Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lemonade Boobies

A reader sent me a photo that actually left me speechless. Momentarily anyway. I showed The Piano Man the image and waited for his reaction. He had plenty to say. After he expressed his thoughts I finally found mine and we ranted together. I appreciated his insight and asked him to write it down to share here. So I'm honored to share the first of what I hope are many more posts by The Piano Man.


Today Jessica showed me this:

"Lady selling lemonade on the beach (reportedly clearing $250 per day)... The psychology of business is to "know what your customers want!" This guy probably does not know what he is drinking, nor does he care... because he is after something more than sugared down lemon juice. Reportedly for $10 a try, you will see when you finish sucking. So who says making money is tough? The jobs are out there!!!"

(Jessica here: Don't you just love the expression on her face? I mean, seriously, what is that?)

A woman on the beach with large manufactured lemonade-filled breasts covering her own, from which, for $10, one can find refreshment and get in touch with their baby-side.

That’s right, customers (?!) pay a lady to suck on her fake boobs - for lemonade? The short description of the picture also alluded to what said customers may catch a glimpse of once they’ve had their fill, if you catch my drift.

(Jessica again: OMG, you mean, they might see some B@@B! A NIPPLE! Oh pretty lady what else can we do to sneak a peak? Roll over? Play dead? Don't even get me started on what this reduces men to.)

Um, really? My reaction to the photograph was a mix of shock, disbelief and disgust, as well as, I must admit, a smidge of amusement for just how ridiculous this whole scene is. Let’s see if I can unravel and label my emotional response.

(Jessica's emotional response: ewwwwwwwwww! ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ew, ewwwwwww!)

What would possess a grown man to publicly perform such an act with a perfect stranger? An act that is as confusing as it is absurd. To me, a man’s face interacting with a woman’s chest is a sexual thing; the kind of sexual thing that you do in private. I could perhaps see how the shock value of appearing to be performing such an act in public might be enticing for someone, purely for entertainment. But with a stranger? Maybe I’m just too old-fashioned. I’d personally be embarrassed to pretend to suck on a stranger’s breasts; and I find it extremely disrespectful to the woman, even if she is offering it as a service.

(Jessica: No sweetie, you're really not old fashioned. You respect yourself and me. That and you don't have to resort to such measures, obviously.)

Which makes me wonder: is it really OK for individuals to go offering pseudo-sexual acts for money? How about participating in a pseudo-sexual act in public? I realize that in this situation people aren’t actually sucking on this woman’s breasts, but they are sucking on fake boobs positioned in the same place as her breasts, and these fake boobs happen to be see-through; you can clearly see the lemonade in them (and maybe more...). Still, you’re paying to suck on a strangers boobs in public, fake or not. To me, this is the same thing as wearing see-through swimsuits, or clothes that have naked people printed on them. Public nudity laws? Oh, you’re not really parading around naked, right? I’m not personally comfortable walking ON that right/wrong line.

(Jessica here again: I don't have a problem with airbrushed t-shirts with naked people on them. I mean, I wouldn't wear one but w/e.)

I mentioned how confusing this thing is. On the one hand, this act can be perceived as pseudo-sexual, but when I focus on the fake breast containing a drink that someone accesses by sucking on its fake nipple, all sexual connotation disappears for me, and it becomes a nurturing act, the kind that takes place between a mother and her baby when breastfeeding. A beautiful, natural act, that my wife has shared with our babies 5 times over, in public and in private, in truth, wherever the need arises. A life-giving act. And non-sexual; because it’s not a sexual act to breastfeed your baby but rather a nurturing, mothering oen. Babies have no other natural alternative than to get their nutrition from a breast. Sure, there’s formula, now. But I’d hardly call it natural. Accepted in our culture? No doubt. But natural? The way nature, or God, intended? I don’t think so. So, back to our amusing/disturbing picture. These breasts, fake though they obviously are, have liquid in them, liquid that is intended to be ingested, through the means of a nipple to which you apply suction with your mouth. To me, it’s a nursing act, and I have long outgrown my nursing days. I am a man now. Actually, my nursing days were over even way before I became a man. I know there is conversation regarding how long a child can or should nurse. For me the limit is 2 or 3 years of age, but I regard this as a personal decision that parents make for themselves, and I’m OK with that. Even for the extreme breastfeeders, there is a limit, a ceiling that is reached, where a child decides they are through with that phase in their life. Whether it happens at 3 or 10 is irrelevant in this discussion. The point is it happens, somewhere, we’ll say, in the first 10 years of a person’s life? Therefore, to me, this picture evokes an act that any well-adjusted adult has long outgrown and has now become unnatural to them. For me, it feels wrong, I experience a physical revulsion to the thought of an adult performing the act in a baby’s stead.

(Jessica's thoughts- again: I don't care what grown-ups do in private. That's their business. However, I never appreciate a grown-up acting like a child in any public setting. Temper tantrums? No. Whining? I don't think so. Picking their nose? Oh heck no.)

Then I started wondering what kind of people both the customer and the, uh, merchant (?) are. Does the man in the picture really not see the merchant as a woman? Is she just a set of boobs? A novelty item for his enjoyment? For the amusement of others? I don’t believe for a second that what’s on his mind is quenching his thirst. Is this not a blatant example of the objectification of women in our society? Does the customer have no respect for her, or for himself for that matter? If he’s willing to pretend to perform an (infantile) pseudo-sexual act with a complete stranger, in public, what else is he capable of? What will he do next? And what about her, the woman with the goods? How degrading for her to let who-knows-how-many strangers a day mess around with her fake breasts for money. What’s her story? Where is her self-respect? Does she see herself as an object for men's pleasure and entertainment? Is that where she finds her worth? I assume that she’s bought into our culture’s view of women, and she’s just trying to capitalize on it a little bit. I also assume that she is a victim of our culture’s view of women, and she has had degrading and hurtful experiences used to teach her about them. I feel sorry for her, and wish that she weren’t demeaned to the point of resorting to this.

(Jessica: Preach it babe.)

In a country that broadcasts all-too-frequent news reports on alleged disturbing acts of breastfeeding between mothers and their own babies in public, this is OK? This is acceptable? Even if this isn't acceptable to many why isn't this all over the news as inappropriate behavior in public when recently we have report after report of the scandalous activities of mothers simply caring for their children by nurturing and nourishing them with her breasts. Well, this, with its mixed message of sexual-public-nursing-naked-for-fun with objectification-and-paying-for-sex overtones, should certainly help clear up any misconceptions regarding the place of breasts and breastfeeding in our society. Because somehow we can post this on the internet and laugh from our jr. high dirty humor selves but a mother feeding her child naturally is considered so inappropriate FaceBook regularly deletes any images depicting a breastfeeding child, a Tampa school board sides with a principle that removes a breastfeeding woman from a public lobby and the obnoxious, in-your-face talk show The View refuses to show breastfeeding images on their show and dis on women that nurse in public. What is wrong with this picture?

Oh, and, in spite of the vaguely amusing and disturbing first glance of the above image, I find it mostly disgusting.

26 comments:

  1. there are no words...okay one:Disturbing!
    You have a fabulous blog, I'm a new fan!
    http://lifewiththestevens.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. Society has a problem with women nursing their babies in public, but THIS crazy sh*t is acceptable?!? There's something very wrong with the people in our country. Sad, but true.

    ReplyDelete
  3. My main questions where 'where is her self respect?' and 'what makes this ok, and breastfeeding a child in public offensive, distracting or not ok?'... both were addressed- go Piano Man, very well put.

    I'm disgusted.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Um ewww.You want to suckle breast do it in the privacy of your own home.This is ok but people have a crap fit over mohers nursing their children? This lady should so be ashamed of herself.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Smart woman! She is just cashing in on the unmet needs of grown men. A man that had all his needs met at his mothers breast in infancy and childhood would feel no desire to do this.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Ummm in addition to all the other thoughts... how is she cleaning those in between "customers" ??

    Uggghhh, this is ok but not a woman feeding her baby? THAT is what is disgusting to me!!!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Why isn't she using that yellow scarf to cover herself while "bfing"? Or maybe that scarf is there for an extra $5 she'll sling the guy, too?

    ReplyDelete
  8. I posted your article on my facebook site to see what my friends thought and one pointed out that doesn't look like it is actually at the beach. It looks like it is at the burning man festival.

    So does context change your reaction to it? I reckon if it is at the burning man festival she wasn't a business - or at least it puts the other information that came with the photo into doubt. I haven't articulated how I feel about it yet but the change of context does give me more food for thought.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I think someone went to the pub and bought some peanuts and thought, you know what, I can take that a step further....

    ReplyDelete
  10. I've never been to Burning Man but have friends that have gone. It changes it a little bit if that were indeed the context BUT I still think it is disturbing even if she wasn't paid.

    That said, I could totally see this on certain beaches during spring break, absolutely.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I agree with Gemma-Rose. From the picture I immediately thought burning-man too. Which made me think there is a heck of a lot of crazier sh*t going on. And everyone there is outrageous and costumed and 'artistically' pushing all sorts of boundaries. Put in that context, she's not just a peddler on the beach but, likely doing this as some form of performance art.

    ReplyDelete
  12. Have you considered that you may be further harming women by forcing victimization upon the entire gender in even the most dominant situations? The woman here is the retailer, the instigator, and controls the situation in every meaningful way. In the given roles, she is the adult and the provider; specifically, she's playing the role of parent which holds supreme authority over the child. Lets not make everything we disagree with a gender inequality issue.

    ReplyDelete
  13. isn't it funny that if people go eat at a resteraunt, they would be horrified if they knew someone had been drinking out of their glass, but I am sure not one guy that "slurped" asked if the nips were cleaned between usage. no health code here I'm sure!!

    ReplyDelete
  14. she is not at the beach!
    and where she "is" money is not allowed!

    ReplyDelete
  15. I agree she is not at a beach and the couple was placed there.

    If you look the whole thing it is plastic and due to a vacuum in the container you would need some ventilation to even be able to do tit. I mean it...
    Sorry you all got doped. Think about it.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beach or no beach, money or no money, performance art or not, it's still disturbing and degrading for both parties.

    ReplyDelete
  17. regardless of whether it was staged or not, at a burning man festival or not, someone was sick enough to come up with this idea and you can guarantee there will be someone damaged enough to do it for real, once they find the idea. I'm with the Piano Man and Jess on this one.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Just funny, nothing more...sheesh!

    ReplyDelete
  19. I totally support breast feeding in public and performance art that makes people happy. Burningman is a place with way more freedom than anywhere in the US and in some places in America you can't breast feed. When I made the Punch Bowls it was for a fun way to keep people watered. I'm sorry if I hurt anyone out there.
    Ray

    ReplyDelete
  20. When life gives you lemons...

    ReplyDelete
  21. Thank you for the very entertaining blog! It is almost as amusing as the caption that someone else attached to the picture. This one day out on the Playa has brought me (and friends) years of amusement.

    Here I was photographed wearing Ray's "Punch Bowl Bustier" also known as the "Jugs of Life" at the Burning Man Art Festival in 2002, where it's perfectly normal to see people walking around naked. So, to catch a glimpse of my nipple- probably was not the point. This was an inter-active costume that brought a lot of smiles, laughs, entertainment and fun to many festival goers, young and old, male and female. One was filled with Gatorade and the other had Margarita and NO it was NOT FOR SALE!

    The nipples were cleaned with a sanitizing wipe and fresh lemon between each suckle.

    How did it degrade me or him? It's degrading to have to cover my tits in the first place! The fact that women are routinely criticized for breastfeeding in public-that's degrading!!!

    ReplyDelete
  22. MARCY!!

    Where do I get a pair of "Punch Bowl Bustiers?"

    THANKS!!!

    ReplyDelete
  23. What comes to my mind is "Gross! Lemonade mixed with good Ol 'chest sweat' ", I mean c'mon guys..... Seriously?

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts with Thumbnails