Friday, January 27, 2012

So this is why people are weirdos when Henry's hungry.

We love the hemispheric breast for itself, independent of, and often in spite of, it's glandular role. We love it enough that we can be made squeamish by the sight of a breastfeeding woman. it is not the exposure of the breast in public that makes us uncomfortable, for we welcome an extraordinary degree of decolletage and want to walk towards it, to gaze at it. Nor is it the reminder of our animal nature, for we can eat many things in public and put pieces of food in a baby's mouth - or a bottle of breast milk, for that matter - without eliciting a viewer's discomfort at the patent display of bodily need. Instead, it is the convergence of the aesthetic and the functional that disturbs and irritates us. When we find the image of the breastfeeding mother lovely or appealing, we do so by negating the aesthetic breast in our minds and focusing on the bond between mother and infant, on the miraculous properties that we imagine human milk to have, or on thoughts of warmth, comfort, and love recalled from our childhood. The maternal breast soothes us and invites us to rest. The aesthetic breast arouses us, grabs us by the collar or the bodice, and so it is used on billboards and magazine covers and everywhere we turn. The two conceptual breasts appeal to distinct pathways. One is ancient and logical, the love of mama and mammary. The other pathway is much newer, specific to our species, and it is noisier and more gratuitous. Being strictly human, the aesthetic breast puts on airs and calls itself divine.

- Natalie Angier, Woman pg 127

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