Resolved: femininity is not obscene

Please limit discussion in this area to local and state politics.

How would you vote?

Yea
13
87%
Nay
2
13%
 
Total votes: 15

Mike S.
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Resolved: femininity is not obscene

Postby Mike S. » Mon Aug 23, 2004 9:57 pm

I thought I'd try my hand at writing a law, for the fun of it. Also, I want to see if any of these "Madison liberals" really exist, or is it all hype...?


WHEREAS failure of women to breast-feed their infants has been shown in the majority of studies to cause a 5 to 10 point drop in IQ scores of their children,

WHEREAS a perceived lack of opportunity or support for breast-feeding has led some women to resort to artificial substitute foods,

WHEREAS the female breast is neither a sexual nor an excretory organ, but a nutritive organ,

WHEREAS the female breast is in no way more offensive than the male breast, which is freely exposed and accepted,

WHEREAS existing prohibitions on exposure of the female breast are holdovers of the same theocratic principles our troops are giving their lives to fight in Afghanistan,

BE IT RESOLVED:

I. The Madison city council formally expresses, in representation of the majority of local residents, that the exposed breast, male or female, does not violate local community standards, and prefers that this fact may be used in defense of any legal proceeding pertaining to obscenity or indecency to which it pertains,

II. No existing city ordinance shall be construed to prohibit a woman from exposing her breasts in any place, time, or manner that is lawful for a man.

III. No business in Madison shall prohibit or penalize employees or customers from breast-feeding their children in any location where adults and children are each permitted to enter.

IV. The city health department is authorized to produce and disseminate a small, factual brochure detailing the known risks of failure to breast-feed, and to require that it be made available to women in places where artificial infant foods or drugs intended to interfere with lactation are distributed.

Igor
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Postby Igor » Tue Aug 24, 2004 12:26 am

"Set 'em free and let 'em breathe..."

I was unaware that folks in town are being hassled about breast feeding - certainly that shouldn't be an issue. However, it would seem that common courtesy would also make most breast-feeders to continue to be discreet about it. In other words, if there is a convenient semi-private place to feed, you might select that instead of the front row of the stands during the little league game. If the only other options are unsafe or generally scuzzy, you make do with a blanket.

Of course, I have seen kids that appeared to be old enough to shave that are still breast-feeding. That is tougher to explain to a 6-year old.

Ducatista
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Re: Resolved: femininity is not obscene

Postby Ducatista » Tue Aug 24, 2004 8:51 am

Yay! Where's cntskweezagdwmyn?

Anyway. Breastfeeding = femininity? Lame. But you're absolutely right that breastfeeding is a good practice and we shouldn't make it more difficult than it already is.

Not too keen on your specifics, though.

The female breast isn't a sexual organ? You run in some dull circles. Nutritive is fine, but there's a lot more than that going on in my C cups. Trying to desexualize women's breasts is just silly.

And I'd revise resolution III to read "any location where adults and children are permitted to eat." Fair is fair.

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Postby FaeryGurl » Tue Aug 24, 2004 11:34 am

Igor wrote: ...instead of the front row of the stands during the little league game. If the only other options are unsafe or generally scuzzy, you make do with a blanket.


Let's cover up the men too then....

"um.. please sir, I know it's 120 degrees here on the playground, but if you insist on taking your shirt off, would you please wrap yourself in this blanket?"

Paco
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Postby Paco » Tue Aug 24, 2004 12:46 pm

...here we go! another breastfeeding thread.

I'm with you on that thought, Faerygurl. some guys have no shame.

Daisy
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Postby Daisy » Tue Aug 24, 2004 1:51 pm

FaeryGurl wrote:Let's cover up the men too then....

"um.. please sir, I know it's 120 degrees here on the playground, but if you insist on taking your shirt off, would you please wrap yourself in this blanket?"
Point noted, but I already breastfeed as inconspicuously as possible. It's you girls who have to be all flagrant about it, and therefore are more in need of legislative remedy.

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Postby anonymous72 » Tue Aug 24, 2004 1:55 pm

Why do men have nipples anyway?

Mike S.
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Postby Mike S. » Tue Aug 24, 2004 7:10 pm

Responses in chronological order...

Igor: The issue I'm raising is really one of so-called "chilling effects". Even if Dane County isn't prosecuting any women for showing too much while breast-feeding, they have you prudently talking about semi-private places and blankets. One can only shudder to think of what it'd be like in Cincinnati. The point is: someone, somewhere in the U.S. is someday going to have to take a moment to say, "You know, we really don't want to be like the Taliban..." and make a stand for the free expression of the few that removes the "chilling effect" for the many.

Ducatista: I wasn't saying that breastfeeding = femininity, but rather, if you have a male breast and it isn't obscene, then making it feminine doesn't make it obscene. While there may be some statistical differences in size, shape, and audience demographics, certain men are certainly capable of producing breasts similar to those of women - in such cases, it is solely femininity or the lack of it that determines what is obscene or indecent.

As for being a sexual organ, well: not in the most politically relevant sense, that of being able to spread a sexually transmitted disease. The root motivation behind declaring "sexual and excretory activities" to be obscene is that they can spread illness; in a primitive culture, a vague sense that these things ought to be private tends to make people live longer. In the sense of deriving gratification, well, surely, but then again, so are the lips, the earlobes, the nape of the neck, the soles of the feet, the sensitive part of the belly, the armpits, the butt cheeks......

Revision to III: "any location where adults and children are permitted to eat" - that's a good idea!

Anonymous:

The reason why guys have nipples is that nothing in developmental biology is 100%. So if guys had a mechanism that completely wiped out the nipple, for example, then there'd be 0.1% of women who had a birth defect that they didn't have nipples. In prehistoric times, that would mean they couldn't raise children, and over many generations this genetic trait would go extinct. Guys wouldn't even have smaller nipples if former generations hadn't been so close to starvation that the energy cost of the extra tissue and potential waste of milk hadn't been significant enough to survival to warrant the developmental risks.

The other reason why is sexual selection - things that look cute get favored in future generations. There's been some interesting work with white-crested finches in this regard --- in some cases, it appears that physical characteristics develop in a species solely because the nervous system has come to view them as beautiful as an "emergent characteristic of a complex system". (that's the closest an evolutionary biologist will get to creationism...)



Whether it's fine artists with their models of sublime beauty, Christians with their Madonna and Child as figures of pure innocence, or porno downloaders with their more earthly appreciations, all these things are treasure maps. The natural way of life and the resultant points of IQ saved - these are the treasure.

Ducatista
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Postby Ducatista » Wed Aug 25, 2004 9:08 am

Mike S. wrote:I wasn't saying that breastfeeding = femininity

Sorry, I probably misunderstood your poll. To me it looked as though it could've been titled "Breastfeeding is not obscene."

Is public acceptance of breastfeeding your primary issue? if so, I think you'd get a lot further if you dropped the "women's breasts aren't sexual, let 'em out" approach.

But if acceptance of nudity above the waist is your goal, then maybe you're taking a smart approach by using breastfeeding as your point of entry.

But smart or not for your purposes, desexualizing women's breasts still seems silly to me. Puritanical, even. "Son, a woman's breast is not a toy. It's a spigot." Equating breasts with breeding takes all the fun out of them. That's the last thing our uptight society needs. Sex and reproduction are not one and the same ââ?‰?Â

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Postby shelly » Wed Aug 25, 2004 10:07 am

What irks me about this topic, and I could be wrong on this, is the use of the word "femininity". Feminine refers to a collection of attributes associated with being female, and is socially and culturally defined. Being female is a biological condition. Therefore, the counterpart of male breasts are not feminine breasts, but female breasts. And breastfeeding has nothing to do with being feminine, it is something that females do.

I think it is useful to keep these things separate, since it seems that what you are trying to advocate is acceptance of female breasts in public, not women expressing their femininity.

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Postby Chuck_Schick » Wed Aug 25, 2004 12:47 pm

Regarding femininity: I'm don't know how to define it, but I know it when I see it.

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Postby catty_tonic » Wed Aug 25, 2004 5:47 pm

FYI. It is LEGAL for women to go topless in Madison. The ordinance came about after a snafu involving topless sunbathing at B.B. Clarke beach.

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Postby Lynne » Wed Aug 25, 2004 6:43 pm

That reminds me of one of my first Madison memories...coming to Madison to help my older sister move into the dorms, driving by James Madison Park, and seeing a really large man sunbathing while wearing nothing but a very small thong.

I'd way rather see someone breastfeeding (even skweezer and her 12-year-old, and I can't beleive she's missing this thread) than that again.

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Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Aug 25, 2004 7:14 pm

catty_tonic wrote:FYI. It is LEGAL for women to go topless in Madison. The ordinance came about after a snafu involving topless sunbathing at B.B. Clarke beach.

No ordinance came about, rather a recognition by the D.A.'s office that mere female toplessness (topfreeness by the more p.c.) is not a violation of the law.

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Postby Igor » Thu Aug 26, 2004 12:51 am

Mike S. wrote:Responses in chronological order...

Igor: The issue I'm raising is really one of so-called "chilling effects". Even if Dane County isn't prosecuting any women for showing too much while breast-feeding, they have you prudently talking about semi-private places and blankets. One can only shudder to think of what it'd be like in Cincinnati. The point is: someone, somewhere in the U.S. is someday going to have to take a moment to say, "You know, we really don't want to be like the Taliban..." and make a stand for the free expression of the few that removes the "chilling effect" for the many.


"Chilling effect" is just "slippery slope" with a different name. It is usually used when people want government to do the "right" thing (by their definition) regardless of whether it is the government's job to get involved.
(e.g. allowing a teacher to wear religious jewelry would have a "chilling effect" on the religious rights of the kid wearing a Mercyful Fate t-shirt.)

If it becomes an issue because of police or health department action, then by all means, pass an ordinance, or instruct the employees as necessary. Otherwise, leave the "Hooray for Boobies" message to the non-government entities that have handled it so ably: The LaLeche League, Hooters, and the Dutch olympic womens field hockey team. (Thank you, Bravo)


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