Janet shows one shiny breast, and there is an uproar that reverberates in moral self-righteousness out into the heavens even as you read this. On Super Bowl Sunday, parents gasped, the network swooned, advertisers cursed, and little Timmy got all funny inside for the first time since the last OC. But imagine if it weren’t Janet who did the flashing. Imagine, if it were Justin Timberlake and his Mickey Mouse club?
Clearly the world as we know it would end.
Fact is, the American entertainment community can put up with as much T and A as it pleases (anyone remember the Miller ad last year? How about the blatantly sexist lyrics of American flag poncho sporter, Kid Rock?) while men get a little squeamish when their MVP is exposed.
Even more dastardly—the Motion Picture Association of America thinks extreme amounts of violence is less harmful than explicit sexual content. Movies like the needless remake of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre get by with an R while films like The Dreamers get slapped with difficult rating, NC-17.
Bernardo Bertolucci has commented: “How is it in 2004 we are more puritanical than 30 years ago?…After all, an orgasm is better than a bomb.”
Why do you think it is ok, socially/culturally, for a woman to be exposed rather than a man? Why has this art convention been maintained for hundreds of years? Is the penis more dangerous than the sword? Where does the shameless promotion end and the moral ambiguity begin? Is there even ambiguity? Plastic America has castrated our cinematic cock.
At least in the seventies there was good porn. What are our lonely farmboys to do? Squinting my eyes to see a denim-covered bulge on a 24-inch television screen has ruined my vision. We need to recognize the facts: it is not attractive for a man to convert into an effiminate doll with a limp dick. Sure, he is sensitive and harmless—but noone wants to fuck him. I want a man not afraid of his celluloid dick, his sex, his power. I want erections on cable television.
I want the lilac droop. I want the flash of candy.
— Michael Koby, Fiber and Materials Studies, Graduate
I think that the reason that males are never featured nude is because that puts them in a position of vulnerability. To be naked is to have no protection from outside forces including, but not limited to, criticism—we all know that boys have a certain insecurity with their bodies. However, it also makes them a pleasure object, a thing to be looked at and admired instead of a mighty force to be reckoned with. This brings them down a notch on the hierarchy scale where males are in charge and have the nude women to serve them pleasure instead. In a male-dominated society, a woman in the same position would not be regarded in the same negative manner.
— Erin A. Milosevich, currently without department
Ms. Jackson only did it because she wanted the public to gasp, “oh my!” and the media to site her name numerous times. She wouldn’t have done it if she knew that people would just laugh and forget it the by the next day.
You know that desire to do something more so if it is not allowed, or considered scandalous? Like the time you did something at high school that you were not supposed to? If people stopped making a big fuss, it’s not gonna be suprising or scandalous anymore, and people are not going to expose themselves in that attention-craving manner.
Female bodies are more frequently exposed than male bodies, simply because there are more dynamics in it–it has more of easily noticeable curves and shapes than the male body, whether that body is beautiful or not, whether the female body is more beautiful than the male body or not. I mean, when you’re in a figure drawing class, why are there more female models than males?
— Jae-Won Shim
The same people who shudder at a bare breast are the ones who sexualized the breast in the first place. The vast majority of human beings begin their lives suckling breasts. There should be no reason to get all funny or weird about them. So when you see cultural conservatives raise a stink about bare breasts, you are simply watching superstitious people do that “fake outrage” thing they always do—-what they’ve been trained to do since the first day of Sunday School.
Penises and vaginas, on the other hand, are totally different animals than breasts. They tap directly into our reproductive instincts in a way which is deeply compelling. That’s not to say we can’t get used to the sight of reproductive organs, but even the full-time nudist can still muster up enough genital appreciation to have sexual intercourse. The penis and vagina transcend the normal desensitizing effects of repetition. Exposed, especially outside a nudist context, they are highly distracting. If you’re trying to focus on complex tasks, they are downright disturbing. That’s why nuclear physics is not conducted in the strip club (primarily).
As far as art history, it is important to note that the convention with regard to nude females has always been to avoid showing the vagina.
So until Janet Jackson does a “Streets of Bangkok” version of the Vagina Monologues at the Super Bowl, I think penis exposure, however rare, is right on par with it’s female counterpart. But bring on the boobies, cause all the little babies love’em, and you know what? So do I.
— Bill Voltz, Admissions Staff
I think you are comparing apples and oranges, so to speak (no euphemisms intended), in your Super Bowl example…
A woman’s breast does not equate with the male penis…well you know where I’m going….
“Showing pink” is almost as huge a taboo as the male member…probably equally so in our prudish American popular culture.
And (for the cynical take on things) it doesn’t take a genius to know that all power structures in American society are dominated (predominantly) by heterosexual white males. Heterosexual white males want to see T and A not other men’s members. (Plus there are way too many self esteem issues associated with that thing that all men, consciously or unconsciously, are dealing with. They don’t want to think about it, other than to think about where they would like to put it.)
—Travis Hartman, Writing Dept.