Am I Trying To Shame Men’s Breast Fetish?

My blog post, “Men Aren’t Hard Wired To Find Breasts Arousing” prompts a lot of men to write in and say “It ain’t so!”

So I ask what difference it makes whether it’s nature or nurture?

Few respond. But “Sam” did. To paraphrase:

A lot of women think that guys who get excited about breasts are immature, infantile or perverts. So men get defensive if someone suggests their attraction is socialized. If we can say ‘it is hardwired’ we can immediately dismiss those views and classify ourselves as neither perverts nor as overgrown babies… Incidentally, I can say it certainly feels completely and utterly hardwired.

I thanked him for replying, and responded thusly:

I’m not trying to shame men

A lot guys are fine with the post. Some even say that it makes sense to them.

But others insist — quite furiously — that it’s biological and that I’m trying to shame them.

In fact, social constructions can feel biological. Often, the only way you can tell that something is socially constructed is by doing cross-cultural research. And you don’t find this fetish in every culture — like tribal societies, which have constituted the bulk of the human experience.

So it can’t be nature.

But social constructions aren’t easily controlled. They’re powerful. You don’t just say, “It’s a construction, not natural” and it goes away. And I don’t especially care whether or not it does.

Why do I care?

So why do I care whether it’s nature or nurture?

First, I’m fascinated by the social construction of reality, including this one.

But I’m more concerned with:

  • Women’s self-esteem
  • Women’s ability to enjoy sexuality. (And if women enjoy it more so do men.)
  • Getting rid of double standards

How are those things tied to the breast fetish?

I’ll be writing a series of posts on each of these problems. Stay tuned.

Related Posts

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 July 31, 2017, in men, psychology, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. I keep saying that when you can’t see it’s touch that can easily excite but I’m going to add a question here and ask this. what’s so special about breasts anyway? all breasts ever do is feed a new born baby for a few months before they are on bottle feeding if that’s all breasts are good for then what’s so special about them? really nothing to get excited about!

    • I appreciate having someone who was blind writing in on this. From your past comments you sound straight and I have no doubt that you are attracted to women even if you can’t see their breasts. Which is further evidence that men are not naturally dependent upon the visual breast fetish.

      You’re right that seem breasts is nothing to naturally get excited about. A cultural fetish like this one is a social construction that is not found in every culture. Like all cultural fetishes this one is 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.

  2. Your post is very interesting. No one should feel offended by it. But with respect and without offending women, I can be attracted to the whole body. I think it’s normal.

  3. You say you can prove something is a social construction by doing cross cultural research. So resistance to melanoma cancer in sub Saharan Africa is a a social construction by comparing melanoma rates with ginger haired freckly Scotsmen who work in the sun?

    • There is a way to figure out whether something is biologically caused or socially caused.

      In the case of resistance to melanoma we know that skin coloration has an effect. Not only dark skinned but sunscreen can prevent melanoma.

      But you don’t need a drug to get rid of the breast fetish. You need a different social circumstance. Here’s where the correlation comes:

      In cultures that don’t selectively cover and reveal breasts and obsess over them, they aren’t any big deal.

      There’s no reason for women to biologically be drawn to breasts, and yet they are in cultures that selectively cover and reveal breasts and obsess over them.

      When a culture changes so that are no longer selectively covered and revealed and obsessed over they go away — as they did in parts of western Europe when toplessness became more normalized.

      Other fetishes are created in a similar way. There used to be an ankle fetish a little after the turn of the last century when women would slip their dresses a little higher to entice. There was a “hair-cleavage” fetish in Iran when the hair was covered completely and there was no Internet or satellite. I had a student who lived in Iran in the 1980s and from time to time she would push her he job back slightly and the men would go wild.

      If you change a culture and a fetish arises or goes away it’s cultural and not biological.

  4. I used to always think that my attraction to female breasts was just something inherent in all men… until I spent a year abroad studying in the south of France. I saw more breasts my first day on the beach than I had seen my entire life up until that point. After going to the beach on a regular basis, it soon became just normal, and I really didn’t think much of it,…
    especially when you see three generations of the same family enjoying themselves together and all the women are bare breasted.

    However, when I would go to the beach with an American girl, I would still get a little excited when they shed their tops. So I realized that it was exciting because it was ‘forbidden’. Women in the USA are always told they have to cover up. If a woman goes to an American beach and sheds her top, she’ll get arrested.

    So I believe it goes back to whatever is forbidden is enticing… kinda like Adam and Eve eating an apple (the forbidden fruit). If woman don’t want men (particularly American men) to sexualize their breasts, then they should refuse to go along with the patriarchal prohibition on them. More women should breast feed in public (instead of hiding in the bathroom ashamed of what they are doing). Maybe they should start being active with ‘Femen’, a some what radical feminist organization, that publicly expose their breast to make political points, or support the ‘free the nipple’ movement.

    My main point though is that as long as women hide their breast based upon society telling them to and as long as women themselves believe that their breasts are inherently sexual, American men will continue to perceive breasts as sexual objects. Breast ‘normalization’ will lead to breast ‘desexualization’

    • I agree. Covering objectifies.

      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.

      • If breasts aren’t inherently sexual as in to create a fetishsized attaction, is it safe to say though that they are atleast or probably more sexually attractive and sexier to men, than men’s chests to women? And not simply because of them being sexualized but visual different between men and women. Yes, tribal societies women being topless is not a big deal and in europe where women are topless as beaches casually. But I don’t just think it’s because it’s taboo for the attraction or head turning if their are naked breasts. The reason is because for example all those women being topless at the beach in europe. This happens regularly and makes men used to see topless women.

        But what do you think happens just one week or just one month if the women in europe for whatever reason stopped taking their tops off at the beach and just kept their bikinis on and bikini tops on? A month passes by with the men getting a little used to that, and then women the next month back off with the tops. I guarentee it would cause men to take notice again and get a little distracted. I don’t believe this happens with women looking at men even no men were shirtless at the beach for a month or year or maybe for a very long time if ever and then took their shirts off. I’m curious if tribal men even would get a bit more attracted to boobs if the tribal women, simply kept clothes on. But it not having anything to do with teasing or having clothes that revealed anything, but just covered breasts and butt. And then a year later went back how they were, whch was mostly nude. Or if a woman in the tribe amongst the mostly nude women, had clothes on if the tribal men would be lusting at her as a result?

      • Don’t know. I have to say that I think men’s legs and butt are just as attractive as women’s but we sexualize women’s a lot more.

  5. While I agree with your conclusion (that concealment results in eroticisation and a cultural fetish), breasts are nevertheless sexy in a way that, say, ankles and hair aren’t. They differentiate (biological) man from woman; and nipples for both men and women, especially the latter, are erogenous.

  6. “In fact, social constructions can feel biological.”

    This is just your opinion and cultural Marxist one at that to say the least. Where is the science? Where is you data?

    The operative word here is “feel.” Women are all too often driven by feeling. We men like reason and rationality in our thought process.

    The fundamental question is just why does it matter? It seems to only matter to feminist women such as yourself. As a man, I truly think it should be of no concern to you. Men are men. Women are women. Why cannot you just accept this?

    • Funny you should say that since it is men who are telling me that they feel like the breast fetish is natural.

      Social science is not like the natural sciences. You do cultural comparison. That’s the data.

  7. Don’t know. I have to say that I think men’s legs and butt are just as attractive as women’s but we sexualize women’s a lot more.”

    They may look as great to women, though, doesn’t that say a lot when you and women say men’s butts and legs are as attractive as womens? As a straight man, women’s butts and legs aren’t as attractive as men’s. No they are MORE attractive, like no question. I don’t know if any straight men even find another man’s butt attractive, because there isn’t interest looking there. Ironically weightlifters and bodybuilders can show off and appreciate and see that another fit man’s chest looks impressive or quads (legs), etc, but butt, yeah, I guess a man has to be extremely secure or maybe in touch with a femine side or perhaps has some bi tendencies to think other men have “nice asses” ha.

    • Our culture is much more homophobic when it comes to men. And due to a mix of Society and biology they’re socialized differently too.

      • I would still think not meaning just you, but most straight women even if finding women attractive would still find men more attractive.Women attractive and admire, but not often that amazing or hot or sexy, whereas men being the sex (well one’s fitting the woman’s physical preference) hot or sexy. Not women hot or sexy. Granted most of the women I know can see other pretty women as beautiful or pretty or cute, but not hot, whereas, that’s set for men they find attractive.

        I’m not homophobic as in seeing a nude man doesn’t make me uncomfortable, like that sylvester stallone, male nude body post you had where it talked about how a lot of guys were asserting their heterosexuality when looking at it. I have confidence and securness with my sexuality to not feel fazed and can acknowledge if a guy is good looking or goofy looking for that matter. But despite that, I’ve never found a guy “hot” or sexy” or “cute”. I can be impressed or even inspired by a guy that’s well built and admire, but men’s bodies aren’t “that attractive”. Like that attractivness line is limited, because as a straight man and not finding men sexually attractive. I think that seems like that could be the case for men despite men who aren’t homophobic, though yes there is still a lot of homophobic men still and in our culture, though things seem to slowly improve with acceptance of gay men.

      • Well, women’s sexuality seems to be more flexible for both cultural and biological reasons.

  8. I have a question on this subject but from a slightly different view point. I have several lesbian friends so I asked one of them if they found a sexual attraction in woman’s breast or if it was just a guy thing. My friend tells me she finds a woman’s breast sexually attractive and stimulating. She prefers to date women with nice breasts.

    So how does this fit into the narrative? If it’s strictly a social construct due to concealment, a lesbian shouldn’t be attracted to breasts in the same way a guy is because they are able to see women’s breasts in many different situations… the locker room at a gym, showers at a P.E. class, etc.

  9. Well, women’s sexuality seems to be more flexible for both cultural and biological reasons.”

    Why is there more a cut off between women?Does the fact of women being fluid more so than other women mean they have aspects about that that make them more potentially bisexual or latent, dormant bisexuality? Like I said family and friends I’ve know since growing up, girls I know where they find or admire and can find girls pretty. But they don’t find girls sexy or hot, and that’s like what they use to describe guys they find sexually attractive. They admire or can admire and see how pretty and beautiful and make comments about another girl. But don’t find women nude or in images arousing or sexually attractive and not interested in lesbian porn, probably don’t want much porn for that matter actually.

    But many that I know if scene comes up in a movie or women making, they are either a little grossed out or indifferent as in doesn’t bother them but doesn’t turn them on either. Those like make sense as far as “straight” because there is that aesthetic, sexual attractive divide like straight guys have with men. Like straight women will be more open about admiring a woman, but the very hetero ones I’ve known are like that, which makes me wonder why other women if they are straight are more apt to this fluidity than other women? They feel more of the effects of repression than other women? And what like makes women fluid like this, like is like underneath their attraction to men?

    Is it mainly emotional, which is why men’s bodies are sexually attractive and not women’s? Because it doesn’t seem for aesthetic reasons, which seems (from my straight male POV) a very strong indicator of one’s orientation and motive and cut off for one’s physical attraction and desire for sex to one sex over the other. Like what makes a woman “straight” when going by this? Like I believe if men found other men sexy or sexually attractive or were aroused by gay porn. They probably wouldn’t say they’d never have sex with a man or that there is no curiosity or desire there or that hasn’t come up and probably would do something at some point. But these women supposedly and you say no, never. Like if someone’s body and looks is sexually attractive, thus not creating any turn on “brakes” as you used….like what’s stopping you? Like as a straight man, I know what stops me lol, it’s like so easy. My eyes give me all the information I need or will ever need in knowing I want absolutely nothing to do with a man sexually ha, and why that follows through with no interesting in seeing gay porn and why it would be an eye sore if came across it.

    • Bob, can you give me the bullet points on this?

      (I’m still working on healing my eyes)

      • sorry. Well, women’s sexuality seems to be more flexible for both cultural and biological reasons.”

        Why is there more a cut off between women?Does the fact of women being fluid more so than other women mean they have aspects about that that make them more potentially bisexual or latent, dormant bisexuality? Like I said family and friends I’ve know since growing up, girls I know where they find or admire and can find girls pretty. But they don’t find girls sexy or hot, and that’s like what they use to describe guys they find sexually attractive. They admire or can admire and see how pretty and beautiful and make comments about another girl. But don’t find women nude or in images arousing or sexually attractive and not interested in lesbian porn, probably don’t want much porn for that matter actually.

        But many that I know if scene comes up in a movie or women making, they are either a little grossed out or indifferent as in doesn’t bother them but doesn’t turn them on either. Those like make sense as far as “straight” because there is that aesthetic, sexual attractive divide like straight guys have with men. Like straight women will be more open about admiring a woman, but the very hetero ones I’ve known are like that, which makes me wonder why other women if they are straight are more apt to this fluidity than other women? They feel more of the effects of repression than other women? And what like makes women fluid like this, like is like underneath their attraction to men?

      • Research found that women said they found men sexier but their bodies said something different, So you can’t 100% depend on what the women say.

        Women Learn the Breast Fetish, Too
        https://broadblogs.com/2010/11/29/women-learn-the-breast-fetish-too/

        That said, based on my own experience:
        1) if you show me a sexy picture of a woman in a bikini and a man in swim trunks I will say that she looks sexier. It’s something about the imagery and the way clothing is cut for women versus men; even the sexy waving hair (vs men’s short haircuts).

        2) But walking around in ordinary life I have a different experience. I will notice that a woman is pretty in exactly the way you describe it and think nothing more of it.

        In terms of why women are sexually more fluid all I can say is try reading these again:

        Women Are More Sexually Fluid
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/10/05/women-are-more-sexually-fluid/
        Sexual Fluidity, Images & Biology
        https://broadblogs.com/2015/10/19/sexual-fluidity-images-biology/
        Sexual Fluidity & Emotional Connection
        https://broadblogs.com/2016/01/13/sexual-fluidity-emotional-connection/

  10. That said, based on my own experience:
    1) if you show me a sexy picture of a woman in a bikini and a man in swim trunks I will say that she looks sexier. It’s something about the imagery and the way clothing is cut for women versus men; even the sexy waving hair (vs men’s short haircuts).

    2) But walking around in ordinary life I have a different experience. I will notice that a woman is pretty in exactly the way you describe it and think nothing more of it.”

    So it’s not the aesthetics of her body that is sexier, but the “presentation” and sensuality which women are allowed compared to men. That you feel or see that sexual aspect, which creates the thought and feeling that she is sexier, because of how her clothes and she presents herself?

    If you walk around in ordinary life and see a woman in a bikini and she’s good looking, you may just admire but think nothing more? ok. is there a difference then, I think you said you’re married and you also don’t the most visual person it seems. But when single, if walking by a “hot guy”, would or could it spark interest or drawn to him? I know not turned on, but I know many straight women when seeing a well built, hot guy, maybe well fitted shirt or maybe a certain guy shirtless, would say something to each other bout him being hot or something that sparked their fancy so to speak. A hear women say admire all the time and attractive, but that’s used for women too, I would think if straight there’s a difference in real life in how a straight woman would respond to a good looking guy vs pretty woman and example like stated with being drawn to the guy possibly whereas, simply admire and no emotional like reaction attached to it or no spark to it.

    You say this doesn;t mean women are bisexual, but doesn’t a sex being more “exclusive” with their sexual attraction whether straight or gay, kind of seem that they are more straight or gay than the sex that isn’t exclusive visually or sexual attraction-wise?

    • Yeah, the picture is symbolic of something versus real people walking around in the real world.

      Most women haven’t been taught to notice men in the way that men have been taught to notice women, and we don’t sexualize their bodies in the same way — society doesn’t add the extra layers. I’m more interested in *who someone is* but if you’re talking just noticing someone whose attractive I’m more of a “face woman” — as are most women. Which may not seem so good to guys who don’t have the most attractive faces but that’s just in terms of noticing someone. I actually have preferred a less attractive men for relationships partly because I trust them more. Maybe it’s a stereotype but I think that guys were super-attractive are likely to be too into themselves and not be so thoughtful and considerate of others. Unless I learn otherwise from getting to know them.

      • Well many men find faces important too. I mean like for me, with physical attraction, it’s the face that matters, as I have to find the girl atleast cute, attractive or pretty. She doesn’t have to be hot, but I have to like the look of her face to some extent, otherwise the attractivenesses of her body is irrelevant. Like it’s the looks that I’ll gauge or notice first, it’s a real quick thing. If she’s cute, then noticing the body comes quickly after. Still will notice the body especially if something like big breasts or low cut top, but won’t be drawn too her, if she I don’t find her face attractive. I think that’s true for a lot of guys, so it’s just that guy’s also strongly attracted to women’s bodies. But I think myself and many guys it is the face that we catch first, but body that follows strongly right after.

        Why do women have to be “taught” to notice men strongly? I understand maybe to be taught in a fetish way. But straight men don’t have to be taught to find women sexy and sexually attractive and more attractive than men. Gay men have all off these sexualized images of women everywhere, yet gay men find men sexy and sexier than women. Women are more sexually fluid, but if straight, I would think men should be #1 to women’s eyes. Women are #1 to straight men’s eyes, men are #1 to gay men’s eyes and women are #1 to lesbian’s eyes..

      • Well, men are taught to notice women strongly too, the fetish you Bring up. Women are naturally attracted to men in the same way that men are naturally attracted to women. Like you mentioned the face and it’s not a fetish thing. But there’s nothing about the male body that has been that is fetishized that causes the same strong reaction that men here get for women’s breasts — but don’t get in every culture.

  11. It isn’t a long post above, I just copied and posted your first two answers and then wrote my response. It makes it seems loner, but not as far as what I wrote, You can skip the first two parts as that’s just your copy and pasted part and it shouldn’t be that long.

  12. Well, men are taught to notice women strongly too, the fetish you Bring up. Women are naturally attracted to men in the same way that men are naturally attracted to women. Like you mentioned the face and it’s not a fetish thing. But there’s nothing about the male body that has been that is fetishized that causes the same strong reaction that men here get for women’s breasts — but don’t get in every culture.”

    Well even though there is no fetish to women’s faces. I and men love women faces and femininity and hair, etc. So even though a pretty face might not cause arousal, though there can be exceptions, which is why I think context means a lot for women with arousal too. But like a hot, pretty woman and say you don’t see her body, but she says something sexy, or gives a look, bedroom eyes, or sultry voice. Or you know innuendos with phallic symbols that hint to fellatio, sucking on a popsicle, lollipop or banana, a pretty face would and could cause arousal because of that context. But just women’s faces or even with any sexy clothing.

    Men would still like seeing that, because we love the way women look and women are eye candy, so you don’t need arousal but still enjoy and want to see women everywhere. You said because woman aren’t taught to fetishsize men’s bodies, and because the media is run by men. But there are women who are running the media more and you’d think such straight women would prefer looking at “male beauty” over female beauty regardless of fetish. I don’t have a fetish for women’s faces like most men don’t. But I’d still like and rather see a pretty woman’s face anyday of the week over a handsome man’s face on a commercial or ad. You would think if you’re sexually attracted to a sex that one would prefer seeing it over the sex they are supposedly not attracted to.

    • I think that when it comes to peer physicality the attraction of a man to a pretty face and a woman to a man’s handsome face is very similar.

      But the sexual innuendo is more lopsided, and that’s an interesting thing to think about “innuendos with phallic symbols that hint to fellatio, sucking on a popsicle, lollipop or banana,”

      When a woman does that man thinks it’s sexy. If a man did something similar he would probably freak out a woman. Maybe because women’s sexuality is more repressed? Maybe because it would fit the stereotype of men only caring about one thing? Maybe because men are on average bigger and stronger it feels threatening? I’m not sure. Any thoughts?

      • Well, yeah a man doing something similar would look creepy or I think women see it that way. I just think a man would look sleazy or weird, or feminine. There’s a sensuality to that innuendo stuff, which would make a man look weird and why women can look sexy. And part to do a lot probably with how visual guys are and ready for sex easily and maybe because women being sexual wouldn’t feel threatening whereas, it would or could feel threatening for women. But if women find men attractive and supposedly like men’s bodies and men’s bodies being the bodies they like more and drawn to compared to women, then shouldn’t women want to see men’s faces and bodies still shown more even if men aren’t sexualized or not like women?

        Men don’t have a fetish for women’s faces, or legs, but we still love seeing them even if they don’t turn us on and certainly prefer that over a man’s face or body. Our heterosexuality brings that born appreciation and love of seeing the sex we’re attracted to and their beauty, thus seeing face and body. I would think straight women would want to see more men, and the women in charge of media or more women nowadays in the media doing so. If women are straight and attracted to men, you would think they would love looking at attractive men and the eye candy and bodies shown even if the bodies are sex objects. Like I said men still want to and like to and love to see the not fetishsized parts of women’s bodies too like their faces, legs, etc. You said women can find men’s bodies sexy so I’d think there would be more enjoyment or wanting to see what is sexually attractive and drawn to.

      • What you are describing about how men see women when a fetish isn’t involved pretty much explains how women see men they find attractive. Why there’s a difference? The culture. We don’t sexualize men’s bodies in the same way that we sexualize women’s. in cultures that don’t fetishize breasts men don’t find them all that exciting. And in our culture we don’t fetishize – anymore – ankles. In some cultures they fetishize necks and ankles And hair.

  13. It’s not three paragraphs btw. The first one is just the copy and paste to show what I’m responding to, so you can skip that, if that helps your eyes.

Thoughts? (Comments will appear after moderation)

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: