November 10, 2014

"It’s not that I mind seeing breasts everywhere; after all, I have two of my own that I quite like."

"But it’s disheartening that breasts are often considered more interesting than the women they’re attached to – as if we’re an afterthought compared to our body parts. But now a bevy of women, in a matter of days, have taken back the tit. We’re reclaiming the rack, whether you like or not.... You don’t like it? Tough titties."

Writes Jessica Valenti in a Guardian column titled "Topless Keira Knightley is not alone: 2014 is the year women reclaimed our boobs."

For a prescient Althouse post — pinpointing 2006 as the year of "boob" reclamation — see "Let's take a closer look at those breasts."

(I put "boob" in quotes because that is not my style of slang. Nor is "tits," for that matter. I never use any word other than "breasts" (unless I'm quoting someone else).)

ADDED: 2 more things:

1. A "bevy of women"? I don't think I've ever seen the word "bevy" used outside of the trite phrase "bevy of beauties," where it seems old-fashioned and insufficiently attentive to the personhood of women but at least alliterates.

2. Why is it "disheartening that breasts are often considered more interesting than the women they’re attached to"? Lots of women aren't very interesting, whereas breasts have a base level of interestingness. If you're someone who believes you are regarded as less interesting than your breasts, become more interesting. I don't see how calling more attention to your breasts — in some sort of out-and-proud move like baring them in a magazine — is supposed to boost the relative interestingness of the aspects of you that are not your breasts. Do you imagine there's something especially feisty and feminist about posing with naked breasts that somehow transcends all those women in the past who thought they were baring their breasts in an exciting new way? I've heard this self-deception for at least 40 years. I'm sure Hugh Hefner has whispered it to bevies of beauties.

 AND: The word "bevy" — according to the OED — may come from words about drinking. Think: beverage. In any case, "bevy" is one of those "company" terms (like "pride" for lions), and it was long ago deemed "The proper term for a company of maidens or ladies, of roes, of quails, or of larks."
c1470   Hors, Shepe, & G. (1822) 30   A beuye of larkes, A beuye of ladyes, A beuye of quayles, A beuye of roos....
1667   Milton Paradise Lost xi. 582   A Beavie of fair Women, richly gay.
ALSO: I wonder if Jessica Valenti is thinking about the adolescent girls who are prompted to take selfies of their naked breasts and send them or post them who knows where. She's put it out there that these girls ought to consider themselves good feminists for engaging in this behavior that is likely to do them no good. In this light, I think Valenti's column is frighteningly destructive.

51 comments:

Bob Boyd said...

"..our big prize tonight is fifty American Dollars to the girl with the most exciting mammalian protuberances" - Frank Zappa, Joe's Garage

campy said...

Huh, feminists can even make breasts boring.

Unknown said...

and if the most interesting part of Jessica Valenti is, in fact, her breasts, whose fault is that? I would say, hers.

MadisonMan said...

Bill Clinton admires Knightley's picture, I am sure.

Tank said...

"... breasts are often ... more interesting than the women they’re attached to..."

The truth per Mrs. Tank who frequently returns from a night out with "the girls" complaining about how f*****g boring they are. Can't they talk about anything besides ....?

rehajm said...

I have no idea what she's said because I was staring at her breasts.

Tank said...

A good place to insert one of Ayn Rand's basic principles: A = A.

Here, A = the proposition that a woman's looks (including her breasts) is virtually always a very important part of how men will perceive and judge her. It is genetic, hard-wired in. Go ahead, deny it.

Tank said...

rehajm proved my point while I was typing LOL.

Henry said...

I hope Ms. Valenti isn't responsible for that title.

Does each woman reclaim her own boobs, or do all women reclaim all women's boobs, starting with Keira Knightley's? One imagines a kind of boob collective in which boobs are contributed according to capacity and distributed according to need.

But where were the boobs all this time? In the Lost Property Office at Paddington Station?

Brando said...

Valenti never fails to fill space with a heroic amount of vacuousness. Is this supposed to be empowering? It's certainly not thought-provoking. Wait, why are we linking her again???

Ann Althouse said...

"The truth per Mrs. Tank who frequently returns from a night out with "the girls" complaining about how f*****g boring they are. Can't they talk about anything besides ....?"

I had a little trouble understanding this because "the girls" is a way some women refer to their breasts.

Laslo Spatula said...

I believe society would function much more smoothly if women would simply cut to the chase and expose their breasts to a man before beginning conversation. Five seconds or so should do; that should be enough to satisfy the man's innate biological curiosity and then he could actually focus on what the woman has to say. Or he could excuse himself to masturbate and then come back ready to mentally enjoin. There are several women I know that I hope read this and take it to heart.

Fernandinande said...

I, too, am obsessed with the wonderfulness of my own body.

Laslo Spatula said...

I can with great clarity mentally picture all of the naked breasts I have had the good fortune to see in person in my life; some of the corresponding faces, regretfully, have faded into a blur.

MayBee said...

Yeah, I don't get the feminists' relationship with breasts. On the one hand, it'a all about feeling free to bare them and dress to show them off without having to hide. The current feminists aren't about modest dress. They talk about the horrors of slut-shaming and some even start Free the Nipple! campaigns.

On the other hand, it's all about trying to get men to stop paying attention to them.

furious_a said...

If you're someone who believes you are regarded as less interesting than your breasts, become more interesting.

This one goes up on the wall right next to the "HANG IN THERE, BABY!" kitten.

furious_a said...

Kate Upton would be the mist interesting person in the world.

Laslo Spatula said...

Women expose their breasts in public and it is feminism; men expose their penises in public and they are just that creepy guy in the trench-coat with no pants hanging out at the bus stop by the high school when school lets out. I would imagine.

damikesc said...

Yeah, show your tits. You show that patriarchy whose boss!

(man, as a dude, I would've never imagined a woman would be dumb enough to think showing tits is empowering, but live and learn)

Laslo Spatula said...

Women are indeed more than their breasts: they also have an ass and legs. And toes, for the foot-fetish guys. Toes with perfectly pedicured toenails, and callus-free skin. Hopefully.

MayBee said...

Jessica Valenti is just as confused as I, yet she doesn't seem to realize it.

Patrick said...

It seems to me that feminists want to be rid of the fact that there is a actual component to breasts. I think they will fail to convince anyone that breasts should not offer pleasure in addition to sustenance for the babies.

The Drill SGT said...

ALSO: I wonder if Jessica Valenti is thinking about the adolescent girls who are prompted to take selfies of their naked breasts and send them or post them who knows where.

I suspect that JV would both:

a. Think it was empowering for the girls to send out boob selfies, and
b. a sex crime for the boyfriend to possess it on the receiving end.

Being a feminist means being able to hold several contradicting opinions at the same time, as long as both opinions are gendered

Laslo Spatula said...

"...or post them who knows where."

When you DO know where please post a link. For scholarly purposes.

David said...

Remember that women are frequently as interested in breasts as men are. Always checking how they stack up.

Laslo Spatula said...

For most men, women can be divided into two categories: those whose breasts you have seen, and those you haven't. Yet.

Biff said...

FWIW, I associate with a few native Glaswegians, and they use "bevy" to refer to the supply of beer at a social gathering. For example, "Who is bringing bevy?" or, when the beer arrives, there will be gleeful shouts of "Bevy!!"

Anonymous said...

The Onion got there first, by a number of years: "Area Woman Tired of Men Staring At Her Breast Implants".

SGT Ted said...

Claiming victory for doing nothing is typical of twits like Valenti.

Tank said...

Althouse at 8:24 AM

The more I think about this, the funnier it is.

William said...

I don't see what the problem is. Kiera Knightley has a strikingly beautiful face. Her breasts don't upstage her face, but they are proportionate to her slender frame. She wouldn't be my first choice to play an earthy Italian peasant, but Sophia Loren probably would be miscast in a Jane Austen role. (Although to be fair, I'd probably go see it,especially if it involved tasteful nudity that furthered the plot.). Anyway I'm glad too see that Kiera Knightley has taken possession of her breasts. She should be a role model for all young, ethereally beautiful women. I hope Natalie Portman follows in her wake and also takes possession of her breasts.

RecChief said...

meh. call me when the miniskirt makes a come back as ordinary every day wear.

Virgil Hilts said...

Kiera Knightley has gone topless before in at least two movies, so not sure what big deal is with the new photo. As to breasts being more interesting than the woman, there was a great article years ago -- sorry I don't have link -- correlating the box office success of each Sharon Stone film against whether or not she was topless in the film.

Christy said...

Funny, just yesterday I was thinking how boring Chris Muir's Day by Day has gotten. It's become all breasts all the time without clever dialog or amusing situations. Then again, I doubt I'm his target demographic.

Stoutcat said...

Althouse wrote:
"A 'bevy of women'? I don't think I've ever seen the word 'bevy' used outside of the trite phrase "bevy of beauties," where it seems old-fashioned and insufficiently attentive to the personhood of women but at least alliterates."

"Bevy" is the collective term for a group of quail. Just FYI.

Also, I have breasts (which I sometimes mentally refer to as "the girls"). My husband adores them (he's a boob guy). I have neither the inclination nor the interest in showing the girls to anyone but him.

RecChief said...

I'd be happy if women teachers quit banging their students.

richard mcenroe said...

Breasts can't talk and spoil the illusion.

Darrell said...

I understand Kiera Knightley's motivation. She relinquishes control of how advertisers and film companies present her image--including photoshopped modifications. Several movie posters and magazine covers have enhanced her breast size considerably, and the Press usually comes to her to complain or insinuate that she was behind the changes, doing it out of vanity. She is saying that she is proud of her body in every way and she wanted to let fans know what it truly looks like without digital editing.

Ann Althouse said...

"The more I think about this, the funnier it is."

Me too. The idea that one goes out for a night on the town accompanied by one's best friends: one's own two breasts. And then complaining that they are boring companions!

Ann Althouse said...

"The idea that one goes out for a night on the town accompanied by one's best friends: one's own two breasts. And then complaining that they are boring companions!"

And I like the way this connects with Valenti's original observation that many people think a woman's breasts are more interesting than the woman herself. I'm thinking that after a night on the town with "the girls," maybe the girls think you've been boring.

Ann Althouse said...

Could you hold up your end of the conversation? Must we do all the talking?

Mary Beth said...

Ann Althouse said...

Could you hold up your end of the conversation? Must we do all the talking?

11/10/14, 12:33 PM


I hate it when my breasts have a conversation and leave me out of it.

Beldar said...

@ Madison Man (11/10/14, 7:46 AM): Bubba's past choices don't suggest a particular fondness for thin women; if anything, the opposite. I think she's splendid, but I doubt Ms. Knightley is someone to whom Bubba's especially attracted. But no breathing female is free from risk from his attentions, especially under circumstances in which he still thinks he can get away with stuff.

William wrote (11/10/14, 10:03 AM): "Anyway I'm glad too see that Kiera Knightley has taken possession of her breasts." Actually, as Google images will quickly confirm, Ms. Knightley appeared in full-uncovered topless — undressing from a window for the benefit of a watching boy outside — in 2001's The Hole (no I didn't make that up), at age 16. So she's possessed her breasts for a while now, and she's been topless or fully nude in several films since then.

Re "the girls": women in my acquaintance are more likely to refer to "the twins," but I've heard both, and always counted myself lucky.

Anonymous said...

I find it very interesting what has happened to women over the past several decades, thanks to feminism.

On my way to work I listen to a radio show where they have a bit called the "Second date update."

Today's second date update was a woman who had a one night stand with a guy she had just met. She stole his "hoodie" when she left in the morning, hoping that would encourage him to call her. Clearly this guy was a stranger, otherwise it wouldn't really be a hook up, as she described it.

So, they call this guy to ask him why he isn't calling her back and if they can get the girl a "second date". The whole purpose of the show.

They call and ask, "Why aren't you calling her back?"

He explains that he is in an open relationship with another woman. That one of the rules of their open relationship is the partner has "veto" power. His female partner vetoed this girl, so he can't see her anymore. He apologizes but says he will stick with the agreement. He can't see her anymore.

This pisses off the girl on the phone who thinks now, the guy she wanted to see again, is an "asshole" and a "jerk".

Which doesn't surprise me at all. And yet, she had sex with this total stranger. What the hell was she expecting?

Feminists sure have screwed up women.

On the other hand, they've made it great for men who love to sleep around.

RecChief said...

huh, just followed the links to Ms. Knightley's picture.

They look natural, and they're magnificent.

Still a leg man though

Joe said...

Translation: Don't pay attention to my breasts unless I want you to.

Man: You have such a beautiful mind.
Woman: Are you saying I'm ugly?
Man: Oh no, you have a lovely body.
Woman: So, all that matters is my body?
Man: Fuck.

n.n said...

Thank the pro-choicers who in their feverish rush to secure exclusive rights to commit state-sponsored premeditated abortion, devalued human life and reduced it to a clump of cells. Whether it is breasts, or human life, the liberal/progressive or libertarian classification is as a commodity. Anyway, the state established religion is libertine or generational liberal/progressive. Ladies and sluts alike need to be aware of the consequences of this choice.

jr565 said...

Have you seen Gianna the porn star? Her breasts are a lot more interesting than she is.

Titus said...

I had a funny conference call today. I am leading a project with our Ad Agency, TPM Worldwide.

The 27 year old, NYC based Ad Woman, shared her desktop, with all of the VP's in our multiple offices.

Her screen popped up and there were a list of Botox docs in NYC. It took her forever to close the sites out because there were tons of them. The sites had before and after pics too.

Titus said...

I then, natch, texted all the VP's.

tits

n.n said...

Burn your bras, bare your breasts. Progressive moralists like Heffner, Flynt et al, love and profit from your conformity.