Sunday, February 15, 2004

As usual, I didn't see the latest blip of pop culture to take on a life of its own. I haven't watched a Super Bowl in a good fifteen years. So, I have no idea whether, at half-time, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson were miming sexual violence, or engaging in consensual exhibitionism, or even whether they were having any fun at it. If it was supposed to be a "family show", I'm somewhat perplexed as to why anyone thought that the idea of having a woman "naked by the end of this song" was age-appropriate for the Nickelodeon crowd. To repeat: I didn't see the incident, so I can't comment on the smarminess level of its context.

But, fer Zarquon's sake, people, it was only a breast. Approximately half of the population is genetically programmed to develop the full-featured version. The other half is in permanent possession of the vestigial, subcompact version. Breasts are part of the normal complement of human body parts. There's nothing weird or dirty about them. I seem to recall that babies see these things all the time (unless they were born in the 1950s, when babies were nursed from bottles and women's breasts were reduced to fashion accessories, usually shoehorned into undergarments resembling Cadillac bumper bullets).

You might think someone's kid saw a simulated murder on TV, for all the fuss. Or even a real live war. (Oh, right. Never mind.)

Congressional investigations? Oh, come on. Then again, this is a society in which the Attorney General ordered a piece of classical statuary covered up because one of its marble-rendered mammaries was visible; a society in which sex toys are illegal in some states but guns are just fine in all 50; a society in which same-sex civil marriage is considered a threat to families while unemployment and poorly funded public education are considered tolerable; a society that likes to style its leaders as the alpha males of the entire planet and then tried to kick one out of office for obtaining multiple matings.

As for me: I celebrated Valentine's Day by attending a performance of The Vagina Monologues with my husband. Both of us enjoyed the show, which I think approaches the strange destinies of anatomy with both grace and humor. I was reminded of a wonderful quote by Marlene Dietrich: "In America, sex is an obsession; in other parts of the world, it is a fact."


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