Friday Followup: Do Big Boobs Rock, and What About Feminism?

I’d normally do a roundup on Friday, but after all the brouhaha yesterday I wanted to write a follow up post and talking about the many complicated issues involved with bodies, being a woman, and how I feel about feminism. First though, you should go check out the incredibly thoughtful followup post by Venusian*Glow, who was the author of the guest post.

Background on the guest post:
I got a wide range of responses to this post, both in my inbox and via Twitter. Reactions ranged from “What’s the big deal?” to “You’re promoting sexism and hate all gay people/transgender people/women/skinny women” to “I’ve been waiting to see a post like this for a long time and it’s lovely.” The fact that so many different people could have such strong reactions to a post that was a numbered list is fascinating to me. As I said in the comments yesterday, I read through the post before putting it up and I don’t agree with all of the items. Some I love very strongly (reading in the bath with your Kindle when you have big boobs is an awesome perk) and others give me some trepidation. That said, I didn’t feel it was fair to censor any of it because I’ve heard full busted women make all of these statements on multiple occasions. That fact that Eternal Voyageur interviewed her full busted friends lends more weight to my theory. Whether you like them or not, these are commonplace statements that full busted women make about their bodies to each other in small groups. 

So about this feminism/sexism thing: 
I’ve been thinking about all of this heavily over the last few days because I’ve been reading Caitlin Moran’s How To Be A Woman, which I highly recommend to anyone interested in these issues. Caitlin argues that feminism can be found in a series of small every day decisions rather than in the halls of academia. The way we talk to each other is about feminism. Whether we get a bikini wax or not and why involves feminism. The way we treat our boobs and our sexual selves is about feminism. Basically, all of those “fluffy” issues we women discuss every day are a workbook of feminist theory that we can explore and learn from.

To make a long argument short, I think that the fact that we’ve accepted this kind of talk privately isn’t so great. But I don’t think refusing to talk about it in a public forum is the solution, and ultimately why I didn’t take down the post despite getting a migraine’s worth of grief over it. Why is it okay to tell your friend that she has traffic accident level cleavage and not have it as a list item in a blog post? If one is sexist and unfeminist, surely the other is as well. Except in an internet forum, I saw exactly that interaction two days ago and it was positive and meant to be empowering. I honestly think the woman in question took it as a compliment and the person saying it meant it as one. Now whether that’s okay is a different question, but refusing to air these kinds of statements in public and pretend they don’t exist isn’t responsible either. I saw some incredibly passionate and intelligent discussion of this stuff on Twitter yesterday as a result of that post. Obviously getting there without offending lots of people is an ideal, but tell me how often you discuss feminist issues on a Thursday passionately without some kind of starter annoyance. Isn’t true feminism being able to have a discussion and explore these issues together as women rather than pretending we’re saying something different in private than in public? I think Caitlin Moran would argue that the feminism is in the exploration rather than in the answer, which I’m inclined to agree with. 

On body talk and bigotry:
I think talking about our bodies is extra hard on the internet, but that’s where lots of the discussion is at these days. I’m with Eternal Voyageur on this: how do we talk about the things we love about ourselves without insinuating that it’s better than something else? If I tell someone I love my J cup boobs should they assume I think whatever they have is inferior? Please note, I’m not dismissing the issues that people had with the wording in the post yesterday. I understand and agree with where the commentators were coming from, but I’d also like some alternative suggestions as well.

One of the solutions posited yesterday was that I should write a post on the benefits of being small busted as a followup. I’d love to do that, but I can’t, because I’m not small busted. It would in-authentic and not well informed. This doesn’t mean I don’t love small busted women, but just because I love something doesn’t make me an expert. On a side note, if readers would like to guest post on these topics I’d love to run them.

And here’s the rub: I’m a big supporter of people of all body sizes, orientations, genders and proclivities. However, that doesn’t mean I can write about them authentically or do them justice in an article. I’m also a firm believer that not writing these articles does not make me a hateful bigot, and should be an acceptable choice. More and more bloggers these days are asking this very question: How can we show our support for all kinds of diversity without having to be an expert in it all? 

Lastly, I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of this. These are complicated issues that need exploring, and all view points are welcome. Please leave some discussion in the comments!

 

 

 

8 Comments

  1. I was one of the “not a big deal” people yesterday (I didn’t even respond to the post) and I think on reflection a big part of that is being familiar with Eternal Voyageur and knowing that she is encouraging, positive and loving to people and also that sometimes her turn of phrase isn’t the most accurate or natural so the words might not necessarily reflect the intended meaning, but are close enough that you could take it two ways.

    I can see the points that would make smaller chested women feel bad and I don’t think they were written as well as they could have been, but I still consider them true. The one about feeling feminine like a grown woman was not well explained, but our society does say “if you have big boobs, you are a more desirable woman”. Smaller chested women can be referred to as girls, while larger chested women aren’t usually. It is, of course, total bollocks – femininity is not defined by chest size – but some days it’s just easier when you know you won’t be mistaken for a male simply because of your chest size (and when you’re trying to be taken for a male, it’s incredibly frustrating).

    The ones about male attention are, sadly, also often true. I’m a gamer and my Steam profile picture is of me from the very top of my chest up. You can’t even see my boobs, but you can see enough of the very top of them to see that they come out a way from my chest. That picture alone is enough to get guys commenting on it and trying to befriend me. I have had guys try to be nicer to me or give me things just because of my boobs. I absolutely loathe this and hate the way men and women often encourage women being able to use their “sexiness” to get away with things that men or “less sexy” women couldn’t, but I can’t deny that it happens regularly.

    I’m very much an advocate of talking about things openly. I don’t think things can ever improve if people aren’t being honest about them, and the “big boobs vs little boobs” issue is real and it is out there, however much we’d like it to disappear. I believe the only way we will get it to disappear is to acknowledge that it’s there, discuss what is acceptable and what isn’t, and be positive about both sides of it.

  2. Hei,

    I was one of the “bid deal” people ;)

    I guess my horror just came up because of the lack of information from where this post came from. With a little bit more introduction it wouldn’t have been as hard on me I guess.
    I read the follow up post on Eternal*Voyageurs blog and now it’s a bit more clear.
    For me it was just not the right way to go, this bulletin form, with “rules”. Now, I know that those were actual quotes and I know what lead to this – it’s a completely different background.

    @Sexism
    well, I just think it’s never ok. I’d NEVER say to a friend “wow, with this cleavage, you will attract a lot of boys” or stuff like that. I would say “wow, this looks beautiful, this suits you well, your necklace works great with that neckline etc etc.”
    I think it’s really important to practice compliments and talks between women* without adding a sexist touch (“would men approve of this?”)

    I think that if a list like this, with equally poor backgroundinformation appeared on small bust perks, my reaction would’ve been the same.

    The point that personally wounded me was 8, but what really angers me was the feminist stuff – and that would’ve been the same if it was for smallbusted girls.

    I think the problem isn’t that smallbusted girls are excluded, and I don’t think that a blog post about smallbustperks is the solution to this “problem”.
    If someday someone feels like writing it – why not? I struggle with finding some nice aspects about my body everyday. Me too, I could provide some perks from the top of my head I guess.

    I guess that just the lack of background information was a bit misleading, where this post was coming from.

    And I guess I didn’t mention before – some of the points are lovely!

    I really appreciate your efforts, of both of you.
    xoxo Denocte

  3. Personally I didn’t care too much about Venusian*Glow post. I think it was meant to be a funny piece, much like busty girls problems. It kinds sounds like the women that have an issue with the piece might still be suffering from their own body image issues. I am glad that Venusian*Glow, wrote this article because I’m a bit tired of reading about how horrible it is to have large breasts.

    Random thought: Is attracting guys really a perk. For some quality over quantity is preferable.

    • I often notice that when it comes to conversations about body image or diversity or what have you in lingerie, the very first thing people resort to when someone expresses an opinion they disagree with is “So-and-so must have low self-esteem.” Or, conversely, “So-and-so must be jealous.”

      No.

      You can have a positive self body image and still disagree with statements that promote a negative one. And you can talk about how much you love your body without implicitly (or explicitly, in the case of these “Real women have curves” campaigns) putting other people down.

  4. I don’t think it has to be an either/or thing. It’s not a case of “either you talk these issues in bullet point format with no context” or “you don’t talk about them at all.” There’s definitely a middle ground in there.

    As a black woman, I often hear statements in private (and public too, for that matter) about why being black is awesome. But if I wrote a bullet-pointed list implying that being black is better than being white, some people might take offense with that and rightly so.

    I also identify as a feminist, and I think part of true feminism is making all kinds women feel welcome and accepted, and not reinforcing some of the negative messaging we get in our society.

    • I completely agree, Treacle. I think talking about body acceptance is important– but tone and content matter as much as subject matter. A general list about “good things about a certain body type” is always going to fail in some way because you can never speak for all people with that body type– and talking about your own positivity seems counter-productive when it’s linked to being valued by other people as opposed to considering yourself valuable. Loving the way YOUR body curves because you feel sexy is a pretty different thing than saying, “I love my curvy body because it is sexier [than other bodies]“.

  5. Here’s a great book I recommend written by my friend and author Vanessa Halloum about Femininity: http://tinyurl.com/94b3rpm
    This book helps you to rediscover hidden elements of your feminine being, ripe with power and vibrancy.
    xoxo, Aline

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