After my recent trip to Salem, I began to think about the impact of Puritanism and how shades of this still linger in American culture. Although these fanatical, guilt-ridden, sad-sacks helped settle North America over four hundred years ago, I firmly believe that their own, unique strand of repression is still present in the DNA of contemporary American "values". Hell, after hearing about snippets from the official Republican party platform I'm convinced that at least 40% of American voters could self-identify as Puritanical.
Before we go any further, does anybody remember this wonderful little gaffe from way back in 2004?
For weeks leading up to the grand opening of their new store in Halifax Shopping Center, Victoria's Secret power-bombed the mall with banner ads, some of which featured models wearing lingerie. Now although the company can be accused of objectifying women and fostering unrealistic body-images (seriously, girls, eat a friggin' sandwich), that's not what most of these outraged parents were having a conniption about.
"The kids just get completely grossed out by it, it embarrasses them and they don't know what to say." said one flustered mom.
"Grossed out"? "Embarrassed"? Really!?!
Unless kids are brainwashed into associating nudity with sex, shame and concealment, they usually don't give a crap. In fact, if any segment of the population is likely to experience a willful wardrobe malfunction, it's a kid. I'm pretty sure that every parent has, at some point in time, caught their toddler trying to make a break for the front door after they've gleefully thrown off the diaper-shaped shackle of their oppressor.
Ergo, these extreme negative reactions are often picked up from patents. So, instead of covering their eyes and steering them back to the parking lot, why don't you...oh, I dunno, talk to your kids for a second. I'm willing to wager that the very same kids that are getting "grossed out" at the sight of a partially-nude figure probably wouldn't even bat an eye while performing sniper-rifle head-shots in Call of Duty.
All of these stories reveal our arrested and puerile obsession with linking of nudity to sex. Here, let me give you an example of how such mores can change. Did you know that as late as 1936 it was illegal for men to be topless in public because it was considered indecent? Which is why all of the olde tyme beach photos had dudes dressed up in ridiculous get-ups like this:
"It's for the best, gents! This way we shant risk enflaming the passions of the gentler sex!"
This went on until some crusading young chaps got pissed up and started going topless on Long Beach in 1936 which eventually resulted in the law being changed. Nowadays, female activists like Moira Johnston are doing their best to earn the same rights that their male brethren have enjoyed for the past seventy-plus years. Many of them are quick to point out that both genders essentially have the same anatomy, its just that women were "cursed" with a few bonus fat cells.
Okay, okay...I know people what people are thinking: "C'mon, man, women clearly have something more...significant happening up there." Sure, but what about that dude in the neighborhood who never wears a shirt while he's mowing his lawn? Y'know, the same guy who'd be hard-pressed to fit into a C-cup? The same guy who secretly wears nipple clamps under his dress shirt to work? Sorry, but it doesn't make sense that women have to stay trussed up on the hottest days of the year while guys get a free pass.
Unfortunately reality calls and I'm forced to end this rant on a sour note. Despite the best efforts of public breast-feeding activists and topless protesters, until North American males start growing the f#@k up, things aren't likely to change. If a women were to sunbath topless in a public park, I fear that she'd quickly be swarmed by packs of leering, overheated chimps armed with camera phones.
It's sad to say but here we are in 2012 and we've still got a lot of growing up to do.
EPIC NSFW, ironically.