Sunday, September 24, 2006

This modesty thing...

It's taking on a life of it's own!

My post on Warhol, with the picture from "The Factory" drew a few comments - via email. Some people were concerned about the nudity. One of the characters has a breast exposed. As an artist - an old one now - I don't eroticize or objectify the human body. I'll admit for a time I avoided life studies in my youth because I had - I was late teens, early twenties. I had to get over it - impure thoughts emanate from the heart. To be sure, pornography, along with our adolescent, obsessive-compulsive sexualized culture influences that, while at the same time ensnares the passions. Pornography, soft or hard core, has destroyed our sensibilities. My recent posts and the emails I received have raised the question however, why is the female breast eroticized? Are men's pecs eroticized? I just don't get it.

Throughout the history of art the human body has been celebrated for it's beauty. We have lovely images of the Madonna nursing the Infant Jesus. This one attributed to Da Vinci is particularly tender, chaste, and lovely...yet they all are. I do not even object to a mother nursing in public - it is so not a sexual act. To think so is diabolical, anti-woman, anti-child, -anti-life. Being a prude is not a virtue.

A man who works in our warehouse once shielded his eyes from a metal bas-relief of a similar image of the Madonna. I don't get it. I have had customers complain of an antique retablo of the Virgin of the Milk we have for sale - a classic Ecuadorian image of devotion. Another person complained of an image we sold of a detail of the Sistine Chapel of one of the allegorical figures nursing a child.

It has got to be the exaggerated American fixation on the breasts of women, the larger the better. There are even restaurants named after them. Radio talk shows, shock jocks, continually talk about them. It is totally absurd. It's offensive to women. While some women go in for breast enhancement surgery, falling for the vain joy men are attracted to. Regardless of the morality involved, it is just dumb, teenage, adolescent - stupid. Ah! Dorky! (Now the word fits!)

It is such a strange culture we live in. I don't think I'll know where to look anymore when speaking to women, especially those who wear printed t-shirts or medals hanging over their breasts, or low cut dresses. C'mon guys - grow up - she ain't yo' mama!

Granted, the woman in the Factory photo is not nursing,
however the image remains innocuous - it is emblematic of the decadence, albeit adolescent, of the Warhol milieu. As it stands, it is art - not pornography, no more than Caravaggio's painting of the Madonna of the Rosary with an old man sucking the breast of a maid - shown here. (Oh! Maybe this breast thing isn't just a 20th century American male thing?)

It's just a breast. Learn to think of it as a feeding tube if it's so troubling. This extraordinary self consciousness of women about their breasts, influenced, in part by men's lust, keeps many back from even inspecting them for breast cancer or going for mammograms, things that could save their lives. Guys, get over the obsession.


  1. Just in - I may be going to purgatory for thousands and thousands of years for the Warhol photo. (At least he didn't say I was going to hell like the people I work with tell me.)

    That's it! I'm done posting for the night!

  2. AuntieKK8:12 PM

    why didn't Seinfeld do a bit on "What's the deal with breasts?"

  3. therese3:41 AM

    He probably didn't do a bit on breasts because they scared him...:) He did do a show on "nips"...Elaine accidently revealed one of hers on a Christmas card she sent out...
    I like the Raymond show when his Mother does a sculpture of a different private female body part but doesn't realize what it looks like --no one does except Raymond. The dad just feels warm and happy around it--actually everyone does until Raymond tells them what it looks like...cracks me up as do most of the Raymond shows in the begining do...

  4. Juan T.6:13 AM

    Let's just put it this way. I find it quite shocking that devout catholics can approve of Pornography. And Sitcoms at that.

    Suppose they showed Pope John Paul II's mother on Newsweek?

    Suppose one of your relatives started dressing in a fashion that there's nothing wrong with certain anatomy?

    If there's nothing wrong with certain anatomy, then what's wrong with revealing other anatomy?

    If we've been conditioned to the indecent, then we'll probably have trouble in perceiving the decency of the Lourdes apparitions.

  5. Juan T.6:18 AM

    That should be suppose John Paul II's mother was shown on Newsweek with certain anatomy showing? We would think it an indecent and undignified horror.

  6. Great post. Thank you, from a nursing mother.

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  8. Anonymous11:42 AM

    pornstudent - Maybe grace and beauty, virtue, intelligence could be what really attracts us, as opposed to sexual fantasy and self gratification.

  9. Interesting subject, academically, of course. [GR]

    I haven't been in Europe for a long time. 1987. But bare breasts, shown "erotically" are commonly shown in their newspapers (Page 3) and magazines. Nude beaches are common there, I understand.

    A lady co-worker who travelled with a girlfriend to Spain some years ago told us upon her return that they removed their tops when they visited beaches because they felt foolish when everybody else was topless.

    The guys who heard the story later couldn't stop talking about it, having seen nothing.

    I've often wondered what the European Church has to say about public nudity in many places in Europe.

    I have no idea why it is such an "attractive hazard" for American men, but I do admit that I regularly have to struggle to keep custody over my eyes.

  10. therese2:39 PM

    Personally I watched Seinfeld before I was a Catholic...I can't stand it now frankly but not for any reference to "Nips" but the extreme selfishness of all characters...There was absolutely nothing pornographic about the Raymond show unless you are a little bent yourself--you'd have to make it that way. It was a very innocent play on how people view things.
    My sister and I argued over the naked pregnant Demi Moore picture when it came out...she said it was art and I said it wasn't...I claim that art isn't something everyone can have for a buck 50...I also think it was really in poor taste because she isn't alone in the picture and the other person hadn't given her (I assume the baby was a her--all girls right?)permission for the photograph...
    Some of my relatives do dress in ways I would never...sleazy is what I would call it...I still love them even though they really irritate me just looking...I tend to point out the flaws publicly to them--I probably shouldn't but my niece can't bend in any of her skirts...she is a beautiful girl(extrodinary really) but usually looks pretty is too bad.
    I am Catholic and I make the decisions I make and yet I live in a world I have to fight a lot...I have a 6 almost 7 year old that will be a trying, trying child. Every other day I have to threaten her I will strip her of all earthly goods if she argues one more time with me over clothes...
    We have to have a tiny sense of humor about it don't we?

  11. Therese - good point. Most comedies are about people behaving badly or inappropriately - it is probably what makes them funny. I saw the Raymond episode as well - the sculpture was for a convent fundraiser LOL!
    When you remember "Cheers", "Friends", Sienfeld", and now maybe "The Office" - all of the people are flawed. In "Cheers" they had to be alcoholics - look at Norm; while Elaine and Jerry and the rest were so self absorbed - I geuss that is what makes it funny.

  12. Hey folks. I personally don't like pictures of the Madonna nursing. Not because I have some issue with breastfeeding..I don't. But because I've read accounts from the saints who specifically said that Our Lady covered up with a long veil or blanket when nursing our Lord. She would never, EVER expose her breast in public to nurse. Breast feeding in public is often necc. but so often it is done indiscreetly and esp. by Catholic moms who are trying to thumb their noses at society. When possible I think a lady should excuse herself and her child and go nurse privately. Nursing is an intimate act between mother and child, a bonding, it should be special and private if at all possible just like when we pray. Then again, that's my opinion. I also do not approve of the Sistine Chapel paintings. To me, it doesn't matter how someone should look at it objectively and as art, nakedness is nakedness and we are fallen. We are not Adam and Eve before the Fall who looked on one another without shame. We are fallen and we should be modest and covered. And yes, the mans penis has been sexualized. Look at the Greek statues and the phallic symbols of the fertility cults of old.

  13. Lady F:
    Vous rigolez!

  14. Oh yeah and TN is not so open about the human body as he says. He took offense *gasp* to a statue depicting our Lady pregnant and you could see her belly button through the shirt. *double gasp* Naked boobies are okie dokey but pregnant statues of Mary showing the belly button through the shirt..well that's over the top. (: Just razzin' ya TN.


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