Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Ownership.

Let's talk "sexy" for a minute. Not to each other. I don't know you that well. Let's talk about sexy.

We Americans are rather puritanical. Not YOU. Of course not YOU. But the collective us. We live in a society that functions much like a confused fourteen year old. One minute we're stuffing our best friend's mother's romance novels under our mattress, all the good parts carefully highlighted in neon green, and the next we're sitting in "sex ed" learning that sex is for marriage, and that while some people will break the rules and become lustful much earlier, those will be the folks who end up crying alone in the bathroom stall, pregnant at 15 with a raging case of VD and no place left in heaven for their soiled soul.

It's no wonder that breasts confuse us.

I wrote a post when I was pregnant sharing my joy over the fact that at the tender age of 27, I had finally sprouted some hormone induced breasts. An angry reader recently pointed this out to me, accusing me of being a hypocrite and suggesting that all of "this" (lactivism) has nothing to do with my core beliefs and everything to do with my wanting to "show off" my new curves.

I'm concerned. If I thought this was one isolated view point, I would leave well enough alone. But the confusion over the purpose of women's bodies, the FIGHT over the purpose of women's bodies, needs to stop.

So since this is my blog, and since I am the sole and rightful owner of MY BODY, I'm going to talk about it.

I am a human being. A woman. Sexual. I am a wife. A mother. Strong. Passionate.

I don't want to settle for simply feeling comfortable in my own skin, I want to (and most often do) feel ecstatic in it. I'm not perfect. I'm working to accept the stretch marks left from having babies, but they're new, and I need time. But I know who I am. Physically, emotionally and mentally. I like this person. I love her.

I am amazed by my body's accomplishments of the last several years. My body worked hard to heal and overcome endometriosis and infertility. My womb nourished and grew two beautiful babies. My breasts produce milk to feed those babies. They provide solace to those babies when they are sad. They provide comfort when my babies are sick or hurt. They provide safety when my babies are scared.

My identity, my purpose, extends beyond my role as mother. As much as I cherish, love, and adore that role, I also cherish, love, and adore the other facets of my life. My body accompanies me on every adventure. My breasts do not cease to exist when my babies aren't around. The value and functionality of my breasts does not begin and end with the ability to lactate. The fact that right now, my breasts serve a primary purpose of nourishing babies does not negate or detract from the fact that they are also (GASP!!!) sexual.

For me, that is the beauty of humanity. We are all multi-faceted. Life is not black and white. There are hundreds of thousands of beautiful shades of grey. How sad to go through life trying to force every minute detail into the correctly shaped container. Motherhood, womanhood, individuality, love, lust, sexuality, these elements of who I am rarely, if ever, enjoy a show stopping solo. They are intermingled, intertwined, and deliciously co-dependent.

Empowered women, unite. Our bodies belong to us only. We do not need to look externally for the definition of how and who we should be. Dance if you want to dance. Be sexual, be maternal, be beautiful, be all of those things, be none of those things, or be something else entirely. Wear a push up bra, wear a nursing bra, wear no bra. Celebrate your body, your mind, your spirit, and your soul.

We're human beings. It's messy. Beautiful. Complicated. We can embrace it or not.

I hope that I'll always be brave enough to embrace it.

13 comments:

Hi, I'm Natalie. said...

Bwahahaha. Breastfeeding as a way to show the world how sexy I am?? Um... no. (Not that there is anything wrong with being sexy, but... yeah... no. =)

April said...

I think that breastfeeding is beautiful - not sexy. It's just that I don't believe that the concepts of functionality and sexuality are mutually exclusive. :)

Noel said...

April, I completely agree with you and I think you wrote it out perfectly. I wish I had your way with words. You are an amazing person. Thank you!

Penney said...

I am entirely positive boobs can be both sexy AND functional. And you CAN be allowed to be happy about their size WHILE they're being functional. Simply a bonus for being a loving parent.

Both ends of the spectrum are forgetting too many things.

Sades said...

I have to agree that the curves of motherhood have also made me feel sexier, and I think my husband would agree. When I'm using them for breastfeeding I don't feel like they are sexy, and I think others don't either, and that is where the problem lies. Breasts are supposed to be sexy, so lets not ruin that by letting us see you breastfeeding. This view, of course, is not true for all, but I think that is the problem for many. In our culture breasts are a secret sexual object of desire, and breastfeeding ruins this. That is why in countries that are more open to nudity and open sexuality, breastfeeding in public just isn't an issue. Breasts are beautiful to them for their many purposes. I believe the breastfeeding dilemma in this country is not an issue of feminist rights, it is an issue with our cultural acceptance of sexuality, and this is not all that surprising given our founding beliefs. I would love to see sexuality more incorporated in our society. I think we should learn from those nations that begin sex education at an early age, and encourage girls and boys to know and love their bodies. I wish more American women and men could feel as comfortable and accepting of their own bodies.

Daryl said...

I think you rock and I wish you'd been around in the 60s when we was revolting to be liberated and marching and being sisters and not wearing bras so we could be sexy, um, liberated ...(that last part was me being silly .. sexy & liberated are not necessarily two different things and as the author of this comment I reserve the right to be silly).

freckletree. said...

what if your breasts are just sad sacks of flesh? not sexy at all? does that still count for something?

love this post-- beautifully written.

Paul Rapoport said...

from Iris Marion Young (1992):

Patriarchal logic defines an exclusive border between motherhood and sexuality. The virgin or the whore, the pure or the impure, the nurturer or the seducer is either asexual mother or sexualized beauty, but one precludes the other.

Breasts are a scandal because they shatter the border between motherhood and sexuality.

Mandy said...

You write absolutely beautifully. This post is perfect. My husband and baby boy love my breasts equally, and for different reasons. I am comfortable with both.

You are amazing. :)

Frustrated Fairy said...

Awesome post! I agree :D

unschoolingrocks said...

I am glad for this post. Some people think there is something unfeminist about wanting to weat make up and a push up bra. Just because I care about women rights and disagree with the exploitation of their bodies (by slutty advertisements etc.) doesn't mean that I want to be some hairy, dirty, bra-less hippie either.
I too love my feminine curves and I too love my breasts and think that they are sexy. We are women and we are awesome!

just a girl in nyc said...

Have you ever posted about your endometriosis? How you overcame it? I'd like to read about that, it might help me with my own personal struggles. Thanks.

April said...

just a girl in nyc...

I posted about my endometriosis and related infertility in the first half of 2008. Looking back on older posts, I would say my blog started out talking about those topics from the very beginning, but never directly until 2008. I wish I had written more about it, but you may find some helpful stuff there. I wrote pretty extensively about our experiences with IVF starting May/June of 2008, and then reflected on it all as I went into my pregnancy. I hope you find some help - endometriosis is difficult. If you're going through infertility related to endometriosis, I once wrote a post "how I got pregnant" (I'm not sure when exactly, but I know it was in 2008 - after June) where I talked pretty extensively about what I thought helped me to overcome it all in the end. Wishing you the best.