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This section was my workspace for philosophy essays between July 2006 and April 2008. I call this "Prehistoric Kilroy" because it gave me practice for more disciplined essays in Kilroy Cafe. Also see my philophical blog and Twitter feed.

Issue #9, 8/24/2006

A Meditation on Breasts
What Are They Good For?

By Glenn Campbell
Family Court Philosopher

Female breasts: What are they good for?

This question occurs to me as I am sitting in the courtroom of Judge Voy on the Wednesday afternoon Juvenile Sex Offenses (JSO) calendar. Some of these crimes involve "groping", where a young man deliberately touches the breasts of an attractive young lady without her permission. The technical charge is "Open and Gross Lewdness."

Nevada statute does not define what kind of touching is "lewd"; instead the nature of the crime is defined in case law. Touching the vagina could be lewd, but touching, say, the arms is not. I have not looked up the case law, but I assume that touching of the breasts, buttocks or groin could be a sex crime, while touching any other part of the female anatomy is, at worst, a simple battery.

Why is touching the breasts considered lewd? I am asking this from a näive and alien perspective. In an anatomical analysis, breasts are little more than localized fat deposits. They don't play any direct role in reproduction, apart from suckling the young. Why is touching this fat so offensive?

Furthermore, why is this fat such a focus of attention? Young men want to touch it, while young women want to dress it up and make it more prominent. Women, it turns out, want their breasts to be touched, but only under the right circumstances. Why all the politics? It is just fat.

Why is the fat even there at all? The logical answer is, the breasts are there to give milk to babies. Wrong!

Think of all the mammals on earth. Are there any others with breasts? All mammals have teats for suckling their young, and they become enlarged during lactation, but when the animal is not giving milk, these "breasts" shrivel away to almost nothing.

Relative to other mammals, human breasts are humongous. They are almost all fat, with only a tiny portion being lactating tissue. Breast size makes no difference in milk production. Small breasted woman produce just as much milk as voluptuous ones.

So why such breasts? What are they good for?

At the risk of offending the entire female race (as well as the male race, come to think of it), breasts seem to me like a pain in the ass. Barring an elaborate support system, they are always flopping around inconveniently, getting in the way and interfering in athletic activities. For early humans, they would seem to be a distinct survival disadvantage because they can slow a runner down when, say, fleeing from a predator. Pragmatically, they don't seem good for anything.

So why are they there?

I surmise that women have breasts for the same reason that casinos have big 8-story marquee signs out front: advertizing. Like the extravagant plumage of a peacock, which is also useless, the human female's breasts are a mating display that happens to be permanent.

Fact: Humans are the only mammal that regularly walks upright on two legs.

Fact: Humans are the only mammal with permanent breasts.

There is a connection between the two.

The female's job in the evolutionary mating game is to advertize her fertility. That is the reason for breasts. They put the message right out in front, almost at eye level.

Breasts send two subliminal messages to the slobbering male: (1) Lookie here, I am sexually mature and ready to mate, and (2) Lookie here, I have the fat reserves to produce offspring.

The male has built-in emotional responses to these messages, which could be approximately transcribed as....

Zowie!

Hubba-hubba!

Va-Va-Va-Voom!

I have always had great difficulty describing these responses to females I know. They see their breasts as merely sensuous, while the male reaction is much more earthy. There isn't necessarily an erection or any sensation in the groin, but there is an instant and instinctual attraction that is obviously hard-wired, not learned. Passing a shapely young lass with breasts half exposed, ones eyes are instantly drawn to the chest. Believe me, if there weren't societal restrictions against it, the hands would be drawn there, too.

But why?

Touching breasts doesn't produce any offspring or an orgasm. In itself it doesn't provide any reward to the male—apart from a slap across the face and maybe a JSO charge. I can report from my own investigations that breasts are indeed soft and flabby and not as firm and plump as visually advertized.

In fact, there is a great deal of false advertizing in this field. Beyond the prime teenage years (the traditional time of mating), most naked breasts are droopy and floppy—a finding I have confirmed by intensive clinical study at the topless beaches of France. Most real-world specimens are more like those seen in National Geographic rather than Playboy, and I realize now that toplessness is banned in most places for a reason.

Modern brassiere technology allows more women to achieve the perfect form by plumping the breasts and pushing them skyward, and men seem to fall for it. By the time the true naked form is revealed, it is already too late: mating has progressed to a point of no return and will almost certainly be consummated.

Like the big signs in front of casinos, breasts are pure neon. They don't provide any service to either the buyer or the seller except to initiate the transaction. They are ornamental plumage.

The human preoccupation with breasts seems rather silly to me, but it is very serious to young people. Compelling cleavage can easily draw a young man to his doom, while a young woman can just as easily fall prey to the display of her cleavage for profit (monetary or social). A woman who is unfortunate enough to be genetically gorgeous is tempted to rely on her body for an illusion of self-worth—instead of pursuing, say, ability or accomplishment.

One disadvantage of toplessness is not so much that it is illegal but that it takes away a woman's control over her sexual identity. If ones boobage is restrained, the relative magnetism of it can be turned on and off through the judicious use of attire. If one is naked, one loses this discretion and, paradoxically, one also loses a great deal of ones sexual attractiveness.

In this reporter's opinion, naked women are NOT as sexually appealing as provocatively dressed ones, where the tease is the thing. In the absence of Playboy-style lighting and staging, it quickly becomes clear that fat is just fat.

For the most part, women who often dress provocatively are masking low self-esteem. They are saying, "You see these melons here? They are who I am." The trouble is, the melons are eventually going to ripen and go soft. They'll draw in a man, but not necessarily the right one. They won't provide lasting self-esteem any more than make-up does. They are mainly a distraction, and sometimes a tragic one. By providing a crutch that some women can use to gain attention, they may inhibit emotional development.

Personally, I am in favor of a national breast reduction program where we feed hormones to young girls to assure that they develop only small "athletic" breasts that don't trigger the "Va-Va-Va-Voom" factor.

Every flat-chested girl longs to be well-endowed, but flat-chestedness also encourages the pursuit of non-sexual avenues to self-esteem. People tend to inhabit the roles that their bodies imply. Being given the body of a vixen tends to turn a woman into one, to the detriment of other roles. The body of a librarian may be more beneficial to society.

I would also consider supporting a national breast inspection program, which has a certain theoretical appeal to any red-blooded male. Given my disappointing experiences in France, however, I think I'll pass on applying for the job.


Also see: A Personal Breast Revelation


Links

A discussion of the evolution of breast size (and many of our other traits) can be found in the very interesting anthropology book Our Kind by Marvin Harris.

Wikipedia entry on breasts

A Photo Gallery of Breast Variations, with commentary by their owners. (This site is militant in insisting that breasts are not sexual objects.)

A book called The Handicap Principle describes the ostentatious waste of resources as an essential element of human evolution, since it signals to a potential mate that the individual is strong enough to afford the handicap. Thus, large breasts and the obvious burden to their owner could be a way to advertize the owner's relative robustness. (By the same token, a male who wastes resources on an extravagant car my be expressing the same impulse.) [3/13/07]




Reader Comments

“Women who don't wear a bra are much less likely to get breast cancer. I think human females have permanant breasts so that, as upright mammals, the weight and jiggle of the breasts can keep lymph and milk ducts flowing, cleansed and healthy. See more at HealthWaveInstitute.com under Free Articles” —Sharon Porter, SEP, RCST, RPP, practitioner trainer in Los Angeles CA. HealthWaveInstitute.com 11/9/07 (rating=3)

“so what if da women use their breast for attraction? it foesnt matter. if ur girls have tiny boobs, den its hard 4 dem to attract men............” — 4/14/08 (rating=0)

“USA” —kmozxpziel 1/25/11 (rating=2)

Ratings so far: 4 3 3 0 4 4 3 3 3 2 (Average=2.9)

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