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Stop Staring: Why Are We Obsessed With Breasts?

Our readers had a lot to say about a recent article on the objectification of women with large breasts.

Like most things that have to do women and sex, breasts tend to provoke weird, schizoid reactions in our society.

The media and advertisers pummel women and men with images of very large breasts attached to very small women; at the same time, women who actually stack up to that ideal are derided as sluts and morons. And that's just the beginning.

In " Women Have Boobs -- Get Over It," Samarah Ginsburg talks about how her figure -- small waist, very large breasts -- has inspired jealousy, hatred and derision. Her body has earned her nasty looks, doubts about her intelligence, ongoing sexual harassment, threats of sexual violence and outright assault.

While Ginsburg learned to appreciate her body, her experience often made her feel disconnected from her breasts -- as if they had become public property. 

Our readers had much to say about Ginsburg's experience, and more generally, our culture's tendency to both glorify and degrade attractive women.

Many women identified with the author.

Blw writes:

Having grown up with the same issue as the author, I can totally relate. To be seen a sex object and nothing more at 14 is frustrating and humiliating. To have the teachers in your life not stand up for you in school is even worse. By staying silent and letting the abuse continue, they are only condoning terrible behavior from teenage boys and girls.

Through childbirth and breastfeeding, I have learned to love my body. I am no longer ashamed of my breasts, but see them as nourishment for my children. Our society has breast images all screwed up, and young girls with large breasts see this firsthand.

Clvngodess describes a similar experience:

Having large breasts as a young teen forces you to grow up faster than you may want to. As a teen, I didn't feel beautiful -- I felt trashy. I wish for a different childhood for my daughter, but I do feel prepared to help her along the way.

I was a little girl with big boobs who was assaulted by classmates and adults for having boobs. I saw it as assault. It felt like assault. It was assault.

This behavior and conviction for having breasts also leads to rape, molestation and other things if we don't learn to revere our daughters.

What the hell is wrong with this society?

In response to that very broad, complicated and important question, Cybershaman writes:

Objectification. Viewing others as objects to be used for our own gratification and then discarded. It stems from a lack of empathy.

It's too bad we cannot look upon a beautiful woman as we look upon a flower or painting. That is, appreciation without wanting to "spoil" it, or "pluck" it.

Some readers disagreed with Cybershaman's take, calling them out for further objectifying women by literally comparing them to objects like flowers and paintings.

SalB counters: "It's too bad we can't look at a woman, beautiful or otherwise, as a human being and equal."

Lilykins replies to Cybershaman with, "Really, we aren't paintings or objects that are to be plucked or not plucked. What is wrong with people?"

These criticisms prompted Cybershaman to reframe his argument:

I suppose I shouldn't have used the word "we."

I try not to objectify anyone. My analogy about plucking was from observing how men treat women, not how I think about them myself. I can even talk to a woman without staring at her breasts, and it was difficult to deconstruct that particular behavioral response mechanism … 

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