I've kissed a few boys in my time. I've kissed more boys than McKay's kissed girls- probably triple or quadruple the number. Kissing, and in particular french kissing, was on my list of "things I liked to do." I could kiss and kiss and kiss all day. Even different guys in the same day (!). Kissing was enjoyable, easy, sexy. It made me feel good.
Eventually I started dating McKay. It took him a while to initiate the first kiss (and by a while, I mean like 10 days after we started officially dating versus on the first date). But again, it was fun and exciting. And all that.
At some point in our courtship, McKay thought it would be best if we cut out french kissing from our repertoire. As LDS singles planning to stay virginal until our wedding night, we had already set some limits, but McKay thought an extra one wouldn't hurt. I mourned the loss of the french kiss for those last few months; after all, I had come from a background of kiss kiss kiss kiss and had miraculously stayed a virgin through all that. But I went with it figuring if that's what he thought was needed, then we'll go with that. It wouldn't hurt. Pecks were still ok.
Then we got married and suddenly we were "allowed" to french kiss again. It was... gross. 1) We were out of practice and just sloppy about it. 2) It was hard to "allow" myself to enjoy it again. After being off-limits for months, jumping back into french kissing (and more!) was very difficult mentally.
Is kissing sexy because of how we're wired or is it sexy because of how our culture portrays it? I can see both sides. On one hand, lips have an almost disproportionate amount of nerve endings. They are sensitive to touch, temperature, and according to wikipedia, the size of your lips can be related to the hormones in your body. Is kissing inherently sexy by physical design?
On the other hand, it would be foolish to pretend that our culture doesn't promote kissing as part of a sexual relationship. Even children see that "love's first kiss" is put on a pedestal. Kissing is one of the few sexual activities that can be freely shown in G-rated movies and is common in shows, commercials, movies, books, advertisements. Everywhere. It's probably one of the most commonly seen forms of sexual expression in our culture. So when I was a teenager, was the excitement I felt in kissing a product of media portrayal?
I suppose it could be either, or both. But whether kissing is nature or nurture, by the time I was married, I had desexualized kissing. It was hard for me to make out with McKay even though I was attracted to him. As time progressed, I learned how to re-sexualize kissing. It was something that was important to McKay, and I (mentally) knew it once held a lot of weight in attraction for me, so I worked on it. I had to mentally get myself into a place where I could enjoy it again; I eventually was able to reconnect my wiring to kissing = sexy. Though I'll admit, it sometimes still takes effort to enjoy kissing at 3 and a half years into our marriage.
Where am I going with this? Breasts.
I've heard arguments that by nature, breasts are sexually attractive. I've also heard arguments that it is by cultural socialization that breasts are sexually attractive. And that either way, Americans are going to sexualize them and it's wrong of me to try to desexualize the breast. I'm swimming upstream here.
In my experience, "sexy" is a mind game. Because I've had "practice" in my experience of desexualizing and then re-sexualizing kissing for myself, I know I can desexualize and re-sexualize my breasts depending on the current circumstances. Sometimes when McKay and I are being intimate, Margaret will wake up and need nursing and I have to immediately switch over to "breasts are for breastfeeding" mode. And with a little mental work, I can switch back into "I'm a sexual being" mode once she's asleep again.
Because of my kissing escapades, I've come to be skeptical about claims that "naked is naked is naked" and "breasts are breasts are breasts." Perhaps "french kissing is french kissing is french kissing", but I've been to the place where french kissing is not french kissing. I've been to the place where breasts are not breasts. And sometimes I'm sexual and sometimes I'm not. It's ok, each place is a different part of my identity and person and body image.
I know the human brain has the power to separate arousal and non-arousal. Perhaps I'm too much of an optimist, but I expect other human beings to use their brains and do exactly that on a daily basis as I take Margaret out into the world and find myself breastfeeding at various times and places. It does take a little bit of effort. After all, we are either re-working nature or years of nurture, but it's possible. Naked is not always naked. A bare breast is not always a bare breast. And kissing isn't always kissing.
This post is participating in the Body Image Carnival being hosted by Melodie at Breastfeeding Moms Unite! and MamanADroit who will be posting articles on themes pertaining to body image all week! Make sure you check out their blogs everyday between April 12-18 for links to other participants' posts as well as product reviews, a giveaway, and some links to research, information and resources pertaining to body image.