The Psychodynamics of Conservative Breast Phobia



A  Picasso masterpiece, Women of Algiers,  sold recently for a tidy sum. When commenting on the record-breaking price the Fox news report fuzzed out the breasts (above pic) but left the buttocks intact. I can only assume that the reactionaries at Fox felt that this piece of art was  offensive or sexual rather than simply artistic. But why not the gluteus?

Art doesn’t always have to be the way we like it, so censoring it only to suit certain tastes is unethical and a violation of human rights. Censoring of art by conservatives has a long and sad history…..


This of course led to the researching of some interesting stats. Democrats (liberals) are more likely to say they’ve had sex in public than Republicans (conservatives). Furthermore the latter are more likely to be offended by nudity but paradoxically more likely to have gone skinny  dipping. This discrepancy might be related to the fact that demos are more urban and live in colder climates.

Right wingers as we all know are homophobic  and have a procreational/ relational view of sex. Sex not bounded by love is verboten.

In our culture, love is supposed to make sex sane and wholesome and controlled. That’s “good” sex. In contrast, “bad” sex gives people “too many” choices–inappropriate partners, hedonistic activities, etc. Puritan American culture mistrusts pleasure as a motivation for sex; in fact, many people consider it to be dangerous.

The leading argument is the preservation of moral values of a nation or society. This is the alleged job of conservatives.However censoring art means taking away from the people their right-to-know and dumbs down the population, making them easier to manipulate.

Back to Picasso: Breasts have two functions: lactation and thus nurturance/survival, and sexual. The assumption of the missionary position over rear entry meant a change in perspective with breasts now assuming priority over buttocks as a sexual signal.

Breast phobia among American conservatives goes back a few hundred years. Firstly it centered on the belief that the patriots’ daughters should be raised to uphold the ideals of republicanism, in order to pass on their values to the next generation. Conservative motherhood meant civic duty. It reinforced the idea of a domestic women’s sphere separate from the public world of men. And here is the justification: Timothy 2:12 :… “But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to use authority over the man: but to be in silence.”

Now returning to carnal knowledge, the  rear entry approach is a position that many right-wing men really prefer because it’s quite primal. He gets to feel powerful and can see the mechanics of what’s going on at the same time. The breasts are ignored. As is most of the rest of the female. The republican mammary phobia has biblical dynamics which one might think would actually increase comfort with breast symbolism….

Isaiah 66:“..that you may nurse and be satisfied with her comforting breasts, that you may suck and be delighted with her bountiful bosom.”

Songs of Solomon…..“Your breasts are like two fawns, like twin fawns of a gazelle that browse among the lilies.”

Proverbs 5…“a loving hind and a graceful doe, Let her breasts satisfy you at all times; Be exhilarated always with her love.”

We can explain this discrepancy through object relations psychoanalytic theorizing. This focuses on the so-called oral phase of psychosexual development. Read infantile. It explains that either healthy or pathological psycho sexual development rests on the relationship the baby had with its mother and unresolved conflict  in this area can lead to pathology. Conservative mothers  encourage dependency and fixation  ie gratification >frustration which leads to an adult narcissistic /paranoid position.

The breast for conservatives therefore is too pregnant with meaning and symbolism to be comforting.  This ambivalent attitude to the breast is thus reflected in the smudging of the painting. Conservative men,who also proclaim to be amateur gynecologists, are afraid of women, feminism, and healthy sexuality. Buttocks though are safe and home to non conflictual dominant sexuality and so it remains in the Algiers painting.

“Art is a lie that makes us realize the truth.” – Pablo Picasso




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