Tuesday, April 11, 2006
Bless Me Sister...
I'm a bit sorry to admit this (though clearly not so sorry that I refrain from making my admission on an unrestricted public forum), but that women's t-shirt--the one with the up-pointing arrow across the chest and the text "I'm up here"--it was created for me. For guys like me.
I am an incurable breast man.
(Rodney Dangerfield: "People ask me: 'Are you a breast man? Are you a leg man? Are you an ass man?' I figure I must be an ass man. Yeah, people are always saying 'You're an ass, man!'") This feels like something blurted out at one of Bill W.'s gatherings, but there it is. I know the swirl of recrimination and philosophizing that follows like Pig-Pen's cloud around this pronouncement (or I think I do, anyway), but I must be honest. And as I walk through Cherokee Park on a beautiful spring day, or as I munch my salad at Qdoba, I'm reminded again and again that something has a hold of the short hairs of my reptilian brain in a way of which I'm not entirely proud. But breasts are just cool.
I consider myself a feminist. I think our two sexes have distinct talents and weaknesses, and men do not come off victorious in any way from a tally of this spreadsheet of human characteristics. If anything, I think of women as the superior half of our species (though life is not a contest between the sexes). I do not think of women as sex objects (or any kind of object), or certainly not SIMPLY as sexual creatures. I do not mean to reduce anyone to their component parts--"sectionalize," I think the term is. I do not think a woman's attractiveness to me or to any other man is any measure of her worth to humanity (by that standard, my 50 extra pounds would have had me jumping off a bridge two decades ago). I think the fact that 51% of our population has never had a representative in the highest government office in this country is shameful and a blight on our culture. I think the fact that women are--still, in 2006--paid 75% of what a man makes in the same job is outrageous and unconscionable. I think how a woman chooses to dress extends rights of behavior to no man.
But I also do not pick what attracts me, any more than a gay man chooses to feel aflutter in the presence of other men. The fact that sex is hard-wired into a lower part of the brain--hard-wired more aggressively than anything else except basic survival--rather makes an end run around my self-constructed cage of social propriety. And this hard-wiring makes me marvel at so strong an attraction at such an abstract oddity: I love orbs of flesh, very distinct and specific orbs. What's up with that shit? I might as well say that I love, love, love the roundness of manhole covers.
I've read the scientific postulate that breasts have evolved as they have expressly for mesmerizing pudgy middle-aged bald guys, evolved as a function of facilitating face-to-face mating, which is thought to aid in forming the pair-bond required for a guy to stick around long enough for the offspring of this mating to survive. Think 10,000 years ago. I've read that the function of breasts as a means of feeding an infant is even hampered by this aesthetic role (a monkey's breasts are much better suited to feeding an infant than human breasts); it's not a functional form that brings us here.
And at some level we all know something of this breasts-as-fashion thing (though I don't doubt that a woman's take might be very different from mine). After all, we don't strap them down & minimize them; first corsets, then brassieres have been employed to keep breasts as prominent and gravity-defying as possible, and we choose fashions that articulate them to the world. Call me an oxymoronic feminist pervert, but I'm convinced that what I see passing on the sidewalks of Bardstown Road is not a lewd construct of Randy Uncle Wunelle. Not, of course, that women do not find things about men attractive, but I can think of no similar physical attribute in men which draws women in anything like this way. Men are visual creatures, for reasons well explained by evolutionary biology, and women are less so (at least in this mating realm). Maybe there's nothing more to it than this. Well and good. And maybe I'm only dancing around the larger and more difficult question of animal attraction--after all, we all find beauty in other faces, objects which to non-humans might look like hideously misshapen globs of organic matter. Atlas may be holding up the world, but what's he standing on?
Am I beyond redemption? Maybe by some fine print in the feminism code of conduct no one can claim the title who thinks of breasts as being so indescribably fabulous and inscrutably captivating in all their myriad and sundry variety as I do. But I'm waiting for the official notice of my ejection from the club before I let go of one or the other camp.