Thursday, January 01, 2009


"A society in which women have to hide and cover their breasts is a society in which nurturance is neglected.... The naked female breasts, as symbols of women's power, deeply frighten men. Breasts are covered for that reason alone, and not because they arouse passion and sexuality."

"Today's taboos against the exposure of female breasts, while allowing males to freely expose the same anatomical area, has to do with the ancient symbolism. Symbols of nurturance are the most powerful in that they remind men of their dependence upon the Mother -- upon the Female....

~ from Z Budapest's The Holy Book of Women's Mysteries Part II, 1980, p. 204
If we want radical change, don't we need to make small radical changes to start?

Would facing our fear of female breasts in public be a place to start?

If they could see how totally horrified we are at the thought of female nipples exposed in public, the ancient Minoans would have laughed their fool heads off.

Actually, considering how fab the Minoans were, they'd probably be too kind to laugh and point. They'd probably have pitied us deeply, though.

Wow, women, think of it! Our chests are so powerful that they'd shrivel men into tiny little peanuts at the mere public sight of them! Our breasts are so packed full of natural power that to shine them upon each other in public is punishable in courts of law! Someone, somehow has managed to convince us that our chests are so dangerous we needed to heave laws onto the books to keep these dangerous things from seeing the light of day!

Could the next step in our march back to Goddess Power be our work to scrap the laws against uncovering women's stupendous, gorgeous, life-giving breasts in public?

Just the way we pity fundie Muslim women forced to cover all but their eyes in public -- that's exactly how the ancient Minoans would pity us. They would look at us and see (although they'd never say it), semi-retarded, bamboozled, wimp-heads.

How would we go about scrapping our breast laws? Should we act out first? Say stage a mass protest in Central Park with thousands of women marching around proudly wearing uncovered breasts for all to see?

What kinds of signs would we carry?

"Naked Breasts For One And For All!"

"Equal Rights for Women's Breasts!"

"If He Can Show His, I Can Show Mine!"
the foto above is one surviving part of an ancient Minoan wall painting


Aquila ka Hecate said...

Hi Athana,
There's been a GodsAwful row in this country recently about breast feeding in public which illustrates your point perfectly.

We're in Africa forcryingoutloud, where females have traditionally gone bare-breasted.
But there are people standing up in public and complaining about breast-feeding because they find it offensive.
I expect they do, too - the visual confirmation of women's power is too much for them.
Terri in Joburg

Ariadne said...

I very much enjoyed reading this blog. I recently joined the facebook group to say that pictures of breastfeeding are not obscene! (Has been in the news recently) Also it is possible for men to lactate, there has been research proving that men may even breastfeed! I am a Priestess of my beloved and bare-breasted goddess Ariadne, and have recently started an online temple dedicated to her. If you are at all interested, the link is:

Brian Charles said...

You have hit on something very strong here and I think it goes very deep in our culture. As for breast-feeding, anecdotal evidence seems to indicate that it is mainly women who object to it being done in public.

And yet, the best selling daily newspaper (to use the word loosely) in the UK, bought and read by both sexes, regularly features naked breasts on page 3.

I personally try to make it a general policy not to bare my naked upper body in places where women do not feel safe to do so. It seems only polite

Athana said...

Some interesting questions are being raised here:

Who's more uptight about having women's breasts bared in public, Western men or Western women?

How about indigenous Africans -- Who's more uptight about having women's breasts bared in public, men or women?

Is it okay with men if breasts-as-sexual-features are bared, but not if breasts-as-feeding-features are shown in public?

Who'd put up more of a fuss if we tried to get the bare-breasts laws changed: men, or women?

River Eden Doula said...

Very interesting post. I agree, I think it is women who mostly object to breastfeeding. Thankfully it seems in Europe things are better, I have seen several women do it in parks, etc. in Scotland where my boyfriend is from.

Athana said...

River, I'm always fascinated by the differences between Americans and Europeans (who, afterall, settled America). But of course Europe sent a ton of Christians of the idiosyncratic, peculiar and nonconforming type (there's another word I want, here, but it won't come to me). And I guess that's where we are today -- American religion is still shaping American culture, and in a way that is peculiar and weird.

Paul said...

"...Breasts are covered for that reason alone, and not because they arouse passion and sexuality."

Is it just me or do our YAJ inspired views of the human body seem very strange? Is there any part of the body that doesn't arouse passion and sexuality?

Hair, ears, lips, eyes, hips, breasts, backs, legs, feet, ankles, toes. Why cover some and not others? And why insist on women covering them and not men? Surely women gaze in wonder at bodies too.

It seems to me that the Goddess has given us bodies that are finely tuned for giving and receiving pleasure and that to fully accept that with a sense of real delight and playfulness in our own sensuality is a sign of a healthy nurturing society.

Athana said...

Paul, well put. We all *are* "finely tuned for giving and receiving pleasure." And of course all body parts can arouse us. Why else would Muslims insist that women cover every inch of their bodies in public?

Sati said...

Hello. Well, I definetly think that the main reason for human culture to cover certain body parts is sexuality. Ever since we (women) became under control of men and an exchangeable -and then desirable- property, we had to be taught how not to call the attention of unwanted men. Since breasts, legs, back and ´behind´ are far more sexual than the rest of our bodies (want to accept it or not) there was a need to cover them up. Nowadays circumstances have changed, of course, but we cannot ignore that a lot of cultures haven´t get to a point where individuals can restrain their instincts... by this I´m not saying that women would be raped everywhere they were seen ´half´ naked BUT ugly situations would arise frecuently even in places very ´evoluted´ because of culture mixing (locals would see it natural, foreiners as an invitation maybe, etc...). We can try to forget it, we can make up very intellectual theories but we ARE still humans, that eat, shit, do terrible things unexplicably, create and do wonderful ones, and of course, LOVE sex.

Athana said...

Hi, Sati

So what you are saying is that most god-centered world societies now are so primitive (America and Europe included) that men do not have the maturity to restrain themselves at the sight of women's breasts.

Do I read you correctly?

If so, it's interesting that men in many if not most indigenous cultures around the world have no trouble restraining themselves under the same circumstances.

Sati said...

Yes! that´s kind of what I meant! and yes, again, it´s interesting the thing about indigenous cultures, that´s exactly why I wrote that probably when we became merchandyse due to capitalism (or similar economical-political squemes) is when our bodies lost their all-natural character. I am supposing you write of cultures that haven´t been touched by the hand of ´modernity´,´globalization´ and/or evoluted estates...

Athana said...

Yes, Sati, when I use the term "indigenous culture" I am, in general, talking about cultures relatively untouched by the large and complex state cultures (whether modern or ancient).