Sunday, July 11, 2010
THE INVASION OF BREAST IMPLANTS
So it’s a booming business (and a relatively new one: silicone gel-filled breast implants were first introduced in 1962), fed in large part by the increasing acceptance that it’s getting. If it makes “you” feel better, then just do it — such seems to be the prevailing, look-how-tolerant-I-am attitude toward breast implants these days, with little real attention being devoted to the underlying motivation, both personal and cultural, for wanting to have them in the first place.
Before I go further, I need to emphasize that in some cases — post-masectomy and post-huge-weight-loss being two obvious examples — breast implants/reconstruction can be a good thing. But for the great majority of women, such surgery is not necessarily a good thing. A recent study, for example, shows that the suicide rate is three times as high for women with breast implants as it is for women without them. This, of course, does not mean that having breast implants causes a higher rate of suicide, but that there’s a positive correlation between having implants and suicide (which of course implicates the factors generating the desire to have breast implants). What’s essential to consider here is what the women who have had breast implants were doing before getting them, especially with regard to their less-than-happy feelings.
If men — not all men, but probably the majority of men — didn’t want or need women to have larger breasts, would women still be going for breast enlargement (or otherwise trying to make their breasts appear larger)? In most cases, no. But the male preference, at least in contemporary Western culture, for bigger breasts shows no sign of abating, and nor does our media’s obsession with them — which all adds up to an enormous pressure being applied to women regarding their breast-size. There is a natural attraction to breasts — for women as well as men — but we’ve gone far beyond that, into the airbrushed recesses of unnatural attraction, attraction that’s little more than socially acceptable obsession and eroticized fetishism. The fact that the compulsive pull to bigger breasts infects many men (and is considered normal and sometimes even admirable in some circles) is accompanied by the fact that it is not ordinarily examined in any real depth.
Boobs, tits, titties, knockers, jugs, bazongas, cupcakes, puppies, melons, fun bags, floaters, fog lights, hand warmers, hooters, warheads, bazookas, cans, rack — and the list goes on, stretching far beyond the corseted decorum of “bosom.” That there are so many synonyms for “breast” simply reflects how much our culture has been pervaded by the idea, sight, and promise of human mammary glands. Here, size does matter — how else to explain the inordinate attention that some women have received for their breasts, despite the fact that they are universally known to be implants? The sighting of size, whatever its origin, is automatically arousing for many men; they may not particularly enjoy the feel of fake breasts, but the sight more than makes up for it. And just whose eyes are such men looking through at such times?
The rubbernecking lust and I’d-love-to-fuck-her fantasies that may be aroused by the sight of a pair of blown-up, gravity-defying breasts (with the rest of the woman in the background) is arguably natural, at least to some degree, at a certain stage of development for a male — adolescence (which unfortunately often extends into old age) — but not so natural once he is no longer a teenager. He may still look, but if he has truly matured, he looks in the same way that he’d look at a lavishly-blossomed tree or shiny new car or a prominent pair of eyelashes or ears — whatever stands out in his visual field at the time. Curious, focused, but not titillated, for he no longer can isolate a woman’s breasts from the rest of her. When he looks at her breasts, he sees her in her totality, and in seeing her thus, he is not drawn to any sort of fantasy regarding any part of her anatomy. He has, in short, outgrown his capacity to compartmentalize her. Connecting with her is far, far more important than hooking up the horny adolescent in him to her mammary display.
If he is in deep relationship, his sexualized gaze is reserved for his beloved; he does not have to repress his urge to look with erotic interest at other women, for he’s all but outgrown this desire (which does not, however, mean that his sexual passion is diminished!). It simply no longer pulls at him to any significant degree. He does not avoid looking (looking, not staring) at other women’s breasts (including those that are implants) — unlike men who are trying to be “good” — but nor does he eroticize what he’s taking in. Even as he observes the implants and feels perhaps some aversion, he also senses the overall energy and presence of such women, attuning to them as a totality, sensing their state and their humanity, doing nothing to make his beloved lose any trust in him. So any aversion in him toward breast-implanted women coexists with his compassion for them and for whatever drove them to getting implants.
Part of the reason that most men don’t examine their big-breast interest in much depth is that they do not seriously question the appeal that large breasts holds for them. They typically take it as a given. But is it? Not necessarily! And is the appeal of big breasts truly sexual? Not necessarily! As I’ve written elsewhere, the eroticizing of our needs (the sexual framing of them plus seeking their fulfillment through sexual activity) is a common occurrence, and fasten-ation to large breasts is no exception in this context; we may have developed a charge with breasts, and large breasts in particular, for all kinds of reasons, going back to infancy, a charge that we eventually eroticized (usually in our teen years), which only increased our pull toward large breasts.
Picture an infant boy suckling, his mother’s breast comfortingly and sensually — and perhaps also massively (a milk-engorged breast being no small object to an infant) — before him, literally in his face, there for his need and his pleasure. But did this create an obsession with breasts, and big breasts in particular? Not necessarily! Something else had to happen.
Perhaps his breast-feeding was done on a schedule that didn’t work for him, so that he was left with an unrequited milk-craving too often. Or perhaps his breast-feeding was done whenever he was hungry but was cut off prematurely, as happened with many, many mothers during the Dr. Spock era (this would leave him with a craving made all the stronger, at least for a while, by being in intimate proximity to his mother, but not having access to her breasts). Or perhaps he didn’t get breast-fed, but still knew the urge to suck, since he was, like all newborns, born to suckle; no colostrum, no milk, no warm bare breast against his face, but only a familiar heartbeat when his mother held him close to her breasts. So much nourishment so very close by, such a rich warmth, such a soft sweet welcome, such exquisite mounds of motherly nectar gourds so near by, signaled by the sight of cleavage or the breasts themselves — and him growing up not seeing these wondrous sources of so much, but nonetheless sensing them there, just behind the clothes and bras and don’t-touch psychoemotional walls. Such hunger here — and imagine now him eroticizing this completely understandable hunger (helped in large part by his growing awareness of and exposure to our cultural obsession with breasts and breast-size), and staying stuck there, and growing up wanting women to present/display the same mammary largesse. Some men flee this — like Woody Allen in one of his early films being pursued by a gigantic, milk-squirting breast, before which he finally brandishes a crucifix — but many loiter in it, hooked by their lust for large, spilling-forth breasts.
Many factors conspire to create our culture’s breast fetish — and it is a fetish, in its unrelenting object-isolation and obsession — but perhaps the key one is a thwarted, infantile nourishment-craving and longing for deep maternal communion that has been eroticized and amplified to such an extent that we are literally surrounded by it. Where the infant was faced and met/enfolded by the breast, we are surrounded by and up to our eyeballs in it, bombarded by breasts and talk of breasts. Talk about overexposure! One flash of one of Janet Jackson’s breasts at the Super Bowl a few years ago was an occasion of incredible media coverage, before which all other news, including war horrors, paled. After all, a breast — a naked breast! — had been spotted for a millisecond, spurring countless parents to cover their children’s eyes. Or so the story goes. The breast is such a primal icon: Picture McDonald’s famous Golden Arches, pointing skyward, and stick a nipple atop each, and you’ll have a rough picture of what we’re up against — a ubiquitous feeding frenzy both disguised and made palatable by our eroticizing of it.
Men who are primarily me-centered typically tend to get off on breast implants (and breasts in general), for they’re usually overly focused on the visuals of sexuality, employing such imagery in their masturbatory rituals, whether alone or with a partner. Big breasts, artificial or not, are mostly a big and rapid turn-on for them. Men who are significantly we-centered are not so sure about breast implants, but may still get off on them, without, however, being particularly overt about it. They may even be critical of such artifice, scoring moral good partner points by demonstrating an obvious sensitivity to the exploitation of women, etcetera after politically correct etcetera, but underneath such psychosexual properness they still may lust for the silicone bazookas and Photoshopped melons that they publicly decry. Where me-centered men tend to indulge, we-centered men tend to repress, at least when it comes to mammary ogling.
And men who are mostly being-centered? Breast implants exert no erotic pull on them and in fact are a turn-off for them (and nor do natural breasts pull at them erotically, unless they belong to their partner/lover). When they encounter a woman who has implants, they view her breasts in the context of all that she is, including the very forces that first drove her to seek breast enlargement. Their erotic visuals are limited, without any repression, to their partner or lover; they’ve simply outgrown the need to let their attention wander into and loiter in erotic possibilities, other than with their partner or lover. (This is not to say that their sexual passion is in any way diminished — quite the opposite is true for those who are still sexually active.) They don’t lust after women who have breast implants, nor condemn them — regardless of whatever aversion or repulsion might be stirred in them — but rather feel a natural compassion for such women, perhaps sensing the girl in them, the girl who first felt that she was not enough as she was for males, be they boys or her father or men in general.
Almost all women who get breast implants already have insecurity implants. These are often pushed into the background by the breast implants, but they nonetheless remain in place, silenced for a time perhaps by the commotion and attention generated by the new breasts, but sooner or later their presence cannot be denied. But there are plenty of women who say to hell with getting bigger boobs, and to hell with silicone bra inserts and other bra stuffers, and to hell with men who want women to have bigger boobs, and I say to them: Don’t back down; don’t sell out; don’t look upon your breasts as lesser because they are smaller than average or smaller than their silicone cousins; don’t let adolescent male desires direct your course; don’t sacrifice the natural contours of your body so as to please men who are not yet really men; don’t let yourself get caught in the cultural trance of the generic skinny, big-titted airbrushed girl-women who overpopulate the covers of most women’s magazines; and don’t, don’t, don’t base your femininity on the penile imperatives of men who have not yet embodied the deep masculine.
Have compassion for the you who wants implants; take her into your heart, mother her, love her, cradle her, invite her into her deepest places. Then you won’t have to talk her out of getting breast implants, because she will start feeling so good about who she is that she won’t want them (or will get rid of them if she already has them), loving her own breasts from the deep inside, feeling them from their roots, honoring them whatever stage they are in, budding, blooming, sagging, peaceful, milk-full, lover-hungry, carrying in their unique shaping the imprint of you, the you who is already at home with all of her qualities.
And to this I bow, to the little girl, the maiden, the mother, the sister, the virgin, the lover, the warrior, the queen, the juicy elder, the daughter, the midwife, the spiritual adventuress, the true partner, all of them together weaving the reality of the full woman, the woman unbound, the woman who, finding freedom through limitation, is well on her way to becoming intimate with all that she is.
Copyright © 2010 Robert Augustus Masters