purely culturally created, which is then undone or not created, it seems more likely that they are biologically natural thoughts which can either be suppressed or exaggerated by culture. This fits more readily with our common conception.

    In short, you are clearly correct to say that cultural factors can fetishise easily, but your claim that the presence of African tribes without sexualisation of breasts shows that there’s no biological inclination to find breasts attractive seems unjustified, because you haven’t taken into account the possibility of the reserve effect- cultural desensitisation.

    I suspect that it would be impossible to make a final decision as to what is innately sexually attractive without evidence from neuroscience, or perhaps evolutionary psychology and biology. I only comment here because you seem to taken it as a proven scientific fact that there is no biological inclination for men to find breasts attractive but, as I hope I have shown, you don’t seem to have taken into account cultural desensitisation, so your inference is by no means certain.

    Thanks for your time, I look forward to your reply,

    Daniel

    • I’m wondering what difference it makes to you whether or not it’s biological?

      Of course once you have a fetish you can become desensitized to it, Which is what happens with men who overdose on porn. Or, finding that your partner’s breasts provoke less of a fetishy response over time is also part of the desensitizing. Leaving men watching porn so that the fetish response can continue.

      But I already responded to your comment within the post. I’ll have to edit it to make it more clear. See this quote from the post:

      “The great bulk of our human past consisted of tribal societies, where women’s breasts weren’t considered erotic. And yet humans somehow managed to reproduce, anyway. How could the fetish have evolved to aid reproduction if it didn’t exist?”

      In other words:
      . Adaptations took place thousands of years ago among our primitive ancestors
      . Our earliest ancestors — for thousands of years — lived in tribal societies
      . No tribal societies fetishize breasts
      . So logically, for thousands of years no one fetishized breasts
      . And yet people reproduced, anyway
      . So the fetish was not created to encourage reproduction
      . Today people in tribal societies still don’t experience a breast fetish — yet they do reproduce

      Here’s what causes a fetish:

      • Selectively hide and reveal — creating sexual tension
      • Declare the body part sexy, and then say, “Don’t look at it!” — creating sexual tension
      • Obsess over the body part: The camera zeros in on it. People talk about it incessantly… Because it is declared soooo sexy.

      And actually, the breast fetish is actually bad for sex. Because women start to think that it’s really important. 80% of women have poor body image. So when they are in bed instead of enjoying sex, they are worried about how they look: are my breasts shaped right? Are they big enough? Are they too droopy?

      And that makes sex anything but pleasurable. Which causes women to not be interested in sex — and nearly half of American women experience some form of sexual dysfunction, like one or more these: a lack of interest in sex, painful sex, difficulty with orgasm.

      But really, why would a woman be interested in sex, be lubricated enough that it won’t be painful, and easily orgasm… if they AREN’T having an erotic experience BECAUSE they are distracted with concern over whether their bodies look attractive enough?

      So the breast fetish is the opposite of adaptive. It contributes to half the population — the half that gets pregnant — losing interest in sex.

      Maybe I will edit the post to make this more clear. Or maybe I will write a separate post and direct people to it.

      And again, I’m wondering what difference it makes to you whether or not it’s biological?

      • Hi,

        Thanks again for your constant responses to people who share their thoughts with you. It is so good of you to engage.

        In many, many threads you talk about breasts losing their fetish status in Europe in the late seventies and early eighties. I lived in Europe during this time and neither myself, nor any men I knew, lost their sexual appetites for breasts during this time. They were often explicitly represented on billboards and such like but women hated it so much there was a major pushback and the images stopped. Men loved seeing breasts everywhere. It was feminism that stopped the trend, not mens’ desensitisation. Otherwise it would have continued to this day.

        I now live in the UK and all the major trends are for topless women not to be published in newspapers and magazines. This reaction against nudity is powered almost entirely by women.

        You may not think it but men are constantly shamed in our fascination for breasts. Not usually by other men, but from women. This is partly why so many men are keen for the attraction to be proved as hard-wired rather than cultural. Cultural suggests we can do anything about it and we can simply change our fascination with breasts and be the sexually docile, monogamous and emotionally-driven animals that many women want us to be.

      • Well, not all European countries are the same. The men I have specifically talked with on this topic were French, Belgian and (if memory serves) German. And the first time I heard about this was from one of my marketing professors (my undergraduate degree was marketing). He told us that around the early 80s topless women were used in advertising because everyone looked — both men and women. But after a while it was all so blasé. Everyone stopped looking. And you also see the effect among men who lose interest in nudity in porn with overexposure.

        It’s difficult to put the shoe on the other foot because we treat the male body differently, So the closest I can come is to ask how you would feel if Page 3 always offered pictures of naked men (but no naked or semi-naked women).

        And there is a difference between experiencing a breast fetish and having it on page 3 in your local paper. The first makes sense in a culture that creates this fetish.

        Others besides you have mentioned that they think I’m trying to shame them with this article, Which is why I wrote in the follow-up:

        “Am I trying to shame men? Some guys think I bring this up to shame them. I’m not. I don’t care if they find breasts arousing… But I do care when our cultural obsession leaves the majority of women feeling like their breasts aren’t good enough. (Which leaves them obsessing over how they look and distracted from sex — which is not so great for men, either.)”

        I’ll repeat the response I wrote on the other post for those who might read it over here (and in fact, I think I will turn this into a blog post. Since below is repeat you don’t have to read it again.)

        We live in a society that fetishizes breasts, which (in turn) makes them seem very important, leaving women worrying about whether they look attractive enough (which distracts them in bed so that they have a hard time enjoying sex — it’s surely part of the reason why nearly half of women experience sexual dysfunction — because it’s impossible to enjoy sex if you are distracted with worry.

        Meanwhile, evolutionary psychology says that the reason why men are visually cued in is so that men can detect the healthiest women. And yet they also say that women aren’t visual in the same way — so why isn’t it equally important for women to find the healthiest men? There is a double standard: men can judge women, but women can’t judge men. And when around 80% of women have poor body image, science proclaiming their bodies “not good enough” makes things that much worse.

        If women can understand that this is a social construction, they won’t have to feel so bad about themselves. And it seems to be important info for women, given the number of shares this post has received. And the fact that it is pretty much always in my top 10 most viewed posts even after all these years.

        Also, social constructions often feel biological. Like this one. Which is why I wrote this in the original post:

        “The fetish feels real enough, but then, much of what is learned feels biological.”

        Oftentimes, the only way you can tell that something is a social construction is by doing cross-cultural research.

        But the fact that it is a social construction doesn’t mean that one can simply control it. Which is why I made the point that I’m not trying to shame men.

        The best outcome I can imagine for men in terms of “getting this” is that they might be less judgmental if women don’t have breasts that fit the cultural ideal. (And as it turns out, men are actually less judgmental than women — usually. Something like two-thirds of women think that their own breasts aren’t good enough, but about two thirds of men think that their partner’s breasts are just fine.) But there are situations where men feel ashamed that their partners don’t have bodies that fit the ideal, and many of these men shame their partners, or pressure them to do sexual things to make up for it. And whether or not the women give in to the pressure, the couple cannot be happy for long. I’m hoping that as a culture we can learn to appreciate a wider variety of body types (I’ve written on issues other than the breast fetish), and see what is attractive in one another beyond this fetish.

      • In regards to Europe, haven’t Europe, Middle East, and their religions probably been the biggest players for driving breasts under cover all around the world? So it’s not surprising at all that Europe isn’t all that enlightened either.

        Missionaries arriving, as well as Western technology and culture spreading, some good, some bad, and that’s how the whole world has covered up breasts by the 21st century, pretty much. Everybody wants to be Western or American.

  39. I’m a bisexual female who finds breasts of all shapes and sizes arousing. Since the free the nipple campaign I’ve been made to feel ashamed of this. Since the sex positive movement (which is being pushed by a lot of the same people as the free the nipple campaign) is all about all genders, sexualities, romantic leanings and yes fetishes being accepted so long as they don’t hurt other people why is the breast fetish something we are meant to feel ashamed of?

    • See my response to “Sam” just above yours, starting with the 4th paragraph. (You are the first woman who has suggested that I’m trying to shame people, but my response applies to women as well).

  40. Savannah Owens

    I really enjoyed reading this article. There are cultures all over the world that do not sexualize breasts and therefore our society’s sexual obsession with breasts is not biological. For some reason, people tend to get very offended every time I bring up this subject. I tried to inform a few of my guy friends that breast infatuation was not a part of our biological hardware and I got a lot of pushback. My male friends told me that I was wrong. They went on to tell me that the free the nipple movement would never work because men cannot control their sexual desire for breasts. I was pretty shocked at just how much of our patriarchal society they had internalized. There is clear evidence that breast infatuation is not biological and that men can control their sexual desires when they see breasts.

    • It’s confusing for guys because it feels biological. But social constructions often feel biological. But we know that it’s not because you don’t find it in every culture.

  41. Do you have any references to scientific journals/other serious stuff that proves that tribal men are actually not aroused by uncovered breasts?
    Actually, I’m also inclined to think likewise, but I just want to be sure.

    • Read this again. I have a link to a book on the topic. So check the links.

      But also consider that if tribal men did find breasts arousing, and were around topless women 24/7, then they would always have a hard on. That’s not healthy. Plus, men who are overexposed to pornography can also lose interest. See “Pornified.” As did European men in the late 70s early 80s when they were surrounded by toplessness. The first time I heard this was from a marketing professor. Subsequently, I met men who lived in Europe during that time who confirmed what my professor said. It depends on which country you’re talking about. More places like France and Germany.

  42. if fetishes are due to selective exposure then what can be done to correct it,,, exposure or covering,… and i have a question is cleavage a natural thing or is it the dress that manipulates it to make it look like that…… ?

    • Covering creates the fetish. And cleavage a is not a natural thing. Bras or the dress manipulates it to make it look like that.

      The fetish isn’t necessarily horrible. But the interest can leave women distracted in bed, and men wanting something different from what they have.

  43. I traveled to Japan a few weeks ago and during a talk with a man who studies Geisha’s and the culture that surrounds the idea of Geishas and their work. He talked about how the breasts are not arousing in Japan, but the nape of the neck is. The Geisha’s paint their neck to highlight the nape of the neck similar to how women in the West wear push up bras and low cut shirts to highlight their cleavage. This reveals that, possibly, anything can become a fetish, if society molds it to be one. There is so much power in the actions that decide if a part of a woman is desirable or not.
    In a similar way, pubic hair goes through different fashions and that can be traced to who is making profits off the trends and the people in the media that portray them. The whole idea of trends may be the issue but I don’t believe that the concept of having trends can be stopped because people are always looking to update themselves and are always reaching for something else. However, I do believe that feminists can invoke individuality as a trend.

  44. I haven’t read all of the comments so it may have been covered already. How can a fetish be biological? I don’t think it can because by definition it has to be to an abnormal degree. If it was biological it would be normal.
    Socially constructed fetishes like breast are different then non-socially constructed one like a foot fetish or a balloon fetish. I don’t see how the criteria you list under ‘Here’s what creates a fetish’ would apply to non-socially constructed fetishes.
    Would you consider nudity a fetish? I think the same rules\thoughts would apply.

    • Nudity can become a cultural fetish when you cover. If you don’t cover it’s not fetishized. It’s ordinary — something you see all the time.

      Since I’m a sociologist I can only comment on the cultural construction of fetishes. So I can only guess at why anyone would experience a foot fetish, which is not a cultural construction — so that that is not my area of expertise.

      Our sexuality is a combination of biology + culture/subculture + personal experiences. Why someone would experience a foot fetish must be a combination of those three factors, but I’m not sure how it comes together.

      • Would you consider nudity a cultural fetish in the US? why or why not

      • Depends on how the nudity is done.

        Fetishes are created in this way:

        • Selectively hide and reveal — creating sexual tension
        • Declare the body part sexy, and then say, “Don’t look at it!” — creating sexual tension
        • Obsess over the body part: The camera zeros in on it. People talk about it incessantly… Because it is declared soooo sexy.

  45. Anything that is taboo is desirable. There are hundreds of thousands of radical unschoolers, also called whole life learners, or families living in the partnership paradigm where taboos do not exist, so the kids do not rebel as teens. They do not have to – there is nothing taboo!

    These are well adjusted, sociable, confident, respectful, compassionate kids who grow into contributing citizenry without the dysfunctions of those grown up being punished, rewarded, restricted, and getting into trouble as kids, teens, or young adults as the result of lack of discernment (from being coerced in their upbringings).

    Discernment comes with freedoms, and the majority of kids have no freedoms in our society until they are already adults – and even then, they haven’t learned it due to authoritarian (restrictive, coercive, demanding) influences (school, church, parenting). The opposite is true for kids raised in the freedoms of partnership with their parents without these constructs.

    I also read Breastfeeding Older Children by Anne Sinnott. Given the extremely HEAVY amount of anthropological and peer-reviewed research she includes throughout the book, it is perfectly safe to say that Charles Ayers above, who says breastfeeding is sexualized and that this sexual-comfort association is the reason men associate sex with breasts is WRONG. The cause is the authoritarian paradigm, whose gender-dismissing hierarchy (gender being a construct of our society) pervades public education, media, and every TRADITIONAL construct of our society! Conditioning! Not biology!

    As a breastfeeding mother, I always loved this article: http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/ruth_kamnitzer.html

  46. this blog post has quite a lot to take in but a few questions relating to breasts and sexual arousal whether the lattor can be asked about here still if I ever became sexually aroused even from just thinking and not touching but thought only, I’d be told to control it and divert my mind elsewhere. One councillor suggested to minimise the chances of becoming sexually aroused without warning or for no reason sometimes I was to let my mind wander to the most disgusting thing of all which would minimise such things I’m not sure how you’d take what I’m about to say but be prepared but before I do say this I will relate one more thing there was one particular day I was aroused without warning and I was about to get out of the car when I was up the town with my mother running erynds and when she noticed she practically swore at me and told me not to get out of the car until things had subsided. Now for a couple of questions I’m not exactly considering this a fettish but I suppose I’m asking for an opinion could me getting to know a woman and what she looks like by feeling her face even be enough to bring on this whole issue in the first place or could my brain’s wiring be a little weird? secondly on the issue of breasts. I’ve wondered if a bra is a factor in bulking up the size of breasts I’m not trying to make this a fettish by any means I feel somewhat ashamed asking questions to like this to somebody I don’t even know I should probably stick to asking these questions to someone I know and discretely

    • I actually don’t have a problem with this fetish except that 1) it can get obsessive and 2) it can make everyone think that particular build is really important, Which ends up hurting people’s sex lives because men can be disappointed and women are often distracted, and worry that they don’t look good enough. I’d only work on letting it go — or at least making it less of a big deal — if it’s creating problems. Like the ones I just describe: being obsessive or feeling like you need a particular build instead of appreciating the variety in life.

      Yes, bras can bulk up the size of breasts, and often do.

  47. Thanks a lot for writing this article as I have had the same thoughts and you pretty much put my thoughts right into it. I think at their core, most, if not all, of your arguments are valid, contrary to what naysayers may think. On the other hand, some of your arguments are a bit absolutist or are not as clear or accurate in their explanation for others, but it’s okay. I’ve done a lot of thinking and research myself, so I agree with you. You or others may argue whether they are arousing or not, but really, it’s pretty irrelevant and misses the point anyway since there’s a wealth of other evidence to make the arguments.

    I could bring quite a few other supportive arguments you haven’t made, but I can’t remember them all, and it’s just way too much typing, as you may know. One peculiar thought though: I think many women may have a vested interest in keeping the status quo because it gives them increased sexual power over men. Sounds like that ties into your comment about women “wanting to be desired.”

    Here’s another useful term for ya: Pavlovian Response, aka Classical Conditioning. If people only see them in a sexual context their whole life, that’s totally one big reason how this develops. Just as Pavlov’s dog salivates at the bell, a similar thing can happen. Now add baseline sexual arousal to the mix, and you do get this recipe for this fetish. And it’s often a self-reinforcing vicious cycle. Again, science to the rescue: it’s called a “positive feedback loop.” Somebody has to break the cycle, so I’m thankful for the Free the Nipple movement for starting that.

    Science and rationality for the win. Religion and taboos, thumbs down.

    • If you think that the evidence I present that breasts aren’t arousing is irrelevant you must not get the point I’m trying to make. Which is contained in the title of the blog post.

      Re: “some of your arguments are a bit absolutist or are not as clear or accurate in their explanation”

      Like what? Sometimes I’m not sure if people make comments like that without any good reason but more to try to delegitimize without supporting their point. On the other hand if you have a good reason I would be curious to hear it what it is. I’m not interested in making sloppy arguments.

      I agree that many women have a vested interest in keeping the status quo. And that doesn’t particularly bother me. I do think that different men are attracted to different things, So maybe a woman doesn’t have the prettiest face but she’s got great breasts, And that could help her out, Which is fine with me.

      When it comes to having power over men things get more mixed. She has power over men she doesn’t know, But since the fetish fades in a long-term relationship she loses power in her primary relationship while women who aren’t related to her partner gain power — because their breasts have a much bigger fetish effect. And she has more power over men she doesn’t know then her partner if you only focus on her breasts. But what good does that to her?

      Interesting point about Pavlov’s dogs. Makes sense.

      And I do appreciate rationality.

  48. This is a very thought-provoking article and it leads me to think of the business and monetary side of things. Fetishizing breasts on our culture can make big bucks. This sounds ridiculous at first but the deeper I think about it, the more sense it makes. Plastic surgery for breasts costs a substantial amount of money and is a huge industry. This industry is created by the arousal that big breasts gives men. And because the men like it, more women want to get these procedures done to impress men. Sex sells, and in this case, breasts sell too.

    • Some data has found that a preference for large breasts in the media is correlated with plastic surgery. And then media tends to have a effects on how the general population sees things.

      • Good effort of putting all the arguments forward in this blog.

        You keep mentioning the ad campaign in 70s 80s and refer to the conversation you had with your professor and he said “everybody just stopped looking” and you have “talked to men”. Yeah it’s not based on any research. You seem very biased about your assumption on many levels. Sam above has already proved this wrong from his personal experience living there and I agree being the guy and personal experience and listening to both sides of arguments.

        Men who watch porn regularly and almost all men do. They don’t stop getting aroused by women breasts. They may develop other fetishes or things because of watching it sure. Your argument is invalid I’m afraid.

        Moreover if it was “culturally constructed fetish” because of hiding and the process you explained, then women should find penis equally arousing but they don’t.

        Your tribal argument has been proven wrong as well by the link posted above about the hadza tribe research. Besides that the argument about desensitization of breasts by overly exposing it makes the research biased but you haven’t shown any research on the men that they don’t find it attractive or arousing. I have only found otherwise.

        You also keep mentioning how it’s bad for women’s self image. You really feel you proving this as social constructed fetish stop it? It’s gonna make it even worse when women are judged when they have breasts out on the faces and something more to be judged by and no dignity. No wonder the supermodels are some of the most insecure ones on the planet, being judged all the time by every body part. And it’s coming from a supermodel herself.

      • Actually, the response to the European (e.g. France) ad campaign my marketing professor talked about was researched. And I met men from Europe who lived in that area at the time who said the same thing. These were men who I actually knew were from Europe.

        And and then on my blog several other men who said they were from Europe also said the same thing. One of them said that while he doesn’t experience a fetish he does enjoy breasts. Some have said otherwise. Either way, when it comes to blog commenters I can’t confirm whether these men are actually from Europe or not.

        Some men who watch porn do stop experiencing the fetish and some don’t. I don’t know how much porn you have to watch to make the fetish go away but if all you needed was the fetish you wouldn’t need all the other crazy things. And porn would not lead to a erectile dysfunction with real women, Which it often does. A man would just see his partner’s breasts and immediately be aroused and able to perform. Several of my male students have said they have stopped watching porn for that reason.

        It’s not surprising that men can watch porn and still get aroused by breasts though. Since they are off limits in daily life.

        Research on the Hadza tribe doesn’t demonstrate that they have a fetish. It demonstrate that they have a preference for a particular size. They prefer “a handful” while other tribes prefer bigger or smaller. Such preferences are common in places where women walk around topless. Just like men have preferences for different sizes and shapes for legs, waists, buttocks, general weight. Or hairstyles. Even though hairstyles, legs and general weight don’t create a fetish. But the thing is, those preferences vary from culture to culture and from individual to individual. If breasts were fetishized in tribal cultures men would have a hard on 24/7.

        Why isn’t the penis fetishized?

        Why Aren’t Men Objectified?
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/05/13/why-arent-men-objectified/

        A cultural fetish like this one is a social construction that is not found in every culture. It’s created in this way:

        • Selectively hide and reveal — creating sexual tension
        • Declare the body part sexy, and then say, “Don’t look at it!” — creating sexual tension
        • Obsess over the body part: The camera zeros in on it. People talk about it incessantly… Because it is declared soooo sexy.

        Which explains why women — for no biological reason — so often learn it too.

        The point of my blog post isn’t to make it go away. I don’t think it would work that way. My point is to open up peoples minds. Women who don’t fit some cultural ideal don’t have to feel so bad about themselves. Men who are with women who don’t fit some cultural ideal don’t have to feel so bad about themselves. There is no universal or necessary breast type. And if people understood that then Women wouldn’t need to get so distracted in bed worrying that they aren’t good enough. (only about a quarter to a third of women think they’re a breasts are attractive enough).

        And that’s a bummer for men too. Two-thirds of my women students say that they get distracted worrying about how they look in bed for some significant part of the time, and can’t focus on enjoying sex. Since most men want their partners to be enjoying sex — and care about that more than the size and shape of some body part — that’s bad for both men and women.

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