Friday, April 12, 2013

Eat me! I'm hot sticky sweet: or Why we can't talk about sex unless it's for sale

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Blonde  Pin up Vargas
Watch out! She might corrupt someone.
As usual, I'm probably overreacting, but four issues I have strong feelings about collided within two weeks and I need to get this out there before I move on. So what happened?
  1. Censorship: a bunch of administrators [who need to retire] shut down their award winning school newspaper at a community college in New Mexico because they published an issue on sex. Mind you, it's fine to talk about saving fetuses in political debates and even sneaking up on men taking "the wide stance" in the bathroom, but talking about ways to have safe sex or better sex is taboo. Oh yeah. That makes sense . . . TO NOBODY. Also, I know this comes as a shock to some, but even at a community college, the students are adults. They can smoke. They're probably already having sex; a lot of them already have children, and I think most of us know that it doesn't just happen because two people love each other very much. To their credit, someone on the staff grew a brain and the paper re-opened the next day.
  2. Stunned reaction to a documentary about sexual assault. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. I work on a college campus in a counseling center, and many of the young women I meet with have been sexually assaulted. Sadly, many of them don't even realize that is what happened to them. They know something went wrong, but don't have a way of understanding it. I guess that some people are more comfortable with leaving those who could prevent these crimes from occurring in the dark, so they can keep happening, and keep the victims feeling like freaks. I'm not okay with that.
  3. Someone freaked-out about a tiny and out of focus boob in a picture on a flyer that was also posted on a college campus. By the way, nobody noticed this boob for three months. This brings to mind something Jean Brodie said, "I do not . . . influence [my students] to look for slime where it does not exist!" I mean, it was almost impossible to see and it was a breast. Someone needs to grow up.
  4. The same professors who were bothered by the sexual assault topic seemed to think domestic violence is less disturbing.
You know what else puzzles me? A lot of people watch the Super Bowl (around 108.4 million people watched Super Bowl 2013 from their living rooms.) Most of those viewers end up talking about the commercials more than the game. You know what's featured in most of these commercials? Sex. Explicit sex? No. Objectification of women? You bet. Cleavage? Check. I am a feminist and I probably should be more upset by all of this, but I don't see the Super Bowl as an evil I need to combat, but I can think of reasons to rethink that position:
  • Enough people call out "sick" on the Monday after Super Bowl Sunday that some employers are using it as an excuse to complain that FMLA creates a slacker culture where employees take advantage of all that generous unpaid leave.
  • Electronics stores have implemented special return policies for big screen TVs purchased in the weeks leading up to Super Bowl Sunday because people get so obnoxious about their game parties that they will buy a big screen TV, use it for the party, and try to return it for a full refund even after their cousin poured his Pabst into it.
You know, compared to all of that, talking about sex for an hour seems so wholesome, especially if it might save someone's life.

So, just to be clear: sexual assault and rape are terrible crimes, but they aren't dirty words, and domestic violence isn't "nicer" because it happens between married people [which isn't even always the case.] Selling a woman's body is usually referred to as prostitution, but I guess that's okay as long as it's on TV and it's in the name of convincing someone to buy a Mercedes or a Fiat.