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Breasts In Society

Do opinions affect us?

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Throughout history the female breasts have been a symbol of femininity and life, in some cultures the breasts have been uncovered or even accentuated as in ancient Mycean and Minoan cultures. Yet today in our world of glamour, bare breasts are permitted when used for marketing, the human body is an object of art but it's most peculiar that breast feeding in public is shunned in many places.

At other times they have been covered and even bound, but today in Western society, bare breasts are accepted at beaches, night clubs and some festivals. Accentuated breasts (cleavage) have become tools to gain power in commerce and in attracting a mate.

Breasts display enormous variation between individuals, they can be small, flat, tear-shaped or pear-shaped, droopy or perky, immense and plump, dominated by big dark nipples or the palest pink ones. There is huge interest in breasts - everybody loves them: men, women, babies and advertisers.

Western cultures in particular have a fascination with breasts, some consider this in the light that the female body as the bringer of life is an object of reverence and worship, its softness and natural curves a subject of admiration as artistic beauty of which the breast are part of the package.

Fashion 500 B.C.

Minoan fashion 500 B.C.

In some Islamic cultures, men find the entire female body so offensive that it must never be seen whereas in the west the female breasts are used to sell unrelated products and services. As part of a move towards gender equity and the rights of women to go topless as men do, groups like go topless are working to eliminate this disparity.

Modern history

Ever since genders started dressing differently, breasts have been over-emphasised - apart from the androgynous 1920’s and bra-burning of the ‘60’s. The empire-line push-up breasts of Jane Austen years or the pointy, cone-like breasts of the 1950’s are testament to this. With the amount of attention placed on breasts it is no wonder that women will do almost anything to achieve the ‘perfect’ breast - padding, strapping, Wonder-Bras or surgery.

The 1960’s saw an extensive women's rights movement that saw breasts become an important issue in feminism. Bra-burning was a symbol of freedom, of removing the restrictions placed on women by men.

Around this time there also came an increased awareness of breast cancer. As a disease that focuses almost solely on women, research and treatment had not been as substantial or as demanding as other medical studies focusing on diseases that afflicted men or both sexes.

pnDemonstrations in America during the early 90’s resulted in a considerable increase in funding for breast-cancer projects and as a result, a drop in breast cancer fatalities.  Today with growing awareness, women are once more abandoning their bras, spending some time naked in the sunshine and struggling against social pressures to be free.

The female breast is absolutely fascinating in any aspect it may take - that of a sexual, desirable object to a man, or of the bringer of life to newborn babies, or of the breast that belongs solely to a woman, and her alone.

Further reading
Breasts in history
Breasts in perspective

References
Saharasia: The 4000 BCE Origins of Child Abuse, Sex-Repression, Warfare and Social Violence.

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