Wednesday, August 17, 2011

porn stars' breasts are for babies too

When porn meets real motherhood
I really love how indie porn maker Madison Young is using her new role as a mother to confront our culture's warped ideas about women's sex and the sex of moms in particular. Yesterday, Salon reported that Young has been attacked for exposing her baby to "creeps and pedophiles." Why? Because she breastfed in public.

"Women's breasts are not just or always sexual." But despite their rights to nurse in public, nursing mothers are repeatedly discriminated against. States the Salon in the case of Young: "We Americans love us some boobs, until they're desexualized -- then they seem obscene."

But I do not think the problem in this case is "desexualized" nursing breasts. I think the problem is that in the US, many can't seem to wrap their minds around the various bodily and holistic sexual functions of the breast without being freaked out because of a narrow understanding of sexuality (as I discuss here and here). And then as Tracy Clark-Flory at Salon too points out:

The idea that there is something inherently prurient about a porn star breast-feeding plays right into that classic either-or thinking: Her breasts are erotic in one venue, so they can't be wholesome in another. It's a wonder anyone lets her breast-feed at all! 

Lest you think the attack against Young came from a conservative religious camp; think twice. -- The above "creep" accusation in fact came from another sex worker/pornographer. As Clark-Flory notes, "on the one hand, it's surprising to see this attitude coming from a pornographer; on the other hand, it's perfectly appropriate given the way motherhood is fetishized in porn."

Taking Back MILF
As Clark-Flory also points out, "Given the degree of vitriol, you might be imagining a debauched scenario in which Young breast-fed her child in a freaky fetish film." Which would be a far stretch from the classic photographs that Young has had taken of herself nursing her child, and the laid back videos she's recorded of herself while nursing and talking about its health benefits.

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