Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bras and unseemly messages

This one’s triggered by two things. First, a chat with friends – male and female – about the ‘typical’ male obsession with the contents of bras, and second – and related to it – messages on t-shirts. Together, they seem to make it worthwhile posting this. (You may disagree.)

The fact that the Sun newspaper in the UK was a hit from day one because it featured a topless page 3 ‘girl’ every day immediately relegates anyone who admires the curves of breasts to a dark, onanistic underclass. There, we (I’m including myself for the moment because I haven’t yet spoken of my particular POV here) hunch in our shifty, fetid corners, slavering, drooling and unconsciously giving in to Freudian longings and urges centred around deeply-buried memories of contented suckling. We’re primitive, unreconstructed creatures led not by what’s in our skulls but rather by an organ that has little to do with rational behaviour. Along with the ‘obsession’ goes the assumption that we have society’s permission to whistle at the owners of the admired appendages, make lewd remarks and generally be thought of as ‘one of the lads’.

There’s no point trying to deny that the world is crawling with such still-to-evolve individuals. And they make it difficult to articulate a case for the defence. For them, women and their component parts are sex objects, full stop. So how can I say that I find breasts (and many other anatomical bits of women) attractive? I have no urge to grab them, but they’re a source of innocent (yes, innocent) pleasure. It would sound defensive, evasive, even insincere to claim that my response is aesthetic but it’s closer to that than to depraved. I really wish it were possible to tell women one passes in the street that they look good or walk beautifully without fear of being arrested for accosting them and/or making filthy suggestions. Surely they’d be happy to know that they were being appreciated in a totally unthreatening way.

Anyway, this led to the t-shirt messages because, if one’s gaze tends reflexively to drop to chests, one reads all sorts of quips on them and, surprisingly often, they relate to the things which the t-shirt is concealing. Scrawled across two rather large mounds on one were the words ‘I wish these were brains’. Another, which I saw in an illustration rather than on a woman, had a ‘C’ on the front of the right arm and an ‘L’ on the front of the left. The front of the garment carried other specially chosen symbols, to create this overall effect:


You’ve no doubt seen your own (or maybe even have favourites which you wear) so I won’t multiply the examples. (And, for a wee aside, which has nothing to do with the central point of all this, my favourite t-shirt message is one I saw on a man in one of the less affluent areas of Glasgow. He was an ordinary guy but his t-shirt told everyone:


That is classy.)

Anyway, to my final point. On a bus in St Andrews, two of my fellow passengers were biker types – not bikers the way Marlon Brando was a biker in The Wild One, but overweight, unattractive, greasy haired slouchers. They were probably in their early twenties but they didn’t look scary or threatening. Then, when they walked to the front to get off, I saw the message they had stitched across the back of their leather jackets:


It’s a chilling thought that these individuals considered such an idea worth sharing with the world. It doesn’t matter that they were driven to think of it by the number of live girls who’d taken one look at them and said ‘no’, which left them in no doubt about their chances. It was a proclamation born of fear, inadequacy. Let’s face it, you don’t get street cred by confessing to necrophilia. But, for all that these were two sad, nasty individuals incapable of seeing how self-defeating their boast was, it left a nasty taste in my mouth and a sadness which soured the rest of the day. And, in the end, I wonder whether the innocence I claim for my appreciation of how women look isn’t after all on the same spectrum as the bikers’ message. I really, really hope not.


Chester Campbell said...

Bravo, Bill. I'm happy to know there are other male admirers of the feminine torso who enjoy their observations without an urge to jump into bed with the owners. Aesthetics has its own value.

Bill Kirton said...

Of course, Chester, I suppose the other aspect of this is that I now qualify for the role of the old man in the joke whose younger wife suggests they 'rush upstairs and make love', to which he replies, 'I can do one of those, but not both'.

Chester Campbell said...

I can handle the stairs okay.

Jaden Terrell said...


Bill, I don't think your appreciation of the female torso is a bad thing. Women also appreciate the male torso. And other parts.

But the "Dead Girls Don't Say No" T-shirt is just creepy. I'm going to have to use that one in a book.