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If you think breastfeeding is sexual, you're the one with a problem

Abby Theuring is a blogger, public speaker, activist, wife and mother of two who lives in Chicago, IL. Se writes about breastfeeding in public, gentle parenting and feminism.

News flash: Babies don't breastfeed from their mom's genitals

My husband suggested I keep it simple and just call this post Breasts Are Not Testicles. But I figured we could all use a good vocabulary lesson. What are genitals anyway? This isn’t a word that we use in everyday conversation and it’s obvious that when we move north of the navel (that means belly button!) things get a bit tricky — if you are a woman, that is.

Genitals are defined as “the sexual organs; the testicles and penis of a male or the labia, clitoris and vagina of a female.” Many people get confused here as to why breasts are not mentioned. Well, because breasts are not genitals.

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I know, I know, I can just hear it now, “WHAT?! Breasts are most certainly sexual!”

Well, breasts might turn you on and I might flaunt them in a push-up bra, but that doesn’t make them genitals. Breasts have been sexualized by our society, but you only need to look to history and to other countries to realize that this is completely culturally bound. Just because we have developed this over-the-top fetish for breasts doesn’t mean that they are genitals.

Sometimes during this discussion, people like to point out that breasts are part of the reproductive organs. All right, so are the Fallopian tubes, but you wouldn’t consider those genitals, right? Right. Moving on.

Let’s do another comparison. Would you consider a man’s chest a part of his genitalia?

I know what you are saying. “Don’t be ridiculous!”

OK, then here is another lesson. A man’s chest and a woman’s chest are exactly the same. The only difference is that women’s breasts have a special power to make milk. And actually, technically, men can lactate too; not as much, but they can do it. So really the only difference is how society views the two.

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It makes you think, doesn’t it? The laws on the books, television and social media censorship, people diving in front of their kids’ eyes to block some cleavage — seems kind of silly, doesn’t it? The only answer is that we have spent time and money to create some legislation over a man-made hang-up. A double standard that oozes misogyny. One that makes you feel like you just might be living in the patriarchy.

We are at the point in society where many people think that a breast’s main function is sexual. Many children have no idea that a baby eats from a breast. Many people think of public breastfeeding as gross, offensive or repulsive. Many people have never seen a woman breastfeeding. I never did until it was me in the hospital holding my newborn son. Boy, was I confused. I thought I knew my breasts so well! I had to learn the hard way what they were actually for, I had been so sheltered by this boob-obsessed culture.

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I get really annoyed with people who try to tell women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies. If it’s not one thing, it’s the next! It’s a boob. It won’t bite, steal your husband or infect your children. It’s just feeding a child. Relax.

Before you go, check out our slideshow below:

News flash: Babies don't breastfeed from their mom's genitals
Image: Alyssa Milano/Instagram
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