Why are guys such boobs about breasts?

(NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana) “Baby bottles” are big business here in the French Quarter of New Orleans. (I should point out, I’m not here on my own freewill, but the Ramada Inn on Bourbon Street is where the youth convention is housing its speakers and musicians.)

Outside the hotel, business fronts flash titillating signs advertising Big Daddy’s Baby Bottle Bar, the “Wash Your Own Baby Bottles” lounge and shower room, plus a night club featuring men with baby bottles. Meanwhile tourists with video cameras and an arm load of gaudy beads lurk in the streets shouting, “Show us your baby bottles.”

Even the hotel lobby has two huge murals of impressionistic baby bottles. (At least they look like baby bottles to the untrained artistic eye.)

What a difference from southern Africa. Apparently Mozambique and Swaziland don’t have open container laws like the United States. Women openly and without any undue attention feed their babies – and even preschoolers—right from their baby bottles.

In an attempt to keep abreast of cultural differences, I need to get a couple things off my chest.

1. In so-called “developing” countries, baby bottles are a natural, normal part of life. They get no more attention than jugs of milk. And while I saw a lot of baby bottles while speaking in public seminars in southern Africa, I didn’t see a single baby bottle bar or baby bottle magazine wrapped in a plain brown wrapper. (I should point out, I wasn’t really looking for them, so this should not be considered a valid, scientific study.)

2. In so-called “modern cultures,” where half the population has a set of baby bottles, we have become obsessed with them.

Those with baby bottles buy baby bottle covers that don’t always cover completely. Others have their baby bottles enlarged, which doesn’t cause them to hold any more formula, just increases the size of the bottles. (Sort of like buying five-gallon gas cans that holds less than a quart.)

Then there are all the magazines, movies (such as Erin No-Bra-Kovich), cable networks, postcards, and Internet sites filled with images that can easily be found in the flesh in Africa, the Island of Bali, and Papua New Guinea.

This obsession with baby bottles goes back as least as far as King Solomon’s reign from ca. 962-922 B.C. In the Bible’s “Song of Songs,” his highness graphically describes them as “twin fawns of a gazelle,” “clusters of fruit,” and “towers of silver.”

Perhaps “civilized” men (a term which some may argue is an oxymoron) are real boobs when it comes to baby bottles. Due to the modern mystery, marketing, and manipulation, something quite natural and very ordinary has become a male obsession.

And women deserve part of the blame. Why does Cosmo, a magazine allegedly for liberated women, have baby bottles on each month’s cover? And why, across the street from this hotel, are dozens of women signing up for Saturday’s wet diaper bag competition?

Which brings up the most important question, where do men in southern Africa go for lewd and lascivious entertainment? No, actually, it forces me to ask, which cultures are really “primitive”? Maybe the US of A’s “sophistication” is just a really big front.

Copyright © 2000 James N. Watkins

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