It’s time to talk about boobs, differently

[T]he scene from 40 Year Old Virgin is a common one in the movies: four guys are sitting around a table playing cards and one has started describing what his sex life with his ex girlfriend was like. They want to know about the “titties,” they say. They want detailed information on the female body part that is an obsession among society. He explains how her breasts felt to the touch, just like any other boob really: like a bag of sand. The 40 Year Old Virgin’s Andy Stitzer is confused. I don’t think he’s alone. There seems to be a lot of confusion about female breasts these days.

In 2004 in her Superbowl performance, Janet Jackson flashed her right breast to the crowd in a routine with Justin Timberlake. While some say this was planned, others claim that Timberlake was only supposed to reveal her bra and that this was merely a wardrobe malfunction. Regardless of the intent, the response was undeniable: people freaked out. National Football League commissioner called the incident offensive, embarrassing and inappropriate. According to BBC News, The Concerned Women for America called the incident a “pornographic show.” Side note: if seeing a naked breast is a pornographic show, then I’ve been subjected to a lot of porn in the change rooms of public pools since I was a five-year-old child.

Times haven’t changed. The world is still problematically obsessed with the female chest. Just this past May, Time magazine put out a cover with a mom breast-feeding her 3 year-old son. Columnists and bloggers were not short on opinions about that and internet savvy Americans across the country made it the top search on Google that day according to the LA Times. Fast forward a month , and Madonna flashes her right breast on stage during a concert in Istanbul. Of course, the whole world knew about it instantly .

I want to be frank here and say that the frenzy over the lady lumps is just silly. It’s just a body part. I’m telling you. I looked up the percentage of women in Canada, and the U.S. and it hovers at about 50%. Now, if 50% of people in these two countries are female, and if each female has two breasts, that means that there is approximately a one to one boob to person ratio. So why do we freak out every time one of them pokes itself out? The only conclusion that I can draw here is that boobies are the eighth wonder of the world.

Many of us see them every day, and yet, when we happen to do so in a public setting, it becomes breaking news. I don’t understand why catching sight of naked boobs is treated like a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I think that in order for the boobs to be creating this much of an uproar just by their presence alone, they must possess some sort of majestic quality. There is no other logical explanation. I want to say they are just a body part but I’m not sure if that’s true either. Apparently they are so much more. Princess Kate Middleton sunbathes topless in France, gets caught on camera, and there is a huge uproar. Princess Aerial swaps her fins for her newly grown pair of legs, and the focus is on whether or not she gets the guy. Evidently, boobs beat legs at least when it is royalty that is being observed.

Common cultural texts about boobs –even those aimed at females –are often less than illuminating: several women’s magazines focus on breast shapes, most of which are apparently like different fruits. They range from orange shaped to pear shaped to melon shaped.

But there are more important discussions that we should be having about the female chest. Framing boobs as either something taboo or to be giggled over takes away from more pressing discussions about women’s health, for example. In a world where women’s health has historically been painfully ignored or misunderstood, focus on the female chest might be a good thing, just not in the way we’re doing.

A lovely lady lump makes an appearance every so often and the world stops turning. We consider it taboo and our lives turn chaotic while we try to explain this ungodly event. I’m pretty sure this is nonsense and we should just admit that breasts are great and a body part that is not at all as rare as we keep pretending. It’s time to change the way we talk about boobies, and focus in on whats really important. We’re going to confuse ourselves if we do otherwise.