Volume 11, Issue 1, Summer 2004
Feminist Apporoaches to the Body
Jennifer A. Parks
Grin and Bare It
Philosophical Reflections on the “Public Breast”
This paper considers the issues surrounding women’s bare-breastedness and breastfeeding in public. I argue that women should have equal freedoms with men to bare their breasts in public, but not for the reasons commonly cited Proponents of “the public breast” tend to focus on the similarities between women’s and men’s breasts; I argue that the sameness versus difference debate is unhelpful in resolving this question. As I argue, women’s breasts differ from men’s in significant ways, and by dismissing these differences we dismiss the possibility of women’s authentic breasted experience. Instead, I suggest that women share an equal interest with men in defining their sexuality: When women are denied the right to go topless or breastfeed in public, they are denied their own understandings of their breasts.