Sunday, March 20, 2016

Using things for sex

Last night I was involved in a discussion about breastfeeding, particularly about how some people get kicked out of restaurants, malls, and other public places for breastfeeding there.  Of course it is foolish that public breastfeeding is seen as unacceptable to a lot of people.  Pushing mothers to find private places to breastfeed is a punitive and unnecessary burden on people who are already dealing with a lot.

The discussion had people arguing that breasts shouldn't be sexualized (and thus controlled) in this way because breasts are for nursing babies, they aren't sexual organs.  While I agree that forcing people to cover up their breasts is a problem, I don't quite buy into that logic.  Breasts are sexual organs - for most people who have them they see more use sexually than they do nursing babies.  But guess what else is a sexual organ?  Necks!  Man, I do love to kiss necks, and having my neck touched makes me shiver in a good way.  But necks aren't required to be covered up by dress codes... not where I live, at any rate.

Let us also not forget another organ that is 'for making babies' which is sexualized - the penis.  Like breasts, penises are usually but not always part of the babymaking process, and like breasts they are usually but not always part of the sexifying process.

Now of course you could take this to mean that I think that we should force people to cover up virtually everything, but that isn't the case.  What I think is that all the bits of us are sexual to some people, and dividing them neatly into 'sexy bits that must be hidden' and 'non sexy bits' is arbitrary and ridiculous.

When we use the argument 'breasts aren't for sex, therefore they shouldn't have to be covered' we implicitly buy into the idea that anything associated with sex is an appropriate target for censorship and mandatory covering.  The argument we should be using is 'people's bodies are not inherently offensive' and using that to cover both breastfeeding and walking around naked.

I think that 'breasts are for babies, not sex' is sort of like the 'born that way' argument used to defend gay people.  Both are potentially useful from an activism perspective, but both box us into a position that isn't at all where we want to end up.  We should strive to accept people's bodies and the display of those bodies without offence, just as we should strive to accept people's individual attraction types without judgement.

It doesn't matter from whence an attraction comes - genetics, choice, whatever.  Similarly it doesn't matter if a body part is used in sex or not.  In both cases we should just sit back and let people do what they want so long as those things that they want to do are not hurting others.

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