Monday, 23 September 2013

Boobs - Keeping Abreast of the (Page 3) News

Breasts, Page 3,
What? Did you think I was going to show a real pair of boobs? Tsk, tsk.

BOOB

Noun. Slang (originally in the US). Mid-20th century.
[from BUB noun or abbreviation of BOOBY noun.]

A woman's breast. Usually in plural.

Boobs have been in the news a lot recently. To be precise, boobs being in the news has been in the news a lot recently, as the 'No More Page 3' campaign has continued to gather momentum. For anyone not familiar with the fine and upstanding traditions of the British media, Page 3 refers to something of a national institution, started by The Sun newspaper in the 1970s when they felt the need to complement their stellar journalism with a picture of a topless young girl on said page (and it often was a young girl - models could pose topless at 16 before the law changed in 2003 that requires them to be at least 18). Initially, the photo would be accompanied by a brief bio about the model and some really rubbish pun such as: "This is Marie, 19, from Newcastle, with a really fine pair of melons - and her cantaloupes aren't bad either!" Eventually, the naff puns were dropped (probably because they were going over the head of the average Sun reader) in favour of News in Briefs, a quote from the model on some pertinent news issue, such as: "Marie, 19, from Newcastle, says 'The EU's call for Greece to liquidize its defence industry is premature - the IMF and ECB must first be given a chance to see how effective the austerity measures have been in tackling the fiscal crisis.'" Quite.

Boobs Aren't News, Page 3, The Sun
A parody News in Briefs was part of a campaign to encourage Lego to withdraw advertising from The Sun
While arguments both for and against Page 3 continue, the anti-Page 3 camp does seem to be making significant headway. The Irish Sun, for example, recently decided to stop showing bare breasts on its Page 3, citing 'cultural differences' as the basis for its decision (whether or not it will depart even further from its British namesake by introducing good-quality journalism remains to be seen). The Sun in the UK, meanwhile, has reacted in predictably inane fashion: firstly by claiming that its readers "strongly support" the retention of Page 3 (as if anyone ever thought that they bought it for its journalism), and secondly by launching puerile attacks on anti-Page 3 campaigners, such as calling MP Clare Short "fat and jealous" because of her objections. That The Sun is Britain's best-selling paper is, quite frankly, a national embarrassment, especially as polls have also shown that it's viewed as Britain's least trustworthy newspaper. Could it possibly be that people are only buying it for its boobs?


Which brings us neatly back to the word boobs. If, as this is Lexicolatry, you've been reading patiently, wondering when the post will get to the etymology, you won't be disappointed: boob derives from either bub or bubby (though seeing as bub itself derives from bubby, it doesn't really seem to matter). Both of these, in plural, refer to a woman's breasts, bubs being used in the 19th century, and bubbies being used in the 17th. As to where bubbies came from, this is likely to be the German word Bübbi, meaning teat (so boobs does not come from buboes of the Bubonic Plague fame, just in case you've ever heard that story). If, however, you arrived here in expectation of a crude, pun-filled exploration of boobs, bazookas, jugs and knockers (replete with pictures, of course), then I'm pleased to disappoint you, you ignorant tit.

What do you think about Page 3?

What do you think about the word boobs?

What brought you to an article entitled Boobs anyway?

Do please share, like and comment below.

24 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. For you, Konrad, I am genuinely sorry. I once heard that the interweb is full of such pictures if you know where to look ... without ... y'know ... lowering yourself to actually going out and buying a copy of The Sun.

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  2. "Boobs" is a great word. Don't know why but "breasts" always creeps me out a bit. "Knockers", "Jugs", "Funbags" etc are vulgar, and "tits" is just vile. "Boobs" is more fun, which, let's be honest, is the whole point of them anyway!

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    1. In all seriousness, 'boobs' is a great word and, yes, the others are definitely vulgar. As for "fun" being the whole point of them, I'm going to assume good faith and, as such, assume you're being ironic. If not, then ... oh forget it ... I'll just assume good faith like I said.

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  3. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    A new low it seems, attracting people like, for example, Paige, and inciting me to point out that some people, Paige possibly, only read lexicolatry for the bikinis, bloomers, boobs etc, and without getting an opinion from the pot or the kettle on this, I suspect the same people, that is people like, at the risk of repeating myself, Paige, don't understand many of the other words in the post.

    Sounds a bit like The Sun.

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    1. Yeah. The hits are unusually high today. It's depressing and exhilarating in equal measure.

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  4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  5. I do apologise for forgetting to include my regular pseudonym, um ...Paige III, and well done for taking an exploratory venture beyond your 1,000 word vocabulary with the use of 'conceited', especially considering that 500 of those words are synonyms of 'boobs'.

    To save you rupturing a synapse, a 'pseudonym' isn't a prehistoric elephant, and 'synonym' won't improve your apple pie.

    -clueless

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    Replies
    1. No ad hom attacks please, even if they are saying what we're all thinking.

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  6. Sorry ed. Just a little irritating to be called a moron when the previous commenter contrived to use the words knockers, jugs, funbags and tits in the same sentence.

    Also a little odd to be called conceited on a blog which lacks conceit in much the same way that the US cheeseburger shortage is reaching crisis point. That's the main reason I read lexicolatry - unabashed, literary conceit, and today I wasn't let down - " Eventually, the naff puns were dropped (probably because they were going over the head of the average Sun reader)"

    -clueless, cooling.

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    1. I didn't ever claim to be above conceit - I think Lexicolatry is a great blog, and it's written by me, me, me. There. Are we all even now? Can we now go back to discussing boobs like men?

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  7. Ed, I think, as has been illustrated by the above conversation, where the mere mention of the word 'boobs' resulted in an outburst of testosterone-fueled verbal competion between Lex-regular Clueless and the newcomer (?) Paige III, it's safe to say boobs sure are powerful. They don't even have to be present to evoke discussion. Maybe page 3 of the Sun should just feature the word 'boobs' from now on, as that seems to suffice.

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    Replies
    1. Interesting take on that Bibi. You might need to trust my male perspective on this, but it really doesn't take that much testosterone to be annoyed when called a conceited moron.

      I'm also surprised, that you would make such a bizarrely-cliched sexist comment. It was like the inverse of 'funbags.' But then when the subject is 'boob', I suppose you're right, anything could happen.

      Well done ed for a comment-inducing subject. Baited breath for bra, burlesque, greenhouse effect, and seal-culling I guess.

      -c

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    2. I feel entitled to cliched comments when it comes to breasts, being the owner of a pair and all.

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    3. Oh, go on then, one more little flick at irony before ed puts this one to bed.......

      Preemptive action taken bibi - I'm sat here Tuesday morning in my van, I've thrown a few scatter-cushions liberally about the place, there's a Belle and Sebastian CD on, and I'm wantonly dunking pink marshmallows into the portable oestrogen-fondue plugged into the cigarette lighter. There'll be no antler-clashing with young bucks today, no sirree-bob, but you can pull your zip up further if it helps.

      -c

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    4. Sometimes I (or you?) should be happy I'm not fluent enough at English to understand your sarcasm, C.

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    5. It seems the word "funbags" are a major gripe with our esteemed contributor. Me thinks he's missed the fact its only inclusion in popular culture is in the popular 90s comedy "Dumb and Dumber". Seeing as the movie was about two idiots and that was their word of choice for "boobs", one would assume the point was fairly obvious. In fact in order to miss it you'd have to be a complete... well, enough said.

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    6. I'm starting to understand that it doesn't matter what you feel about the subject, whether you trivialize it smuttily or denounce those that do (with or without the help of testosterone), many people are still offended that the subject is being discussed in the first place.

      I think 'boob' also refers to a small mistake.

      -c

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    7. I quite regret getting involved in the first place.

      Sincere apologies if I offended you bibi - I was reacting to the testosterone comment, badly as usual.

      And I'll refrain from replying to Paige's self-justification for fear of having to read a counter-argument based on Stuart Little.

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    8. I think C is right that, however one deals with a sensitive subject, there are always those that will take offense, although bowing to that would preclude discussion of just about anything that's interesting: politics, religion, sex, etc. What I find most bizarre is that there hasn't really been any discussion on anything - either the use of such language, the Page 3 story, whether or not such topics should be discussed at all, etc. What I also bizarre is that this word, 'boobs' of all words, a word in common use by men and women alike, a word that is also colloquial and not considered a swearword, should prompt such a response when other topics (racism, religion, politics, etc) have passed by without so much as a whisper. That really is quite remarkable.

      One thing that was a mistake on my part was that someone (and I can't know who) called C 'a conceited moron' - something to which C is entitled to take offense at, and something that is patently untrue as evidenced by C's often self-deprecating humour and sharp insights, seen from a long history of commenting here. Regardless of that, I won't allow such personal attacks on Lexi and I should have deleted that comment as soon as I saw it (which was late in the day, unfortunately, and C had already responded). That was a lesson for me, anyway, and I apologise to C for not getting to that comment sooner.

      With regards discussing anything on Lexi, just remember basic netiquette - attack issues, not people, and don't lower yourselves to ad hom attacks such as name-calling, etc. Do that, and it should all be good, clean fun ...

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    9. Apologies Ed. At the time it seemed an accurate response to C who appeared to display a sight lack of comprehension as well as unwarranted condescension, but yes, Lexicolatry isn't the place for such a reaction.

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  8. This post reminds me of the campaign of bracelets launched in support of breast cancer that have variations of the slogan "I <3 boobies." The cause is great, but the bracelets are not my favourite, especially as a teacher in a public school subjected to their presence on a regular basis. I apologize to those who love them, but they are not my cup of tea, especially when they give boys an excuse to wear and talk about boobs. At school. Sex education is all well and good - I've taught it myself - and I might be old fashioned, but that makes me feel awkward. Perhaps I am a bit puritanical.

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    1. I kind of agree with you on that, Kara. As a parent, there's a tendency to take everything back to your own children. I certainly wouldn't want my daughter wearing a bracelet that says "I <3 Boobies" (not least because I can't stand that stupid text speak). I don't find anything offensive about the word 'boobs', but it's a bit trivial for such a serious subject as breast cancer. I wouldn't object to my daughter wearing, on the other hand, a pink ribbon to raise breast cancer awareness.

      In saying that, a campaign such as that you've described (and I'd never heard of bracelets that say that) obviously works even a little bit, because here we are, talking about their merit, and in doing so (slightly) raising awareness of breast cancer.

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