SCIENCE SAYS: Men Like Big Breasts Because Women Like Feeling Maternal

Freud would be so proud.

Sep 27, 2012 at 1:00pm | Leave a comment

 

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Thanks to our burgeoning pair bond, we were married in the spring.

I am so fucking sick of hearing about oxytocin.

“Ooh, it’s the love hormone!” I can just imagine some CBS studio exec saying in the next few years or so. “Let’s build a show around a hot, stressed-out lady lawyer who’s an oxytocin addict!” Cue all the accidental bonding and evolutionarily-made-for-each-other shenanigans. Barf.

Seriously, though. It seems like I’d only been having sex for about a minute before I started hearing about oxytocin release like it was this patch of quicksand you had to dodge before the one-night-stand finish line. All the science-lite magazines of 2008 were reprinting stories that said things like, “Oxytocin’s released when you orgasm, so you must not cuddle, lest you risk pair bonding for-ev-errrr.”

I have literally never been able to have a mutually pleasurable encounter since without thinking of the oxytocin-dopamine cocktail flooding my brain-space. In case you’re wondering, this doesn’t make for the sexiest pillow talk.

Now, oxytocin release is being used to justify why many men are attracted to large breasts. According to the authors of a new book entitled “The Chemistry Between Us: Love, Sex, and the Science of Attraction,”  cis women’s brains release a flood of oxytocin when their babies suckle, which in turn enables them to form the kinds of super-intense psychic mother-infant bond that leads them to vow hypothetical murder on their children's behalf. 


Men, on the other hand, experience no such hormone release. However, the dudes of our ancient history apparently figured out that stimulating a women’s breast tissue, even if she’s not nursing, will release a similar flood of hormones. Then all he has to do is stare lovingly into his mate’s eyes, and wham! Mother…child…partner-bond. 

Does anyone else feel super creepy about this?


I mean, for one thing, it’s just kind of incorrect. Sure, oxytocin is released when children nurse. But it’s also released when mothers give birth. When dudes pet their poodles (not a euphemism). When anyone looks at the color blue. It’s not as if men have developed an evolutionary mechanism for wearing blue condoms just in case women might feel more inclined to pair bond with them that way. 


For another, pair bonding is not the only effect that oxytocin has on people. It can also send people into fits of jealous rage, heal their wounds more quickly, and inhibit their cognitive function. If convincing a woman to agree to a monogamous future is a man’s only subconscious motivation for pre-coffee second base, he’d better make damn sure she’s not taking any standardized tests after breakfast. 

Plus, you know when else oxytocin is released and people are facing each other? The missionary position. I don’t know why breasts even had to come into it.

As Heather Corinna brilliantly writes on Scarleteen, “If we're going to give credence to one of the ways oxytocin has been shown it does or may work, we have to give equal weight to all the other ways it has been shown to or may work.” In other words, focusing on the lovey-dovey shit to suggest that big breasts are a heterosexuality-driven shoo-in for the ring-and-the-kids is just lazy, junky science.

On top of that, I have to wonder: why bother asking? It seems like our dedicated researching brethren have been trying in increasingly creepy ways to nail down why men love breasts for years. Most, like the recent one about breast stimulation releasing nursing hormones, seem to reach the conclusion that it’s because they’re symbolic of fertility. Which, okay. Trailing your menses everywhere once a month seems like the most obvious indicator of fertility there is, but I don’t see anybody dragging themselves around like a blood-slug in an effort to attract a mate. 

Other studies have suggested that the curvature of breasts developed to echo the roundness of our asses, which in turn are supposedly reminiscent of the way monkeys have sex from behind. I am not kidding. Honestly, all of these make me want to wear one of those rainbow gym class parachutes as a casual smock, lest anyone mistake my armpit fat or knee creases for the enticing plushness of a primate ass in disguise.

Ultimately, these studies rob everyone involved of their agency. They portray cis women as uterus-clogged baby machines, carefully bred over years of evolutionary tweakage to present their best, most genetically viable selves to potential mates. They also tend to give the impression that men are helpless in the thrall of a perceptibly fertile woman, like an hourglass figure is a black hole where conscious decisions go to die. 

They’re also incredibly generalizing: I know plenty of men, for example, who just aren’t that into boobs. According to this study, that probably makes them doomed to be non-monogamous forever. And as for we small-titted women, well, I guess I’ll say goodbye to those three-kids-and-a-Jack-Russell dreams I’ve been hiding away in the corner of my heart-box. 

And, of course, they’re almost always limited to cisgendered, heterosexual couples. I myself have a marked appreciation for large boobs. Am I secretly monogamous underneath this hard-shelled polyamorous exterior? Or does it not count, since I’ve got a pair of my own?

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As usual, the internet was no help.

At the end of the day, it probably won’t keep the world from turning if we stopped conducting studies getting to the root cause of attraction to certain body parts. The crotch wants what the crotch wants, no matter what science says. And unless you’re planning on opening up a Hooter’s franchise soon, who the fuck cares, right?

Hot sauce can also cause oxytocin release, which is why Kate wants everyone on Twitter to be her boyfriend RIGHT NOW. Follow her @katchatters