It was a hot, hot, late July day. She came fully dressed for the occasion. She was stark naked. I had volunteered to be of assistance to those who attended the 30th Anniversary of the famous Woodstock Art and Music Festival held in Bethel, NY in 1969. The original became an icon for the “peace, love and happiness” of the 1960’s youth movement. The Anniversary turned out to be something else.
I was volunteering for a non-profit organization called Family of Woodstock. Family of Woodstock got its start in Woodstock, NY. It was founded to help out the flood of people, known as “hippies” who came to the small village thinking that they were coming to the sacred grown of the original Woodstock Festival. Many came to stay, living in the woods, starting communes, setting their souls free. Those who had trouble with life’s essentials not always being free, got some help from Family of Woodstock.
Family of Woodstock got the job on the anniversary of helping with the mental and physical health issues that can arise when rock and roll is undertaken by thousands and thousands of people.
As a professional social worker, I had some background in mental health and drug related problems and was happy to help. I also had an ulterior motive.
My 19-year old son, was a budding, self-taught free lance journalist. He jumped at the chance to get a press pass credential to the concert. He was old enough and mature enough to embed himself with the subjects of his coverage and do so safely. This father didn’t have a problem being in the vicinity.
The concert venue was an abandoned military air force base in Rome, NY. The heat waves shimmered above the tarmac. Temperatures made it to 100 degrees. Going bare was one way to beat the heat.
I watched the naked women come through the gate. She wasn’t asked for her ticket, probably because she had no convenient place to put it.
Security looked and laughed. I suppose due to relief of her low risk of having concealed weapons.
My first instinct was to look for a blanket or a beach towel, but I kept my distance. I soon realized that she was not the only one to dress casually for this event and this wasn’t high school, although she did appear to be “high.”
My wife had encouraged me to keep a protective eye out for my son. She mentioned, with a laugh, where she preferred my eyes didn’t go.
From watching the documentary film on the original concert, I remembered the common greeting of a “V” made with the index and middle finger, the next two fingers bent, with thumb on top, and the word, “Peace.” At the 30th Anniversary it was fingers curled down on both hands with an upper movement of the wrists and arms, with the words, “Show us your tits.”
There was a small minority of women in attendance who clearly did not need such an invitation. It was a lessor number who responded to it. It was still heard frequently through out the two day event.
One of the biggest health hazards was the heat. Next was sexual assault. I don’t remember worrying much about my son being sexually assaulted. I do remember being thankful that I didn’t have a daughter. I was concerned about his hydration. When he complained about feeling a little dizzy, I got him some water.
He and I could have worked to beat the heat by taking our shirts off, knowing that there would be little interest in our tits. We went instead for the wet tee shirt look. We gave the crowd a little nipple, but no one seemed to notice.
When I was off duty, my son guided me through the mob listening to the Dave Mathews Band. As a fan of their music, I was familiar with the band. I was new to having flying bodies overhead surfing the crowd. I had never heard Dave introduce a song by saying, “There sure are a lot of titties out there,” but he did that day.
I was amazed at the size of some of the “mosh pits,” or people thrashing about on top of each other as the music blared. I was even more amazed at the volunteers who formed a “V” with their bodies to run headlong into the mob scenes to rescue women who were being sexually assaulted under the cover of good clean fun.
Male tits and female tits aren’t that much different really in exterior form. The kind found on women, like muscles on men, tend to be a little bit bigger. The bigger is to better carry milk producing glands. Female breasts can have a very important function that man boobs can’t when it comes to taking care of babies.
Evolution theorists however suggest that human female breasts are poorly designed for the job. Other mammals are much more efficient at this. Genes are very interested in efficiency. Genes do not like to waste energy. Genes also like to call attention to themselves. They will use extra energy to do that. Theory goes that human female breasts are a bit uppity, sometimes giving babies problems “latching on” for lunch. Female breasts seem to be better designed for attracting mates.
In this way of thinking, the female breast doesn’t need culture to get stared at, it needs culture to not have it stared at. Culture has more heavy lifting to do in this regard than many people imagine.
At the original Woodstock Festival many women went bra-less as a personal and political lifestyle statement. Throwing off the yoke of male oppression, included release from constrictive undergarments. This was before Victoria’s Secret.
Women’s breasts are a highly nuanced territory. A little cleavage goes along way. A little more can put a women in a different fashion category. Mounds have meaning. The areola marks the gateway to the erotic. The bare nipple can be scandalous.
Male breasts come in who cares and way too big. Only too big gets any notice. Perhaps hard pectoral muscles are the exception to the notice factor, but “pecs” are easily trumped by well toned abdominal muscles.
When it comes to female breasts, many men want control over them. They want to see them, sometimes in the worst way, but often don’t like seeing too much of them in public. Social Media has its rules too.
It is most likely, that female breasts will continue to draw male attention for a long time to come. The question is, will women be empowered to control the draw?
May the day come soon, when female breasts are no longer any of a man’s business.
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