Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Our Favorite Accessory in the United States: The Breasts

A couple of days ago, I wrote about the bOOb woman, who thinks that women have a "special breast power" at work that they need to use responsibly. She suggests padding for the small breasted women and "minimizers" for the large breasted women, all in the interest of making men comfortable. And, keep in mind, the article is reported as if this is "career advice" with a moral imperative for women who want to do the right thing at work.

So in keeping with this week's breast-based theme, I'm now reviewing other breast-focused work articles. Recent breastfeeding at work articles seem to indicate a similar trend: the uncomfortability of some men with The Breasts. And the uncomfortability of some men leads to uncomfortability of many women about breastfeeding (or pumping) in a number of environments, including work.

Pump It Up is an interview with the authors of The Milk Memos, Cate Colburn-Smith and Andrea Serrette, about breastfeeding in life and pumping at work, which includes a sad story about the "Pumping Palace" in a janitorial closet at IBM.

You also might want to read Indecent Exposure?, which describes current and proposed breastfeeding laws.

And, of course, I've written before in Breastfeeding at Work (and in public) about breastfeeding as an issue of class. More money? Many more options. Not great options, mind you, but more of them.

Finally, my survey of breast and work literature concludes with the description of Ann Althouse on Politico and her post about Jessica Valenti, of feministing, which critiques Jessica's pose in a group blogger photo with President Clinton. Ann believes that Jessica arched her back and chose a location in the center of the photo to draw the viewer's attention to her breasts. Jessica says she did not and would like her breasts left alone.

I would like to point out how impossible these issues are to negotiate:

Size
Your breasts are perceived as too small by men---> You are told to wear a padded bra to work.
Your breasts are perceived as too large by men--->You are told to wear a minimizer to work.

Function
You try to breastfeed in public--->Some men freak out at seeing a partial breast.
You try to pump at work--->You end up spending quality time in the janitorial closet.
You choose not to breastfeed or pump--->You are judged as a "bad mom."

Appearance
You pose in front in a photo with President Clinton--->You're a slut who arches her back. You're an intern.
You pose in back in a photo with President Clinton--->You lack self-confidence.

Sigh.