Random musings on breasts today, because I’m going to have my annual mammogram in a few days. As I write this sentence, I see a great many of the ladies in the audience wincing. For some women, it’s excruciating. Some cry. Some even faint. A few lucky ones experience little or no discomfort.
So the musings begin with How Come No One Tells You It Doesn’t Have to Hurt So Much?
There’s this device called a MammoPad. It does not eliminate the pain but does reduce it significantly for most women. In a perfect world, the technician would offer you a MammoPad sometime between the time when you appear in your johnny and the time when the tech finishes sticking those metal things showing where your nipples are. (Q: How hard are nipples to find? Guys have no trouble with this. Do we need more guy techs? Q: What’s the point of changing into an upper garment when we’re going to lay our naked breasts on the glass anyway–that being the whole point [ouch!] of the proceedings?)
Please note: Even though MammoPads were approved by the FDA in 2001, even though they allow the technician to get a better image, they are not offered automatically–are not even available everywhere. You have to ask for them. Which is kind of a Catch-22, since most women haven’t heard of them. My recent survey, which included a licensed x-ray technician, turned up not one single woman who’d heard of MammoPads.
Comments, anybody? (Ranting and raving is OK, too.)
You would think, considering how much most guys love them, breasts would have an easier time in life. But no. Not in the U.S., anyway. Judging by our attitudes, you’d think they were the Evil Orbs of Destruction. They get fuzzed out on TV shows lest they…Well, I don’t know what terrible calamity will ensue. They don’t seem all that dangerous to me, even the gigantic ones, even when they explode suddenly into view in public, as did one of Janet Jackson’s at the 2004 Superbowl. The way some people reacted, you’d think Satan had landed at halftime.
Am I the only one who finds this puzzling? What’s the difference between showing almost all of a breast (in a bikini or low-cut dress) and showing all of it? Are nipples EVIL?
I mean, look at Diana Kirke, in all her radiant beauty.
"One of Peter Lely’s most provocative and openly sensual portraits, this image depicts its sitter as a Restoration goddess, one who is a conflation of both Flora and Venus whose symbols were, among others, the bare breast and blooming rose. Lely captures and conveys the ‘beauty’ of his sitter by associating her with these goddesses of spring and love.
"Since antiquity the bared breast had come to symbolise a woman’s physical allure, her fecundity and ultimately her availability; consequently, by the Renaissance it had become particularly associated with portraits of mistresses. Similarly, the rose had been considered a sacred emblem of Venus and Renaissance artists frequently chose to represent the goddess–as well as the women in that guise–posing with the flower.” (From Painted Ladies via Wench Susan/Miranda.)
Some years ago, a porn star was elected to the Italian parliament, and appeared bare-breasted in a parade. In Great Britain, where the Puritans actually ruled the whole country for a generation, you can see a naked lady on Page Three of THE SUN. Breasts and other naughty bits appear on BBC costume dramas, but disappear when the show comes to the U.S.–unless it shows on PBS. I could give many examples from other cultures. So can you. Please feel free to do so. Cultural as well as historical attitudes towards sex and the human body are always fascinating.
Which brings me to the Mystery of the Bodice Ripper. I know romance doesn’t get respect in lots of places, not simply the U.S. But we’ve got that term. And it’s about breasts, because that’s where the bodice is, right up there, trying to contain those Great Globes of Destiny.
My question is, Where did this “bodice ripper” thing come from? Did such books actually exist? Or are they an urban myth? I honestly don’t know. I started reading romances some years after college, and don’t remember reading a scene in which the hero rips the heroine’s bodice. Have any of you ever come upon a bodice-ripper scene?
If so, did the hero do it or the villain? And what about the logistics? Since the Wenches have talked about corsets, repeatedly and at length, all of you Enlightened Persons are aware that merely ripping a bodice only gets a guy, depending on the time period, to several more layers of clothing, which includes armament known as a corset. So the question arises, Why bother with the bodice, anyway? Until after the first couple of decades of the 1800s, women did not wear underpants, and even then, they were crotchless. If rape–or the euphemism, “ravishment”–is the goal, isn’t it easier to go directly to her Precious Treasure, below the waist, even if the woman is wearing panniers? And as to THAT scenario: I picture the panniers–or in the Victorian era, hoops–bouncing up and hitting the guy in the face, which turns the scene into a Marx Brothers comedy and not My Torrid Passion. Which probably explains some of my smoochy scenes.
And now I think about it, maybe I wrote a bodice ripper scene: Did one of my heroines rip her own bodice? I can’t remember, but it does seem like a surefire way to get the hero’s attention.
Well, what do you think? Are breasts dangerous? Must they be crushed? Must they be concealed? Are they now or have they ever, in a romance, been exposed via a ripping bodice? Feel free to answer these or any other questions that occur to you.
Photo credit. Breasts not bombs: (Scene from an anti-war protest in Washington, D.C. September 24, 2005. Photograph by Bert Schlauch, Minneapolis, MN.)
Here’s a challenge for you: A free copy of one my books to one of the readers who can give us the title of the romance and an actual quote from a bodice-ripping scene.