Let’s start the year right: let’s start with a news chum. Further, not just any news chum, but a subject sure to titillate. A chum that touches upon some of the issues of discrimination, diversity, and boundaries that I opine will be large in 2016.
Before I do, however, a word of introduction: I call these posts “news chum”, because I expect (or hope) for them to be like chum in shark-infested waters. Follow the links. Read the articles. Then comment with your opinion. Let’s get some discussion going. Perhaps these three articles will bloody the water some.
In any case, back to boobs:
- The Impact of Boobs. LA Magazine is trying to draw attention to itself by rerunning some classic articles. One of the most interesting is from 2002: an article from an editor who donned fake boobs to see how society treated her differently. A fascinating read (called “California or Bust”), she had some industry people construct a device that took her from an A cup to a D cup… and then watched for the reactions. They were, of course, predictable. To quote the article: “I’ve spent my whole life pretending breasts don’t matter. Part of me still wants to believe it’s true. I can make all the arguments, which basically come down to this: Women should be valued for their selves, not their shelves. Still, I have to admit, at the moment the breasts I’m toting feel like more than mere flesh. They feel like the source of all power.” Interesting read.
- When is a Boob a Boob? I’ll note up front that the answer is not: “When they are elected to Congress?”. The question is a serious one, raised by a transgender fellow who is in the process of transitioning. He has been taking topless pictures of himself, and asking the question: When is the precise magical moment when the line is crossed and Facebook or Instagram considers the photo obscene? It really is a hard question. I’ve seen some theatre shows of late where men have been on stage topless, but they have had such sufficient quantity of man boob, you weren’t sure what you were seeing (or whether you wanted to see it). But that is publicly acceptable? Yet there will be some point in this fellow’s transition where what was previously acceptable no longer is. To me, it highlights this artificial distinction and prudery (that you, Mr. and Ms. Puritan) that exists in America. Truthfully, there should be no distinction.
- Boobs and Bathrooms. The prudery in society is hitting the equality discussion large. And it is hitting us in the bathroom. Specifically, the bathroom is being used as the argument to shoot down equal rights in various areas. We’ve all seen this in action: We can’t legislate equality for transgenders: we’ll have men putting on dresses to go into the woman’s bathrooms. Yeah, right. As if people wander around the bathrooms naked (dressing rooms are potentially different matters). They forget the answer is simple: single user stalls, and single user dressing spaces.
All of these boil down to the same issue: an unspoken belief that men cannot control themselves. Large breasts serve as a benefit in plastic Hollywood because of the sexism of the male patriarchy in charge. Breasts cannot be visible on Facebook or Instagram because men will find them obscene or they will incite men into sexual acts (I don’t think I’ve women making the argument that seeing the breast of another women will incite sexual desire). We can’t have equality because that will imply mixed sex in bathrooms, and men will use it to spy on nekked women (hmmm, has that happened in the co-ed bathrooms in colleges?).
So, yes, this first news chum post of the year does boil down to its title: Don’t be a boob. Control yourself.
P.S.: Related to this, we have the whole question of Bill Cosby. My opinion on the subject is summarized by an image I saw on Facebook: “He said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, she said, …” But I’m still conflicted. On the one hand, we have Cosby as a womanizer (that is clear). On the other hand, we have the legacy of humor he provided: from wonderful non-sexist albums such as Wonderfulness to 200 MPH to the messages that came across on the Cosby show. How can we balance the disgust from one against the good of the other? In other areas, we’ve been able to separate the artistic legacy from the sexual misdeeds of the creator (Woody Allen, Michael Jackson) and in others we haven’t (Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle). Will we be able to separate here?