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Nasty girl?

2004-02-03 - 11:42 a.m.

So. Yeah. Janet Jackson. The woman whose breast is apparently a threat to common decency.

For those of you who have been living isolated from media and rumour the last couple of days, Iím referring, of course, to the moment during the Superbowl halftime when Justin Timberlake reached over and ripped off part of Janetís costume, exposing one of her breasts.

I, for one, do not believe it was accidental. Had it not been planned, Ms. Jackson wouldnít have been wearing anything at all over her nipple. From the brief glimpse the TV viewers got, she was wearing a pastie.

Really though, was it that big a deal? Are children scarred by the sight of a naked breast? Granted, the ripping off of clothing to expose it rings faint alarm bells at the back of my mind, but I think thatís more to do with the violence the motion hinted at, the fact that the choreography mimicked tearing off a womanís clothing in public suddenly and without warning.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • If sheíd been wearing something much larger underneath, say a logo of the NFL crest, that covered 75% or more of her breast, would the NFL commissioner have called it inappropriate and embarrassing to the NFL and their fans? Part of her bodice would still have been ripped off. Is it the breast itself, the amount of skin shown, or the suddenness of its exposure (the way it "burst" into our living rooms, according to FCC chief Michael Powell) thatís problematic to most people?
  • Had the singers and dancers staged a choreographed fight, or even picked up mock machine guns and pretended to spray gunfire around, would it have received half the attention and condemnation it did? Violence seems much more objectionable than a breast to me.

About 10 years ago, Ontario made it legal for women to go topless in public areas such as parks and beaches. There was a big furor back then as to the corrupting influence of womenís breasts, and the fear that public spaces would be inundated with breasts, breasts, breasts, everywhere you turned. Didnít happen. And as far as I know, no impressionable children got condemned to a life of therapy.

Personally, Iíd rather have my future children exposed to real breasts, with all their variation, than to nothing but perfect, tanned, saline-filled balloons in magazines, either with tiny perky nipples or, in the case of magazines that are deemed OK for consumption by the non-porn-seeking crowd, no nipples at all. A model is wearing a filmy mesh top or bra in an ad? The photo editors wave their magic airbrushes and abracadabra, no nipples! How is that natural? How is it guarding the morals of the nation to let children get the impression that nipple-less women exist?

Edited to add: Ok, apparently it wasn't a pastie, it was a large piercing. I still don't believe it wasn't planned though.

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