How Odd: The Irresistible Gravitational Pull of Cleavage

I’m a heterosexual male, and as such, I like cleavage.  I don’t know why, it may be hard-wired or something I picked up from the culture, but there’s no question that it’s one of the more pleasant sights in daily life.

That said, it’s not like I haven’t seen cleavage before, nor that I won’t see it again.  It’s nice and all, but it’s not as if it creates some sort of vortex from which my eyes cannot be pulled.  Indeed, I’m quite capable of ignoring cleavage and actually addressing the woman attached to it as if she is more important than it is.  And certainly I’m able to operate, say, motorized vehicles and heavy machinery within 100 yards of cleavage.

Which is more than I can say for a German bus driver in Lindau:

A German bus driver threatened to throw a 20-year-old sales clerk off his bus in the southern town of Lindau because he said she was too sexy, a newspaper reported Monday.

“Suddenly he stopped the bus,” the woman named Debora C. told Bild newspaper. “He opened the door and shouted at me ‘Your cleavage is distracting me every time I look into my mirror and I can’t concentrate on the traffic. If you don’t sit somewhere else, I’m going to have to throw you off the bus.'”

Now, let’s look at this rationally.

On the one hand, one can be distracted by cleavage, if one is a straight man or (I assume) a gay woman. 

On the other hand, what in the wide world of sports is this guy talking about?  Seeing cleavage in his mirror is too much for him to handle?  Too distracting for him to deal with?  What’s he doing driving a bus?  Yeah, it’s nice and all, but come on, man, focus! 

And if you can’t focus, here’s a thought: how ’bout not shaming the woman?  Because, you know, it’s not her fault that you can’t deal with your hormones well enough to drive a bus safely.  This is something you should have dealt with back when you were fourteen, man. 

Look, humans can be sexually attracted to each other.  This isn’t a bad thing, on the whole.  But whether you’re a girl attracted to a toned, lean, attractive fellow with a swimmer’s build and deep dark eyes, or a guy attracted to a woman with just the right color hair and a feisty personality, or a guy attracted to the former, or a woman attracted to the latter, you have to be able to get through an initial infatuation and, you know, deal with another human being like they’re, you know, human beings.  Like they’re more important as people than as things.  And that you have enough control of yourself to deal with someone else without drooling.

This news brought to you, of course, by Reuters’ “Oddly Enough” segment.  “Oddly Enough”: Stories About Women, Because Bitchez is Weird.

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38 Comments

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38 responses to “How Odd: The Irresistible Gravitational Pull of Cleavage

  1. tart

    Stories About Women, Because Bitchez is Weird

    LOL!!

    As a large-chested woman, I’ve come to respect men who can carry on a conversation with me without staring down my shirt. I take it as a sign that they’ve honed their man-to-woman skillz, and are probably good kissers. It’s an excellent first-date success indicator.

  2. NameChanged

    The school I work at just added a “no cleavage” rule to the dress code. For some of us a turtleneck is all that is available to cover cleavage. How about not pointing it out? I certainly won’t be shaming my students.

  3. SpecialK

    Cleavage is definitely a force to be reckoned with. I’m a gay male and still find my eyes lingering on women’s chests from time to time. Certainly not to the point of not being able to function, though. It’s not a sexual thing – more like admiring a fine piece of jewelery.

  4. tart

    The other day I was helping my 3-year-old cousin make a sandwich, and he was sitting on the counter and while the bread was toasting he just sort of laid his hand on my cleavage. Like, just resting my hand here, ok? It was oddly sweet.

  5. I’m certain I’ve told this story before, but it seems relevant again…

    The guy I mentioned here–whom I tried to dissuade from constantly talking to my tits instead of to me by snapping my fingers next to my head and commanding, “Eyes up here, Jim!”–was truly the worst tits-starer I’ve ever met. Nothing, but nothing, could stop him from doing it, including shaming him.

    As a last ditch effort, when he introduced me to his wife for the first time at an office party (STILL STARING AT MY TITS WHILE INTRODUCING US, mind you), I shook her hand and said, “Nice to meet you. Tell your husband to stop staring at my tits,” and I walked away.

    Even that didn’t stop him, but the other women in the office loved me for it.

  6. As a baby, my little brother more or less involuntarily groped pretty much every woman who held him. We would have to warn strangers that it was not a terrible idea to give him something to hold in that hand. I’m pretty sure, though, that the time to grow out of that kind of thing is somewhere around the age of 2 or 3.

  7. Ula

    tart: i am totally with you on that sentiment!!

    and really, turtlenecks might cover cleavage, but it doesn’t change the fact that some of us have big boobs. you can wear turtlenecks to work, and some dudes still look at your chest first. cleavage-showing or not, the same guys that claim to be distracted just by cleavage, are distracted by boobz themeselves.

    and seriously, beetchez are weerd 😛

  8. tart

    I’m pretty sure, though, that the time to grow out of that kind of thing is somewhere around the age of 2 or 3.

    I disagree. It’s a comfort thing for kids. It’s not like they squeeze the nipples or anything. They just rest their heads there…it’s snuggly!

  9. They just rest their heads there…it’s snuggly!

    Totally. My nephew did that until he was about 9 or 10.

  10. By the way, Sgt. Mum got this in the Blogwhoring thread as well.

  11. Boobs are totally snuggly and comforting! For cuddle bugs of all species. Both of my cats love to snuggle in the cleavage. partly it’s nice and soft and cushy, but I also think it has something to do with picking up the heart beat….

  12. The bus driver is much funnier if you translate him into German and say it with a Seargent Schultz kind of voice. “Ich kann nicht denken! Ich sehe Bruste! Bruuuuste!”

  13. Interesting timing.

    About an hour ago, a co-worker engaged me in conversation about a project. She’s generously endowed and was wearing a fairly low-cut top. We talked for ten minutes but it felt like ten days because I was fighting the aforementioned irresistible gravitational pull of cleavage – and it was tough work. No one was in danger – it’s not as if I was driving a bus or anything like that – but now I’m tired.

    On the other hand, I didn’t order my co-worker to talk to me from outside the door.

  14. Linnaeus

    and really, turtlenecks might cover cleavage, but it doesn’t change the fact that some of us have big boobs. you can wear turtlenecks to work, and some dudes still look at your chest first. cleavage-showing or not, the same guys that claim to be distracted just by cleavage, are distracted by boobz themeselves.

    Turtlenecks do cover cleavage, but they tend to be a bit form-fitting, and can therefore still draw attention to the breasts.

    Like Jeff, I admit I’m a fan of cleavage and breasts more generally. I will say that I do look, but there’s a time and a way to do it. Certainly not while talking directly to a woman, and it’s not cool to ogle or stare. A simple brief glance is sufficient. Then move on with the rest of your day.

  15. Sounds like a very bad bus ride.

  16. “I disagree. It’s a comfort thing for kids. It’s not like they squeeze the nipples or anything. They just rest their heads there…it’s snuggly!”

    Tart, that’s not what I’m describing. My baby brother would actually squeeze the nipples on occasion, but would also kind of massage the whole breast. He was pretty little at that point, but it was such an explicitly breast-focused thing that would nonetheless make people uncomfortable when they held him (even men would sometimes find it weird when he would lovingly stroke their pecs). Hence our strategy of holding his hand or giving him a toy to hold. Head snuggling I’m cool with way past 3. Anyway, my prior comment was basically a joke–I imagine we agree that kind of breast fixation is pretty normal for breastfed little people, not so much for adult bus drivers.

  17. Shade

    Midwestern Gent,

    Thanks! I’m still giggling.

  18. DerelictDaughter11

    Yeah, ya know, as a woman with D’s it’s tough to keep them in check, so to speak. I find it difficult not to show some cleavage – and not because I’m a sex-loving dirty whore, mind you. 😉 It’s because of the way most tops seem to be cut. It’s hard enough finding clothes I like that fit. I can’t be held responsible for clothing makers’ failure to take big boobs into account when marking off the neckline! I could wear turtlenecks, sure, but it is summer and all, and I’d still have big boobs underneath, as someone mentioned above. Soooo….yeah, really the best bet is for everyone to keep their boob-lust under control and conduct themselves like adults. Unless you’re a small child, or a cat. 🙂

  19. The bus driver was trying to hit on her. See, she was supposed to be flattered that her cleavage is so magnificent that he couldn’t perform his job!

  20. Misty

    This reminds me of the time my husband invited a co-worker over on evening. The guy, when meeting me, very obviously said “hello” to my boobs and then looked at my face. The whole word was out of his mouth before he glanced up to make (brief) eye contact. Bah.

  21. The school I work at just added a “no cleavage” rule to the dress code. For some of us a turtleneck is all that is available to cover cleavage. How about not pointing it out? I certainly won’t be shaming my students.

    Ugh. If I wear anything other than a turtleneck, I show cleavage. I have no neck, big boobs, and I’m very short-waisted. Turtlenecks and regular round collars or anything buttoned to the collar are strictly on my what not to wear list. I look best when I wear necklines that show a lot of skin. I refuse to look bad because some schmoes can’t resist the lure of the breast.

    I fell in love with Loki because he looked me in the eyes when we first met. It was a big change from what I was used to.

    And when Monkey was a wee’un, she called my boobs “tuffies”.

  22. “Nice to meet you. Tell your husband to stop staring at my tits”

    LOL! That is too funny! OK, I’m a gay man, and I also appreciate a nicely proportioned set of boobs. I knew a woman at college named Ja Ja who was very well endowed, and I don’t know any of my male friends from school who didn’t get caught by Ja Ja staring at her tits at some point. She caught me at it one night at a party. I tried to be good, honest! It’s just a biological thing; guys just can’t help it! There was even a South Park episode about it.

    That being said, to do it over and over with every woman around is just plain ignorant. Lissa, please accept this Attagirl as a token of my esteem!

  23. JoAsakura

    ah, never has been a better moment for me to tell the “Weapons of Mammary Distraction” story from work.

    During the first year at my current employer, I got called on the carpet TWICE for my boobs.

    1)I wore a well-fitting sweater to work with a v neck (and not a particularly deep one). After the meeting, the HR lady (who was in the meeting) called me up and said I was in violation of the dress code because you could see my cleavage (the way she said it oozed with condecenscion, as if I were a little kid). I was in tears and felt absolutely humilated and wore my wooly scarf over my chest the whole rest of the day.

    2) a few months later, my Uber-boss brought some gents from our Australian and Japanese offices around for a visit. I was wearing a high-necked knit t-shirt type top and a jacket. We chatted for a few moments and I could see uberboss getting antsy. Aussie-dude and Japanese-dude had spent most of the conversation looking at my boobs.

    Later that day, my immediate boss calls me into his office. “I don’t even want to have this conversation, but Uberboss was worried that your…chest might’ve offended the visitors today because they were staring at it.”

    The shame of the previous incident by this time had crystalised into irritation, so after he said this, i replied (and if it seems like I’m shouting, I was):

    “WHAT THE FUCK? I have big breasts. They stick out. I CAN’T HELP IT. Would the company care to purchase me a burqua so I don’t cause chaos with my oh-so-massive 36Ds?”

    I was so livid that it wasn’t until later that I realised “Huh. So the guys visiting from the other offices weren’t reprimanded for staring at my boobs. But I get called on having Boobs?”

    Have tested the waters since then with shirts I feel are perfectly appropriate for work, but might not be “concealing” enough for SOME people’s tastes. I catch Uberboss surreptitiously checking my chest out periodically when we have conversations, but since my expression of displeasure, I can only assume this has become a battle he’s no longer willing to fight. =p

  24. Simon Jericho

    Good call, JoAsakura. It really is phenomenally awful that a woman’s anatomy is considered a workplace behavioral issue while men’s behavioral issues are considered somehow outside their control, like it were anatomical. God bless the Patriarchy, eh? Getting everything ass-backward since 4,000 BCE.

    To contribute briefly to the anecdotal portion of the discussion, I work in an office made up predominantly of women, some of whom are quite generously endowed. One of them is a 5’9″ stick figure of a girl who somehow wound up filling out a D cup. She has a penchant for loose blouses, and although the necklines aren’t plunging, they do tend low and the combination of that with her narrow shoulders and ribcage means that if she leans forward at all, she leaves very little to the imagination. Not often, but every once in a while, I do catch myself allowing my eyes to linger a bit longer than they should. It’s a very strange experience for a guy who has generally trained himself to avoid that sort of thing. I’m fairly sure I recover myself quickly enough to avoid notice of it, unless the speed with which I whip my eyes back to her face in alarm gives me away.

    Funny thing is, I’m not even attracted to her (super-skinny girls aren’t especially intriguing to me). It’s the contrast between her frame and her breasts that draws my attention, far more than her breasts themselves.

  25. SAP

    Thankfully for me, the one truly great thing about being partially deaf is, whenever I start to feel my gaze wandering (and it does, oh, yes, it does, indeed), I simply turn my head to one side and ask the woman in question to repeat what she said.

    Having said that, what a tool that bus driver was.

  26. It sucks being treated that way at work. I have to say, having a good boss really helps:

    http://diaryofafreakmagnet.blogspot.com/2006/09/sweater-girl_115941620733580206.html

  27. About an hour ago, a co-worker engaged me in conversation about a project. She’s generously endowed and was wearing a fairly low-cut top. We talked for ten minutes but it felt like ten days because I was fighting the aforementioned irresistible gravitational pull of cleavage – and it was tough work. No one was in danger – it’s not as if I was driving a bus or anything like that – but now I’m tired.

    I hear you, Phillip. My team leader is a hell of a nice woman, smart, funny and cheerful – and I find myself thinking “look her in the eye, you pillock” whenever she wears a low cut blouse.

    To the well-endowed out there, please cut us some slack if we slip, assuming we have the grace to be embarrassed and at least try our best to talk to you rather than the mammaries.

  28. Anne

    JoAsakura, that sucks. On my performance review at work, I got perfect marks in almost everything except “workplace attire,” also because I have giant boobs that are visible in anything but a burlap sack, and being skinny makes them even more visible. It just makes me so fucking irate that my fucking BODY is viewed as something so shameful and disgusting by the majority of the population. I mean, fuck, do people think I like having scoliosis because of my chest size? Is it not enough to be in constant pain — I have to be humiliated all the time and made to feel subhuman because I have giant breasts, which by the way, I did not fucking ask for? And I’m not talking about occasional glances at my chest — I’m talking about harassment on the street, at work, and everywhere I go. Interestingly enough, I used to wear huge T-shirts and slightly loose jeans in order to not draw attention to my body, but the harassment I got from doing that was even worse than the still-high amount of harassment I get now, when I dress how a woman is “supposed” to dress. (Isn’t it interesting how men bully women into dressing a certain way, and then harass us when we do dress the way they want us to?)

    And oh, I don’t buy the whole “gawking at titteeez is a biological thing!” Why, then, in a lot of West Africa is it expected that women will go around with their breasts uncovered, but if they show any of their legs it’s scandalous? People there seem to function fine with boobies in their face all day long.

  29. Hee-larious / horrifying stories. If T-shirts were acceptable office wear, I saw a good one: “I See You’ve Already Met the Twins”.

    A lot of my recovery from middle-school torture for being flat-chested — on a shame par with, say, peeing yourself in public apparently — has come from the relief of getting stares and comments slightly less often than my friends who have some jiggle on their ribcage.

    And Anne, excellent point about West Africa. I lived in Mauritania, and boobs there are milkbags, is all — a woman would pull one out and jiggle it at you as a visual aid to say that she was this or that kid’s mother. But ankles — instant slutdom!

  30. Kate217

    I am reminded of the former co-worker who used to call me “Jugs” and was shocked! (SHOCKED!!! I tell you) when I pointed out that it was offensive. I’ve been kicking myself for years for not just starting to call him “Tiny.”

  31. barbara_on_19th

    About the Reuters “oddly enuf” thing, why not complain to Reuters? They are

    1) famously word-picky
    http://homepage.mac.com/bkerstetter/writersblock/reutersexplanation.html

    2) proud of their lack of bias
    http://about.reuters.com/investors/corpinfo/independence.asp

    3) right in the middle of a buyout/merger with Thomson, which has a seriously “Minnesota Nice” vibe about their corporate culture

    4) under a new Editor-in-Chief, David Schlesinger, who graduated from *Oberlin College* in the 80’s. Oberlin was seriously liberal in the 80’s, this guy has to know his feminist basics.
    http://about.reuters.com/aboutus/overview/executiveteam.asp

    A little alternate media campaign might go a long way.

  32. A straight male friend once commented to me, over dinner, very forthrightly, the night I wore a particular blouse:

    “I think you have very beautiful breasts. I never noticed that before.”

    It was so frank, so genuine, and so human, that I didn’t experience an instant of offense. He was simply pointing out something about my body that he liked —- long after he had come to know my spirit. (Actually, up that time, I think he basically related to me as another guy.)

  33. NMRon

    Since everyone’s chastising the male side, let me sling some back across the net. I once was running a meeting for a large project with a number of team members present. One of the team was a young lady dressed in a nice summer suit with rather baggy button up silk shirt with several buttons undone. Thin lady, hardly endowed let alone ‘well endowed.’ In the days following the meeting, every woman in the meeting pulled me aside to complain about the slut flashing her bare breasts whenever she bent over. Nipples and everything. Nipples for god’s sake, the bitch. Honestly, I hadn’t noticed and the topic was never mentioned by any of the men at the meeting (and these are not guys who shy from an opportunity for a salacious comment).
    The point being, not withstanding the reality of the patriarchy, in the professional settings I work in, women are without a doubt the most critical of other women. Hair, looks, makeup, dress. I’ve heard comments made that I wouldn’t make even if I thought them, and in venues intended to really hurt the subject of the criticism. So while the men being discussed here are immature and boorish, women get the the gold for unmitigated vituperative hostility.

  34. every woman in the meeting pulled me aside to complain about the slut flashing her bare breasts whenever she bent over

    “Every woman” referred to a professional colleague as a slut? Or was that just a wry embellishment to really drive home the point about the “unmitigated vituperative hostility” women have for other women?

    I’m hardly critical of other women’s “hair, looks, makeup, dress,” because, honestly, I don’t give a flying shit. But if I were in a meeting where someone’s nipples were showing, I would mention it, too, for that woman’s own edification, because if I had a nipple slip, I’d damn well want to know. My preference would be to speak to her about it directly, but, were that not an option, I might address her team leader instead.

    Now, that said, I’d like to note that 33 comments in, nearly every comment has cited personal experiences with individual men (or one’s own experiences as a man), rather than making a sweeping generalization about “men” (as in all men) being “immature and boorish” that you’ve now made in order to justify your further sweeping generalization about “women” (as in all women) having “unmitigated vituperative hostility” toward one another.

    Sure, I can think of a few times that I’ve seen women be unfair toward other women in the workplace, but I can think of significantly more in which women formed tight workplace bonds (often in solidarity against generally annoying or outright abusive male coworkers) and had a lovely and rewarding camaraderie with one another. I have had the privilege of working with wonderful, supportive, and encouraging women, who absolutely would have pulled me aside and politely informed me had I had a nipple slip at work. Does that mean I get to say all women are wonderful, supportive, and encouraging in the workplace? Nope.

    So how about canning the bullshit about how we all “get the the gold for unmitigated vituperative hostility” based on your personal experiences, all right?

  35. "Fair and Balanced" Dave

    Turtlenecks do cover cleavage, but they tend to be a bit form-fitting, and can therefore still draw attention to the breasts.

    And if you wear one, Ann Althouse will think you’re trying to catch Bill Clinton’s attention.

  36. Hey, with all this talk about boobs and cleavage, I suddenly can’t concentrate any more at work. I’m gonna sue all of you for mammarial harassment.

  37. Pingback: jobsanger: Bus Driver Is Sexist Prick

  38. Erin M

    The bus driver is much funnier if you translate him into German and say it with a Seargent Schultz kind of voice. “Ich kann nicht denken! Ich sehe Bruste! Bruuuuste!”

    Oh great. I’m just about to leave work and I am so not going to be able to look at the bus driver without cracking a smile now.

    Seriously, though, thanks, Gent! 😀

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