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Men Who Stare at Melons

Call it the hooter hoax. There’s a story going around the Internet — and even on TV news stations, though not good ones — that staring at women’s breasts is beneficial to men’s health.

Yeah. Take a minute to chuckle. It’s worth it.

My husband sent me an article claiming that scientists instructed 500 men to ogle women’s chests daily, and found these fellas had lower blood pressure and healthier hearts than those who were asked to refrain from gazonga-gazing. The pretense of his sending this article: “It might inspire a fun column!” The subtext: “Don’t interrupt me the next time I’m fixated on another female’s funbags. Your passive reproach is slowly killing me.”

Naturally, I called hooey. When a legit study can prove that sucking chilled Duncan Hines frosting from a tablespoon prevents cellulite, then I’ll believe that nature wants us to be happy. Until then, guys can keep denying their shameful urges like the rest of us. Or at least satisfying them on the sly.

A quick trip to shattered the story’s veracity. Turns out the claim — which concluded by recommending that men stare at breasts for 10 minutes a day — was first made in the Weekly World News (whose recent headlines include “Megan Fox Is a Man!”; “How to Sell Your Soul to the Devil”; and “Alien Spaceships to Attack Earth in 2011”). But that didn’t stop Fox News in Boston from running the story as recently as March, vaguely citing “a German study” over video close-ups ( of 11 pairs of breasts, one after another.

That’s lousy journalism — but it’s terrific television. Because the truth is that men like to look at breasts, whether it’s good for them or not. And they’re happy to do it without a prescription.

Part of me understands it. As a woman whose greatest physical attributes don’t reside in my bra (aka barely fill it), I’m sometimes mesmerized by other women’s racks. They’re fun to look at: pretty like snow globes on a look-but-don’t-touch shelf, and provocative like fresh popovers cooling too slowly on a baking rack.

But my curiosity doesn’t come close to the eyeball-shackled, ah-OOH-ga reaction some men have when they’re faced with a sweater-straining, neckline-surging set of mammaries. It’s like magnetic Medusa with her snaky weave; they just can’t look away.

I asked some guys I know: Why? Why must you stare? What is it you’re expecting them to … well, do?

Their answers ranged from frank to funny to frightening.

Several said they look “because they are there.” One copped to praying for a wardrobe malfunction. Another confessed to “mentally downloading” the image for, um, future use.

Still another got all academic on me. “Boobs evolved to be stared at,” he said. “They evolved as a frontal analogue to buttocks, which encouraged face-to-face intercourse, which encouraged the development of emotional bonds and family units, which inspired the social development of humanity.”

I see. So not only does ta-ta goggling prolong men’s lives; it’s the very foundation of society? Hmph.

The best explanation came from a dad I know, who says breasts are irresistibly alluring simply because they’re quintessentially female.

“For those lovers of feminine form,” he says, “they encompass so many facets to appreciate: aesthetically pleasing, givers of life, secondary sex organs indicating arousal.”

Besides, he points out, bosom-leering must be preferable to the alternative. “Can you imagine if men didn’t like them? If we constantly said, ‘Eww, could you please do something with those boobs? Gross, they just brushed against me’?”

Alright, I concede.

They’re excellent points.

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