If you find your insides smirking at the anal-retentiveness of the Victorian days when a picture of a woman exposing her ankle was considered ‘scandalous’ or tut-tutting the censorship of the McCarthy era, you'd better sober up and stop feeling so superior about living in the free 21st century. The 21st century isn’t quite as free as you think, especially when it comes to the censorship of women’s bodies.
Remember in the late nighties when the government tried to restrict speech on the Internet, and AOL went so far as to declare the word "breast" indecent? And just two years ago Bell Sympatico put out an advertisement that depicted a grade-school-anatomy-like picture of a woman’s body with all pictorial references to the female reproductive system (breast and pelvic regions) cut out. The advertisement included the caption"You'll do anything to protect your kids from inappropriate content. So will we." Even more recently CHFI, One of Toronto’s top-rated radio stations (with a predominately female listener ship) demanded that the word "Vagina" be removed from the title of "The Vagina Monologues" prior to running any radio ads, and their women’s health show reversed a commitment to promote the Vagina Monologues claiming their board felt that the word "vagina" had no place at a women’s health show! And lest we not forget the day when Janet Jackson exposed her breast at the super-bowl, stirring up a huge scandal and almost starting a riot.
Is it just me or does anyone else think it’s sexist that female breasts (and nipples) are censored in the media as well as by the government, but yet, male breasts (and nipples) can be shown freely? It’s not like seeing a female breast is going to kill anyone or put anyone in a sex craze. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission– the folks who tell us what we can see or can’t see on TV and movies) apparently has a problem with the female body. Mass murder, genocide, gut-wrenching torture: fine. A female breast: the end of civilization.
It’s crazy what the government and media deem offensive. It’s obviously not considered offensive if children watch the bombing of towns by their own people on prime time television and watch people die "live from CNN". It is not considered offensive to watch children on TV who are starving. It is not considered offensive to be showered with violence on TV or to play violent video games. It is not considered offensive to hear about minors on death row in certain US states. None of the above seems to be viewed as something that might deeply disturb children. So then why if children glimpse a naked breast or hear the word vagina (let alone see one) do we assume them to be damaged for the rest of their lives?