In our modern culture we always seem to take for granted the fact that girls are expected to cover their breasts, with the (sometimes...) only real exception being breast-feeding, in which case the girl is still expected to cover her nipple.

This doesn't really make sense to me, as the only reason we see them as sexual is due to the fact we make them so illusive, similar to how Saudis are probably turned on by a girls hair, yet they're both not inherently sexual.

Breasts, unlike the anus, vagina and penis, do not expel waste, and aren't tools in intercourse, they're merely tools used to feed infants, yet they are still seen as equally taboo.

When did breasts become such a taboo, and why? What was so wrong with them that they needed to be covered? And why did it seemingly happen in multiple cultures that rarely, if ever, interacted or shared ideas?

  • If ya'll gonna down vote, could you at least tell me what made you so cross?
    – Tirous
    Feb 11, 2017 at 23:26
  • 4
    This question relies on numerous opinions and assumptions ("seemingly", "wrong", "take for granted") and demonstrates no preliminary research. Different cultures have different opinions about the sexuality of the human breast, so the question is too broad to answer; any answer about any given culture is incomplete & incorrect. I am not convinced this is a question about history - possibly sociology, possibly some other field, but I doubt that historical sources and methods can resolve the question.
    – MCW
    Feb 12, 2017 at 12:57
  • k, might re-ask in a more specific way l8r, thx lad. :)
    – Tirous
    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:35

1 Answer 1


We know this goes back before history actually for at least two reasons.

  1. They are depicted in exaggerated form in some of the earliest representational artwork we've found, way back in the Paleolithic era.
  2. Their size on human females is far larger than is either necessary for milk production, or found in our closest relatives (the other Great Apes). The presumption has been that they have been selected for in our species due entirely to male preference for them.
  • Cool, thanks lad. But this doesn't explain why we have such a taboo against them. Even if they share a common sexual preference, not all cultures share the same sexual taboo against breasts.
    – Tirous
    Feb 12, 2017 at 6:08
  • 1
    @Tirous - Not every society has a taboo against them. Western society does, but that's likely due to the fact that Western society has a taboo against anything that primarily has to do with sex, and (as I mentioned in the answer) human breasts are they way they are primarily for sexual selection.
    – T.E.D.
    Feb 13, 2017 at 2:14

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.