Is there a reason why the top of page 29 of Candide had the word “breast” front and center? You see, I’m doing a Writing 101 challenge, and I was supposed to flip to page 29 and write about the word that jumped out at me.
When I tried to cheat by looking away and glancing back quickly, you know what word I saw? Breast. Because you said it twice.
My breast began to take its right form; and such a breast — white, firm, and formed like that of Venus of Medicis.
That’s just lovely for your old woman character, but really, why? You and your translators must have conspired to give me a word that most people don’t feel comfortable saying unless it is a prefix for “cancer” or a suffix for “chicken.”
I’m not sure why it’s an awkward word. It shouldn’t be. Its informal alternative, “boobs,” feels a bit awkward too. “Chest” works sometimes, but it’s not exactly accurate. Let’s not even talk about knockers or hooters.
I don’t usually think much about the objectification of women, but maybe I should. After all, as a woman, why can’t I talk about my breasts without feeling like I’m in the doctor’s office? Why can’t I talk about my boobs without feeling silly? Why can’t I talk about my [insert vulgar synonym of choice here] without feeling, well, like an object?
It could just be a personal hang-up, but I doubt it. Why do we have so many words for breasts? And why are about 2% of them neutral descriptions of female biology while the rest are absurd nicknames or crude sexual labels?
I’ve done a Google search for “breast synonym” — and I’m unpleasantly surprised by what I’ve found. The first alphabetically listed synonym on Wikisaurus is “assets.” Awesome. It’s great to hear that my D-cups are such great assets. I guess that’s preferable to calling them bazongas, fun bags, or lady lumps.
And any of those terms is less abhorrent than the very existence of Campus Talk’s 262 Names for Boobs, just a few Google Search Results down. Straight from the horse’s mouth:
If I sat here all day on a throne made of dirty magazines watching porn on a wall of plasma screens armed with a pen, paper and a case of beer, I MIGHT be able to come up with 100 names for boobs. So I enlisted the help of every person I could find to compile this list of 262 names for boobs. I like to think of it as the definitive boob thesaurus. And you’re welcome for it being in alphabetical order. If you want to actually SEE some hot boobage, check out our hot chicks galleries.
Sigh. Don’t worry, that lovely introduction to your “definitive boob thesaurus” doesn’t make me feel objectified at all! Just my boobs. Sorry, my
REALLY?? I can’t even finish the alphabet, it’s that humiliating. According to Campus Talk’s list, my breasts are any and all kinds of fruit (melons preferred), airships, light sources, missiles…generally, anything round, touchable, and/or edible. I’ll add that most of the other terms I’ve mentioned here weren’t included on their list, so we can safely assume the count is over 300.
Well, Voltaire? Why are we so obsessed with breasts? We’ve coined hundreds of synonyms since you wrote Candide. Unfortunately, the vast majority we’ve managed to invent are unflattering at best and dehumanizing at worst.
And so I leave you with a question. How are we supposed to overcome objectification of women — or men, for that matter — when we have so many words designed to do just that?
(with a brain, thank you very much)
Oh, and Voltaire. I can’t say you helped matters with Candide.
Even the tender Candide, that affectionate lover, upon seeing his fair Cunegund all sunburned, with bleary eyes, a withered neck, wrinkled face and arms, all covered with a red scurf, started back with horror.
Good to know he loved her for her wit and intelligence.
Writing 101, Day 14: Pick up the nearest book and flip to page 29. What jumps out at you? Start there, and try a twist: write in the form of a letter.
Candide cover photo taken from http://www.thedailysnapshot.org/2012_04_01_archive.html
Okay, forget about Voltaire. Everyone’s guilty to some degree. Everyone’s a victim to some degree. Men, women, everybody. What do you think?