Monday, July 28, 2008

What's A Breast Going to do to Children?

As I read Brent Bozell's latest screed against all that is nonsqueemish, I ran across this platitude we hear all the time when those of the socially conservative nature get exposed to something that makes them squirm. Bozell is speaking of the brief exposure of Janet Jackson's breast at the super bowl:

"What was not shocking about sudden nudity on the most watched television broadcast of the year, in front of an audience stuffed with millions of children?"

I have a simple question for the Bozell's of the world. What harm, exactly, is going to befall a child who sees a naked breast? It's not as though he saw a man drive a knife into a woman's chest. Oh wait, that would have been allowed, as are all sorts of violence on television. Why can we show a man shoot his wife in the chest, but we can't show him lovingly caress her chest? It seems our concerns are bass ackwards.

8 comments:

Peter L. Winkler said...

Hundreds of millions of children view naked breasts every day for years on end when they breast feed. Doesn't harm them, obviously.

alex said...

"ruled in favor of shattering every barrier of decency"

Yea, this line from the article was a bit over the top if I must say so myself.

"Why can we show a man shoot his wife in the chest, but we can't show him lovingly caress her chest? It seems our concerns are bass ackwards."
Are you just looking for consistency (ie remove both from being aired, or allow both to be aired?) Or are you just interested in pointing out Bozell's /in/consistency?

Anyway, one possible answer to your question is that in the Superbowl case, the nudity was completely unexpected. Another answer is that with regards to violence, the child knows that it is fake. And even if he thinks it's real, his parent -- assuming (s)he is monitoring -- can correct the misperception. With nudity or breast fondling, there's nothing to correct. This is not to say that I like the violence on TV. Not at all. I was just hoping /you'd/ say, "This is not to say I'd like to see more nudity on TV, not at all."

"What harm, exactly, is going to befall a child who sees a naked breast?"
This is a tough question to answer. I just know that my gut tells me that I shouldn't purposely expose my children to that. I guess I can ask back, though, "how much is too much to expose your kids to? XXX movies perhaps? If this doesn't cause them harm, then what's the problem?"

ScienceAvenger said...

Your gut tells you that children shouldn't see a part of the body that half of them have? Sounds like you need a better guide than your gut.

alex said...

Fine, I'll use your grandparents guts as a guide. How about my question, though? Why not expose them to sex movies? After all, way more than half the population have sex.

ScienceAvenger said...

Answering a question with a question is a dodge. If you've got an argument to make that's more persuasive than "my gut tells me so", then make it.

alex said...

I didn't answer your question with a question. I answered it with "I don't know." ("This is a tough question to answer," to be specific.) The part about "my gut" was intended to be a springboard to discovering -- with your help -- how far we can take this exposure to nudity (and beyond) of our children and still feel fine about it. My tone made it sound more like a challenge, but please forget the tone.

ScienceAvenger said...

My apologies, I would answer this way: if there is a demonstrable harm to children looking at something (say the sun), or if their viewing of it is likely to result in a danger to them via mimicry (say violence, or perhaps sex), then I'd say there was a sound basis for keeping children away from such images. To my knowledge there is some evidence to support this position on violence, and perhaps sex, but none for nudity.

Many nations in Europe are far less concerned with nudity than we are, and with apparently little trouble from it. After all, it is just parts of our bodies: why should some be considered worse than others?

alex said...

Good points. For me, the question isn't "why should some be considered worse than others," but rather, "why should some be considered more private than others?"
For some reason, I value modesty, (everyone does to varying degrees), and where I draw the line, so to speak, may not be where you draw it.