Breast Fetishes and Double Standards

I wrote a post called, “Men Aren’t Hard Wired To Find Breasts Arousing” and a lot of guys wrote in to say they ARE indeed hardwired!

Some use theories from sociobiology (aka evolutionary psychology) to make their point.

For instance, some evolutionary psychologists suggest that men might be visually cued to breasts as an indicator of good health and reproductive capacity.

Yet they also say that men want to “spread their seed” widely, and will have sex with pretty much anyone.

Go figure.

These contradictory notions probably make men feel better: They needn’t feel ashamed of being turned on by breasts or by wanting sex with lots of women.

I don’t think men need to feel ashamed about either of those things.

Here’s what I don’t like about the unproven theories: They hold double standards that leave women feeling worse about themselves.

The sexual double standard shames women

Sociobiology claims that men are naturally promiscuous and women are naturally monogamous.

Because men have so much sperm, they best reproduce their genes if they have sex with a lot of women. But women best reproduce their genes if they stay monogamous, keeping dad around to provide resources for their children.

But like much of sociobiology, the theory is contradictory: How can she be monogamous if he’s polygamous? The math doesn’t work.

The theory doesn’t make sense, but it does favor men. Men have freedom while women are shamed and constricted.

Women’s bodies must be judged. Not men’s!

While breasts are called a visual cue to health and reproductive capacity, men provide no equally strong signal for women?

Even though women are the pickier sex — holding out for the best — according to this theory? If anything, women would need a stronger visual sign than men do.

Instead, men judge women and women are judged. What fun for us!

These double standards don’t make any logical sense. They only make sense in patriarchies that seek ways to privilege men and shame women.

And as we shall see, all of this harms both women’s and men’s sexual experience in the bedroom.

Contrary to sociobiology’s claims, the breast fetish is far from adaptive.

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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 August 14, 2017, in body image, psychology, sex and sexuality and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 58 Comments.

  1. what I’m about to say has nothing to really do with breasts but it’s a question I’ve pretty much struggled with for a while but I did get an answer when in a workshop group known as up close and personal. I guess men are often ashamed of having errections. right? I used to get told constantly that this was something I myself had to try and control I’ve since been told that it’s beyond a man’s control if he has an errection and there’s not much one can do. I know this doesn’t really fit but in a way it does because when you can’t see sometimes it’s still possible to form an image in ones mind as to what somebody looks like so if the eyes don’t work there is a way for the brain to form an inner idea. sorry this is a little off topic but I just had to put this here.

  2. I suspect women have plenty of visual signs of which men they prefer. 🙂

    • Hmmm, which part of the male body does our culture fetishize, obsess over and judge?

      • Many women are obsessed about tall men. To the point that shorter men feel very uncomfortable. There could be many reasons why culture does not explicitly fetishize men’s bodies. It does not imply that women are not looking for visual cues.

      • Taller men aren’t any better than shorter man so I seriously doubt that this is a genetic thing. It’s a cultural thing. In our culture tall symbolizes Power and status and in our culture we value meant for power and status. And powerful high status men are not necessarily the best men — in fact it’s often the inverse.

      • And talking of male bodies fetishization: look at the subculture of sports groupies. American football groupies (or groupie wannabes) are crazy. It is pretty obvious that those women admire players’ athletic bodies.

      • They’re more likely to be admiring their status than their bodies.

        Rock stars don’t always have such great bodies but they have just as many groupies.

        Women don’t pay to look at men’s bodies. Men do pay to look at women’s bodies.

      • And more and more youn men have body image issues is well: http://time.com/4622653/men-body-image-muscle-steroids/ . In the words, it leads to steroid abuse that cause health issues.

      • That’s true.

        What should stop expecting everyone to fit narrow ideals and start appreciating that variety is the spice of life!

  3. “These contradictory notions…” I’m curious what the alleged contradiction is. It’s not like men are capable of having sex all day like women are. We have to choose.

    • The contradictions abound but the one you’re talking about here is this:

      Evolutionary psychology calls women the choosier sex. And women must be more choosy because it’s more important for women to get it right, since they are capable of having fewer babies. If that’s the case, it’s also more important for women to have obvious visual cues. Yet hardly any studies in evolutionary psychology look at what cues women in, And the cues are not said to be as strong. (But then, sexualization of the male body is not culturally fetishized and is less strong as result.)

  4. I’ll say this much… its the new age…sexual parts are objectified both in men and women…
    BB and BC are the most popular adverts for x-rated movies.

    • The only way that I know of any male body part being objectified is in porn. And have to go to porn to experience it. Is not a daily assault on male self-esteem.

      Because of men going to porn they get the wrong notion that women actually care about penis size. I think some women do judge penises just because they get so tired of being judged themselves. So it’s a bit of turnaround.

      But the truth is that:

      * our culture does not fetishize the male penis

      * how big a man’s penis is isn’t obvious unless his clothes are off so he’s not judged on a daily basis

      * and in terms of how it feels most women are much more likely to orgasm from outercourse than intercourse.

      *A large penis only helps about 20% of women orgasm and a large penis hurts about 20% of women — in terms of pounding on the cervix — and even more women feel pain if you include lack of lubrication. A study in Africa found that the larger a man’s penis the more likely his wife was to cheat — so that she can have sex without pain.

      • I agree… its only in porn that proportions are amplified and fetishized and porn is every where now… people are being reduced and marginalised because of the false perceptions that they believe in. But aside from that breast are in your face and cannot be ignored…Is it wrong… not sure… is objectification bad? absolutely… I think its a thin line… just like women .. not all men care for a big breast… but I would be lying if most men didnt.

      • In this culture most men probably do prefer big breasts. But you don’t find that in every culture. So it’s possible for things to change.

        People tend to be confused about what the word objectification means. I will be writing more on this later but it doesn’t mean sexy. It doesn’t mean desirable. It means that a person is seen and used like an object — and an objects thoughts and feelings don’t matter. In what I’m discussing here women’s feelings about their body image doesn’t seem to matter. Men go on and on about how they prefer the cultural preference for big breasts and don’t care that a lot of women end up feeling inadequate.

      • I agree… looking forward to your posts.. It amkes a lot of sense…

  5. I don’t know if men are ‘hardwired’ with a breast fetish or not, and as I said in a comment to a previous post, when topless women are the norm, men tend not to sexualize breasts as much… But still, whether politically correct or not, I find a woman’s breast to be a beautiful part of the female body and somehow they still epitomize ‘femininity’…

    • Since you don’t find a breast fetish everywhere it can’t possibly be hardwired.

      Otherwise, your experience is not at all uncommon but it does cause a lot of pain for a lot of women as they feel judged as being less attractive and less feminine. Nearly 3/4 of women feel like their breasts aren’t good enough. And I guess you have no problem causing pain for a lot of women.

      Sometimes I wish that man like you got to feel the other side of it, How it feels to be constantly judged as “less than.”

      But it does end up hurting men in bed as I will discuss later.

      • Is it the sexual images or the narrow lines of beauty? Because sexualization causes women to feel their bodies aren’t sexy or attractive enough and that’s because of media and ads showing unrealistic female bodies? Is it simply because women’s bodies are sexualized or more so the bi product of the bodies being sexualized is set in a hierarchy form with certain bodies seen as beautiful. But what if various female bodies, heavy, skinny, different shapes and looks be seen as all sexy and neither better than the other? Some men might have preference over one, but they find most sexy and media plays them up as well as sexy. Is it sexualization or from that sexualization that creates a “totem pole” of women’s bodies with one’s that are the best or highly attractive and the bottom seen as not sexy or less sexy? It would suck to be in women’s shoes in that aspect, but a lot of things come from because of us being used to the spot we’re in. Even if it’s not something that is best, change from it can be unnerving as you get used to something.

        For example, you don’t want women sexualized and women say that. I think women have a dual relationship with their sexiness. They obviously don’t like being sex objects or like feeling their body doesn’t match up. But women are so used to being the sexy sex, while not wanting to be sex objects, I think women do like to be “sexy”, and look sexy or be able to play on that or draw on being seductive and sexy if they want. They don’t want to be sex objects, but don’t mind attention or what their feminiity and sexiness can draw. They don’t want staring and comments or stuff like that, but I think many don’t mind or like that little buzz from being sexually desirable or glances and such. Or being seductive and sexy to their bf or husband and being able to draw on that and immerse in that sexiness and sensuality. Women want to be desexualized, but it would be a huge shock. Would women really like men looking at their bodies in non-sexual ways like the male body often is? I know they don’t like how it is now, but it doesn’t seem like there will be a happy medium. It seems like women will either have their bodies sexy and sexual and lust worthy to simply nice looking and attractive to men if breasts are treated like normal and just topless often and casually as well as other body parts.

      • The problem is the narrow notions. But then fetishizing the body part put the obsession on steroids.

        In Great Britain and America among Europeans a B cup is average without obesity or implants. Which means you get plenty of C, D and also A, AA. In Japan the average breast size is A cup.

        Now when you have a fetish, Particularly that turns into a big breast fetish, a lot of young women aren’t feeling so good about themselves. Either their self-esteem suffers or they get surgery which isn’t safe and which cuts sensation to the breast. Or they’re distracted in bed worrying that they aren’t big enough.

        Now add issues of droopiness for bigger-breasted women. I know more than one young woman who refused to take their bras off during sex because they thought their breasts were too droopy.

        Now add shape or asymmetry issues.

        One study of well-being of collegiate women found that after they first have sex their body image typically dropped. How much fun do you think they were having in bed when they were having sex?

      • “Now when you have a fetish, a lot of young women aren’t feeling so good about themselves. ”

        Why should some people’s fetish bother anyone? It’s not like everyone has the same tastes. I don’t go around whinging about women who like Arnold Schwarzenegger bodies even though I don’t have one.

      • I don’t care about personal preferences. I care about cultural dictates.

  6. There are many double standards in this world. Women are now free to work any where, wear anything regardless of gender. They have no limitations on hair length, or style. And that is great, I applaud their freedoms.

    Boys are limited st specific fashions and clothes, hair styles and emotions – specifically none.

    I realize the freedom of dress is not a leg up so to speak on a better or happier life, just means you can look and feel yourself when life happens.

    The double standard is when a boy wishes to expand their experiences society is pretty quick to debase and minimise him as no longer worthy of the title “male”. We can have breast fetishes, but breast envy is not approved.

    • And the reason why boys and men are limited in the ways you described is because of sexism against women, as you point out: he is no longer worthy of the title “male”.

      Because we value men and masculinity more than women women and femininity women aren’t seen as debasing themselves when they take on masculine things/characteristics. Not so when men take on feminine things/characteristics.

      • “…..women aren’t seen as debasing themselves when they take on masculine things/characteristics.”

        Uh..you cannot believe this?

        Most men certainly do devalue a woman who is more masculine or “take on masculine things/characteristic.” A very feminine woman is far more prized for the average man than a less feminine woman.

        Men and masculinity is under assault today in America and the West. This is largely due to feminism. Yet, most women still clearly prefer men that are masculine in the traditional sense.

      • Women can do pretty much anything that guys can do. They can dress in ways that guys dress and people don’t even notice, but men can’t do the reverse. Women can take on any personality trait that is associated with men — though there can be some level of the problem but it’s mostly unconscious. For instance, Women can be strong leaders but they are perceived a bit more negatively than men are. You saw this would how people reacted whenever Hillary Clinton sought power. There’s something disconcerting about strong female leaders which might be what made her seem “Inauthentic.”

        I can’t think of anything that men can do that women would feel ashamed doing. Can you give me some examples?

  7. Women should be pickier with how men look because we accept their DNA into our body. Men aren’t affected by our DNA so it makes no sense for them to be picky. I think men aren’t actually picky, it’s just how they are portrayed in the media. The only ones who seem to be picky are the ones who are not desirable because it is a defense mechanism for them.

  8. “Sociobiology claims that men are naturally promiscuous and women are naturally monogamous.”

    I don’t think this is true at all. Honestly, it is women who desire and want (and experience) multitudes of sex partners. This is why they always complain about shaming. If you are proud of what you do, then why do you (women) care about what others think? Why do you hide this sort of behavior.

    Just as men have been taught that women want sex less than men. Another fallacy that has led to the mis-education(and brainwash) of men.

    • You have said that your ex-wife is very promiscuous but in survey’s men and women are almost equally likely to say they prefer many partners versus monogamy.

      • No, I never said my ex wife was promiscuous. All I know is she had less sex with me than her previous partners. I honestly do not know how many she REALLY had. Just what she told me.

        Yes, I agree that both men and women probably will say they prefer many partners vs monogamy. But, it is only women as a group that can really experience such. Why just look at obese women. Even they find men to have sex and get pregnant. They get to have kids! Is it the same for an obese man? Highly unlikely.

        As for the breast fetish…As a Black guy, I have always loved a nice rear. Most Black and Hispanic men generally like a woman with a nice rear. White men seem to be the most obsessed with breasts. Just my observation.

      • Thanks for filling me in.

        And it turns out that roughly half of both women and men prefer monogamy and half prefer many partners.

  9. This is pretty simple.

    Sex dont end for women with an orgasm, can last for 9 months later, and even more. For woman having sex isnt cheap, while pregnant she cant move to much, she cant hunt, limted movement, and eve worse, she can lose that baby and suffer a lot.

    Men on the other side ejeculates and thats all, life continues.

    For women choosing the right father is really complicated, thats is why you cant link a good father with body parts. Today why rule in world of brain, so why a male need muscle to attract a women when he is the boss of the company?.

    she see that he have power and thats all, long ago whats the violence, so women went to the leader, before was the good hunter, as you can see male sign of good father varies in time.

    a men with power mens good genes, he’s good in something, the leader and thats good for the mother and the baby.

    Even as a male, if i was a women i will date men with power, the body?, thats not important at all.

    Maybe when men and women can have children this will change, but for now, sex is not simple for women.

    • Still, these things vary by culture.

      In some places women have sex with a number of men in order to give her child the good characteristics of each father.

      In the United States roughly half of both women and men prefer monogamy and the other half prefer to have a variety of partners.

    • Zaakiya Cuellar

      Omg, there is no hope for humanity…

      Contrary to what you say physical features such as healthy hair, teeth, eyes, bone structure, skin, muscle mass etc etc are indicators of good health and virility in men, so the physical features of a man should ALSO be looked at when being chosen as a mate in addition to his personality and intelligence being judged. His physical features shouldn’t be ruled out altogether.

      So women should go around trying to have children with aging, fat balding men? Aging is damaging to a man’s DNA, which in turn adversely affects his ability to have children. Too much fat on a man’s body is indicative of malfunctioning hormones.

      • So how do you explain that obesity is valued in some cultures?

        And that anorexia is valued in our culture? Victoria Secret Angels sell a lot of product and attract a big television audience each year. But the body they are showing off is anorexic — created through a diet of kale + dehydration.

        Also, healthy hair, teeth, eyes, bone structure, skin, muscle mass may indicate health. But none of that is fetishized.

        The double standard in evolutionary psychology is that women’s bodies are picked apart constantly and men’s bodies are mostly ignored.

  10. The problem is the narrow notions. But then fetishizing the body part put the obsession on steroids.”

    But that’s my point. It’s not good to hyper sexualize, but do women want to be completely desexualized like it is for tribal cultures? I see the problem as you said because of how women get rated by their looks and body. But that’s a problem because a woman’s worth becomes about her body and looks and not fitting into a certain look. But is it possible to have women more valued for more than their looks and for their personality, intelligence, talent, etc? but still a strong value on their looks and body? A duality? And what is women’s bodies were celebrated and maybe they can be topless, but in certain spots like beaches and such, but otherwise still not in many other venues.

    So it’s not hypsersexualized but breasts and butts still sexual or sexy. And if women’s bodies shown in sexual ways from the media, the appreciation is not like how it is now with certain body and body types seen as most attractive. But various bodies and body types almost equally valued and found sexy so various women and girls would feel sexy because their bodies are portrayed just as sexy as the slim bodies? Is that possible or does this happen because the sexualization is within a hierarachal culture in America. Which the bi-product is “ranking everything” so certain bodies ranked higher than others? It’s not just women’s bodies, but hierarchal cultures have a totem pole set up in almost everything it seems. Winners and losers, first and last, smart-stupid, rich-poor, goodlooking-ugly, thin-fat, strong-weak, etc.

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

      • Do women want to be completely desexualized? I understand and realize sexualzing women’s bodies devalues them and makes women feel they don’t measure up with beauty and body. But I don’t know seeing how women are accustomed if they’d like being completely desexualized like men. You said women’s bodies from the fetish have certain bodies that are deemed sexy. But is the sexualizing inherently the bi product that certain bodies are sexier? What if women were valued for their minds and skills, but the duality of body and looks celebrated, seen as sexy and lust worthy? What if a big variety of women’s bodies were shown as sexy so neither body type seeming better than the other so girls and women of different bodies would feel sexy about their bodies?

      • I don’t think bodies need to be completely desexualized. But the fetish seems to make certain body parts extremely important — and extremely important to look in very specific ways.

  11. Great post ~ the double standards are centuries old, and while I hope they are slowly being removed, there is still a long way to go. We see it often, men in a position of power will do almost anything to push their agenda on the population for their own selfish reasons. It is great to see the other side fighting back 🙂

  12. When does the math ever come out in favour of women?
    Oh right, never.

  13. Talking about double standards
    There was a post about a research showing some self identified straight men getting turned on by gay porn. The conclusion was that if men get turned on by gay porn then they had to be gay.
    However straight women can like lesbian porn and still be straight. How’s that about double standard?

    Besides there’s really no repression to female sexuality anymore. There was in the the 50s but not nowadays. Internet is full of pictures of women showing off of naked photos. Women can have threesomes or sexually experiment and noone is going to say anything. On the contrary women are being critized as being prude if they aren’t having a lot of sex. Women nowadays are expected to be hypersexual. Female singers have to be bisexual or lesbians if they want to have a career. Nicky Minaj admitted that she said she was bisexual to get fame. Kate Perry had success with I kissed a girl.

    The only group of people that are sexually repressed are gay men and more particularly bisexual men. Noone accepts male bisexuality. They are forced to pretend that they are either gay or straight

    • I’m actually looking at some Survey data of my students and here’s what I found:

      Women’s sexuality is still very much punished and repressed these days.

      All of my women students have heard women being slut shamed in high school and middle school. Some of them have been shamed themselves.

      At least one of my students was slut-shamed and ended up on suicide watch for several months.

      And of course women are routinely called sluts and hoes in hip hop. That can get into the subconscious and have its effects. They are also called this in television and movies.

      Sex is still called dirty, filthy, your mind is in the gutter…

      And so much more.

      I just got finished yesterday looking at the rate of orgasm among Women to call himself non-straight (but who are lesbian — because most of the survey had to do with women who had sex with men).

      11. Do you orgasm: easily? Orgasm but it’s not always easy? Rarely or never?

      Easily 38% Not easy/Rarely/never: 63%

      So two-thirds of them have difficulty with orgasm. That is a sign of sexual repression.

      Most young women don’t watch porn the way men do, And when they do watch it it’s not during their most Limited years. (And most porn is not lesbian porn — it’s quite horrendous toward women)

      On this: There was a post about a research showing some self identified straight men getting turned on by gay porn. The conclusion was that if men get turned on by gay porn then they had to be gay.
      However straight women can like lesbian porn and still be straight. How’s that about double standard?

      The research was more specifically asked how homophobic the man was. The more homophobic a man was the more likely he was to be aroused by gay porn. That context suggests that he is gay but in denial about it and trying to fight who he is.

      We are a bit more homophobic when it comes to men than women, And that does hurt non-straight men more than non-straight women. But that is also tied to sexism.

      Gay men are seen as feminine and men aren’t allowed to do anything feminine because we don’t value women and femininity as much as men and masculinity. When women do things that men do (have sex with women) they aren’t seen as demeaning themselves as much. Plus we objectify women and looking at two women having sex is related objectification — 2 sex objects going at it.

      If you don’t like this situation, fight for feminism.

      • Feminism has lost its way nowadays. It’s about women doing exactly the things that masculine men do. Men go to strip clubs and see female strippers as sex objects? Then women should go to see female strippers. Male singers sing about hooking up with women in music videos that show half naked women? Then female singers should sing about women in music videos with half naked women.
        What we have nowadays it’s not a cause about teaching men to treat women with respect but a cause about teaching women to be aggressive and demeaning to women and seeing other women as sex objects

      • Why shouldn’t women have the same rights as men? Men insist they know women better than we know ourselves.

        My step dad tells me I will be completely fulfilled by staying home and having children and not by doing manly things like having a job (which I love) in being a political activist (I’m a political junkie).

        I know from personal experience that I like what I like, And no one should be telling me that I shouldn’t like what I like.

        Roughly half of both women and men prefer monogamy and the other half prefer a variety of partners. Why shouldn’t that half of the human race be able to do what they would like, regardless of whether they are male or female?

        And feminists are against objectification of any sort. So feminists don’t encourage women to objectify men just because they have been objectified. Nonetheless, some women do that, as I said, maybe just to get back at men.

      • Of course all people must have the same rights. Unfortunately in many third world countries even freedom is denied to people.

        I didn’t say that some women try to objectify men. Actually women can’t objectify men.
        However most feminists objectify women because that’s “what men do”. So if men objectify women then women should objectify women too

      • How do feminists objectify women? I can’t imagine how that’s possible.

  14. The FACT is height,income and looks are a practiced litmus test that women DO use on men period and to deny this is to fool one’s self.And to continue to act as though lot of women do not judge a guy on the size of his crank is just yet another absolutely wild delusion…I wouldn’t say its the majority of women who do this but I can tell you it is a healthly percentile who do and guess what I find that to be disturbing.

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