In the process of studying breast massage across many cultures, have learned much about gender, intimacy, caring touch and sexuality. I have been able to reprogram my American attitude that breasts are only for sexual attraction and men can’t control their attraction around bare breasts. In many parts of the world, having bare breasts and breastfeeding in public places are acceptable behaviors. The cultural attitudes and the media manipulation are what drive behaviors, not gender or genetics. People can change practices and perceptions.
Women have a difficult time owning their breasts in the US. Breasts have become highly sexualized by the American marketing and media industries. This creates a situation where breasts are seen as a utility for a partner’s pleasure or an infant’s meal, and less as an amazing organ that is but another part of the wholistic system of a human body.
Having been raised in a matriarchy with many feminist principles, I was challenged from the very beginning to not segregate my massage classes. I felt this was a “women’s issue” and we needed a "women’s circle" to safely heal these wounds. As many cis men and trans men and trans women came forward to ask me if they could join the class, it was quickly apparent that this issue required the whole community to heal. Everyone is needed, so everyone is welcome.
I have been blessed to be able to hold space for the profound shifts students have made within themselves by challenging their ideas about what is caring touch versus what is sexual touch. When given the opportunity, humans crave sharing caring touch with others. Here are some examples:
Men have an opportunity to practice caring touch with women without any sexualization, in a safe, intimate situation. The latest #MeToo phenomena has thrown down the gauntlet. How do we move forward from here, back to peaceful interactions? One man in class was so excited to have the tools to bring a healthy breast discussion into his home for his young daughters. Another man was in tears that the stigmas in our society have been keeping this therapeutic bodywork treatment from breast cancer survivors like his sister.
Women have the opportunity to experience caring touch from men without any sexualization, in a safe, intimate situation. One woman in class shared that she hadn’t had a man, other than her husband, touch her breasts in over 15 years. Her husband had recently passed away. She was pleasantly surprised at the amount of relaxation and connection that came from this therapy.
Transgender and non-binary students have the opportunity to experience caring touch without any sexualization, in a safe, intimate situation. One non-binary student shared their joy at experiencing the spectrum of touch from all genders in class. They were profoundly grateful to have a part of their body that they had previously disowned be re-integrated through caring touch.
Students with body dysmorphia have the opportunity to experience caring touch without any sexualization, in a safe, intimate situation. One student recovering from an eating disorder was terrified to have her breasts uncovered in a classroom setting. By working through the process in stages, she was able to undrape her breasts by the end of the class. She felt liberated to be able to work through one of her phobias and, in the end, shared her history with everyone and thanked the class for creating a supportive environment for her to heal.
At the end of the day, rectifying the cultural divide around breast massage and sexuality starts from within each of us. I encourage all bodyworkers to take advantage of this learning opportunity to explore the aspects of their breasts that need to be brought to light.
This article was inspired by a question from Eric (thank you!) on my FB group for Breast Remedy Massage Students. With help from the newly developing breast massage community, I have started this FaceBook group that breast massage students of all schools are welcome to join. This allows for queries and conversations to continue after class. Please join us, and maybe you will inspire the next blog entry. https://www.facebook.com/groups/1689638301158834/
If you have taken one of my classes previously, many thanks for your support. If you wanted to offer comment about your experience, I sooo appreciate messages and Likes on my Breast Remedy biz page. https://www.facebook.com/Breast.Remedy/
If you are looking for my classes in The Tri-cities, contact Touch Education Therapy http://toucheducationtherapy.com/class-registration/