Nipple Phobia? - Mothering Forums

View Poll Results: Should Nipples be covered up?
Yes which is why I nurse in private or under a blanket or some other cover 0 0%
Yes in the company of men but if I'm with other women it's no big deal 2 8.00%
Keep them covered as much as you can so no one gawks or is offended but they are not a big deal 10 40.00%
No because nipples are for nursing so why worry about it? 13 52.00%
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Old 07-01-2011, 03:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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So a nipple is the most functional part of a breast given that it is where babies drink their milk from.  I'm wondering why by most people it's considered the part that should be hidden/censored the most?

 

Ina May Gaskin talks about this as being Nipple Phobia.

 

I'm coming from the perspective that I think it's misguided to see breasts as sex objects but instead should be viewed as beautiful because of their role in rearing a child.  I do know not everyone can or does breastfeed but biologically speaking, that is what nature/god designed women's breasts for.  Given this way of thinking, it seems puzzling to me other than as an anti-breastfeeding agenda that a woman's Nipple should be deemed indecent by society.  After all, they pretty much look the same as a mans.

 

I also know there's quite a controversy even among lactivists and breastfeeding moms about how much of a breast (if at all) is ok to be seen by someone else.  I've also heard various mothers talk about how they don't want to show any skin or maybe a little skin is ok while breastfeeding.  I'm curious to hear the thoughts and reasons behind these stances as well.

 

I'd really like to hear everyone's opinions/perspectives on this.


Why is a man making a movie about women's breasts? I used to think breasts were mostly for sex. Then my son was born and I saw the beauty of their primary function: nurturing children. This changed my life, enabling me to finally see women as people.

 

http://www.BreastsTheMovie.com

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Old 07-01-2011, 05:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I forgot to add...

 

I DO NOT want to discuss if women should feed a certain way as it's a personal choice how each feeds their babies and I support women in feeding however they feel comfortable.  I want to explore and understand the attitudes that cause women to choose a particular way of feeding their babies.


Why is a man making a movie about women's breasts? I used to think breasts were mostly for sex. Then my son was born and I saw the beauty of their primary function: nurturing children. This changed my life, enabling me to finally see women as people.

 

http://www.BreastsTheMovie.com

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Old 07-01-2011, 07:28 AM
 
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I feel that my nipples are a very personal part of me because they are unique.  Every woman's nipples are a unique size, shape, color, texture and therefore are part of the mystery that I believe we, as women, can (if we choose) celebrate and respect.  As for the rest of the breast, I see it as just a mound of tissue covered in the same skin as the rest of my body.  I don't feel that I should have to keep my entire breast covered while breastfeeding - if a bit of skin and mounded flesh shows under my shirt that is lifted for breastfeeding, I don't think it's a big deal.  shrug.gif

 

 

That said, out of courtesy for others who are senstiive to that sort of thing, I do try to keep my breast covered as best I can while allowing for my and my baby's comfort.  I refuse to 'cover up' with a blanket or such, because I find it uncomfortable and cumbersome.  But I do situate myself discreetly while nursing in public and I do hold the hem of my shirt over the top of my breast.

 

 

[quote]a woman's Nipple should be deemed indecent by society.  After all, they pretty much look the same as a mans.[/quote]

 

I disagree with the above.  I don't think nipples should be deemed "indecent" but I do think they should be deemed intimate and to be regarded with respect and not to be exploited.  I disagree that women's nipples look like men's; I think women's nipples have more unique characteristics than men's.  But then, I'm not an expert in nipple sightings!  orngtongue.gif

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Old 07-01-2011, 10:09 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Kerynna View Post

[quote]a woman's Nipple should be deemed indecent by society.  After all, they pretty much look the same as a mans.[/quote]

 

I disagree with the above.  I don't think nipples should be deemed "indecent" but I do think they should be deemed intimate and to be regarded with respect and not to be exploited.  I disagree that women's nipples look like men's; I think women's nipples have more unique characteristics than men's.  But then, I'm not an expert in nipple sightings!  orngtongue.gif



What the OP was saying was that it's odd that a woman's nipple should be deemed indecent. "Given this way of thinking, it seems puzzling to me other than as an anti-breastfeeding agenda that a woman's Nipple should be deemed indecent by society," was the whole sentence. Just wanted to clear that up because the OP definitely seems to be in support of being able to show nipples.

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Old 07-01-2011, 11:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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@Fynns Mommy: Thanks for clearing up the quoting on the entire sentence.. Yes for me and my transformation, exposure to breastfeeding and seeing nipples as functional instead of sexual changed a lot in my thinking and I think Ina May Gaskin does a really good job talking about this and Nipple Phobia in her books.  

 

More than taking a particular stand on this, I really am looking to hear everyone's POV and delve into the why's of that POV. I respect anyone's answer from yes to no, I just want to hear the why behind the answer.  I would love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

 

@Kerynna: I really appreciate your thoughts as it's inspired a lot of discussion over here.

 

The comment about all nipples looking pretty much the same regardless of gender actually came from a lactivist blog I read the other day and I've seen that thinking broadcast in a number of places since. I think the sentiment of it is more like saying everyone's fingerprints look the same.  Everyone's fingerprints have their own beautiful uniqueness.  After all we use them as a means of identifying people.  You could even insert snowflakes or apples in here as other examples away from the human body.  In all cases however, we don't look at a particular group of features of one of those and say they are so different as needing to be called something different.  I think the point of the idea was the same goes for a nipple regardless of it's gender.  Though, I'd really rather leave this discussion as being a tangent that I don't want hijacking this thread.  

 

My larger point in how I attempted to frame this discussion is to really focus on the functional aspect of a woman's breast in feeding a baby and how that knowledge may or may not shape your own perspectives on breasts and how that relates to how you choose to feed your baby. 

 

The thing I'd like to understand better from your comments is what makes the nipple the intimate part which should be respected or even regarded as sacred?  Is it simply that our society decided it to be that way and we all need to follow that?  Is it because of the nipple's function in nourishing a baby?  Is it because sexual stimulation can occur there and thus we'd call it sexual?  

 

In thinking that nipples are an intimate part and should be respected, I wonder what point is it no longer appropriate for a child to see his mother's nipples, despite having drank his nourishment from them since birth?  How about other people's breastfeeding kids? Why is it ok in most circles of our culture for fellow women to see other's breasts/nipples but not for grown men?  In thinking nipples are an intimate part why can other women see them? If they are intimate, wouldn't that preclude anyone except your husband/boyfriend/significant other from seeing them?

 

I'm also wondering about your perspective on the "mounds of flesh" given that it seems most people who objectify breasts focus most of their energy on lusting after and enhancing those very mounds?

 

I'm sorry if that's a lot of questions as you got me thinking a lot about this.  Please help me understand your perspective better.


Why is a man making a movie about women's breasts? I used to think breasts were mostly for sex. Then my son was born and I saw the beauty of their primary function: nurturing children. This changed my life, enabling me to finally see women as people.

 

http://www.BreastsTheMovie.com

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Old 07-02-2011, 12:03 AM
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OP is a male - just pointing it out in case it makes anyone feel uncomfortable

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Old 07-02-2011, 01:25 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi MsFortune.  Yes I'm a man.  I do apologize if that fact makes anyone feel uncomfortable.  I know everything I'm tackling here are sensitive subjects and it's pretty uncommon for men to talk much about any of this in our society.  I've come to this community in search of people to help shape my views and thus make this film something better than I can do by myself.

 

I'm sure there are many who wonder what my true motivations are. I invite you to read more about why I'm making this movie and why I became a lactivist.  You can "blame" most of it on my son's birth and the subsequent changes of attitude I went through.  Also, of note is that while I'm certainly running this project, my wife is right here with me too.  

 

If anyone still has any questions, feel free to ask me.  I'd love to chat.


Why is a man making a movie about women's breasts? I used to think breasts were mostly for sex. Then my son was born and I saw the beauty of their primary function: nurturing children. This changed my life, enabling me to finally see women as people.

 

http://www.BreastsTheMovie.com

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Old 07-02-2011, 06:49 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Fynns Mommy View Post





What the OP was saying was that it's odd that a woman's nipple should be deemed indecent. "Given this way of thinking, it seems puzzling to me other than as an anti-breastfeeding agenda that a woman's Nipple should be deemed indecent by society," was the whole sentence. Just wanted to clear that up because the OP definitely seems to be in support of being able to show nipples.


I understand that was what he was saying, but I think you misunderstood what *I* was trying to say.  I didn't express it very well.  I was saying, while I agree with him that nipples should not be deemed indecent, I *do* think they should be deemed off-limits in some respects because of the fact that they are so intimate and unique to each individual woman.  So my point is that I feel nipples should not be on prominent display for the pleasure of everyone but should be regarded with a degree of reserve and respect.  It is a subtle difference in perspective, and I was drawing out a nuance. 
 

 

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Old 07-04-2011, 12:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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@Kerynna: I just wanted to say thanks for being brave and sharing your opinion, I really do appreciate it.  I'm still not sure I completely understand all the nuances of it and how it factors into breastfeeding but it's a very interesting perspective that I'm sure many other women have.  


Why is a man making a movie about women's breasts? I used to think breasts were mostly for sex. Then my son was born and I saw the beauty of their primary function: nurturing children. This changed my life, enabling me to finally see women as people.

 

http://www.BreastsTheMovie.com

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Old 07-05-2011, 07:08 AM
 
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I don't understand why you titled this thread "nipple phobia".  It's not about people being *afraid* of seeing nipples.  The thread is about whether one should cover up while nursing.  So, to answer that question, my feeling is no, we shouldn't have to cover our entire top half completely while nursing.  But for me, I'm most comfortable if I hold my shirt so that it covers most of my breast, but the part where my breast meets my belly is covered by baby.  If a glimpse of nipple happens while I'm switching sides or whatever, so be it, not a big deal.

 

I once wrote a letter to the editor of our regional newspaper when one of their regular columnists wrote an entire column about how much she dislikes seeing other women nurse in public.  I wrote a scathing letter criticizes her column and saying, essentially, if you don't want to see a woman feeding her baby, DON'T LOOK!  It really is that simple - if people are offended by the sight of a breastfeeding woman's nipple, they need to take responsibility for themselves and simply look the other way, so as to avoid being offended.

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Old 07-05-2011, 07:19 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ina May Gaskin called it “nipplephobia”—evidence of our society’s disapproval of public breastfeeding.  In our society the nipple is the most censored yet most function so I find that ironic.


Why is a man making a movie about women's breasts? I used to think breasts were mostly for sex. Then my son was born and I saw the beauty of their primary function: nurturing children. This changed my life, enabling me to finally see women as people.

 

http://www.BreastsTheMovie.com

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Old 07-08-2011, 01:22 AM
 
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when I first started breastfeeding, I felt awkward and shy about it, and I felt very shy about my breasts, so I covered. as I got more confident nursing, I worried about it less. now, I usually still try to be discrete because I feel somewhat private about my breasts, but no more so than I feel about people seeing my bare tummy, I'd rather people not see, but if they do it's not a big deal. 


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Old 07-08-2011, 06:02 PM
 
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when I first started breastfeeding, I felt awkward and shy about it, and I felt very shy about my breasts, so I covered. as I got more confident nursing, I worried about it less. now, I usually still try to be discrete because I feel somewhat private about my breasts, but no more so than I feel about people seeing my bare tummy, I'd rather people not see, but if they do it's not a big deal. 



This is how I was too.  In the beginning I would cover up, or try to, most of the time.  Now I'm more concerned that my stomach skin shows than my breast.  I do still try and keep my nipple covered, I guess for my own comfort level.  If it does show though, which is bound to happen with a nursing toddler, oh well.  Why do I feel differently about my nipple versus the rest of my breast?  Probably because it's "okay" to show breast skin in public -- low shirt or bikini -- but it's  not "okay" to show nipple.  I know nursing a baby is different, but at this point, I wouldn't feel comfortable will my nipple hanging out while nursing.

 

Regarding letting an older child see breasts/nipples, I'm sure it will happen.  In our own home I nurse my toddler openly in front of my 3 year old.  I plan on having two more children and my son will be at least 6 by the time my youngest is born.  I doubt I will change my nursing habits much.  I probably won't go topless as much in the beginning as I have in the past, but if my 6-7 year old sees my breasts and nipples, then so be it.   


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Old 07-15-2011, 01:58 PM
 
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I also know there's quite a controversy even among lactivists and breastfeeding moms about how much of a breast (if at all) is ok to be seen by someone else.  


Hmm. I don't think there's a controversy there at all. I think most people who count themselves as lactivists would agree that the amount of breast that it is okay to bare is just exactly the amount that that particular mother is comfortable with. The fact that this varies among mothers doesn't make one okay and one not okay. There's not really a set of rules on it. In fact I'd say that what most of us aim for is a world where all mothers are comfortable nursing--the shy and the not-so-shy, those who prefer to cover and those who don't give two hoots (no pun intended).

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Old 07-18-2011, 09:01 AM
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I think that there are two issues at play.  The first is how society views and treats women who show their nipples, how we think women "should" breastfeed in public.  The second is a woman's own view of her nipples and her own desire to cover them or not worry about it as she is feeding her baby.  For the first, I support a woman breastfeeding in public however she wants.  People don't have to stare.  Teaching men especially to move their eyes away from something that is not their business to be staring at is a good skill to learn - to focus on a woman's face instead of her breasts.  I think society would benefit by being more welcoming of women however they want to breastfeed.  For the second, I tend to wear clothes that could make nursing pretty discreet.  I don't ever intentionally show my nipple, but I am more careful in the company of men.  I'm sure a few of my LLL friends have seen my nipples, but you'd better believe the guy who was sitting next to me at a basketball game and staring me all 20 times that my toddler asked for "milkies" during the game didn't see anything.  I could tell I was pushing his boundary just by nursing a toddler in public without a cover.  I rarely use a cover, and when I do, it is a shawl-style one that people don't realize is to cover me while nursing.  I allows my child to fall asleep more easily, and if she lets go while asleep, I don't feel like I need to wake her up to put my shirt back together right away.

 

As to breasts being sexual or not, I think that it is wrong for society to promote breasts as so oversexualized as they are in our society.  Using women's breasts to try to turn men on so that they will be turned on to the product that is being sold is just sick.  Idealizing women's breasts as sexual objects, especially to the point that a woman is encouraged to have surgery that could damage the primary function of her breasts is a real sign of a dysfunctional society.  What kind of mysogenistic culture tells a woman that the way that her body was created to feed children isn't good enough that she has to change her body so that it can pleasure men better, even though she may give up her ability to feed her children by doing so?  What kind of society would be so self-centered that it would place the pleasure of men over the good of children?  I don't have a problem if a couple has a sexual use for breasts, but that is between them and does not need to be something promoted throughout society.

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Old 07-20-2011, 03:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:

 I'd say that what most of us aim for is a world where all mothers are comfortable nursing--the shy and the not-so-shy

Yes!  What really matters is babies get their food and moms are comfortable nursing.

 

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As to breasts being sexual or not, I think that it is wrong for society to promote breasts as so oversexualized as they are in our society.  Using women's breasts to try to turn men on so that they will be turned on to the product that is being sold is just sick.  Idealizing women's breasts as sexual objects, especially to the point that a woman is encouraged to have surgery that could damage the primary function of her breasts is a real sign of a dysfunctional society.  What kind of mysogenistic culture tells a woman that the way that her body was created to feed children isn't good enough that she has to change her body so that it can pleasure men better, even though she may give up her ability to feed her children by doing so?  What kind of society would be so self-centered that it would place the pleasure of men over the good of children?  I don't have a problem if a couple has a sexual use for breasts, but that is between them and does not need to be something promoted throughout society.


And that is ultimately the point of the movie I'm making :-)  It's time for people to see breasts as more than sex objects.

 

Also interesting to note on the sexual use of breasts:

 

An anthropologist who has studied issues of breasts and breastfeeding across time and cultures has found that sexual usage of breasts is something learned and only occurs in certain cultures, mostly westernized modern ones.  From her research, most cultures haven't ever seen breasts as being anything more than a means of feeding a baby and a gauge of sexual maturity in females.


Why is a man making a movie about women's breasts? I used to think breasts were mostly for sex. Then my son was born and I saw the beauty of their primary function: nurturing children. This changed my life, enabling me to finally see women as people.

 

http://www.BreastsTheMovie.com

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