No pun intended with the title of this Photo-of-the-Week, although, I'm sure many will think there is. I'm going to wax philosophic over the topic of, in particular, breasts, boobs, hooters and a plethora of other terms used for a natural part of ALL humans' anatomy, plus the human body in general. I'm sure some of you may be put off by this, however, I can assure you nothing perverse, lewd or lascivious follows. This will be fairly long and unusual for my Photo-of-the-Week post, but I'll reveal my motivation for this article near the end.
I took this and several other photos of women exposing their breasts on Bourbon Street in New Orleans in 2003. The question is WHY do women bare their breasts in public like this? The next question is, WHY do men go crazy over seeing bare breasts? Is it because they get to see nipples? Interesting! Every time I take my own shirt off and look in a mirror, I see . . . guess what? Nipples! I've also seen men who have developed larger breasts than some women have. Yet, we don't get all crazy when we see bare breasted men.
Okay, maybe at my age, old enough to be a certified "dirty old man," I've seen enough women's breasts that they no longer (I'm going to use the word again) titillate me to quite the same degree they did when I was in my teens, 20's and 30's with my raging hormones. But, think about it, breasts or, for that matter, male and female genitalia are as natural parts of every human body as fingers, toes, the nose on your face and the ears on the side of your head.
We go to museums and see beautiful paintings and statues of the female and male body completely exposed. We even take our children there and expose them to, what we call, ART. Yet, we have turned the same parts of the human body that are part of this art, into objects of (again, I use the word) titillation, lewdness and worse. We even have laws against indecency for exposing these parts of the body in public.
Until relatively recently, the anatomical names of these body parts weren't even allowed to be used on television, radio or even movies. Even the press was loathe to use them in news stories. We called them private parts or private areas (and still do in many cases). A more recent slang term that's become somewhat popular, especially when referring to male genitals, is "junk." Sorry, I ain't got no "junk."
So, why is this? There are tribes of people around the world, still, who wear little or no clothing. We even show video documentaries of these indigenous people in their natural state on television. Nudity is as natural as sleeping and eating to them. Well, until we and, dare I say, missionaries, indoctrinate them in their shame. Shame they never knew.
There are countries, in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and even Canada, not to discount Australia and New Zealand, where nudity (not public displays of sexual activities) is generally legal and/or tolerated. And, yes, there are private naturist resorts and some public beaches in the U.S. and places like San Francisco, Oregon and Key West, Florida where public nudity is accepted for certain situations and events.
Are There Rewards?
The women who expose their boobs in New Orleans are typically rewarded with a strand of cheesy plastic beads. I'm sure they don't put any greater value on those beads than any other cheap trinket. I believe they do it to express their own desire for personal freedom, freedom from being told or forced to conform to someone else's values, standards or definition of moral behavior. The more beads, the freer they feel.
And, where did this all start? Could it have been in the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve discovered they were naked and ashamed? I won't even approach the topic of religious oppression and open a MEGA sized can of worms.
Standing around the woman in the photo above, who, by the way, does not have a super model body, but she does seem to be enjoying her opportunity of free expression, are both men and women ogling her. It's as if the guys have never seen boobs before. I interpret the expressions on some of the women as - "Geez, I'd like to feel the freedom of doing that," but they are remembering everything they have been taught and conditioned throughout their lives about how "good girls" should behave in public.
Follow The Money!
We can take another tact on this issue. Is this not about MONEY? Think about it. How much money does the clothing industry make every year designing and selling push-up and Wonder bras, see through blouses and dresses, mini skirts so short they more properly should be considered belts, sexy panties and thongs and bathing suits.
It amazes me that women, in particular, are exploited for huge amounts of money for sexy underwear, but don't want men to see it in public because the men are seeing too much of their bodies. Yet, the same women will prance around beaches in bathing suits that often expose more of their skin than the underwear does. Sometimes the tops barely covers the nipples and the bottoms, well, those have spawned another industry called "waxing" that's required to remove hair that would be seen peaking out of the skimpy bathing suits and bikini bottoms. There is even a name for that - the "bikini line." These bathing suits and the necessary "grooming" associated with them cost more than a full skirt or pair of dress slacks for business. And they cover so little, nothing is left to the imagination anyway. Why even wear them?
A Slap In The Face
As an aside, as a young teenage boy, I had my face slapped one time. The assailant was a particularly cute girl in, believe it or not, my biology class, because I mentioned the cute birthmark she had on her inner thigh near her crotch. She wore the shortest mini skirts in the school of nearly 4,000. She accused me of looking up her skirt. Actually, I saw the birthmark during the preceding summer when a bunch of us went to the movies and she was wearing the shortest, tightest short, shorts, again, of any girl in the school. She didn't try to hide the birthmark then and it was obvious to everyone. I tried to explain, but got nowhere. Secretly, I think she was flattered and (here it comes) titillated herself that I (or any guy) would want to look up her skirt.
Joe Francis, an entrepreneur of questionable character, amassed a fortune estimated at $150 million. He achieved this bounty by photographing and video taping thousands of young, mostly attractive, women, typically of college age, who would bare their breasts or drop their pants, or even perform sex acts in public places. He typically gave them a T shirt as payment and had them sign model releases. He then produced DVD's and later streaming videos by the millions and sold them to men.
Joe's company's name, started in 1997, is GGW, LLC (Girls Gone Wild). He went to college campuses, Mardi Gras, Spring Breaks, Fantasy Fest and similar events. The girls exposed their bodies willingly. The market, of course, was men of all ages.
But, Joe didn't want to be unfair, so he started another GGW for Guys Gone Wild using the same business model except he sent our female camera crews and the market was, you guessed it, women. Joe got himself into a lot of trouble over the years. He's no longer owner of the company. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2013, but not because there isn't still a huge market for the product.
I could go on and on with examples of both female and male strip clubs, so-called, high-class "Gentlemen's Clubs" where men could bring their dates (and the dates would actually be treated with respect), as well as, adult lingerie and "toy" stores and "glamour" photographers. The list could go on and on.
Idealizing The Body, Yet Oppressing Free Expression Of The Body
Here's the thing. As a species we have allowed ourselves to become repressed by religious doctrine, moral standards dictated by someone else and conditioned into us and laws enacted by people (unfortunately, often hypocrites) who determine what is legal behavior and legislate morals. I contend this has done two things.
First, it has spawned several huge, multi-billion dollar industries (hooray for free enterprise and capitalism). Second, it has turned something that is natural and beautiful into something considered by many to be lewd, dirty, sordid and tawdry, the nude human body.
We allow television producers to depict horrific scenes of violence and disembowelment in high definition. There is even a new category of actor in the Screen Actor's Guild, "Dead Body." Yes! Actors who play dead bodies. Meanwhile, it creates news of epic proportions and public outrage when Janet Jackson's nipple appeared on the TV screen for a fraction of a second during a Super Bowl full of violent gladiators attempting to rip each other's heads off. Because of this horrendous event, we now have millions of children who are scarred for the rest of their lives. Me thinks there may be a problem with the definition of "public indecency."
The Wrap Up
Okay, time to wrap up my philosophical diatribe on the breast and human body. But, first. allow me to explain my motivation for this article.
I have posted two other photos of women baring their breasts on Bourbon Street in past Photos-of-the-Week. They are, to date, two of the three most viewed photos on my blog, to the tune of thousands of views. They vie only with one other photo and God only knows why. It's a photo of the barracks I stayed in during basic training at Lackland Air Force Base. In those other two photos I blurred out the nipples and left the faces exposed and I'm sure all the viewers were disappointed. I may go back and reverse the blurring process as I did with this one.
I believe we are an unbelievably hung up society. I am as bad as the next person, male or female. I won't be a hypocrite. Actually, I think, and this is my opinion based on a very small sampling, that women truly want to be freer. Since Women's Lib, they have come a long way. Many choose to express their desire to be less confined by tradition, various forms of conformity and a male dominated society through opportunities to wear revealing and/or skin tight clothes or, even public nudity. Perhaps it is actually with the specific intent to titillate.
I've talked with any number of women who have said they would love to be able to walk around topless, as men can, especially at the beach and other social events. Some are comfortable with total nudity in public and social arenas. Some said they often wear little or nothing in their own homes because they are most comfortable that way. I don't believe it's because they want to turn men on sexually or titillate them in public. It's simply because they feel confined in clothing.
I honestly have not questioned men on the same subject. They may have similar desires and feelings. I'm personally turned off by men's baggy, long swim trunks. I'm, also, not into the Speedo swim suit (especially at my age). But, I keep looking for a decent swim suit that allows me freedom of movement. However, there is nothing like skinny dipping.
Obviously, clothing definitely serves an important purpose with regard to various kinds of weather. Certainly, that was a factor in humans creating clothing, after all, we are "The Naked Ape." Clothing in our current culture also defines who we think we are, how we want to be accepted, how we are feeling on a specific day and, certainly, for workplace safety in certain occupations. So, I'm not dissing clothes for women or men.
I'm simply suggesting that if we weren't as hung up about the natural aspect of the human body and conditioned to be modest by some other individuals' standards, beliefs and values systems, perhaps we wouldn't experience the kind of guilt and exploitation we currently deal with and my New Orleans photos views wouldn't outnumber my other photos-of-the-week by magnitude of tens and hundreds.
Who knows, maybe, if we were all more "comfortable in our (nude) skin in public, it might even reduce, hopefully, by significant numbers, crimes against women. But, then again, maybe women actually do use clothes to purposely titillate men . . . for their own reasons.
I keep forgetting that "Women Are From Venus and Men Are From Mars." Maybe in the grand scheme of things we're never supposed to truly understand one another. Meanwhile, I sure don't mind the Victoria's Secrets commercials and I enjoy Bourbon Street (and similar) when I can visit them.
I'm sure I'm going to get blasted for this post, especially, (or possibly) by women readers. But, at this age and since this is my "living free" blog, I feel completely free to express my thoughts, opinions and beliefs. I, of course, invite all feedback. Comment away.