Carolyn Taylor is right that the first function of women’s breasts is the feeding of infants (Letters, 11 December), but I think she underestimates their power as a sexual signal.
Evolution has shaped breasts and programmed men to respond to them, just as it has shaped the peacock’s tail and the peahen’s interest in it.
The feeding we share with other apes; the signal is purely human.
Culture conditions us too. Societies differ in what they think is beautiful or titillating. In ours, breasts are prominent.
At least some men want to see more of them. In response, some women buy special bras or implants. This is a self-sustaining “arms race”.
Women who complain when men hold conversations with their chests know how magnetic they can be.
I think mothers should be able to breastfeed in public. If they are sensitive to the possible effect on men, they will do it discreetly.
But then, I cannot remember seeing a woman doing it indiscreetly.
Comely Bank Avenue
I have no idea how Carolyn Taylor interpreted my comments on public breast feeding as meaning that “the primary function of a woman’s breasts is sexual stimulation”.
I did not say that breast feeding could be “offensive” or suggest that anyone ought or ought not do anything.
I merely pointed out that the unease that some women and men experience when a woman breast feeds is the consequence of a contravention of our usual conventions of modesty in the presence of the opposite sex.
This sense of propriety serves a useful purpose in other contexts, and it may not always be possible to entirely suppress it in the context of breast feeding.
Alistair McBay (Letters, same day) merely presented an excerpt from my CV, and claimed that I cite any disagreement with my Christian viewpoint as “discrimination”. This is hard to accept considering that I routinely go out of my way to debate publicly and respectfully with those of other views.
In answer to Mr McBay’s final question: no, I do not think that God could have “designed the female form better”!