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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Titillation and Boobs

The Time magazine cover of a woman who is arguably at the extreme of the 'helicopter' parents who hover and circle has caused some degree of silly controversy over attachment parenting. 

Accompanying the sexualized obsession with mammary glands was this map depicting the breast / bra cup sizes of the world which gained some publicizing not long ago.  (The basis for the assumptions or measurements for these sizes was not explained, and frankly I think the whole thing is rather silly):



In this context we have the anti-women, anti-family policy legislation of the conservative right wingers, versus the left which is more pro-women, pro-family in their actions, including allowing breast feeding space for women in work places larger than 15 employees, under the Obama health care reform. It is worth noting that the overall health of children and women is consistently better in countries which are more socialized than the United States, by every metric. For those individuals who have challenged me over the socialist trends of the United States, like 'Obamacare', I have presented the argument that socialism is not inherently good or bad, any more than any other form of organization, and that in fact in many developed countries it has resulted in nations which are more successful and better positioned to be competitive in the world. On that basis, I frankly don't give a damn what is more politically correct from the conservative perspective, I care about what works, what provides the best quality of life and the best national results, and so should we all. Anything else is illogical and ideology rather than objective reality driven.

We have ways to improve our outlook and attitudes in this nation, ways in which we can learn from other cultures and approaches to aspects of our culture and nation.  It is time for all of us to rethink, both men and women, our sexualization to the exclusion of other considerations, the female breast.  It is time to come together to promote giving women control of their own reproduction, and especially their health care options, including promoting the funding of women's health care providers like Planned Parenthood.  It is time we do more to promote the lives of women and children, and families generally, through promoting subsidizing child care, preschool programs, and programs within schools that provide subsidized or free nutritional support for children from low incomes.  What we do not need is to cut these social safety net programs in favor of more military industrial spending, like the over-costly F-35 disaster, which enriches the members of the F-35 Caucus in Congress who happen to own Lockheed Martin stock. 

What we DO need to be providing is better care to the members of our military and their families, as well as our civilian families (traditional or otherwise).   The right talks the talk, but skips out on walking the walk, using their legislative majorities at the local, state, and federal levels to take away money that benefits the nation and the majority of our population to benefit the top 1% of the wealthy, and their corporate special interests. 

Even our military has made the strong recommendation that for the future of our potential military members, this nation needs to do more for women and children, like funding and supporting pre-school education for smarter, better adjusted girls and boys to prepare them for growing up to be better women and men.

This weekend is the local Kommen Foundation run to benefit fighting breast cancer.  I am not yet persuaded that the Kommen Foundation has truly rejected their right wing position against Planned Parenthood; despite the firing of the right wing extremist to whom their policy changes were attributed, it appears to me they are still badly right wing dominated in their directing board members.

Until such time as they become genuinely more pro-women and less right wing politically driven, I will withhold my support.  They still seem to be more boob dominated (in the sense of someone who is not wise or intelligent or serious) than breast health oriented.

One of the most thought-provoking documentaries that I first saw some years ago was the one featured in the trailer below.  I would recommend watching it to every man, woman and child, but especially to young women and older girls, tho help shape their ideas about their bodies and body images.


I was consistently very tall for my age as a child, and as my maternal grandmother euphemistically put it, I 'blossomed' early.  I vividly remember my first experience with unwanted male attention over that aspect of my development at around age 14, when I had an encounter of all the unexpected places, in the reception area of the brokerage firm where my father was a vice president.  That experience was foundational to formulating my feminist views about our American customs and attitudes about the female body.  I had a day off from school - MEA or parent teacher conferences, some holiday.
I arrived more or less on time at my father's office for my ride home; I had to wait because he was in his office meeting with a client.  I passed the time just past the reception area, sitting on the corner of the desk of my father's secretary with my legs crossed in what I thought was a lady-like way.  My father's secretary, a shall we say 'mature woman',  had left for the day, and I was talking shopping and sales at various downtown stores with some of the remaining female staff.
One of the less-established brokers from the area referred to as the bull-pen came over to the group of us, and in terms which were at best crude, invited me to have a drink with him, suggesting we could get right to sex if I wasn't thirsty.  In passing he made reference to my breasts and other physical features. 
I remember, vividly, going from feeling sick and vulnerable inside, very rapidly to being angry.  On some level I had a very clear sense, as some pivotal moments do, that I was not the only female person who had experienced this treatment from this man, and that it was probably inflicted in varying degrees on the women with whom I had been chatting.  I have a temper, one that fits the redhead stereotype, although I don't lose it often.  I lost it then.  I wanted to make that man feel vulnerable, I wanted to make him feel small and inadequate, and I wanted to make him never ever ever repeat his behavior again for fear of the consequences.  I was angry at the cellular level, I was enraged at the atomic level of my being.  My very bones were incensed.
I had been wearing the very expensive sun glasses that belonged to my mother; they had been in the pocket of her leather jacket.  To be fair to the guy, they made me look older.  When I whipped them off, folding them up and holding them in my hand, jabbing at him with them to emphasize the separate points of my rant, it was clear from the look of horror on his face that only then did he realize that he was propositioning someone under age, not a friend of one of the clerical and admin staff.  I wasn't playing entirely fair - and I didn't care - as I expressed my anger.  I still remember the gist of my commentary, which ranged from suggesting that he had to pay women to go out with him because he was too vile for any woman to associate with on his merits, to suggesting that there was not enough money in the world to make him attractive to me or any other woman under the roof of that office building, to suggesting that if he was stupid enough to proposition the minor daughter of someone higher up the food chain in the corporate structure than he was that he was too stupid to work there much longer, and that was just warming up.  Somewhere in the mix I brought up his commenting on feminine physical attributes, and waxed eloquent about his personal deficiencies, physical and intellectual.
As I expressed my righteous indignation, he began to move backwards, literally backpedalling.  With each step I followed him, gaining both speed and volume, moving from defensive to the attack.  Something about his retreat made me angrier and bolder.  I remember being aware that the higher heels on my boots, in addition to my own height, made me roughly eye to eye with the guy, which I think contributed to the effectiveness of my rage.
Fairly quickly, two of my father's colleague came barrelling out of their offices, and blocked my further pursuit, while the target of my anger retreated out of reach, and then out of my sight.  (I suspect he locked himself in the nearest men's room).
A few minutes later my father emerged from his office, and I had to switch emotional gears from angry young amazon to dutiful socially appropriate daughter, shaking hands, and making polite small talk with my father's client before he left.  When he was gone, I remember my father's colleagues making the respective comments that now they knew what he meant about my having a red-headed temper, and that I 'had quite a mouth' on me.  My father's cryptic comment was they should be glad I didn't have a baseball bat and a dog with me, or it could have been worse.
The only thing my father said to me on the ride home was to ask very sternly when had I added the term 'jail bait' to my vocabulary.  Years later at my father's funeral, the same two colleagues came up to me and referenced that incident.  They said from the perspective of their offices, in my anger, pursuing the guy as he tried to get away moving clumsily backwards, and as I was gaining speed, taking long strides after him, I reminded them of a very focused lion pursuing the nature film targeted zebra.  When I asked them if my father had taken any action, afterwards, they didn't know but they did admit that the man in question was not employed there much longer.  Although they indicated that it was as much because he wasn't a very good producer, as it was his other failings, including that incident.  Apparently my father never took any direct action that they were aware of; his response in the office afterwards was to laugh it off, and to say I'd probably punished the man more than enough already.  It did persuade my father that I was more self-reliant and self-sufficient than he had imagined.  But more than anything else, that derogatory, women as male-gratifying sex object experience turned me into a feminist.  It made painfully clear to me that there were healthy and emotionally positive attitudes towards sex and sexuality and gender, and there were horribly corrosive, destructive ones from both men and sometimes other women that should be as emphatically opposed.
Even with the very real gains women have made since my mid-teen experience, there is still tremendous sexualization of girls at increasingly early ages.  This ranges from the earlier age of menarche and the onset of breast development relating in part to the presence of substances like the synthetic estrogen Bisphenol A in plastics and linings of cans used for food to the appalling competitive sexuality of girls from a very young age in beauty pageants like those seen in Toddlers and Tiaras, which verge on kiddie porn.


We can choose, as women, to have a very healthy attitude towards our own bodies and to sex.  This would be the antithesis of the conservative views which are anti-women, which treat sex as dirty and shameful, and which take away control of our reproductive health, while removing all support from our social net for families, especially children.  In finding our own constructive and positive attitudes towards sex and our own bodies, we also acquire healthier and more constructive and positive attitudes towards men, towards childbirth, child rearing,  towards sex and sexuality, and towards our interaction with other women and with men generally.  We need, desperately, comprehensive, positive sex ed, not ignorance only education. The natural progression of forming better attitudes is to reject the unhealthy negative version of women, children, and families promoted by the right, one which makes women's destiny and opportunities subordinate to their anatomy and to men.  One which pays women less and gives women fewer choices, and less control over their lives.  The right would take away women's health care funding, an issue which is integral to public healthy policy, and leave women to seek affordable health care from sources like the porn-funded 'boob bus'.  The following says it all; hate women, vote Republican.  This is true for all women - vote Republican,you  hate yourself, hate your body, hate sex.

3 comments:

  1. Hello Dog Gone,
    I have to wonder if the larger breast size is due more to being over weight instead of development?

    Also as a Father of two daughters, I applaud you for your handling of an assholes ignorant sexual statement at such a young age. My youngest is also of the Celtic / Viking stature and looked older than what she truly was. She too can handle herself very well but she also knows that if I were called on and needed to, I could go Mid-Evil on someone’s ass if they got out of line.

    I use to have the Minnesota Territory where I would land in Minneapolis / St. Paul, stay in Stillwater. There was a famous old hotel called the Lowell Inn that was in Stillwater and I stayed there. “Good Morning America” did a broadcast from there years ago. The hotel was known for its walnut relief carved wall panels. Saw my first hockey game with the Minnesota Wild in St. Paul. They were playing the Edmonton Oilers and I really did not know how the game was played. What impressed me the most was when the puck was moving down the ice, the whole team just left the court and everyone on the bench got on the ice and the game kept going on….it did not stop.

    I was driven all around there by the Rep Firm I was in charge of for that Territory. All the Lake areas west of Minneapolis, Mall of America, Eden Prairie, Rochester, all have good memories for me.

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  2. EoK, I'm sure if I had needed a physical rescue, that one would have been forthcoming, although my father had taken some efforts by that point to teach me at least the fundamentals of physical self-defense. I was always quite capable of being quite verbal, from an early age, and when that angry -- and I was intensely angry not only for myself, but in a very real sense on behalf of my entire gender -- I became aggressively verbal. My father used to joke that level of anger was very like a force of nature, a bit like something outside and beyond myself.

    I also asked the two former colleagues of my father what had happened to that guy; they didnt think he worked anywhere else in the financial sector, not only because of that rather spectacular gaffe, but because he just didn't have what it took, probably in part a lack of basic social skills, but also the intellectual background.

    It wouldn't surprise me to find that some of the other guys in the 'bullpen' had put him up to doing what he did, not necessarily targeting me, but to see if he was dumb enough to seriously overstep the bounds of propriety in the office generally. Anyone who knows how the official - and unofficial - dynamics of an office work know that secretarial staff often have the ear of their boss, and are to a degree the eyes and ears of their superior if they have a good working relationship. This guy was his own worst enemy, but I suspect his co-workers were close seconds.

    The greater issue is the continuing prevalence of a culture, maybe more of a sub-culture, where men regard women as sources of conquest, with taking sex from them as the scoring of a goal. The obverse of that is when women feel they need male approval for validation, and use their sexuality instead of more legitimate aspects of their character and intellect to get that validation. How girls relate to their fathers particularly at certain ages has a lot to do with that development of healthy or unhealthy approval and validation in relationships.

    I remember my mother explaining to me that men have fragile egos, and that they could easily be threatened by women who were smarter than they were. My response, very feminist, which amused hell out of my father, was I really didn't give a damn about the approval of dumb men.

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  3. Hello Dog Gone,
    I agree and how true the the statement of how girls relate to their fathers throughout their lives has a big influence on their validation in relationships they will have in the future.

    I have always known and made sure I was the BEST male role model I could be in my daughter’s lives.

    There is the old saying (as a general rule) that a girl will marry someone like her father. For that reason I have always tried to improve myself, in education and knowledge, personal improvement as a whole. A lesson I also passed on to both was “to always set a goal and then break it down to individual tasks, then do what you need to do to accomplish those tasks. You will then complete your goals.”

    My oldest is getting her Masters at Johns Hopkins and the youngest, a 11th grader, just made the honor role again, she also runs track and has made "All State" since her freshman year.

    Do I sound like a bragging father?….well I am proud of them both. I helped build them to the young ladies they are today. :-)

    Dog Gone, I do enjoy our conversations. Thank you.

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