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Philosophy in the Contemporary World

Volume 11, Issue 1, Summer 2004

Feminist Apporoaches to the Body

Jennifer A. Parks
Pages 45-53
DOI: 10.5840/pcw20041116

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.