May 30, 2007

"You really have to use your breast power responsibly."

I've said it before (somewhere here): Women know what their breasts look like in their clothes. It doesn't just happen. "Breast power" is real. We can pretend we don't know, but we do. That doesn't mean we have great judgment about how to use it. So let's see an attempt at devising some rules:
What looks sexy for a night out on the town may not be appropriate in the workplace. In fact, [Elisabeth] Squires said cleavage should never make an appearance in the office.
Even in the summer at the law school when there's almost no one around?
"It's way too big of a distraction for men and women," she said. "If cleavage isn't in your job description, don't put it in."...

Squires suggested that women also keep things respectable at family events, like a kids' soccer game....

Night is prime time to bring out breasts, but Squires suggested women treat their cleavage as part of their outfit -- not a focal point.

"You can certainly be a bit more daring," she said. "This presumably is adult time, and cleavage is powerful. This is the time to use it. But they should be part of your whole look."
Okay, so night time is the "prime time." Clearly, there are other times. What are they? Hanging about cafés in the summertime? Catching a light lunch with a former President? We need to know.

I've already gotten Amanda Marcotte to show up once in the comments today. I'm trying to see if I can make her come back.

I found this article via Instapundit.

84 comments:

J. said...

And for those of us who are churchgoers, appreciate it if church property never has a primetime. Thanks, ladies!

Mike said...

cleavage is powerful

Fortunately, I'm immune.

Dan from Madison said...

Anytime is cleavage time.

jimbino said...

What are the rules regarding cleavage for the nudist camp where I live? Does the Bible say anything about this? Does the Koran?

Fen said...

What are the rules regarding cleavage for the nudist camp where I live?

Less is more. Men are visual creatures with vivid imagination. Play on that. Full exposure only ruins the fantasy.

And Bad Ann! for taunting the pathetic Marcotte creature. You'll tear her away from her christian bashing.

Simon said...

"Clearly, there are other times. What are they? Hanging about cafés in the summertime?"

So it would appear. ;)

Ron said...

"Ha! Your Wobbling Jubblies Style no Match for my Crane Style!!!"

Badly dubbed, of course!

Bruce Hayden said...

Breasts are something that women can minimize or maximize. One friend has D breasts and her daughter A size breasts. They don't look that different much of the time, with the mother minimizing the appearance of hers and the daughter maximizing hers.

Most men are wired a certain way, and seeing a lot of breast, esp. a lot of cleavage (or worse) are distracted. And because of that, some of the women are distracted because of this unfair advantage with the men, etc.

If I am working, I would rather not be faced with the constant sexual stimulation of a lot of cleavage.

Of course, it depends on what you do. For the most part, I consider cleavage totally inappropriate for most professionals, like doctors, lawyers, etc. But their receptionists? Maybe.

When someone demands the right to show a lot of cleavage, I think that you have to ask why? They know what it does to men. Of course, many pretend that that isn't true, or that somehow the men can control it. They can't. So why do they do it? To get attention, etc. But why should a woman using her sexual lures at work, at church, etc. to get male attention be acceptable?

Of course, everything is relative. What was daring a couple of years ago doesn't really raise eyebrows these days. And if the men aren't looking twice at some level of cleavage, then I don't really see a problem with it.

Bo Steed said...

Simon: I take it you are a fan of Professor Althouse?

P. Rich said...

Large, prominent ya-ya's = advertising. For what, you ask? Only if you are extremely naive...

davidc. said...

Someone should write a book on women's breast. They are consistently used by women for various purposes and sometimes unconsciously.

As a male, my attention is drawn to a well shaped woman. Not only her breast, but legs, hip proportion, and face all are visual stimuli that are often very difficult of discount. Studies have shown this is a very primitive reflex. I have found that too much negates the reflex. In Vegas I saw 30 women on stage topless, yet I was more drawn to a woman that was clothed but showing just a little.

Women obviously use their breast to attract but they also seem to use them in confrontation with other women. I have seen situations in which women are together without men present and they will often dress or display themselves to try for a visual advantage among their peers. Likewise, if they get mad, they will often stick out their chest and flare their breast at another woman.

So it is one more tool that women have to reduce men to the lowest common denominator.

XWL said...

I'm just glad the trend towards ass cleavage has waned once more (excepting for plumbers, of course).

Theo Boehm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Susan said...

One of my favorite episodes of Designing Women was the
one
where Mary Jo puts on fake breasts and realizes "These things are
POWER!"

dave™© said...

I found this article via Instapundit.

Your home for all sorts of drunken cracker drooling and giggling over tits.

No wonder you noticed it.

Zeb Quinn said...

Breast are fine but, me, I'm much more of an a$$ man myself, and a well-shaped world-class a$$ is what has power over me.

AJD said...

Ah, but over time this great power, well, sags. It wanes. It droops. It becomes a mocking image of its powerful young self. And the notion of "responsible use" changes, too.

As we all know, with great power comes great responsibility.

With sagging power, however, comes a different kind of responsibility--one that A-House has not yet figured out.

Jennifer said...

While breast power is a fact of life, and responsible use makes sense, I have to admit that this kind of discussion just makes me uncomfortable. I'm looking over my shoulder, waiting for the burkas.

John Stodder said...

There is so much more cleavage out there now. My son's female schoolmates display it almost every day from what I can tell. So do their moms. So do their female teachers. I can't imagine how high school boys learn anything!

Cleavage seems to be immune to the laws of supply and demand. When it was less available to see, I was always distracted by it. Now that it's ubiquitous, I'm still distracted by it. And will be, til the moment an attractive nurse shuts off my respirator 50 years from now.

Jennifer said...

Protect the powerless men from the distracting attraction of breast power! Protect the trolls from mature cleavage! We must protect the innocent!

Makes me want to go throw on a nice bustier, thankyouverymuch.

Jennifer said...

Oh, and cackle IN YOUR FACE gleefully. Ever the rebel.

Pogo said...

When I was but a sophmore in high school, a friend of mine, a senior, warned me about girls who would come up to us geeky types and put their ta-tas in your face, leaning over your desk in study hall, asking you for something because the answer would always be y-yes.

The décolletage has been and remains a force formidable.

Simon said...

Bo - you must be new. Welcome. ;)

Simon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron said...

Remember: Everything gets harder, harrier, and closer to the ground.

PatHMV said...

Jennifer... by all means, please do! ;-)

Fen said...

Jennifer: Makes me want to go throw on a nice bustier, thankyouverymuch.

Corset please. Nothing is sexier than breasts heaving and spilling over the top of a corset.

Simon said...

AJD said...
"[O]ver time this great power ... sags ... [and] droops. It becomes a mocking image of its powerful young self."

Whether that's a "mocking image of its powerful young self" rather depends on one's tastes.

PatHMV said...

What makes you think you can just walk in there and take whatever you want?

They're called boobs, Ed.

Bissage said...

Here's a pretty good example of breast power used irresponsibly.

ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT!!!

Roger said...

Boobs rule!!

Ann Althouse said...

AJD: Does your wife know your complaining about her on some blog?

George said...

Ooh... better put two poofy flowers on top...

Poppies...poppies...

Pinkness...

Insect happiness today...

Scratching the phantom itch...

He still didn't put the butter up...

I fired three warning shots and they kept coming at me...

When Hillary's boobs collide....

Meade said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Meade said...

Lawprof of the North Country

Well, if you're travelin' 'tween the M lakes fair,
Two girls heave heavy 'neath a low neckline,
Two cool scoops of cream, the pair resting there.
In these lucid dreams still true loves of mine.

Well, if you go when pink peonies bloom,
'fore summer décolletage and blogging hortporn end,
Please see if she's wearing a top so low,
Swiveling the heads of even non-shallow men.

Please see for me that her cup is replete,
that wine spills and flows all down her breasts.
Please see for me that her cups are replete,
'tis wonder any males at all pass her Establishment Clause tests.

Pogo said...

Do guys with man boobs have to use their breast power responsibly?

And how would that occur?

Hint #1: avoid this: ever

Meade said...

Fat Guys Gone Wild?

LoafingOaf said...

If I am working, I would rather not be faced with the constant sexual stimulation of a lot of cleavage.

Of course, it depends on what you do. For the most part, I consider cleavage totally inappropriate for most professionals, like doctors, lawyers, etc.


Yes, sexy female doctors, nurses and lawyers should dress like very professional doctors, nurses, and lawyers. Mmmm. That turns me on even more. I always had a thing for Dr. Susan Lewis and Nurse Hathaway on ER.

mythusmage said...

When it's 100 degrees and the air's so thick water's condensing on you, the prigs can go hang themselves.

peter hoh said...

Here's a related post from a Twin Cities blogger who is certainly aware of breast power.

hdhouse said...

more of a leg guy here....but breast away....don't let me stop anyone.

David said...

"Dr. Susan Lewis and Nurse Hathaway" is a whole other thread.

blake said...

Wow, Diablo Cody! Hers was one of the first blogs I ever read but I thought she gave it up years ago. I guess she's hit the big time.

Hector Owen said...

For davidc.: The Book of the Breast. The Playboy Press edition is recommended.

Radish said...

Large, prominent ya-ya's = advertising.

Damn, that's ignorant.


Believe you me, F cups cannot be "minimized." Even when squished into a misnamed "minimizer" bra and covered in a blouse or sweater, they're still large and prominent.

But that doesn't MEAN anything, except I'm a freak of nature.

Christy said...

I'm remembering a girlfriend who took two or three weeks to adjust to her new personal space after a substantial boob job. Discombobulating to have her new pair bumping up against me every time we talked. I can't imagine what she was doing to the guys.

Maybe it is generational, but I found it so hard to be taken seriously as a professional woman 30 years ago that the idea of showing cleavage or wearing anything tight was an anathema.

Orion said...

Why does all this remind me of the Victorian-era belief that even the sight of a woman's leg was enough to drive men into wild frenzies of sexual misbehavior - In fact, table skirts were (per the History channel) developed to prevent men from going berserk at the sight of a shapely piece of furniture support - they look too much like legs.

Apparently, the sight of a breast or even cleavage is simply too much for us to deal with intelligently!

OOG! OOG!

Yeesh. Give people SOME credit.

Orion

Orion said...

You know, come to think of it, that sentiment,

"It's way too big of a distraction for men and women," she said.

Reminds me of the Australian 'uncovered meat' Imam's comments...

I mean, I'm all for propriety and everything, but really, haven't most of us stopped going ga-ga at the sight of 'naughty' flesh when we were in our mid-teens??

Orion

ChrisPer said...

Everyone seems to be ignoring an important part of boob power.

It isn't just about men's response.

Its about women's response. The more important part of the game is status display to other women.

In an environment where you know nearly everyone, an inch more or less than usual is being yourself. When you are with strangers and possible competitors, dress, makeup, shoes, jewellery and overt sex appeal assert your status and invite others to either make an obvious conclusion about teir own relative status, or feel the chill wind of competition.

When someone's status is built on professionalism and hard work, and she is in her workplace and extended professional circle, tit-based attention grabs by socially near-equal strangers are about as courteous as fishing with grenades.

Ann Althouse said...

Orion: No one said men didn't have to control their behavior. They can and they do. That doesn't mean women don't have a powerful effect on men. The "uncovered meat" imams were failing to make that distinction.

Bushman of the Kohlrabi said...

This topic is just too big for me to wrap my hands around.

Doug said...

I wonder if Naomi Wolfe thinks that this increasing exposure of cleavage has decreased men's libidos. Maybe all these cleavage enhancing bras lead men to have unrealistic expectations for breasts that just can't be met by the average woman, once the wonderbra is taken off.

El Duderino said...

I must admit, I don't do a lot of left brain thinking about cleavage. When I think about it at all, I'm not usually aware of thinking about it or how it came to my attention to begin with unless somebody is being very inappropriate or my wife elbows me for staring.

Eli Blake said...

It's kind of ironic.

Back several decades ago, various organizations really came down hard on Hollywood for the amount of violence in some of the old cop shows (i.e. Starsky and Hutch, Baretta, etc.) So their response was to quit showing so many cop shows and replace them with more 'T and A' (showbiz lingo for breasts and behinds.)

So today, a story comes out about how a committee at the University of Colorado is recommending firing Ward Churchill for plagiarizing research, except that it is a committee which the University established only after Dr. Churchill's 9/11 apalling screed and in essence tasked with finding a reason specifically to fire him, and all of a sudden this is the third blog written by someone in academia today, which has avoided anything that might be politically the least bit controversial, in deference to-- that's right, T and A.

Eli Blake said...

[clarication]:

Third blog I've checked on written by someone in academia today. There are probably more that I didn't look at that did the same thing.

Hattie said...

Tit tit.

Revenant said...

haven't most of us stopped going ga-ga at the sight of 'naughty' flesh when we were in our mid-teens?

Thankfully, no, I have not. :)

Hector Owen said...

Oh, go on and link your post, Eli. Deep Thought: Ward Churchill may get fired for his comments. But he shouldn't. That's a powerful threadjack attempt. From pleasant boobs to an unpleasant boob. But you would want to be sure that everyone you could think of would write about what you would want to read about. Does Ward Churchill have interesting breasts?

rightactions said...

T&A teasing of men by women in the workplace creates a hostile work environment. Not for all men perhaps, but all it takes is for one man to feel the harassment and...

Of course, where male employees allege that co-workers engage in conduct which creates a hostile environment, the appropriate victim's perspective would be that of a reasonable man.

US Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals Ellison v. Brady, 924 Federal Reporter 2d Series, p 879


I challenge women to seriously assert that the man who is not annoyed by the distraction of another woman's persistent flaunting of her cleavage is not a "reasonable man."

Bwahahahaha!!!

Bruce Hayden said...

No one said men didn't have to control their behavior. They can and they do. That doesn't mean women don't have a powerful effect on men.

It is not what men do that is really important here. There are plenty of laws on the books to prevent men from doing much of anything about seeing prominent uncovered breasts in inappropriate situations.

Rather, it is what they think. That is something that cannot be regulated, nor to some great extent, controlled by the men.

The reality is that men are wired to react to female sexual displays. What they do about it is another story. Nevertheless, most women know very well that they do this to men by displaying their breasts. That is a good part of why women do it - for the power it has to open doors and male wallets.

As for the competition of women amongst themselves, again, it depends on the power it has over men. Women don't impress women nearly as much by having nice toes, etc. Large (but not excessively large) breasts are threatening to women because of the other woman's ability to attract men with them.

While breast power is a fact of life, and responsible use makes sense, I have to admit that this kind of discussion just makes me uncomfortable. I'm looking over my shoulder, waiting for the burkas.

Well, maybe just a chador. I think that we can live with seeing women's eyes.

Seriously though, I have always suspected that the reason for such dress codes, probably more associated with Islamic societies today, but common with our own in the past, is that it decreases the sexual tension between the sexes. Of course, seggregating the sexes, as many Moslem cultures do today, also has that effect. And importantly, it reduces the pressure on males.

On a first level, it benefits men to have women covered like that because the men don't have to spend as much of their lives sexually stimulated. Maybe not to the point of physical stimulation, but at least to the level of thinking, at least for a moment, "oh, I wouldn't mind having sex with her".

But it has some benefit for women too. The problem with a woman running around visually sexually stimulating men with their attire, or lack thereof, is that when men are visually attracted this way, as they naturally are, to a woman they see the woman as a sex object, if only for a moment. But those moments add up, and that is the problem.

Note that I am not suggesting that women here be forced to wear burqas or chadors, or anything close. But rather, that they addressed a real problem - that males are wired to be visually stimulated by females, and that if that visual stimulation is reduced, women are less likely to be objectified.

amba said...

Women obviously use their breast to attract but they also seem to use them in confrontation with other women.

This line (apparently written by Borat?) made me see a visual image of two bosomy, underwire-reinforced women charging at each other and clashing chest to chest, like soft bighorn rams.

amba said...

does anyone know of any data that might correlate breast size, either positively or negatively, with productivity?

Presumably that would be the productivity of coworkers, not of the possessor of said breasts?

amba said...

I'm just glad the trend towards ass cleavage has waned once more

XWL, don't you remember the Desmond Morris theory that breast cleavage is a visual pun evoking the much more primal allure of ass cleavage?

amba said...

Remember: Everything gets harder, harrier, and closer to the ground.

Harder -- no.

amba said...

meade,

you wrote that??

Do you think we should do an all-breasts edition on BhTV?

amba said...

If you think covering women makes men stop thinking about them sexually, you need to read this. If just covering the hair can drive a man wild, well . . . the burqa could solve Naomi Wolf's problem: you wouldn't have to actually look like a porn star, just leave it to the male imagination. It equalizes women, too -- gone is that unfair (dis)advantage . . .

Seriously, there has to be a happy medium between brown-bagging your body and shrink-wrapping it. Both overemphasize the body. Women should not (in free countries) be voluntarily cooperating in the reduction of themselves to their bodies. At the same time it remains a potent, er, asset and weapon. But there's something to be said for "concealed carry." There's a time and a place for everything -- in the work or schoolplace, sexuality should recede into the background, where it will of course continue to simmer. At a dance club, on the other hand . . .

Appropriate? What do you think? Having been a decently endowed but mousy, withdrawn and forgettable high-school girl, I went to my 30th reunion dressed like Tina Turner. God, that was fun.

Mortimer Brezny said...

The "uncovered meat" imams were failing to make that distinction.

I'm not so sure about that. I think they're saying a person (in the case of their argument, men) can only be expected to control their desires but so much, and beyond that it is unreasonable to expect them, even if it is possible, to do so. Proponents of gay marriage often make the argument that even if engaging in homosexual behavior (or, less likely, being gay) is a matter of choice, it is an essential enough way of being or central enough exercise of autonomy or rooted enough accretion of social conditioning for it to be unfair to impose the burden of change, so some institution equiavlent to marriage should be available for those who for whatever reason have found themselves on that path. If the argument works for gay men, it should work for straight men (if we believe in equality), so it's rather easy to note that heterosexual men, as a deafult, love-a the ladies and shouldn't have to change how rowdy and boisterous the naked la-ladies a-make-a the men. In other words, it's natural. Now, you could also make the case that it's natural for women to bedizen themselves with bedazzling baubles and they have done so since time immemoriam and so too have they worn skimpy clothes for attention. You might also note that it's natural to make the beast with two backs. In fact, you might note that all this talk about how humans should control their sexual desires is the unnatural part, and this shifting the blame for the consequences of sexual desires from men to women is ahistorical and absurd. Both men and women like sex and sex keeps the species going. Less talk, more action.

In other words, cats like uncovered meat and meat likes uncovering itself for cats. Meow!

Snow said...

Catching a light lunch with a former President?

Well, since you brought it up . . . she wasn't showing any cleavage, vacuous one!

Amanda Marcotte said...

You know, you really shouldn't be flattered that I show up because making fun of you is so fun.

Ann Althouse said...

Snow: Who's this "she" you're talking about? I'm just trying to develop some fashion tips for every occasion.

Amanda: Enjoy! I know you're all about funloving.

flory said...

If the argument works for gay men, it should work for straight men (if we believe in equality), so it's rather easy to note that heterosexual men, as a deafult, love-a the ladies and shouldn't have to change how rowdy and boisterous the naked la-ladies a-make-a the men.

Surely you're not serious? How does an argument about equal rights and fair treatment for all citizens equate to an argument that men shouldn't be requred to behaved as civilized adults?

TMink said...

Ah breasts. One strange part of my job is discussing sexual attractiveness and the attentending potential pitfalls with women and girls who were sexually abused.

Some of these young ladies come to the office barely clothed. One young lady recently had cleavage that went past her bra strap. So we discuss what it is like having boys and men stare at their breasts, how it feels good if the attention is from a person they are interested in, how it feels yucky if it is not a person they are interested in. How they typically hate being touched without their permission.

It is interesting for me in that I am clueless to this experience. It is also interesting to note the tension between inviting sexual attention but retaining the right to control sexual touch. I have found that just having the conversation and listening is often helpful for the young ladies.

It is frankly easier to discuss the topic of those pants that have writing on the girl's bottom. I get in the room and ask "What does it say on your pants?"

"Princess" or whatever the letters spell is the reply.

"Nope. It says "look at my ass and think about touching it" I correct them.

They laugh, we blush, and then discuss the pros and cons of sexual attractiveness and how they are treated.

But when a colleague was wearing tight and revealing clothes at an adolescent treatment group where I used to work, I asked her to consider her stimulus value and how it was contributing to the group milieu. She looked at me quizzically. A mature black woman coworker laughed and said "He is just trying to tell you to put some damn clothes on without being an asshole. Them boys are drooling on themselves thinking about your titties in them hoochie clothes."

She dressed VERY differently after that. I wish I could have given the black woman a raise.

Trey

TMink said...

Flory wrote: "How does an argument about equal rights and fair treatment for all citizens equate to an argument that men shouldn't be requred to behaved as civilized adults?"

Should? I should be able to leave my car unlocked with my ipod on the dash and expect it to be there when I get back from work.

But I don't.

It is absolutley right to expect men and women to act as responsible adults, but it is naive and foolish to think that they all will.

Trey

flory said...

It is absolutley right to expect men and women to act as responsible adults, but it is naive and foolish to think that they all will.

And when the man in question behaves like an uncivilized boor, he takes the blame. Not the woman.

Just like the person who steals the iPod is the one prosecuted, not the owner of the car.

D'oh.

Fen said...

Amanda Marcotte: You know, you really shouldn't be flattered that I show up because making fun of you is so fun.

Ah, you really should have resisted the taunt. Ann yanks your chain and you slink over. Makes you look small.

TMink said...

Flory wrote: "And when the man in question behaves like an uncivilized boor, he takes the blame. Not the woman."

What about the woman who acts like an uncivilized boor? I am missing your point.

Trey

The Infidel Sage said...

If you're on the bad side of 'moody Malcotte', you must be doing something right.

Revenant said...

And when the man in question behaves like an uncivilized boor, he takes the blame. Not the woman.

I'd like to point out that part of "civilized behavior" is dressing appropriately at the office.

Meade said...

Amba,

"Do you think we should do an all-breasts edition on BhTV?"

*Cough* *sputter* *choke* *blush*. Uh, well, ahem, sure, yeah, you betcha! Gimme a second here to defog the lenses of my bifocals though, okay? In my waking dreams, 'tis already unforgettable.

Alright. Ready. Go!

To your other question, I wouldn't say I really "wrote" it. Of course, neither did The Voice of His Generation himself, right? "Intertextualized," I believe it is called. Add a banjo strum and a mouth harp, call it a folk song, add a PD symbol, and hope it gets a notice at the A-house.

So thanks. Good for a giggle from the Blogging Diva herself (without disturbing the mighty Vortex) I hope.

ps: Any chance you can get Ruth Anne in there with the two of you on that particular edition of BloggingBabes, I mean, Heads? (I know, I know -- Greed... Lust... Deadly Sins.)

TMink said...

Rev wrote: "I'd like to point out that part of "civilized behavior" is dressing appropriately at the office."

Touche! And when I leave the car unlocked and someone steals my ipod, I have to be at least a little upset with myself if I am honest. The cop taking the report will surely say something like "The car was unlocked and the ipod was in plain view? Are you stupid or something?"

Trey

Revenant said...

And when I leave the car unlocked and someone steals my ipod, I have to be at least a little upset with myself if I am honest.

Not really the same thing, there. A comment or a look isn't equivalent to a theft.

A person who comes to work dressed provocatively is either (a) not that bright, (b) lacking in class, or (c) seeking attention. Bitching because someone guessed "c" when the actual answer was "a" or "b" isn't really fair. If I showed up to work wearing skin-tight pants that showed off my anatomy, I'd certainly expect stares and comments.

TMink said...

Rev, you are right, and I was not clear or specific with my point. I was comparing the theft to being touched. It would have helped had I mentioned that a single bit, or even alluded to the fact, but in a typical ADD moment, I left it out completely.

Your point is taken, and thanks.

Trey

Ti-Guy said...

Ann Althouse: The Mouse that Bored.

Allen said...

I'm udderly amazed at what I learned here today. I always wondered where Hooterville Junction was really located....