Breast Fetish Written by: Mistress Tracy, 07/06/2011
The interest in women's breasts by straight men is so commonplace as to nearly fail to register as an actual fetish. Obsessive fascination and idolatry is what turns an interest into a fetish, but many of us out there have found that even the most together and well-grounded male becomes unable to tear his eyes, lips, fingers and even genitals away from exposed breasts, nipples and areolas. Hand in hand with the breast fetish comes the obsessive need to hide, conceal and even eliminate breasts.
The question of where the fetish comes from has been answered by many experts, some relying on biological factors, others from sociological standpoints and certainly psychological factors. Given the differences between preferences and the likelihood that many people will devote their waking hours to breasts for a wide range of reasons, attaining consensus on why breasts are so fascinating isn't likely. But the fact remains that these pairs of fleshy glands hold our attention in media, medical and personal stories that aren't likely to diminish in their power to captivate us. In fact, critic Molly Haskell has said about the breast fixation in North America:
"The mammary fixation is the most infantile and the most American, of the sex fetishes.(1)"
Dependence on breasts for sexual arousal or stimulation is known as matzophilia, mastofact or breast partialism (2). Another aspect is the breast fetishism exercised culturally, where ethnographers and feminists recognize and identify the public speculation, socialization and discussion of breasts as a form of patriarchal hegemony. The spotlight on breasts in North American culture is certainly obsessive, but it would be unfair to suggest that other cultures are not as infatuated with the mammary gland as North Americans are - they simply manifest in different ways.
The breast narrative has a different connotation depending on where you are in the world. The life-giving properties are one aspect of breast worship, the body-shaping and socially acceptable idea of what an ideal woman should look like is another. Contrary to the large-breast phenomenon found in North America, many young girls in Cameroon have their breasts "ironed," apparently to prevent male advances and stem early sexuality. This involves the breasts being pounded with a heavy wooden pestle or heated coconut shells (3). This rather violent practice is a part of the fetish that wishes to make women's breasts invisible, as their mere presence is not only likely to send feeble men into a frenzy, but is also intolerable to socially upstanding women. Wearing a padded bra meant to disguise nipples stems from the same wish to control and, ultimately, eliminate the dangerous fetish object: the breast.
Another way of fetishizing breasts is by making garments specifically for them. In ancient Rome the only women who wore undergarments for their breasts were athletes, laborers and those with large bosoms. In 1913, Marie Phelps conceived the bra with her French maid and introduced it into high society. The following year it was patented and meant to flatten and de-emphasize breasts. Cups were introduced about 10 years later and little innovation occurred until after the social revolution in the 1970s. The push-up bra came to us in the early 90s (4), but undergarments that changed shape, concealed, lifted, "enhanced," underwired and elasticized were all available.
One of the most well-accepted images of the public breast is that of the busty, freedom-claiming feminist burning her bra outside the Miss America Pageant in 1968, which spawned a concept of feminism that persists to this day. In fact, the bras were never burned, but instead tossed in the trash with corsets, false eyelashes and high-heeled shoes in protest of women on the stage for the pageant being judged by unattainable beauty standards. (5) The tables have once again turned with the advent of products designed to either hide or simulate nipples, depending on what impression one wishes to give off. This is a further argument about the cultural desirability of false body parts, regardless of whether the product is meant to conceal, (6) such as with silicone pasties or false nipples. (7)
The current health obsession ties in with choosing the right bra, discovering one's own body and being comfortable, rather than necessarily treating the garment like a semiotic object of patriarchal body control (8). In fact, many feminists insist on focusing on breasts, breast sexuality and breast health as much as men do, if only because so often breast cancer is ignored or misdiagnosed and sexual assaults go dismissed because unwelcome touching on the breast is not considered as "real" as unwelcome touches below the belt. In addition, the focus on breast augmentation surgeries, padded bras and other body enhancements is a point of debate over whether or not women seek these procedures due to emotional pressure and low self-esteem or whether they ultimately embrace the full ownership of their own bodies to the point that they actually take charge of shaping it to their own whims. A prominent client of a surgeon is quoted in "Confessions of a Park Avenue Plastic Surgeon" as wishing the doctor could install a zipper, so that she could change the size of her breasts at will. (9) The amount of attention paid to this one part of the body is one of the few areas of regularly occurring fetishism that seems somehow understandable (10), more so than other fixations.
Those with feet fetishes, for example, can expect a small amount of giggling when discussing their preferences, but for men who prefer breasts, it seems like a normal, even mundane, part of the body to appreciate. In fact, a good chunk of other fetishes are considered deviant because they are focused on a part of the body that isn't the breast.
So what is the obsession with breasts all about? From a scientific standpoint, the question of why men prefer bustier ladies is taken back a notch, to first establish whether or not they actually do. In a study by French psychologist Nicolas Gueguen, flat-chested women were observed in a bar wearing padded bras of different sizes to see how much attention they received from men. (11) This led to the question of whether the men responded only to the extra padding or whether these women exhibited more confidence based on their own body image when wearing the bras.
A further study by Gueguen observed female hitchhikers. Since people driving cars are less likely to observe subtle body movements when they drive by a hitchhiker, their reactions to body type are less likely to be influenced by body language. Significantly more males stopped for the bustier girls versus the flat-chested, A-cup and B-cup silhouettes. Female drivers stopping habits did not change as the cup size of the hitchhiker changed. Studies like these and others suggest that heterosexual men really do prefer larger breasts, but whether it's due to socialization, evolution, psychology or some other reason is yet to be known conclusively.
The evolutionary theory suggests that early mammals displayed their buttocks to indicate sexual availability and breasts mimic this for mammals like us who walk upright. A popular psychological idea is the concept that men are attached to breasts due to deep-seated memories of being breast-fed and the subsequent sexualization of the emotional connection to safety and comfort. A newer idea from the neuroscientific world of study suggests that the brain chemical oxytocin, a chemical released during sexual stimulation of the cervix and nipples during orgasm, is also released during breast stimulation and could heighten feelings of bonding. This would suggest that as breast fondling is stimulating for men, a woman having her breasts fondled would experience erotic stimulation as well. (12) In extremely rare cases, some women can achieve orgasms through breast stimulation alone. (13)
These different points of interest converge as people ask the question, "Why do men like breasts?" and "Why do men like big breasts?" Each of these questions assumes that men automatically will like breasts and/or excessively large breasts. Further, they assume that the obsession is so widespread as to be a cultural phenomenon, rather than a personal choice. We don't ask, "Why do these men like big breasts?" we simply generalize the preference for breasts toward all men. Many answers to these questions abound from everyday people on question and answer forums, interviews and radio. Some answers include:
"…because they are hidden…"to "…the comfort of breastfeeding…" to "…to arouse themselves and their partners," all the way to "because we don't have any." (14)
Once established that men definitely love breasts and, in fact, require them to fit certain criteria, the next most-asked question becomes: "What is the right breast size?" Answers to this question abound as well, though, again, personal preference takes a backseat to the assumption that heterosexual men prefer large breasts. In fact, this assumption has gone so far as to have created a smaller niche within the breast fetish for those who prefer small breasts. Further obsessions delve into voyeurism, specifically on women who massage and lick their own breasts, nipple and areola love, cleavage and so on. (15)
Further nuances abound, such as the idea that men may prefer natural or surgically enhanced breasts (16), but a common conversation that continually arises is the complaint from men about how obsessed women are with their breasts. The constant worrying and self-deprecation actually does much more harm to self-confidence than actual breast size. The one thing women on porn sites have in common is confidence. Big, small, natural, silicone, smooth, young, mature or saggy, these women display pride when their bodies are revealed.
On BDSM porn sites, a whole niche of pleasure is devoted to the attention paid to breasts with torture devices, ropes, whips, crops and, of course, hands. (17) Beyond wishing to train and correct the entire body of the submissive, a reaction is sought by the Domme/Dom who torments breasts in particular, no matter the size. Another form of sexual play called "mammary intercourse" (18) involves the male sliding his penis between breasts to achieve orgasm. Commonly known as tit-fucking, this is a form of non-penetrative intercourse with a whole subset of fetishes and interests, such as the pearl necklace, facials and other descriptions for semen landing on the face, neck or breasts of a partner, though these do not necessarily come from mammary intercourse.
There isn't anything conclusive that can be said about breast love, beyond the fact that it definitely exists. Whether due to sociological, psychological, ethnographic, neurochemical, physical, evolutionary or a combination of all of them, the phenomenon is definitely real. Beyond male obsession with breasts, lesbians, self-breast love and tranny breasts are further indications that the breast fetish is not likely to fade any time soon.
1. ThinkExist, Feb 2009
2. Wikipedia: Breast Fetishism, Feb 2009
3. BBC News: Cameroon Girls Battle "Breast Ironing," June 23, 2006
4. Darker Pleasures Primer: Tit Trivia
5. Snopes.com, Red Hot Mammas, September 27, 2007
6. The Lingerie Library: Nipple Concealers, Feb 2009
7. Body Perks: False Nipples, Feb 2009
8. Blog-her.com: Good Health Thon, Feb 2009
9. "Confessions of a Park Avenue Plastic Surgeon," Dr. Cap Lesesne, M.D., Penguin Group, October 2005
10. Playboy.com/features: Breasts
11. Body Image, Vol 4, Issue 4, Dec 2007
12. Larry Young, Nature Journal, Being Human: Love: Neuroscience reveals all, Jan 2009
13. Wikipedia: Breast Orgasm
14. Answers found on Yahoo Answers and The Insider, Feb 2009
15. Voyeur Web: Wiki/Breast Fetish, Feb 2009
16. VRQ.qc.ca: Small Breast Implants, Feb 2009
17. Fetish Fish: Boobie Bondage, Sept 2006
18. Wikipedia: Tit Fuck/Mammary Intercourse, Feb 2009
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