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Jan 02 2006

Boobs Out


But wait. Here's Bert getting his front leg chewed off by his cousin Fletch.

But wait, before I go, here is an article that exemplifies nearly everything I find repellent in modern culture. Reflect, if you will, on this, the opening paragraph.

Four women who were arrested for baring their breasts on a Finger Lakes village street this summer say they will sue to recover legal costs — and for, quote, “pain and suffering.”

Two things are going on here. One, women were arrested for having boobs, which is insane. Two, the news report itself is a bunch of sexist crap, which is insane.

Observe that the writer, who clearly robbed her employer if she accepted remuneration for writing this blurb, superfluously appends the word “quote” to her actual quotation. Is she afraid her readers might not recognize as quotation marks the little comma-esque shapes floating near the phrase “pain and suffering” ? If so, isn’t she worried she’ll confuse them by omitting to finish with the word “unquote”?

Alas, “quote” is used here idiomatically and facetiously. As it would in a typical conversation between a couple of knobs, it serves the function–so important for a news organization making its living off patriarchy–of expressing disdain for the women. The subtext of “suing for, quote, ‘pain and suffering’” is that it is outrageous for these stupid whores to object to being arrested for boobs.

The actual outrage is that it’s 2006 and boobs are slaves to the state and are closely policed by the pornsick community. When they are exposed to view, as they must necessarily be when the shirt comes off to, say, facilitate the ventilation of the rest of the body to which the breasts are attached, it is necessary to punish them for the crime of asserting their own autonomy. You will be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

The phrase “baring their breasts” is similarly outrageous. It implies that the women were committing acts of profound sexbot subversion merely by having boobs. When a man strolls through Finger Lakes, New York without a shirt, is he said by the Syracuse news stations to be “baring his breasts”? Is he said to be “topless”? Even if he sticks his chest out and shimmies like a Ford Fiesta trying to go 50?

He is not.

Nope. In fact, it’s hard to believe, but the Syracuse news stations hardly ever consider it news when a dude takes off his shirt. That’s because a dude without a shirt is just garden-variety gross, whereas a member of the sex class without a shirt is a skanky, purulent boil on the butt of Jesus. Any time Jesus is inconvenienced it’s news.

25 comments

  1. Gueuze

    It appears that the author of the article uses the term quote followed by quotation marks to make it utterly clear that the author believes these women to be, in the parlance of our patriarchal times, ridiculous.

    I am angered by the patriarchy’s ridiculous over-sexualization of breasts. Some people even get up in arms whenever the fact is broached that human breasts’ natural (there’s that word again) function is indeed feeding infant humans, as if their only function ought to be as decoration on the thoracic wall of the sex class.

  2. frippy

    Well, you know how it is: when a man takes off his shirt outside, it means “It is hot out here!” When a woman takes off her shirt outside, it means “I WANT SEX NOW!!!” Except in African tribes, where toplessness on women means “Please teach us the valuable lesson of shame, Christian missionaries!”

  3. SneakySnu

    Frippy, that gets a, quote, “LOL” from me!

  4. Leslie - knitting therapist

    Interestingly enough, despite the wealth of other patriarchy-related problems (and I mean wealth), it is not illegal for women to be topless in Ontario, Canada. The law was struck down some years ago for being unconstitutional. I believe the movement was headed by a young woman from Guelph, and the argument relied mostly on the fact that breasts are not “naturally” a sexual object – that society constructs them that way. Allowing (note please that I am gagging on using that word in this sentence) women to breastfeed in public was a happy but coincidental bonus to the decision – it was purposely not made to be the prime focus. Sexualizing female body parts for male consumption was. It makes for interesting reading.

  5. mikez

    Perhaps the quote “author” is really a bot and the ‘quote’ preceeding the quote is an artifact of poorly written C code.

  6. Tony Patti

    What I want to know is if a woman chops off the offending glands for whatever reason can she still be jailed for showing the scars? Maybe Justice Thomas can give an opinion about this, if he has any kind of a brain at all.

  7. robin

    Probably she still can be jailed – but not for the breasts-are-illegal rule violation but rather the rule that states that scars, imperfections, and non-typically-shaped-bodies are indecent and should not be foisted on the poor, delicate public eye. Forbidden in men, doubly forbidden in women. She would get twice the sentence as a similarly non-intact man.

  8. MzNicky

    Toni: You took the thought right out of my head. I was just sitting here thinking: As I have had a double mastectomy, and have elected not to have reconstructive surgery, if I took off my shirt in public, would I be arrested? Am I brave enough to try it sometime? Perhaps when the weather gets a bit warmer.

  9. antelope

    If sexuality in general, and homosexuality in particular, were not taboo, then a certain class of people would have nothing whatsoever left that they could think of as their quote “sense of humor.”

    It gets kind of hard to define what class of people this is when nearly every damn one of us is related to at least one or two of them.

  10. Violet Socks

    Twisty, I just want to thank you for captioning the picture. I studied it for a while before I saw the caption, trying to figure out what on earth was going on with Bert’s leg (my screen was scrolled to just below the pic, just above the caption, so I didn’t see it).

    Reminds me of when our Kate and Maggie were puppies and played what we called, “I Bite You.” As in, “I bite your leg.” “I bite your paw.” “I bite your eye.”

  11. Twisty

    This is gonna sound kinda weird, but one of my post-mastectomy regrets was that since they only took off one boob I wouldn’t be able to make this excellent fuck-you gesture. I am informed that in Austin boobs-out isn’t illegal, but somehow I think the statement would be less resolute if made with only one scar.

  12. wheelomatic

    It seems to me that it is not the whole boob that the patriarchy finds offensive. It is the nipple alone that incites to rage. One can wear as tight a sweater as one wants, covering yet outlining the whole shape and no one complains. But if it gets chilly, watch out! If those nips perk up and show themsleves, the condemnaton rains down.
    Same thing happens on a beach where every other square inch of skin can be showing but if just a sliver of the aureole is showing then … well you get the picture.

    Feel better Twisty. I came here by way of BitchPhd when she linked to your post-op photo. I have since sent my exceptionally un-patriarchic 17-year-old nephew here and her enjoys your writing too.

  13. ibex67`

    Just popping out of lurkdom to say hello as per your request in an earlier post. I’ve been reading your blog on and off for the last 4 months or so. Always appreciate your wit and eye for the absurd. I’m a nearly 40 woman from the east coast.

  14. The Fat Lady Sings

    I don’t know about that Twisty – I think should you ever decide on such a gesture, that it would be incredibly effective – one boob notwithstanding. The sight of your scar alone would give them pause before making any kind of fuss. I seem to remember a model doing this in a photographic montage some years back. Like you, she had one intact breast – her doctors had removed the other along with the nodes under her arm. The pictures were very moving – emotionally photographed. I wish I could remember her name, and what publication I saw them in. Anyway – I think you would make a strong statement whatever you decided – I know I was very moved by your post-op picture. That was a very brave thing for you to do.

  15. Jen

    As someone who’s gone through the Cayuga County court system with a different kind of patriarchy-blaming case, I very much fear that these women are, to put it nicely, pretty much fucked. Cayuga County isn’t exactly the most progressive county in NY, and the county courthouse being where it is in the county just makes it all that much more pro-Patriarchy….. :-/

  16. Becker

    I’m conflicted. Going topless would politicize the scar as much as the boob–and here I realize that a woman who wears a shirt is always making a political statement in support of the quo–and while a cutaway shirt revealing only the scar would politicize the cancer more than anything, revealing only the boob while hiding the scar would politicize both, and not necessarily in healthy ways.

    Perhaps seeing breasts or lack of same as political is as unproductive as seeing them as sexual.

  17. MzNicky

    Twisty: I kinda like the idea of the uni-boobular gesture! That would really fuck up people’s heads, of which I am always in favor.

  18. Ms Kate

    Gadzooks are we all on the same wavelength or what? I guess we haven’t had our cerebellectomies yet. What lobes!

    Hmmm … it would be even weirder if a uniboobal mama did some nursing in public.

  19. ae

    Fucking patriarchy, fetishizing women’s body parts and then criminalizing them. Feh. One way or another, we pay. Maybe I’m just not seeing the diff., but can someone explain to me what the difference is between veiled societies in which women are said to be veiled because they are the bearers of sex and showing an ankle or a strand of hair will make men turn into rapists and our own pornsick society in which women are the bearers of sex and showing boobs on a hot day will make …? Where does the freedom and liberty bit come in?

    OT, yes, but, Twisty, the description of the Ford Fiesta brought back memories (horror-filled flashbacks) of high school when my sister and I shared a lemon-yellow Ford Fiesta, which was, to put it kindly, a death trap. We were convinced our parents were trying to off us. What other reason, possibly, to give such a car to a child? Ours, needless to say, could not manage to go 50 m.p.h. w/o the windows rolling down of their own accord. No, really.

    P.S. Beeeeeeeeeeerrrrrt!! God, I love his fur. And what a face. Mmmmm. Beeeerrt. Here’s hoping this round goes much better than the last, Twisty. It sucks, but it’s working, and it’ll end. Let’s have a blog party when it’s over.

  20. Twisty

    Ideally, people–even women–should be able to wander the earth without their body parts inciting riots. I’d give up patriarchy-blaming in a jiffy if everybody would just leave everybody else the fuck alone.

  21. kokobeng

    Men’s nipples = ok
    Women’s nipples = bad bad bad!

    I fail to see the logic. Free the boobies!

  22. Ms Kate

    The Tragically Hip, singing to a beer ad billboard in the Frozen Northlands:

    Cold wind blowin’ over your private parts
    I know what a lack you got
    It makes a strong case for art.

    Billboard breasts they don’t have a face,
    I know that fact you’ve got,
    no girl could ever trace.

    So, billboard boobs in subzero windchill … OK
    Manboobs any time/place … OK
    Free range, free will boobs … INDECENT

  23. Christopher

    This is, of course, the entire concept behind “pasties”.

  24. Sara

    Sorry, I’m totally distracted by the adorable dog picture. Fletch has a cute nose! And Bert seems not terribly troubled to be chewed upon. I doubt Bert seems troubled very often at all. Of course, he gets to go naked all the time. This automatically frees him and all his kin from an alarmingly large proportion of the ridiculousness we humans inflict upon each other.

    But as to the matter at hand, is it terribly wrong of me to be childishly amused by the coincidence of this lawsuit happening in a Finger Lakes village?

  25. Twisty

    I laughed quietly to myself about Finger Lake, too. I used to know a girl named Shelley Finger who we all called Pinkie, and that was funny, too.

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