PODCAST: All About Breasts

by | Oct 14, 2021 | gsr, Podcasts | 78 comments

Okay, for the podcast title I actually called this one “All About Boobs” but I couldn’t bring myself to put that on the title for the blog!

Rebecca and I are talking about EVERYTHING to do with breasts today, as it is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and some disturbing quotes from a new Christian book seriously objectify breasts.

I feel like the title of this one could be One Boob, Two Boobs, Small Boobs, Big Boobs, but here we go!

(And my mom joins in for a part too!)

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:

 

Timeline of the Podcast:

2:15 Let’s talk about boobs!
6:15 Power imbalances cannot be ‘flashed’ away
13:25 Boob size doesn’t correlate to sexual motives
20:30 Boobs are great…unless they’re tiny?
24:20 Breastfeeding boobs!
34:00 Your boobs are YOURS, and your experience matters
36:50 Research: Bra size!
38:10 Breast cancer awareness
41:15 Sheila’s mother, Elizabeth, debuts on the podcast!
53:15 Ending with encouragement

Main Segment: Let’s Talk Breasts!

Two things prompted this podcast: Breast Cancer Awareness Week, and the launch of Gary Thomas’ and Deb Fileta’s new book Married Sex, which includes several pages about how much men like breasts and were designed to like breasts (written by Gary). This quote was published by several who are reading it on Twitter and Facebook, and to say that things have erupted on social media would be an understatement. I made a Fixed it for You out of it too:

Fixed it For You Boobs

We talked about how inappropriate it was to just gloss over the fact that there may be power imbalances in the marriage, let alone to then suggest that the solution to those power imbalances was for her to show him her breasts. Here’s how one woman reacted on Facebook to this quotation:

Let me get this straight: The thing that “enthralls” a man … the thing gives me “influence OVER” him “that can reset ANY power balances that occur because of other issues” …(whatever that means, but I won’t go there now)… is something determined by my genes over which I HAVE NO INFLUENCE?It’s not my CHARACTER … it’s not the way I THINK … it’s not the way I choose my WORDS … it’s not my COMPASSION … it’s nothing that makes me UNIQUELY ME …In fact, it’s something that if my genetics didn’t “bless” me, I could save up enough money and BUY as an add-on …Good God. If I’d read this 33+ years ago, I would have become a nun.

Later in the same passage Gary actually suggests flashing your husband to do so. He goes on to explain that what differentiates people from animals is that we have “full breasts” from puberty onwards, whereas apes only have them when they’re nursing.

We talked about how inappropriate it was to talk about pubertal girls in this way (they’re only 11 often) and also how referring to breasts as “full” is problematic for those who DON’T have full breasts.

We went on to discuss:

  • How it feels at puberty when you develop breasts too early
  • How we associate sexuality with the size of one’s breasts, and often infer sexual motives on very young girls just because they have breasts
  • How it feels for women with smaller breasts to hear all of these things
  • What happens when you have a mastectomy and then you hear things like this
  • How we shouldn’t tell nursing women that their breasts still need to be for their husbands–and a rather graphic description of what can happen during sex if you have oversupply issues
  • And, of course, Breast Cancer Awareness Month with my mom (who is 35 years cancer free this month!)

We also heard from a reader who was ostracized for breastfeeding in front of male family members.

And my mother shared the great privilege we’ve had of collecting thousands upon thousands of bras from a very generous bra company here to take over to Kenya to a children’s home where my mom often volunteers. They don’t get a lot of new items, and bras–especially for larger women who need the support–are actually quite important. That’s been a wonderful privilege for us to do.

What we love about the Mulli Children’s Family is that it’s entirely Kenyan run. We go to help, but it’s all done by Kenyans.

They run the show, and we just support them any way we can (even if that’s bringing bras and setting up a knitting program so young moms can make things to sell and support themselves!). 

And it’s just so ironic that my mother spends most of her time now sorting bras–when she’s actually had a mastectomy!

Things Mentioned in This Podcast:

All About Boobs Podcast

What do you think? Did you have shame when you developed early? How did breastfeeding affect your sex life? How can we talk about breasts in a healthier way? Let’s talk in the comments!

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

Related Posts

Comments

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78 Comments

  1. Anna

    My (now estranged) mother told me when I was 16 that any guy would laugh at me if they saw how small my breasts were. You know, to deter me from having pre-marital sex…

    All I’m gonna say is my husband has never complained!

    Reply
  2. CMT

    What. The. Heck.

    Ok, it’s more than fine if a guy is really attracted to his wife’s boobs and can express that in a way they both enjoy. Cool. Good for them.

    But please, can we not take a few lines from the Bible and extract a universal principle from one poetic image?

    And telling women that the way they gain influence in their marriages is by using their body/sexuality? Especially when they can be so quickly blamed for being “too” sexy, called manipulative or accused of withholding? Reeks of objectification and double standards.

    You guys are right to point out that many of us ladies have a very complicated relationship to our boobs. I think a lot of guys don’t get that. I’ve heard it compared to the anxiety men often just have about penis size, and I suppose that might be a useful analogy. But, the crucial difference is that men get to decide who sees how they “measure up,” whereas girls and women have their breasts right out there for the world to see, judge, and, all too often, comment on. And the FB commenter is spot on. We want to be heard for who we are, not how appealing our bodies are to somebody else.

    Reply
    • CMT

      * anxiety men often have *

      I don’t know why my phone thought I wanted the word “just” in there.

      Reply
    • exwifeofasexaddict

      Maybe hair/baldness is better? But shaved heads are cool now, so I’m not sure baldness has the same stigma.

      Reply
  3. A2bbethany

    Wow… the puns and the topic were both wonderfully high quality!
    Im one of those tiny breasted people, who was blessed to be able to breastfeed, but never got that original engorgement! My mom actually told me that, Because it hadn’t come at day 5, I probably wouldn’t be able to breastfeed. But my baby never complained, and on the one week check, she’d actually gained almost all of the birth weight back!(babies usually lose weight immediately after being born and how much is gained back is a sign of how healthy they are. She was pronounced very healthy.)

    I don’t actually remember where I heard this, but it was saying that women who regularly wear bra’s, were more likely to get breast cancer. As apposed to the cultures that didn’t wear them. Their point was that not wearing one to sleep and maybe around the house, might lower the chance of cancer. (practicalities of doing that are obviously very individual!) But that started a trend for us females. We stopped sleeping in bras(all of us are very small chested and I don’t if you could being bigger) and as a newly married, I wore one even less.

    I enjoy the freedom not being squeezed… especially now that I need bigger ones for pregnancy, but can’t yet shop. Also, once I’m feeding, I have a no touch policy for hubby. Because they no longer recognize it as sexual and make me lose all interest rapidly.

    My family has the thing about covering up, but out in public I don’t. I found that while feeding baby, literally nothing else is showing, so why cover it? I agree with both sides, and I do think that it shouldn’t be sexualized. But shaking that raised up belief, is very hard.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Totally hear you about growing up that way, Bethany!

      (and I don’t sleep in a bra either!) that would be interesting about the breast cancer link. I’ll look into that!

      Reply
    • CMT

      Fellow member of the small boob club here 😉 have learned to love them!

      I was glad to find out when I was pregnant with my oldest that baseline breast size doesn’t have anything to do with lactation. When you’re not lactating, the size of the breast is mostly fat tissue, which varies a lot between women. The milk comes from the gland tissue, and most women have roughly the same amount. Which is fortunate, or all the babies in my family would have had to be bottle fed by default!

      Also, I’ve heard the one about bra wearing and cancer, but to my knowledge there isn’t any established link:

      https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4184992/

      Reply
    • Lisa M

      Yes, sleeping in any tight clothing, could be tight underpants, too, restricts lymph flow which is an important part of the detoxification that happens during sleep. Restricted lymph flow is believed to increase all types of cancer risks, not just breast cancer. PLEASE don’t sleep in a bra! If you need to wear something, make sure it doesn’t have tight elastic, try a tank top or a special sleep bra that isn’t tight around the chest.

      Reply
      • CMT

        Hi, this is maybe getting a bit off topic but I thought it was worth clarifying:

        Lymph flow is mostly driven by the action of your skeletal muscles squeezing the lymph vessels (the lymphatic system does not have a dedicated pump). So lymph flow is primarily happening when you are awake and active, not when you are sleeping. Tight clothes don’t obstruct this process (maybe unless they are functioning like a tourniquet, in which case you wouldn’t wear them during the day or at night!). In fact, external compression can help people with medical issues that cause problems with lymph drainage.

        If people are concerned about their lymphatic system, or about getting cancer, it’s generally more useful to get regular exercise instead of worrying about what bra to wear.

        This article explains it pretty well:

        https://www.mdanderson.org/publications/focused-on-health/exercise-and-the-lymphatic-system.h20-1592991.html

        Ofc, heartily recommend people talk to their own dr instead of listening to randos like me on the internet 😉

        Reply
        • Lisa M

          Yes, muscles are the pumps of lymph. The diaphragm has many lymph nodes near it as as do the arm pits. The diaphragm and chest muscles are active 24 hours a day, for breathing. The lymph in the areas of your breasts should be moving freely all night and all day. I have spoken with several doctors on this. 🙂

          Reply
  4. Bethany

    What a wonderful episode!

    It was so nice having your Mom on, and she has such a wonderful voice and presence.

    And thank you, thank you, thank you so much for your aside that not all women can or want to breastfeed. It really meant a lot.

    I have quite small and also non-functional breasts, and it really messed with my sense of being an adequate woman and mother for a long time. I’m still sad I wasn’t able to breastfeed, and to have the acknowledgement that it doesn’t always work out included in the podcast was so heartwarming and appreciated.

    It’s a shame that Evangelicalism reduces women to their bodies so often, it really makes it hurt when we can’t live up to our “design” that is somehow supposed to be intrinsic to our identities as a woman. Thank you for pushing against that.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Bethany, I’m sure that was a disappointment! I’m sorry.

      And, yes, we are far more than our bodies. I hope that especially male authors take to heart that how they talk about us matters.

      Reply
    • CMT

      “ It’s a shame that Evangelicalism reduces women to their bodies so often, it really makes it hurt when we can’t live up to our “design” that is somehow supposed to be intrinsic to our identities as a woman. ”

      Yes. Sanctified stereotypes are so cruel to people who choose not to, or physically cannot, fulfill their supposed God-given design. Not to mention that the emphasis on marriage and having babies as somehow every woman’s spiritual calling isn’t particularly biblical.

      Reply
      • Jo R

        I’d like the men reading to think about how they’d like to have their entire existence reduced to their ability to produce sperm. Your innate talents and abilities, your hard-earned skills, knowledge, wisdom, physical abilities—not one of those matter compared to the fact that one future day, as you’ve been told every day since you were little, you’ll help make a baby or three or six, then spend every moment of every day focused on those little people. It’s your only goal in life, to first produce and then raise children. And if you don’t—or, worse, can’t—have children, then you have absolutely no purpose in life generally and especially in the church.

        Reply
  5. Anon

    I remember being 13 and my mother discussing the size of my breasts with another church mother in front of me…over 30 years later, I still cringe at the memory. And it was ALL to do with what the guys would think about my figure, how my future husband would like them, but how I needed to be careful not to ‘flaunt’ them in front of anyone else (and they were absolutely tiny until I started going through the menopause when I ‘ballooned’ up to a C cup!) I gave myself chest pain by walking round with my shoulders hunched over in an attempt to hide these ‘flaunting’ objects! The more I think about it, the more amazed I am at how twisted & weird the church is about women’s bodies!!!

    Reply
  6. Anon

    I don’t know which I find most offensive – the idea that it is normal to have a regular ‘power imbalance’ in my husband’s favour or that he is some kind of man-child who can be manipulated into doing what I want by a quick glimpse of one part of my anatomy. Quite apart from the objectification of women, it’s not doing any favours to men either.

    Reply
  7. Jo R

    Well, CMT beat me to the punch—or, I should say, to the penis!!! I’m trying to imagine a sentence like the following getting published in any Christian marriage and sex book:

    “As we all know, based on both common knowledge and received wisdom, penis size goes a long way to satisfying a woman.”

    Yeah, right!!!

    Or this one:

    “As we all know, women love to run their fingers through men’s hair, so, gentlemen, make sure your hair is thick and full, which will fix any power imbalance you have in your marriage.”

    Tough patooties to those with male-pattern baldness: you are inadequate as husband material.

    As yet another member of the IBTC (still waiting, in my mid 50s, for mine to come in), I can say that one good thing about small breasts is that they’re still in the same place they’ve always been! Not much effect due to gravity.

    I have to wonder if Deb has full breasts. She must, or else I think she would have raised an objection on behalf of herself and other small-breasted women. And yeah, the implications of this book’s ideas for those who’ve had mastectomies is beyond cringe inducing.

    Do authors not have a wider selection of friends who can do some pre-screening reading of their manuscripts to weed out this kind of crap?

    Reply
    • CMT

      Beat you to the … haha.

      I bet I would enjoy hanging out with you irl, Jo. You would fit right in with what my husband has ironically called the “Rebellious Women Club.”

      To be fair, the quote Sheila fixed above doesn’t actually say anything about breast size, per se. Maybe he does have reassuring words elsewhere for women who feel insecure or self-conscious about their breasts for whatever reason. Maaaybe.

      But, overall you’re right. Our culture in general (and conservative church culture in particular) reduces women to their sexual and reproductive functions in a way that would be unthinkable in talking about men. And this quote seems to fit right in to that mindset.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        CMT–you’re right, the quote I “fixed” doesn’t say anything about breast size, but later in the paragraph Gary makes reference to “full breasts.”

        Reply
        • CMT

          I read that, but I didn’t think that meant “bigger is better”,” more saying women have boobs when not lactating, unlike great apes… oh. Yep, that is a weird way to talk about it, whatever “full” is supposed to mean. I’d like to give the benefit of the doubt since I haven’t read the book, but am I the only one who thinks it’s a bit odd to mention apes in the same sentence as human sexuality in a (Christian!) marriage book?

          Reply
          • Kya

            That’s part about the apes is what really creeps me out. Every time I hear it I think, “So does he think that if apes had pugnacious boobs that men would be struggling not to lust after them, too?” It’s beyond repulsive and should have no place in a book like this.

      • Jo R

        Right back atcha about IRL! 😉😉😉

        The question is, rebellious against whom????

        Reply
  8. Wild Honey

    The whole attitude that breast size = sexuality sets women (and girls!) against each other. Which is probably exactly what patriarchal men want, isn’t it?

    Speaking as a small-chested woman, as a teenager I was both intensely jealous AND judgmental of other girls who were larger than I. Jealous because they were more “womanly” than me, judgmental because they were “flaunting” it. Neither of which are true! In a twisted way, I was both proud of my size (because I was not a “stumbling block”) and embarrassed (because I wasn’t “attractive”).

    No wonder teenage girls (and women!) struggle with anxiety and depression.

    And welcome to Elizabeth! It is a delight to finally “meet” you.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I remember being pitted against girls in high school too ,mostly because of jealousy. It’s very toxic for girls to grow up feeling as if our bodies are weaponized against us.

      Reply
    • S

      As much as I like being a C – D cup, there is a part of me that is jealous of small chested women who could not wear a bra a no one would notice. I wholeheartedly wish I could do that. Also, I’d think that shirt shopping would be a lot easier. Y’all have your benefits that others are jealous of. Just thought I’d share that. 🙂

      Reply
      • Meredith

        I’m barely an A cup but I can’t not wear a bra. I like wearing closer fitting tops so that I at least don’t feel like a man, but my nipples stick out and I have no figure whatsoever if I don’t wear a bra. I’m the type who wears a bra underneath a camisole with a shelf bra. Otherwise I’m just flat with nipple points.

        Reply
  9. exwifeofasexaddict

    All the stuff about breasts being seen as separate from the person they’re attached to, about a husband owning them, about sexualizing breastfeeding, about husband “needing” them even when we’re breastfeeding…. all that happened to me. Sex addict ex-husband had a very pornified view of women, beauty, bodies, sexuality, etc. And he grew up in the church. Extremely dysfunctional family, but in the church. He thought being able to have sex would cure his porn addiction, so he married me even though I wasn’t his “type” and we had little in common. He was so dismayed by the changes to my body in pregnancy, of me not wanting to engage in breast play while nursing. Of me changing my hairstyle. He definitely saw me as disembodied boobs and butt. It was so obvious by the end. The stuff Gary said about FEARING the times of “sexual drought” in his marriage….. all my ex. The book says a lot about Gary.

    Church, please, please, please PLEASE stop doing this to women!! It hurts us. And it’s not good for men either. Do you think my ex is a healthy person? Do you think his second marriage is healthy? No. No it isn’t.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you for pointing out how this message really hurts men, too. It does! It never points them in the direction of real intimacy and freedom!

      And I’m so sorry that you went through that in your marriage. That was so wrong.

      Reply
    • S

      I’m sorry you went through all of that.

      My husband is trying to recover from his porn addiction and he also thought that marrying me would cure him. After he realized it couldn’t, he just kept praying for a miracle cure instead of confessing to me and seeking professional help. I finally find this out 11 years into marriage. I knew he did it while we were dating, but I thought he had stopped before we got married (he hadn’t). In my case though, he says that he loves me (and I believe him) and has shown it to me in other ways. He started his addiction in his teens, and I know it has shaped the way he views women and sex altogether. It was his teacher. I really hate that.

      Reply
      • S

        We were also raised in the church, and were given the message that all men lust and that they should redirect it to their wives to keep them from porn etc. Well, non of their advice works.

        Reply
        • exwifeofasexaddict

          Hugs to you , S. I’ve been there too. For a while I thought it was going to get better. I’m so much happier now. I hope you have a happy outcome, whichever way it goes. I hope your H keeps doing his work.

          Reply
  10. Active Mom

    Whenever I read Christian men commenting on women’s bodies like this particularly their breasts I wonder how they would like to if the tables were reversed. Many men would probably say that they would love to have their wives gush over their penis. But what if that wasn’t the male trait we women gushed over. How about if books were written about how much women loved men who were big and strong. I mean that is how God made men to be right? Muscles rippling. A wife would give him whatever he wanted just to have a flash of that strong built chest and shoulders. Oh wait…….. the majority of men don’t fit that description because they no longer work out in the fields etc but rather behind a desk. Sorry guys we love you BUT God made us to admire the male form. The strength and the power. We love you we just would really be attracted to you if you were built as God designed men to be. Something tells me men wouldn’t like this very much.
    Something also tells me that descriptions like that would never make it into a Christian marriage book. Even though I could find scriptures to skew to back me up.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, I agree, Active Mom.

      The double standard here is rarely recognized.

      Reply
      • Jo R

        Well, honestly, why would any double standard be recognized? And is there really one in the first place? “We all know” that women aren’t visual.🙄🙄🙄

        Reply
    • Pawpaw

      Dolly Parton Film 9 to 5 flips the tables on this and many other stereotypes, to great effect.

      Reply
    • Jonathan Bleeker

      Actually, something that has often made me delete biblical fiction novels in disgust is the stereotype that only big buff guys are attractive and really men. I’m quite athletic but no matter how much I work out I will always be the lightweight slender trim runner more than the bulky sumo wrestler. At 28 I still wear size S Ts and can wrap my fingers around my wrist with overlap. There is no way my skeleton will ever be built for 150lbs of solid muscle. And since most of the authors of such biblical fiction are evangelical women, I’m suspicious there is a toxic stereotyping of men just as is described here among these ladies.

      Reply
      • CMT

        Hi Jonathan, thanks for speaking up!

        I think you are right. Idealized expectations about body type are no good for anyone, regardless of gender. No one’s sense of worth or spirituality should be tied to how their body looks or functions.

        I think there may be substantial differences in how men and women experience this problem. All the same, people need to be cognizant that men are not immune. The burly, manly man stereotypes leave a lot of guys cold. It’s high time we ditched the cliches about “how God designed men and women” and focused on the real, unique image bearers around us, each with their own unique beauty and strengths and needs.

        Ahem. I’ll get off my soapbox now, haha.

        Reply
        • Jo R

          Lather away, CMT! You’re absolutely right.

          Reply
  11. S

    I’m sensitive about my boobs. I am saggy and pointed downward (TMI, sorry). Even before having kids I felt saggy, then it got worse.

    Girls are sensitive and critical towards themselves enough as it is.

    When my husband first saw my boobs (and he is a boob man) the first words that came out of his mouth was that my boobs were saggy. The look on his face said it too. He didn’t look excited about them. Made me feel so ugly and hurt so much. His words confirmed my worst fear about my body. Although he apparantly loves them so much (I believe he does) and doesn’t even remember saying that 11 years ago, no matter what he says about them now and the apologizes he gives, he can’t erase that horrible feeling he gave me.

    Life and death are most certainly in the tongue. As you said, authors should be careful how they say things, especially from men to women. I personally feel insulted that Gary compared women to apes in such a way.

    Also, nursing was very painful for me, so for a while sex gave me such anxiety any time my husband wanted to get near my boobs (which he tried). And painful is actually an understatement. No, I didn’t get help as I probably should have. I couldn’t latch my first at all, so at the time I was just glad that the next one did and I stuffed through the pain for several months, with a calicly baby who constantly wanted to nurse (he was on more than off). The whole time baby was on me, it felt like sharp, shooting pains starting from the nipple going inward through the entire breast. My nipple was on fire and would bleed. I constantly got breast infections which I also just pushed through. I suffered postpartum depression. I also had a 2 year old with me. The three of us were home all day just trying to survive each day. I hardly received any help. I don’t think men (and some women) can ever understand this stuff, so I’m partly sharing for awareness. I felt like I was living in hell. There was no time for me to think about my husbands “need”. I am the one who needed the attention in my situation.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Oh, S, I’m so, so sorry you went through all that, both your husband’s reaction and the immense difficulties you had breastfeeding. 🥺🥺🥺 A zillion hugs to you.

      Reply
      • S

        Thank you. I’m sure there were positives during that time. It’s all rather a blur now. I did receive some help, it just wasn’t enough, nor was I understood.

        Reply
    • K

      Oh, I know exactly how you feel about nursing! I had the exact painful sensation, like toe-curling pain at every latch! I was determined, and more confident in speaking up for myself by the time my second was born. I saw my post-partum doctor and she diagnosed me with Raynaud’s Phenomenon (probably not spelt correctly) which has to do with your blood vessels constricting. Usually people get it in their fingers. She prescribed blood pressure meds and that did it! I was able to nurse without pain and we had a happy nursing relationship. But, I also know exactly what you mean about sex as well. My husband has always loved my breasts and there was no way he could touch them while I was struggling with this.

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Oh, that’s really interesting! I’m going to try to tuck that away and remember that if anyone ever brings up pain again.

        Reply
      • Kya

        My friend has the same diagnosis. After her first was born last year, she struggled so much with pain during breastfeeding. She went to several doctors and lactation consultants and no one could help. Finally she was diagnosed with Raynaud’s, and by treating that she could finally breastfeed pain-free. Apparently she’d had other symptoms during her life, but none of them bad enough to seek a diagnosis before this.

        Reply
    • Lisa M

      I am so sorry. I know a little about how you felt. Early on in our marriage, my husband mentioned a few times, casually, that I should start saving up for breast implants. I was absolutely devastated. The woman I am today, I would have laughed and replied that he should start saving up for a divorce lawyer if he’s not satisfied. But, the younger me was utterly crushed. It took me a REALLY long time to tell him just how much that affected me and my ability to trust that he actually loved ME, over 15 years. We are decades past that and he is incredibly sorry for how he spoke and the attitudes that led to him speaking that way.

      What Gary Thomas wrote in his new book would have been the nail in the coffin to my younger self. Clearly, I didn’t have what “God ordained” to enthrall my husband. God must have run out of raw materials when he made me? The order was delayed? Who knows, it would have crushed me.

      The person I am today, I can talk right back to Gary Thomas and say NO. I will not be silent while you perpetuate this toxic attitude, I will not be silent while you hurt countless couples with your entitled attitudes and pornified ideas about women’s bodies. You are free to publish your articles and books and I am free to tell the truth. I will no longer suffer in silence. And my husband stands beside me, nodding his head and speaking up, also. I AM NOT BREASTS. I happen to have breasts, and they are MINE.

      Plus, go travel to other parts of the world, Gary. Breasts are not universally sexual. In some cultures they are seen as for babies, not grown men. They think WE are the weird ones.

      Reply
      • Elissa

        Lisa, YES to your point about other cultures! My husband and I attended a Bible college with a strong focus on missions, so we often had missionaries on home assignment stop to speak. Many of them worked in people groups where women regularly go topless, so guys would always ask the men questions about how they handled it. The answer? You just become desensitized to seeing breasts everywhere, and they don’t seem sexual at all. Plus, they said many of the women have spent so much time nursing babies without any kind of support that it isn’t uncommon for their breasts to sag down to their bellybutton! In many places they are seen as purely functional. That doesn’t mean it is wrong that some cultures view them as sexual, but an author can’t really go and make the claim that God explicitly designed them to be that way.

        Reply
      • Kya

        I took several anthropology courses in college, and one story from a book I read has always stuck with me. The author was a medical anthropologist working in Africa (I can’t remember exactly where), and she said that people in that country absolutely cannot comprehend bikinis. Why go to such extreme lengths to cover up a woman’s breasts, which are nothing special at all, while leaving the most sexual part of a woman’s body hanging out for all to see? What is this most sexually alluring body part? Her thighs.

        Reply
  12. Pawpaw

    My daughter pointed my wife & I toward you all, after we were getting short circuits with ‘Love & Respect’. Thanks for research-based updates.

    Pls consider a few thoughts on this podcast:
    —Rebecca, though my wife and I in our 60s, I’m still rejoicing in the wife of my youth, and still delight in all of her. Don’t sell older bodies short! A Christian mentor implored me to take both the warnings and delights of Prov. 5 seriously, early in my marriage.

    —You’re limited on time in any podcast, but left out of this discussion is the incredible, distorting power of social media images and porn, which can overlap. Girls are pressured to share images, then judged or rewarded on the number or quality of likes.

    —When we question certain evangelical attitudes re: objectification of female bodies, we could remember that so much modern, visual ‘entertainment’ conveys standards of ‘beauty’ and acceptance. It’s a challenge to resist conforming to these, instead of being transformed by God’s view of each and every one of us, fully known and fully loved.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Hi Pawpaw! Thanks for listening!

      We certainly didn’t mean to say that older bodies aren’t intoxicating. It’s just that Gary Thomas was talking about “young” women, and we were picking up on that. I totally agree with you–we should love each other at every age!

      Reply
  13. Elizabeth

    Before I got pregnant, I loved my husband playing with my nipples rather roughly. Now they hurt if they’re touched more than lightly. He’s totally understanding and would never do anything I don’t like.
    It’s ridiculous that anyone would say that breasts/nipples have to be part of sexual intimacy.

    Reply
  14. Elizabeth

    I should also add that when I developed breasts(size C by 16), my mom would accuse me of wanting guys to look at me if I bent over to work while wearing collar bone high t-shirts. Absolutely no way anyone could see anything, but it really made me self-conscious.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      YES! Why do we ascribe sexual motives to girls like that? It’s so shaming and awful.

      Reply
  15. LL

    Men need to stop talking about women’s bodies. Ew. I grew up thinking I was “a very good girl” because I had been told “we have never seen you in anything that would make a man stumble”. Then a friend tried on one of my “modest” outfits to borrow, and she wasn’t allowed to wear it because it showed off her curves too much. And I realized- it wasn’t that I was that modest; I was appreciated because I didn’t have enough curves to distract.

    Then I married and found I have the higher drive. Oooh boy! I felt my small chest made me “unsexy” to everyone! My poor husband had a bit of untangling to do!

    So men need to just stop commenting on any woman’s body besides their OWN wife. And then… only to her. It causes unnecessary issues in other women.

    Reply
    • Andrea

      “And then… only to her.” I know getting personal about these authors can be in poor taste, but the way Gary writes about his wife (just look at Andrea Aleksandrova’s Twitter feed, different Andrea!), makes me want to ask — Is Gary’s wife OK???

      Also, if he’s going to rely on the Song of Solomon, he’s not only missing references to teeth as erotic, he’s also missing all the woman’s references to her lover’s body, so Biblical proof that women are just as visual as men are. (Sorry Jonathan Bleeker above, but that’s what those biblical fiction novels are relying upon as well.)

      Reply
  16. S

    Well the good news is your name isn’t is his book Sheila!

    He’s too toxic to have YOUR name tied to his.

    Reply
  17. Lisa M

    I am a woman who absolutely could not have anyone touch my breasts during certain stages of breastfeeding. It wasn’t in the early stages, it was as the baby got older. It literally made my skin crawl if my husband touched my breasts. I didn’t need to get in the right mindset, Ms Fileta, I didn’t need anything other what I already had– a husband who knew that my breasts didn’t belong to him, who respected me, and who is capable of delaying his own gratification. We still had a great time. Just as I’m sure couples where the wife has had a double mastectomy can still have a great time. Breasts are not required.

    The whole episode was fantastic! I especially loved hearing from your mom, Sheila. Although I don’t know if it was her debut– didn’t she give a brief comment on Mark Gungor’s social media meltdown?

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Maybe she did! I don’t remember. But I’ll have it on again. she’s reall wise.

      Reply
  18. SLS

    Around 21 min Shelia shared that growing up as young woman with smaller breasts she felt less feminine and that she had “less to offer” her future spouse.

    It hurts my heart that she felt that way growing up. It hurts my heart that other women have similar feelings of inadequacy. You’re amazing just the way God made you.

    I am married to a woman with small breasts and trust me I have zero doubts about her femininity. I find her breasts extremely attractive not just because of how they look physically but because they are a part of her.

    In other words the biggest attraction isn’t to the “body part” it is to “my wife, to whom this body part is attached”.

    Finally for those ladies dealing with breast cancer and mastectomies let me reassure you that a mastectomy does not change your loving husband’s love or attraction to you.

    I have talked with numerous husbands whose wives have undergone mastectomies. All of them point out how attracted they are to their wives and how beautiful their wives are.

    Ladies, don’t believe the lie that large breasts are what it takes to be attractive and feminine. It simply isn’t true.

    Reply
    • Jo R

      Perhaps you could say that about a bazillion times in an attempt to counteract all the negative messaging all women have heard and seen and sensed their entire lives????

      Thanks for saying it once, anyway! And bravo saying it to the woman to whom it matter most! We can all assure you she appreciates it.

      Reply
  19. M

    I appreciate how this podcast features FOUR generations of strong, brave women who are making the world a better place (Baby Girl, too).

    Thank you SO much for exposing these things. The tide is slowly turning though the cost has been steep to you all.

    May Rebecca’s delivery be timely and smooth <3

    Reply
  20. Anonymous

    I just finished listening to the podcast again because it’s so good!!
    The part about not wanting the nipples touched during the breastfeeding stage really hit home for me.
    It always just completely turned me off. It was so off-putting, and felt like I was always sharing my nipples. Unfortunately my husband didn’t seem to understand that even though I tried to explain it to him.

    Covering up with a blanket while breastfeeding was also a thing with my Mother in-law. I was always very careful and always used a blanket, but I could sense that she thought I shouldn’t breastfeed in front of her husband because he still knew what I was doing. Her and her husband were always awkward around me whenever I breastfed, and he would never look directly at me even if he was talking to me.
    This podcast is so needed!! It was very encouraging!

    Reply
  21. Erica M.

    I have to say my husband and I had some fun after listening to your All About Boobs episode. I told him about the quote from the Married Sex book and he thought it was as ridiculous as we all did. However, after that I kept flashing him saying, “Behold my power!” We do not have a power imbalance and could do this in a playful way that we both enjoyed.
    Clearly this is an insulting idea to women. But it got me thinking, why is this not more insulting to men? The idea that they could be somehow manipulated or controlled by the sight or their wife’s breasts should be incredibly insulting to them, why is it not?
    Thanks for your podcasts and books! Keep up the great work you guys are doing!

    Reply
  22. J

    I wonder if it occurred to Mr Thomas how that message comes across to a trauma survivor victimized by her youth pastor… starting when she barely had breasts…. (Hint: it’s another rerun of evangelicalism blaming the victim, because clearly the 11 year-old girl MUST be responsible for the criminal behavior of the 25 year-old man. Nothing is wrong here, really, [I also have ocean-front property in Nebraska for sale].)

    Reply
  23. Shannon

    My mom was 46 when she passed away from breast cancer. She did self breast exams and found a lump between yearly mammograms. I am 46 and have been getting yearly mammograms since my mid twenties when I started seeing a gynecologist. Every year my doctor asks if I’m doing my self breast exams and I say no. With my family history I know the importance of this, especially now with my age, but I just don’t do them. I always said it’s because I didn’t know what was “normal” and what wasn’t. It wasn’t until I heard this podcast that I realized it was because I never liked to touch myself. I know it’s for medical reasons and not to turn myself on but I’ve always felt dirty at the thought of touching myself.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Isn’t that the truth? We associate so much of this with being sexual when it’s really just our health!

      Reply
  24. Amy

    Sheila, when you started talking about the insecurity you had over the size of your breasts when you were younger, I saw myself. For so long, I really felt as though I was completely unattractive and less feminine than those with more noticeable boobs. I’m only recently starting to realize how untrue that is.

    Reply

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