Biologically, a woman’s breasts are primarily for nourishment of infants and serve as her secondary sexual
characteristics, but the obsession with the mammary glands in recent times is something otherwise Talking about the human breasts is such a titillating event as was the case when the Vanguard Health Desk mooted the question about ownership of the female breasts recently.

The euphoria that greeted the question was as unprecedented as the responses. Ideally, the human mammaries have literally become a cosmopolitan attractive feature.

Why else are low-cut blouses produced the way they are? What would be the purpose of plunging necklines insolently showing off voluptuous cleavages? If breasts were only for feeding, wouldn’t women go topless, since nobody would notice or care? Between the baby, the man and the woman, who really has rightful ownership of the breasts? Saturday Vanguard’s crew of Sola Ogundipe,  Jemi Ekunkunbor and Chioma Obinna went to town with these posers.

FEW parts of the human body, have generated controversy as much as  the woman’s breasts -“boobs”, “tits”, or “knackers” for those who like names to sound funky and “attack’ or “two face” for those who just like to debase women.

One can’t really blame them when every where you turn there is a pair of breast staring at you or peeping out of a plunging neckline. Some have called it the “bait” for the sale of sex. Women have hidden behind the slogan that ‘if you have it, flaunt it” to flaunt their mammary glands sometimes to the consternation of those who are forced to burn and long for what they cannot have. The question really is, does the woman own her breasts?

The question of who truly owns the breasts became an issue recently at a one day seminar organised by the Nigeria Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ) Ogun and Lagos States chapter at Ostra Hotel in Lagos. Guest speaker and wife of the senate president Dr. Mrs Rosemarie Esohe Enobakhare Mark while speaking on “Breast Feeding: new challenges for today’s woman” stated that breast feeding is very important for growing babies not only because it provides a source of nutrition for the child but also because through breastfeeding, babies get to bond with their mothers and are assured of love when they feel the warmth and heartbeat of the mother.

While encouraging men to support their wives to perform this natural role thrust on them by nature, she observed however, that some babies take longer time bonding with their mothers leaving the father no choice but to be envious of the child. According to her, this feeling is provoked because “the man feels the baby has taken what he feels is his own”.

Kemi Durojaye , a lawyer was 36 when she got married. Having waited that long for marriage and as a stay at home mum, she felt her child deserved proper care and good nurturing when she had her first child at 37 in 1998. Being married to a clergy gentle man, she was determined to be the ideal mum. Shunning baby formula, she decided to do exclusive breastfeeding for at least the first six months of the babies life. But as six months went into one year, it seemed the relationship between the child and the breast got stronger and stronger. Even as a one year old child, solid food seemed like poison.

And since the mother was a stay at home mum, fulfilling this obligation was not a problem for her. But somebody in the house was not comfortable. Little by little the clergy gentleman began to nag the baby.

According to the mum, the nagging started a little after six months. It was not immediately clear that he was jealous but often he will make remarks that he eats too much. “When it got close to a year, sometimes, he’d walk up to me and pull the breast from the baby’s mouth” but when the man of God couldn’t take it anymore, he told his wife that such heavy sucking would make her breasts sag and he wasn’t going to stand for it.

So it became a war between father and baby. Although Kemi confessed that she used to find her husband’s jealousy quite amusing, to the man it wasn’t a anything to laugh about. Man of God or no man of God, he couldn’t stand by and watch his asset deflated by his boob-loving son.

Speaking with some members of the society, opinion were diverse as to who truly owns the breasts. While some argued in favour of the man, others say the breast is for the baby while some said it belongs to both the baby and the father.

Honourable Abike Dabiri-Erewa says: “I think both the man and the baby own the breast but the milk belongs to the baby. You have to give both of them. There is no way I will not give my husband my breasts. The period the baby spends breastfeeding is just for a short time. Your husband doesn’t suck the breast six times a day like the baby does.

His own is in the night for sexual purposes but the baby needs it for survival. So, you have to share your time between both of them which is what we all do. If you say no to your husband, some other woman will give him” This view that the breast is owned by both father and baby was also expressed by Dupe Olaoye-Oshinkolu, NAWOJ Secretary.

A mother and grandmother, she stated: “The breast is not owned by just the child. The father of the child is a co owner of the breast after all, it was one of the things that attracted him to his wife in the first place. So you can’t say because you are now having children, you would ignore his desire. He is still a co owner of the breast and when you are breastfeeding, he knows that the breast is a no go area for him because milk is a life sustaining food for the baby. As an adult, he cannot suck the breast with the baby he can only touch and play with the breast but at the appropriate time, he will claim what is his”.

But Tosin Odusola, NAWOJ
Chairperson of wouldn’t hear of it. She is of the view that the breast belongs to the man. Her reason? “The breast is always an attraction for any man who comes to a woman. But at some point, he releases the breast to his child for nurturing.”

But what about babies who don’t give up when it is time to let go? “ If after six months the baby is still sucking, then the man is justified to feel jealous. As a mother, you are supposed to compliment the breast milk with solid food so that the man can take his turn and have space to play with his wives breasts.”

Men are usually more direct as to who owns the breast. “The  breast belongs to me. My wife is just the carrier,” a young chap announced.

As for Wahab Oba, Chairman NUJ Lagos State Council, he was certain the breasts belong to the man. “Of course, the breasts belong me. I own it since our first contact. It’s one of the highlights of attraction. I release it on loan to the child for a while after birth and will normally take possession immediately after six months of birth. It is a permanent contract. My wife knows it and normally returns it to me”.

In his own view, Kayode feels “No baby can come between me and my wife’s breasts. In traditional societies, babies breast feed longer but in modern societies, the time is shorter because the mother may be a working mum. A man wanting his wife’s breast is his own way of appreciating the wife. And I’m sure the woman also derives some enjoyment from her husband touching her. So she would want the child to hurry up so that she can have some fun.

So depending on the parents a decision will be reached on how long the child would suck. It could be three or six months at the end of which he must leave. So to the question of who owns the breasts, I am the time keeper in conjunction with my wife who is the lines man”.

The man may be the time keeper and the woman the linesman according to Kayode, but if a baby is determined to avoid supplements and cling to the breasts, there is very little that a parent can do. The petty rivalry between a baby and the father is born out of the fear that too much sucking by the child, leaves the breast flat and unattractive. For those who support the baby’s claim to the breasts, it is because the milk is necessary for growth and healthy living for the baby.

“Without the hen will there be the egg? Before the baby the man has been there,” argued Victor-Ahiuma Young. “The man owns the breast,” agrees James Ezema. “The man is the primary sucker of the breast before the coming of any baby.” – Albert Akpor could not agree more. “The man is the first baby to the woman. So the baby can only suck for a while and leave the return to the original owner.”

For Solomon Nwoke “the man never stops sucking breasts. He continues to suck the breast till he dies. So he is the rightful owner.”  Prince Osuagwu is also assertive that the man owns the breasts. “Even while the baby is still sucking the man sometimes suck until the baby is weaned.” But Magnus Obinna dissents on this. “The woman owns the breasts.

Both the baby and the man will suck but the original owner still remains the baby,” he argues. Continues on  page 29
He finds an ally in Ishola Balogun who submits that “The man owns the breasts but because the baby needs it for development, he can lend it to the baby for few years but the father takes over after these few years. Again, the woman belongs to the husband so everything she has including the breasts also belongs to the husband.

Before the birth of the baby, the breasts were serving as a sexual machine for the couples that ultimately brings about the baby.”

Ebun Babalola joins the long list that concedes the man owns the breasts. “The  man owns the breasts because the breasts have been there ever before the child came. The man is only borrowing it to the child. As long as the woman remains under the roof of the husbands, the breasts belong to the man,” she posits.”
Franklin Ali goes biblical.

“The man owns the breast even the Bible in Proverbs 5:19 said “Let her breasts intoxicate you” This automatically means that it is the man that owns the breast .”

Patience Sangana also agrees. “The man owns the breasts. Both the baby and woman belong to the man. The baby will only suck for a while but the man sucks as long as the women lives under his roof.”

In his own argument, Emma Nnadozie says “The man owns both the woman and child but the breast belongs to the woman.

Research has shown that the baby needs it for growth and development while the husband uses it to compliment his love for the woman. I believe the breast belongs to the woman and the man owns both the baby and woman.”

A different angle is taken by Hector Ikwizeugbe who says “When it is firm, it is the man’s  but when it is sagging, it is no longer for the man, while Yemie Adeoye warns “It is the man that owns the breasts. I will not tolerate any baby that will play with my (wife’s) breasts.”

Tony Ubani argues that the man is the original owner because he sucks the breast as a baby, in childhood and that in adulthood. Harry More also believes the breasts belongs to the man. “It is just for beauty for the woman while for the child it is for nourishment for a short period.

The man has the breasts all the time for a married couple. The Bible says in Proverbs 5:19 that Let her breasts satisfy you at all times: I do not think there is debate on this.”

Florence Uwoh is also amongst those who think the breasts are owned by the man. “The man owns the woman who is carrying the breasts, so automatically he owns the breast.  For the child, it was leased out to him/her just for some period after which the man takes over.”

So does Tonye – “She has it, the man owns it, he only gives a bit to his baby for a while, but spends the rest of his life sucking it.”

As far as Ajibola is concerned, it’s a straight forward issue. “The woman (wife) who is the producer can not produce the commodity (breast) for her own consumption which automatically means she’s not the owner but just a producer producing for other people consumption, on the other hand where we have the consumer who happen to be the man (husband) because he provides the commodity, a woman he marries to produce the commodity (breast) for the benefit of the final consumer which is the baby. In conclusion, the real owner of the breast is the baby.”

James Ajogwu Ochada disagrees. “I own the breasts 70 per cent, and my son 30 per cent,” even if Fadakinte Olatunde believes it is the  woman owns the breasts. :The men nd the babies have theirs. The men and the babies can only enjoy the woman’s breast but the breast is in absolute control by the woman.”

This is supported by Chiamaka who notes that “The breast being a part of a body of a woman belongs to her automatically but I think the breast is made to feed the little babies who need it most to grow normally so the issue of a man (husband) owning de breast should be reconsidered because to me it doesn’t make sense,” even if  Patience Chukwudi thinks “the breasts belong to the man because in a  short time the baby will over grow the sucking of the breast and the man keep it to himself, moreso the woman is just carrying it as a beauty.”

However, Onyema Patrick’s opinion is that the woman owns the breast because “one of the fundamental principles of ownership is the ability to dispense what is owned and if this is applicable in this case, the woman has the ability to allow access to the breast either by the man or the baby.”

But while the debate goes on about the ownership of the breast, Enobakhare -Mark gives a tip that will help prevent early sagging of the breast.

To avoid the baby pulling the breast southward, she says “support the breasts with a pillow to avoid the baby putting undue pressure the breast.”


Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.