Revived in hope of still capitalizing on my fabulous notion, my new version of the breast book followed these chapter headings:
- When Breasts Were Bare: Why Fat Breasts? The Shape is the Thing; Apples and Other Allegations; Definition of Female: To Suckle; The Breast: Site of the Soul; Clan of the Breast Queen
- Get Those Women Out of Here: From bare breasted goddesses to shrouded wives, Sumeria to Rome. What do breasts say about falling from grace?
- The Amazon: Women of lore who gave up a breast to fight
- The Breasts of My Distress: Cesspools of sin, women head for cover; how did that lead to corsets and décolletage? Only witches wear their breasts loose; breasts as ornaments
- Restless Breasts: Breasts in Revolution; A Victorian Life; Women’s Liberation; The Birth of a Fetish; A brief history of breast coverings; Pop culture and breasts
- Glands, Ducts, and Fat (physiology)
- Mother’s Milk (milk and human reproduction)
- Pointedly Erotic (sexual response, arousal, pornography)
Appendices would include personal stories about breast cancer, breast augmentation, breast size. A running text along the bottom of the pages would chronicle the many slang terms for breasts. Chapters would begin with a poem.
Richard began shopping the manuscript around NYC. By January 1999, it was in the hands of four houses. He said length was the primary issue among editors he talked with, but agreed that if they had any vision for the project, they would recommend cuts and help shape the focus.
No one did. New York City froze for a while after 9/11. My idea died cleanly in early 2002 when a cutesy little book came out by Workman Publishing. Entitled ‘The Breast Book,’ it was authored by Maura Spiegel and Lithe Sebesta, two young women who worked in New York City and had connections in the publishing industry.
I bought the book and again experienced shock at the similarities between this and my second manuscript. Furious, I carefully documented the fifty-three main points where the new book paralleled my manuscript. Here are a few examples:
The poem I quoted at the beginning of Chapter 1: “There is something between us.” From “Breasts,” by Donald Hall.
The poem Spiegel and Sebesta quoted at the beginning of Chapter 1: “There is something between us.” From “Breasts,” by Donald Hall.
My first chapter, opening paragraph addresses the question of why women have fat breasts. “Why do women have them? No other animal breasts swell to such voluptuous proportion unless they are producing milk. Even for the chimpanzee, whose genetics are less than two percent variant from humans, the female chest hosts only an insignificant nipple except when feeding young.”
Their first chapter, opening paragraph: “…humans are the only mammals whose females have breasts that are permanently enlarged. While in other mammalian species the paps grow full only during lactation when the mother is suckling her young, female humans are perpetually endowed…”
Second paragraph, mine: “Is there some evolutionary basis for fat breasts?”
Their second paragraph: “Evolutionists have pondered why women developed this outstanding trait.”
Over the second and third page, I discussed various theories of breast fatness, specifically the Desmond Morris idea: that “…primate males mount their females from the rear…primate males must have been naturally stimulated by the sight of buttocks…what if milk-filled breasts reminded the males of buttocks…”
Theirs: “According to writer Desmond Morris, ‘If the female of our species was going to successfully shift the interest of the male round to the front, evolution would have to do something to make the frontal region more stimulating…’”
Next page, mine: “…fat stored in breasts helped provide food to nursing youngsters even when the rest of the tribe went hungry. The female body’s ability to store fat before and during milk production unquestionably assured survival in hard times.”
Theirs: “…[breasts] simply functioned as fat storage areas for females who evolved under nutritional stress. Ancestral humans walked long and far in search of food and they needed fat storage for years of lactation.”
And on it goes, page after page:
Mine: “Most women’s breasts are not equal in size.”
Theirs: “Many women’s breasts are unevenly matched, with one slightly larger.”
Mine (chapter on nursing): The nipple and skin of the areola darken from pink to a brownish color as a woman progresses through pregnancy and with each successive pregnancy.”
Theirs: “…the areola darkens and spreads, sometimes to a shockingly different shape and color.”
Mine (chapter on physiology): “Sometimes…a person is born with extra nipples (polythelia). Occasionally, nipples appear at such unrelated sites as the armpits, stomach, and pelvic region and, rarely, some breast tissue develops in these locations (polymastia).”
Theirs: “An estimated one percent of the human population breaks the rule with either polythelia (extra nipples) or polymastia (extra breast tissue).”
Mine: “In recent years, some women have been arrested for breastfeeding in public…”
Theirs: “In 1975, three women in a Miami park were arrested for indecent exposure while nursing their infants.”
Mine: Regarding the progression of breast coverings through Western culture, I cite Crete and present images and description of bare breasted goddesses
Mine: Medieval Europe, “The old garb of plain loose chemise underneath coarse woolen robes gave way to finer fabrics and tailoring. Among the favored features of women’s dresses was the tight-laced bodice made possibly by the invention of the corset, which consisted of two layers of linen stiffened with glue.”
Theirs: Women “traded their loose tunics” and “hit upon the innovative front-lacing corset.”
Mine: “During the time of Queen Elizabeth, upper class women experimented with steel corsets which laced up the back. These were lined with thin silk and served to flatten the breasts and give an upright posture…”
Theirs: “Elizabeth I chose rigid corseting that minimized her femininity while enhancing her authority. In such tight girdling, she must indeed have walked with unbending majesty.”
Mine: Historical review of breast improvement methods including creams, exercises, and surgeries. I cited annual plastic surgeries statistics.
Theirs: Historical review of breast improvement methods including creams, exercises, and surgeries. Cited annual plastic surgeries statistics.
I discussed size, is bigger better? Their section “Is Bigger Really Better?”
I discussed augmentation surgery, including price, silicone use, “hardening around the implant” (capsular contracture) and loss of nipple. They discussed augmentation surgery including price, silicone use, “capsular contracture” and loss of nipple.
I discussed ‘falsies,’ the history of their development and advertising terms such as “lemon bosoms.” Their heading: “The truth about falsies,” including history of their development and “lemon bosoms.”
I discussed the breast as a symbol: “Basic symbols derive from the idealized breast image, a circle within a circle…” Their heading: “Magic Circle.” “A round within a round…”
I briefly discussed breast tattoos and provide one photo from a collection. Spiegel and Sebesta briefly discussed breast tattoos and USED THE SAME PHOTO.
I could go on, but I fear you, dear reader, may tire of the tirade. Suffice it to say that if I mentioned Amazons and the derivation of the word in Greek (a=without, mastos=breast), they did too. If I mentioned strip tease and the casual exposure of the breast, so did they. If I related the story of St. Agatha in my group of stories about breast mutilation, so did they, including the same image of breast-shaped baked goods served on a tray. I presented the bare-breasted image of liberty by Delacrois in conjunction with its analysis by Anne Hollander. So did they.
In my appendix of slang terms for breasts, I begin with “abbondanzas, abundance, airbags, angel cakes, apples…” And yes, they have a list of slang terms, too, beginning with “abbondanzas, abundance, angel cakes, antiaircraft guns, apples…”
Those clever girls.
What did I do about this? Check my next post, coming soon.