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Friday, July 26, 2013

Breasts and Other "Things"

Sorry, no pictures today.

(1)  Breasts first, naturally

I'm waiting outside for my ride one beautiful morning, and a woman dressed in black exits the building.  I catch a glimpse of her prominent chest as she passes by, and can't help but wonder if she wears black often to avoid attention to her more obvious features.

Men, I'm told, fantasize about breasts, revere them, and women do, too. Some also stare, jeer, and comment unnecessarily.

Some less-than-proud breast owners wish to reduce them, hot and inconvenient as they are, a source of back pain, the subject of much conversation, jest. Who can blame a woman for wanting to reduce?

It isn't the type of thing that dominates my thoughts, and even as a pre-teen, as other girls began to "blossom" and I lagged behind, it didn't bother me. My body image wasn't wonderful (most of us haven't a wonderful body image at any age) but it wasn't bad, that young bod, and got me where I needed to go. People seemed to like me, and when that is the case, most other things don't matter so much, depending upon the degree of most other things. So I don't remember dwelling on these diminutive aspects of myself.

But girls who develop fast and furiously do think about them, initially, perhaps, with pride in what they are given, the design, the substance. Later, however, they might become mortified and annoyed, especially if anyone paws at them, especially if they suffered childhood sexual abuse, not that large-breasted adolescents are more or less at risk.

There's a song by Argent that might help us here, Hold your Head Up. (It is embedded in a second post because I couldn't figure out how to add it to this one.)
Hold your head up, hold your head up, hold your head high. 
Doing that, holding our heads up, we thrust back our shoulders. And when we thrust back our shoulders, we thrust forward those parts in front that for some shall not be mentioned, and for others merit alternative names.

And yet not liking one's breasts, a disrespect of a kind, is a not just a minor body ego sabotage, but an extreme ego sabotage. Because if we can't hold our heads up, fearful of negative attention, our self-esteem is compromised, we are hiding, and hiding implies shame. We aren't helping how we appear to others, either, don't seem proud or confident. Not if we don't hold our heads up. So breast reduction can be essential to healthy living.

I was introduced to breast enhancement, the opposite pole on the redesign-your-body-part continuum, as a therapeutic issue, when a patient (others have followed) considered the procedure and thought the decision important enough to talk about with a mental health professional.

Before making that fateful, painful choice, as part of a decision-making therapy we go over the whys and the why-nots.

I'm finding that a woman who walks in thinking she wants bigger or shapelier breasts will walk out convinced it is a good idea, even more so if she is sure it is someone else who wants them. Women are quite sure that this will make them more attractive (someone has done a good job at this sale, often an older sister or mother) and heaven knows, nothing is more important at the moment.  As a therapeutic issue, it is rich, worthy of three visits minimum prior to making a decision to add hard plastic to an otherwise soft, malleable body part.

An even more intriguing phenomenon, one that goes in the why not basket, is that men have brought this up in therapy, too, men who are taken with particular women, but don't like the enhanced breasts, who don't think harder is better, don't appreciate a less natural form of female breast. They are disappointed when they realize this is what they will have to have and to hold for many years to come--  enhanced, but not exactly better, breasts.

And we can tell, I am told, that once we are onto this, even when a woman is dressed, for she undergoes the pain and suffering to look good in clothes, ironically enough, just as one can see when someone has had a "nose job".

FD, our resident physician tells me that when he sees two breasts, he sees two potential lawsuits.

(2) Anthony Weiner and Sexting

The National Organization of Women wants Anthony Weiner to withdraw from the gubernatorial race.  After all, he promised he would stop sexting and it has come to our attention that he has not.

One need not be a feminist to feel disappointment and even outrage following a leader's exposure as one who is caught sexting, literally with his pants down. Political hopeful Weiner continued to send erotic messages by phone, and they weren't to Mrs. Weiner, rather to better endowed women (it is likely) who saw him as a source of fulfillment of their own exploitative objectives, a source of jobs, likely, and desperate (we see them in this light) to engage in job interviews in this fashion.

Mr. and Mrs. Weiner were supposedly having marital problems at the time. He sexted under the name Carlos Danger, a handle that is fast becoming a hugely popular Facebook alias. (Thanks S.A., or Carlos, for that tip).

Mrs. Weiner is telling the press that she is standing by him. Conan jokes that this means standing over the computer as he "works".

David Letterman advises that before a public figure sexts,  he should ask himself ten questions, the most important:
"What could possibly go wrong?"
What's up with sexting, anyway?

Is it a reflection of a fabulous body ego, pride in a particular part, whichever the part may be, a type of narcissism that begs flattery? It would seem so!  A good body ego, not bad. Not looking for a reduction or an enhancement, just showing off. I enhance this all on my own. Look at me!

And yet, when we're asking for attention, Look at me! it is a sign that we need attention, not that we are psychologically strong and independent, mature, evolved, capable of seeing, focusing upon others. We're not finding our sense of self-satisfaction from within, we still need others to validate us.

Not that we ever won't need validation, but there are degrees of need. The whole point of praising, complimenting intentionally, at times to an extreme, especially while parenting, albeit modified to reflect reality, is that so many of us desperately need it, didn't get enough growing up. One who is sexting is communicating this:
  Ah, so this is one thing that I excel at-- I have a very nice whachamacallit. Let me show you. Is this not fine?
Oy vey.

The sociological impetus for the behavior, the cultural context, is that we are an age of anything goes. There is an old Cole Porter song, Anything Goes, about the roaring twenties that plays in my head on occasion.
In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking now heaven knows, anything goes. 
How I love that song. Anything goes means that truly, nobody cares what we do. And if they are judging, if they do care, there are enough of us who don't to balance the judgement. Having the freedom to do what we want, to make our own determination of what is right for us, real freedom, independence, is a wonderful feeling, and we have the right to the degree that the law allows, no small detail.

Expressing ourselves, living our own values, is what makes us the most interesting of all creations. It is hugely empowering, being human.

Not that we aren't judged by someone, and that won't feel good. Here I worry that I am judged at this moment for even writing about breasts, penises. We live in a country, most of us live in countries, with puritanical roots, a reason that people are outraged, why they care when their political representatives show the more savage sides of themselves.  Yet, the moral majority may not even be a majority anymore, and sex therapies thrive, meaning interest in sex thrives, better sex, more sex.

Does sexting enhance a sexual relationship? Someone will have to study it.  As instant porn, not love, and it enhances something.

The feminist perspective is that porn objectifies, takes away what makes us three dimensional, with thoughts, feelings, accomplishments, strips is of human, dignity. Arousal via objectification is not love; there is no heart, no allegiance in the act. It is all in the body. Much like seeing, wanting, then eating the perfect pizza. The pizza disappears when it is over.

Maybe we just don't want to know that our leaders gorge on anything, whether or not that is fair.Too much information.

therapydoc

2 comments:

Mound Builder said...

A few weeks ago I listened to an episode of a radio program, On Being. In that particular episode, Joy Ladin,
Gottesman Professor of English at Stern College of Yeshiva University and author of Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders and has published five books of poetry, talked about her journey, her transition from having been a man, to now being a woman. One of the things she said, based on a unique view of having lived in the world as a man, and now as a woman, was that she observes that women are looked at a lot yet are rarely seen. That thought has stuck with me a lot since hearing her story on the radio. I was reminded of it as I read your most recent article.

Dr Pullen said...

These topics are entertaining, but overdiscussed. Find something more educational and less sensational.