In search of the mother’s breast

Sanne Burger

4 January 2015

My boyfriend has been trying to quit smoking for years. Every failed attempt leads to renewed contemplation about the cause of his addiction.
‘I think it’s because I was never breastfed’, he suggests. That’s a new one.
‘Smoking is a substitute for the instant satisfaction a baby experiences when he, from a deep, instinctive need for food and love sucks his mother’s nipple’, he says. ‘I am still looking for the mother’s breast!’
Yes, he definitely has a point. When our deepest needs are not satisfied they usually surface in a later stage in life, either transformed or distorted.

Pamela and Angelina

There is something weird going on with the female breast. On the one hand the whole world is obsessed with breasts. Breast are being pumped up and magnified to grotesque proportions. Pamela Anderson, a caricature of a woman, is the ultimate fantasy for many men. The fact that her boobs are fake, doesn’t seem to make any difference. On the other hand, it’s impossible to buy a bra anywhere without a filling that hides the nipple. Neytiri, the main female character in ‘Avatar’, the epic movie from 2009, has some sort of breasts, but no nipples. Google it! James Cameron is following the trend: nipples are not to be seen. Big breasts fine, great, but proud protruding nipples are forbidden in today’s movie- and fashion world.
However, it is not only the nipples that are subject to this concealment. Angelina Jolie, the sex symbol of this generation – no, more than that: the icon of the conscious and independent woman, decided recently to preventatively have her breasts amputated. The heroine of the modern woman, the wife of Brad Pitt, the most desired movie star of all time, has become the figurehead of the cancer industry.


Angelina reminds me of the Amazonians, the female warriors from Greek mythology. In order to perfect the art of archery they would amputate their right breast that would otherwise be in the way. Were these women heroines? Can the sacrifice of a breast be a sign of courage and dedication? In the case of Angelina Jolie and the millions of women who, in this time of Pink Ribbon and the cancer epidemic have their breasts amputated, it’s not so much a matter of courage, but a matter of fear. At this time, rightly or not, a culture of intense fear exists where having breasts can mean death. How paradoxical. After all, breasts are naturally the ultimate source of life and love.

What is going on?

When is it necessary to amputate a breast? The answer seems obvious: when the breast is in one way or another life-threatening. I wonder to which extent this is really the case in women with breast cancer. Is it possible that we all suffer of a kind of fear psychosis when it comes to breast cancer? Did we enter a Dante-like hell, without even realizing it? Current science questions sweeping statements such as: ‘Breast cancer is hereditary’ and: ‘Breast cancer is incurable’. Research shows that the current protocol doesn’t work and that undergoing a yearly mammography can actually cause cancer. Is it possible that something else is going on?
The female breast is the symbol of love, care, nourishment and security. It is these virtues that are being denied and suppressed in our current society. To amputate the female breast on such a grand scale has an enormous impact on our relationship to breasts – and vice versa. Centuries of denial of the matriarch, of the healing qualities of the motherly, caring, sensual woman, is now manifesting literally on a physical level: the female breast has to go.


Women nowadays grow up with the conditioned fear that they might get breast cancer. Instead of representing the privilege of being a woman, a symbol of love, care, sensuality and beauty, breasts become a possible cause of cancer. To which extent does this contribute to the rejection of the breast? To what extent contributes the fear of cancer to the development of cancer? The current view on breasts is: ‘Breasts are dangerous, because you have a 1 in 4 chance of developing breast cancer.’ When you follow this reasoning, it’s not that farfetched to just amputate all breasts as soon as a woman has fully matured. ‘It’s for your own good’. We’ve heard that so many times before. Mass psychosis is usually not seen through until one or several generations later.


Apart from the question of whether or not it is necessary to amputate a breast we could at least change our FEELINGS about breasts. Instead of associating breasts with death and disease, distorting them with denial into grotesque, unnatural balloons of pornography, we could endeavour to revive our natural love for the female breast. Instead of connecting breasts with shame and fear we can start to appreciate them again. Let’s stop hiding breasts behind bras and learn again to be proud of the fact that we are women. Instead of rejecting breasts as too big, too small, too saggy, too pear shaped or too heavy, we could again connect to the joy and gratitude for the fact that we are women and have the capability to give and receive from softness and tenderness. Our breasts are the direct, delicious, sensual manifestation of exactly that.
What would society look like if the female breast was more present as the ultimate source of beauty, love and care? What would the world look like if we, as babies, have unlimited access to the mother’s breast and, as adults, have unlimited access to the female breast?

Boobie Café

‘Why do women smoke?’, my boyfriend wonders out loud. ‘You have breasts!’ It is really an issue for him. He truly believes that his deprivation of ‘The Breast’ as a baby is the cause of his smoking addiction. He is eagerly looking for a solution. ‘Maybe I should buy a teat’, he says. ‘Or buy a baby bottle, put warm milk in it and take a sip whenever I want to smoke.’
That’s not such a crazy idea at all. Leonard Orr, the godfather of the rebirthing movement in the Nineties, recommended all his students to always drink from a teat bottle.
‘Or maybe I should open a ‘Boobie Café’, he continues, carried away by his thoughts. ‘A café where people do not come to drink and smoke, but where lactating women offer their breasts. That’s really close to the source!’
‘Honey’, I say. ‘No woman would lend her breasts for that. But if you want you can use mine. After all, it’s not only about the milk, it’s about the love, the nourishing energy, that flows through my breasts into your mouth.’
He looks at me stunned, with a twinkle in his eyes. ‘You mean that your breasts, your nipples, would be available for me at any given moment?’
‘Yes’, I say. ‘Whenever you feel the urge for a smoke you come to me and you get energetically breastfed, so to speak. I don’t know if it will work, but maybe this will cure your uncontrollable need for smoking.’
‘Hmmm….’ he says thoughtfully. ‘I can picture it. We are in the pub, the men go outside to have a smoke and I put my head under your sweater. I’m not sure…’
He never went for it. He still smokes.


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