How breasts are used against women

Nonita Kalra
Nonita KalraFeb 06, 2016 | 10:25

How breasts are used against women

It seems Susan Sarandon put the sag in the SAG awards, according to Twitter trolls. Apparently wearing a black bra under a gorgeous Max Mara white suit was tacky. Ms Sarandon replied to Piers Morgan's petty tweet by posting a lovely old photograph on herself in lingerie under the #tbt. And her supporters flooded his timeline with pictures of their boobs.

But the British TV personality insisted it was just wrong to wear your breasts out especially while you were paying tribute to an old friend (and former lover David Bowie) in the In Memoriam section of the SAG awards. Rather insolently, he thought he was shutting down #CleavageGate when he asked if she would wear that outfit to a funeral?

I thought she should, as long as it was to Mr Morgan's - as a suit of celebration.  

Susan Sarandon at the SAG awards.

We know that breasts can bring a strong man to his knees but I think I was unaware of their exact sphere of influence. These mammary glands can don many hats. They are present for pleasure. They can nurture a child. They clearly even have the ability to be rude as well, as recent events show.

I mean we all knew you could be rude about breasts without consequences, but their capability to respond would have been seriously appreciated by a leading Bollywood star when an English daily posted a montage on Twitter, in 2014, captioned "OMG: Deepika Padukone's cleavage show".

The feisty actor called them out for their blatant sexism and asked if they would focus the same way on a man's crotch. She went on to announce: "YES! I am a woman. I have breasts AND a cleavage! You got a problem!!??" Their defence is not worth reprinting.

A leading English daily broadsheet published this tasteless picture of Deepika Padukone's "cleavage".

But the greatest power of breasts is wielded by women with boobs (WWBs) - over women who are not so well endowed. Which is why women resort to faking it. Why else would padded bras be on the shopping list of every girl who is a 32A statistic.

One of my favourite writers, one of the smartest women I have read, Nora Ephron describes her early struggles in Crazy Salad & Scribble Scribble (An Omnibus) very articulately: "Each time I changed bras I changed sizes: one week nice perky but not too obtrusive breasts, the next medium-sized slightly pointy ones, the next week knockers, true knockers; all the time, whatever size I was, carrying around this rubberised appendage on my chest that occasionally crashed into a wall and was poked inward and had to be poked outward - I think about all that and wonder how anyone kept a straightface through it."

But beyond the ridiculousness of the subterfuge and deceit, lies a deeper message. Of how WWBs use their assets to tyrannise those of us who are have-nots. In the same chapter, Ephron talks about a boyfriend's mother who tells her to always assume the sex on top position because it will redeem Nora's obvious defects by making her breasts appear larger. The same piece details how a friend, while complimenting her style, adds, "I could never wear a dress like that: my bust is too big."

I have been there and lived that. So much so that I found myself entering rooms and appending my breast size to my introduction as defensive strategy to these not so subtle games played by WWBs. Funnily enough, no man made me feel inadequate. In fact, from the male of the species I learnt the wonderful phrase: Anything more than a handful is a waste.  

My #CleavageGate came to a head a few years ago. This is a true story.

At a lovely brunch in one of Bombay’s most elegant gymkhana’s, a WWB came up to me and tried to engage in conversation. I was taken aback because her dislike of me was legendary. But somehow I dregded up good manners and greeted her. In fact, I even complimented her for looking well. Her elegant response went exactly like this: "I see you still have no breasts." For once, I wasn't at a loss for words. I quietly replied, "I see you still have no class."

Last updated: March 03, 2016 | 16:43
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