A Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy Followup

Last week, I was watching a program on The History Channel titled History of Sex. Just before and after each commercial break, they would have a little quote. I immediately hit pause at one of them as I just had to write this down:

Victorians used the term “limbs” as a euphemism for legs, which were thought to be so sexually exciting to a man, even a glimpse of a table leg could incite him to sexual frenzy. Table skirts were invented to prevent any unnatural unions between men and furniture.

I immediately thought of something I had written in my The Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy: A Dad’s Perspective post:

Society seems to dictate that the breast should be hidden away (even in instances of breastfeeding) because it is a sexual object. This is a self-fulfilling statement, however. It is mainly a sexual object *BECAUSE* it is hidden away. Go back a century or two to when women wouldn’t be seen outside showing any ankle and ask people of that time why they thought a bared female ankle shouldn’t be seen. I guarantee that the response would have been that the female ankle is sexually alluring and thus should be hidden away. When ankles became common to see, legs became the alluring object. When legs revealed themselves, the belly gained prominence. As each body part showed up more and more in public life, it lost being seen solely as a sexual lure. If women were to commonly walk around topless, the breast would lose much (if not all) of it’s role as a sexual lure. Yes, there would be an increase in teenaged boys drooling on street corners in the short term, but after awhile, society would move on.

Here was some historical proof of my theory. Back during the Victorian era, people thought that men couldn’t handle the mere sight of a female leg. In fact, female legs were thought to be such a strong sexual turn-on that a table’s leg would place a man into a state of “sexual frenzy” merely due to the passing resemblance they have to a female’s leg. Today, however, you can see women’s legs everywhere from business offices to the beach. From malls to markets. These women aren’t leaving a trail of frenzied men in their wake. Society has moved on.

Yes, the female leg is still seen by men today as a sexual attractant, but it is no longer “forbidden fruit.” You don’t see men’s magazines named “Thigh” showing bare legs. Men simply do not go into an uncontrollable frenzy on the mere sight of a bare leg. If women walked around commonly without any tops on, the female breast would become another “woman’s leg.” It would lose its “forbidden fruit” aspect. While it would remain a sexual attractant to some degree, it wouldn’t be the sort of thing that makes men drool like idiots.


  • I think we need to remember, first and foremost, the main purpose of women’s breasts. I’ll give you a hint, it’s not for stuffing into a tiny bra to provide men everywhere with jerk off fantasies.

    I hate to break it to everyone, but breasts are indeed for BREASTFEEDING. Not to say that they can’t be used for fun outside of that context, but let’s not get worked up over seeing a woman feeding her child, shall we? Geez.

    I mean, seriously, what’s worse, seeing miles of cleavage popping out everywhere, or a mom taking a quiet moment to her feed her baby, and maybe, just MAYBE if you look closely enough, you get a flash of nipple.

    Grow up, people!!!

  • TechyDad

    I completely agree. I don’t understand how a restaurant can allow tight-fitting, low cut shirts on some women, but try to ban discreet breastfeeding by other women.

    For more of my views on the subject, I’d recommend reading my original post: The Facebook/Breastfeeding Controversy: A Dad’s Perspective ( http://www.techydad.com/?p=286 ).

  • Oh this was a very good post. Thanks for pointing out the rather cyclical nature of it all. The table skirt thing makes me think of nursing covers. 😉 We are such an indecent society, but a mother and a baby is just too dirty even for us. *sigh* *head shake*

  • Great post! Back when I was nursing my children, I had no problem breastfeeding in public; I figured that it’s a lot easier than getting a bottle warmed and ready! I’m lucky; nobody ever complained about me.

    Your point about ‘forbidden fruit’ is definitely well-taken. My kids are now in their teens; I have made certain they feel comfortable asking me about anything and everything. The more something is forbidden, the more alluring it becomes. Talked about common-sense-wise, it just becomes something that *is*.

    Data points, Barbara

  • TechyDad

    @Barbara, The Baby Blues comic strip had a good strip about “milk warmers” recently: http://twitpic.com/1fl03 Safe, reliable and energy efficient!

  • I just found your blog (where have I been?). Thanks for sharing your point of view!