Everything That My Tits Have Gotten Me in Life

Content Notice for Sexual Harassment and Body Image

This past weekend, a friend of a friend insinuated that the reason I had been able to get two beers at this particular brewery instead of the single one he had managed to procure was my breasts.

Never mind that the bartender who had given it to me was the female one, not one of the two male ones, and that one of the beers was a half-pour. Never mind that I was wearing a high-necked dress, had another person in my company, had been a regular at the brewery’s former location, was in line far ahead of him, and was behaving rather sedately, especially compared to how loudly and boisterously as he was acting.

Nope, it must have been my breasts.

Had it been a passing remark, I would have rolled my eyes and let it go. Instead, he went on to hurr-hurr about it with another male friend-of-a-friend, so I was compelled to point out the most dramatic and most recent example of what my breasts have actually gotten me: rape threats.

There are plenty of other things my breasts have gotten me.

Pain

When I first went from flat-chested little girl to breast-budding pubescent, the stretching caused the skin on my chest to itch quite considerably. When my breasts finished growing, they bore red, angry, jagged lines along their length.

Guilt

Since no one had explained stretch marks to me, I was sure I had permanently etched the marks onto my body with my scratching. I worried that I’d put off my future husband forever on our wedding night with the deformities on my skin. Already sure I’d have trouble finding a husband due to my fat body and awkward nature, I wondered if a man tolerant enough to marry me deserved to also tolerate the marks on my abundant flesh.

Clothes-Policing

As a good Muslim girl, I was hardly proud of my breasts. Through my study of religion as well as exposure to the mainstream media (albeit limited, the case of the latter), I had heard all about how tempting the female form was to men. I feared becoming one of those shameless women who tempted men into sin and swathed myself in layer after layer, trying to obscure them from sight.

Social Alienation

I had tried to talk about my breasts with my peers but was accused of “bragging,” even though I did not feel it at all a boast to ask others for their ideas as to how to hide the growths on my chest. I stopped talking about it at all and started journaling instead, but kept the writing oblique in case my mother decided to read it.

Poor Posture

If you have medium-to-large breasts, holding yourself properly upright makes them noticeably pop out from the rest of your torso. I went from having the kind of posture adults praise children for having to slouching in a way that screamed “apathetic teenager!” I was neither, but was chastised by teachers and adult relatives for not keeping my back straight.

Backhanded Compliments

After I left Islam, I had no idea how to meet people and was too young to go to bars, so I used dating websites. In addition, I talked to men on various forums to try to figure out how to make myself attractive enough to them to get a boyfriend. The men told me that, though I was fat and much too mouthy, I at least had the tits to get laid if I put them front and center and stayed quiet. They mocked me for even thinking of hiding my only hope for love. I started wearing cleavage-baring outfits in the hopes that some man would overlook the rest of me.

Street Harassment

Unless I bundle up beyond what is reasonable for the temperate climate I call home, the shape of my breasts will be visible no matter what I wear. More than once, I’ve had men call out “compliments” about my breasts, followed quickly by rape threats when I had the audacity to ignore them or say something negative to them.

Objectification

The objectification of women is hardly the sole provenance of men who are at least sexually attracted to them. The man who insisted that my breasts had gotten me some sort of special favor had reduced me to two bags of fat on my body. Nothing else about me or anything about the situation mattered to him. He was not at all interested in me, aside from taking me down a notch for daring to be a woman with one-and-a-half beers.

Shame

Whether it was through religion as a child or the overall culture as an adult, the patriarchal standards that dominate the world sent me a message of shame. I should be ashamed of not having perfect breasts, of their tempting nature for men, of being ungrateful for them,  of slouching to hide them, of not using them to my advantage, of not falling to my knees with my mouth open and ready to receive every man who beheld them and felt desire, of not allowing men to reduce me to them.

No matter what I did, someone was there to inform me that I ought to be ashamed of [insert something having to do with] my breasts. I’m done with the endless game of social standard whack-a-mole. I’ll do what I want with my body, and let the friends-of-friends be damned — or, at the very least, stand corrected.

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Everything That My Tits Have Gotten Me in Life
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7 thoughts on “Everything That My Tits Have Gotten Me in Life

  1. 2

    One of my sisters ended up with stretch marks on her breasts when she grew rapidly. I didn’t get those, but had belly stretch marks from pregnancy. I was relieved when I found out they would likely fade. (They did.) In hind sightt it would have been more emotionally painful to deal with them with no access to sound medical information.

    I wear a really big bra and I can’t hide my breasts even under a baggy sweatshirt. Nor should I have to. But I really don’t love that large mammary glands are assumed to grant +10 to sluttiness. Yeah, right, “anatomy IS character”.

    (And I know that there are more pernicious forms of slut shaming.) (And let me backtrack from making it sound like having lots of sex is any kind of sign of ‘bad character’.)

  2. 3

    I’ve liked breasts entirely too much in my time, but as a human with a modicum of empathy for the peeps who have them, it hasn’t been difficult to set that aside completely when needed. I tell you, even if you’re a cis woman with no family history of breast cancer or any other of the currently accepted reasons, I will support your right to get them completely removed if you feel like it.

    Recently I was giving some thought to what a world without gender hangups would look like, as impossible as that is. I expect there would be more cis-women having them removed for comfort and personal preference than there would be queers of any stripe doing anything with them at all.

  3. 4

    Thanks for sharing. I really hate all this breast-shame so much, but I’m not really sure what to do about it from a male perspective. Not make jokes that reduce women to their breasts. Reinforce the idea that women are attractive irrespective of breast size. =/

  4. 5

    Heina, I’m sorry you had to hear that. Like “=8)-DX says” wrote, one thing I can always do is not engage in that behavior, and call attention to those who do. This isn’t a “notallmen” argument, just a part of my personal value set. You argued in your “notallmuslims” piece that the percentage of muslims who do not support Islam’s repressive teachings is too small to represent a significant objection to the repression. It’s probably the same with the percentage of men who do not support objectification of women. I would like to think that the percentage of enlightened men is much higher among leftists (read “Social Justice Warriors”?), but after recent events, I’m not so sure (FY, Michael Shermer, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, ad nauseum…). And of course after spending half my working life in factories, among 99+% men, in a VERY red state, I know how under represented anti-sexism is.

  5. 6

    We do so much psychic violence to girls and young women… and middle-aged women… and older women; it saddenrages me. Having breasts is, of course, like so many things in a patriarchy, a no-win situation, as women with smaller breasts are subject to a related-but-sometimes-different heap of bullshit. This was heartbreaking to read, and I’m glad you shared it.

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