Ralph Higgins

Ralph Higgins
color pencil sketch by Gayle Higgins

Quotes I Like

“Everyone is a genius, but if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”

-Albert Einstein


Friday, March 21, 2014

The Elusive Nipple

      As a culture, we do have our share of irrational idiosyncrasies.  Why do men wear ties?  Why do women wear high heels?  The list is endless, but I want to talk about sex.

            Sex is used to sell everything from hamburgers to hearing aids.  Sex seems to have replaced self-actualization at the top spot on Maslow’s hierarchy of human motivation, even surpassing the survival instinct. 

            How many times have you watched a movie where the hero and heroine are under heavy enemy gunfire, yet their hormones seem to overwhelm the instinct for survival and they are overcome by the urge to lock lips, as bombs explode all around them. Talk about misplaced priorities…Their optimism in the face of annihilation is expressed lovingly with the statement, “When this is over we’ll take that vacation we’ve always talked about.”

            But I don’t think our society is unique in its obsession with sex.  A glance at ancient history will confirm that we are certainly not alone.  If you have ever walked through the ruins of Pompeii, as I have, you will see a culture more decadent than ours.  It’s always been that way, yet we have our limits even if they seem irrational.

            One thing that seems somewhat strange is our attitude toward the female nipple. Naked breasts are always readily available for view, but the nipple is normally hidden from view.  I think “hide the nipple” could be turned into a game like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey.”

            I remember reading about a primitive culture – perhaps in New Guinea – where the natives were completely naked, but the young women wore anklets of bamboo pieces to cover their ankles.  The young men of the tribe would hide down by the creek, waiting for the girls to walk across the stream, which caused the bamboo to float, exposing the girl’s ankles.  To see a woman’s ankle was a “turn on.”  Not much different than boys today always on the look-out for the elusive nipple.  It’s a cultural thing. 

            But why are men curious over something that everyone has?  Why do women hide them?  Viewing a nipple won’t cause blindness or memory loss.  It makes you wonder if it has something to do with breast-feeding and weaning maybe too early or too late.  If a kid wasn’t weaned by the eighth grade, you would expect a problem.   

            Think of the offspring of the “Octomom” where eight little critters had to fight over two faucets.  I guess situations like these might create an unquenchable quest for a nipple.

            I always get a kick out of shots of topless women with the nipples blocked out.  It’s almost like blacking out all but the last four digits of your social security number or redacted copy on a secret government document. The breasts themselves aren’t the danger.  It’s the fear that a glance at a nipple might set a child back two years in school. 

            You could probably take a lump of fat anywhere on a female body and it would have no appeal, but if you stuck a nipple on top, teenage boys would go nuts.

            Strippers back in the fifties used “pasties” to cover the offending mini appendage.  Some women would put tassels on the pasties and many learned to swing them in different directions to the delight of the audience. 

            Today when a performer suffers a “wardrobe malfunction” and an illusive nipple peeks out from its hiding place, the country goes wild.  Face Book posts close-ups, kids print out copies to show their friends, and CNN runs a series dealing with the impact of nipples on international relations.

            I don’t get it.  I would tell a guy who wants to see a nipple, “Take your shirt off, stand in front of a mirror, and prepare to be amazed.”  Most of us have two of the darn things, so what’s the big deal?  Hey, I like nipples as much as the next guy, but let’s be realistic.

            The Vikings painted large eyes on the bow of their vessels, assuming that the eyes could peer straight through the ocean fog and guide the boat safely to its destination.  Nipples on the chest of young people are like those eyes on the Viking ships, staring proudly at the horizon.

            Sadly, time passes and the waves of life take their toll.  Soon gravity joins the fun and the enthusiasm in those eyes wanes. Instead of staring at the horizon, they begin to move south, eventually staring hopelessly at the ground.  Sadly, this malady affects both men and women. That could be why many Viking vessels went aground.


  1. Of course it's only the female nipple that is erotic, and I think it's because it is also a source of erotic pleasure, hence becomes tinged with shame. Guys' nipples are just there, don't do anything, don't provide much sensation (so I am told) so they are free to be exposed. Frankly, though, at our age, the less exposure the better.

    1. Interesting take, Judy. Relating "erotic pleasure" to "shame." That takes the subject to another level, where culture, religion, and other factors come into play. I was only toying with the voyeuristic aspect. It would be interesting to dig into the "shame" thing sometime. Thanks.

  2. Very interesting subject Ralph.

    My input as a woman, is the female's nipple can show not only temperature change, as does the males, but it can also show emotions, such as the male parts down there. I guess one could call it an 'emotional give-a-way'. Of course that all depends on the sensitivity of a woman in that area.

    1. Wow. My effort at humor regarding the nipple has blossomed into an education in female physiology by lady readers. Hey Sharon . . . can those things tell time too?
      Thanks, as always, for your comments.

  3. Photos please!!!!!! Evidence must be proved!!!!!

    1. Sorry, Ed. I'm in enough trouble after that post. Grab a National Geographic. That's where most of us started as kids.

  4. Hey Ralph if we're having a "Hide the Nipple" game, I want to be in the first draft! Boy just imagine the Super Bowl of Nipples game. Boy, that would inspire some great commercials.

    1. I know you would want to be involved in setting up the rules and probably buy the TV rights. You also know all the hiding places.