Tuesday, February 3, 2009

"They came with my body"

Samantha Ginsberg at RH Reality Check has written a fascinating piece about her experience of being a woman with one aspect of the "perfect" women's body: large breasts. As a woman with a similar blessing/infliction/inability to find a bra that fits, I sympathize with Ginsberg, whose experience of having large breasts has given her a great deal of insight into what breasts and, more generally, women's bodies, mean in our culture:

Being regarded as attractive generally makes life much easier and puts one in a position of privilege, an unfair and wholly undeserved privilege that I am aware of having. But being seen as extremely sexually attractive is massively problematic for the individual in question. In such a deeply sexist and heteronormative culture, looking like the personification of “sluttiness” is seen as an invitation for sexual harassment. It’s bad enough when people think you are inviting sexual harassment because of how you happen to be dressed that day, but at least mini skirts and high heels come off. Breasts do not. The size of a woman’s breasts, surgery notwithstanding, is not a personal choice. Forget “This is what a feminist looks like” - I think I need a t-shirt that says, “These came with my body."

So what does this double-edged sword mean for the women who spend their lives in a quest to be perceived as sexually attractive? If and when they finally achieve it, do they perhaps regret and enjoy it, in equal measure? Give Ginsburg's piece a read - it's fascinating stuff.

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