Thursday, December 27, 2007

You Can't Win

Originally uploaded by Wrappy
I still sometimes get mad at people who find breastfeeding photos porn@graphic. (Whether they like them or whether they are offended by them.) But I realize I'm more annoyed by those who are offended by them.

I guess there are a few individuals who are breastfeeding for purely exhibitionistic purposes. However, for the other 99.99% of us, we are doing it to feed our children, not to turn on some dumbass in the street. It seems about as sexy to me as a plate and spoon do. Literally!

Nevertheless, there are people who believe that uncovered always = lewd, and covered always = modest. I imagine they don't understand fetish from a sociological-psychological viewpoint. People can sexualize ANYthing. Breasts, back of neck, ankle, face, amputated limb, braces, whatever you have.

So even if you completely cover yourself from head to toe, there is somebody out there who is going to think you are doing THAT to be sexy just for him, because there are people who are turned on by that, too (see photo at left.)

What I'm trying to say is, it doesn't matter if women breastfeed or not, from a moralistic standpoint regarding being provocative. Someone is guaranteed to be in the wings fetishizing them regardless. So they might as well do what they want.


Andrew said...

In the immortal words of Stanley Wojohowicz on "Barney Miller,":
"Pick out anything in the Sears Catalog and somebody somewhere wants to go to bed with it."

liz said...

You have the best memory for the widest variety of weird quotations!

argotnaut said...

I don't think it's just fetishization. I have to admit ... and this is going to make me unpopular ... that it kind of icks me out in the way that some medical things make people feel squeamish.

However, I realize that it's my own hangup (probably because I was never exposed to it in my youth) and would never suggest that anyone be restricted in where and when they feed their baby.

argotnaut said...

Oh, but yeah, if you're talking about people who think those photos are pr0n0gr4fik, then yeah ... that's just stupid.

liz said...

The only way that people are going to feel comfortable and/or neutral about it is if they're exposed to it. So as long as it's relegated to small "kooky" populations nursing as secretly as possible, we'll always have a lot of people who feel either uncomfortable or aroused by it.

(Based on basic exposure principles, if you hung out here for even a couple of days you'd get used to it! That goes for the "n" word, too--and I'm not talking about he racial one that people other than you will think I mean, of course.)

argotnaut said...

I don't know -- I used to not be able to say the word "thigh," but it's OK now. But the spigot word...I hear it plenty and it still makes me go ERK!

My theory is that for most body parts, you have at least two: one that's private and naughty, and one that's public and polite (possibly even a third that's medical). But for that, there's only one word.

OTOH, I really don't know the mechanism of word aversion. "Don't say 'tin' to Rebecca!" Another good thesis idea.

liz said...

Bad sentence construction ahead:

Now that I have had a lot more experience with anxiety disorders, it seems pretty clearly related to any of them. (In fact, anything with "aversion" in it would be.) Of course, something doesn't have to reach disorder level to be an expression of anxiety.

Oh, I didn't mean that only people who fetishized breastfeeding or thought it was a fetish were made uncomfortable by it. Just that it is being fetishized, and one really can't control that.

argotnaut said...

I'm not sure that it's related to other types of psychological aversions. There's a longish post here about it, and it seems to me that at least part of it might be some kind of sound symbolism thing going on. It's possible that people dislike certain sound combinations, just like (most) people dislike discordant musical sounds.

I admit that many of the words have bodily and/or sexual connotations, but lots of them seem random ("wholesome," "whimsy," "chunk"), and many of them have the [oi] diphthong ("ointment," "toy").

So now I want to stick someone in a scanner and see if their neurological reactions to disliked words are more similar to discordant music reactions, or to swearing reactions. Or maybe they're all alike.

Another word I hate (although not quite as much) is t**d, another word for poo. I can't even stand the look of the letter combination.

As I recall, there is a certain word for "underwear" that you dislike, and many others dislike that one, too. Doesn't bother me, although I find it a bit cloying.

liz said...

Yes, I remember the post.

"All's" I'm saying is, an aversion is an aversion is an aversion.

Chalkboard squeal, anyone?

argotnaut said...

They've added a lot to it since it was first posted, though. Many examples that I hadn't seen before.