In my most recent post, What do women see when they see a breast?, I made comments regarding the article Eyeful of breast-feeding mom sparks outrage as well as linking the blog posting Censored Essentials? and I'm still left with questions beyond simply whether men and women process visual information differently and whether, as Kelly Wheatley of Amarillo, Texas implies, women somehow process that information incorrectly.
At the risk of getting too deep into personal anecdote territory, when I was about twenty, my father, my brother, who must have been twelve, and I all watched The Godfather together. My father was dating an occasionally, although not always, prudish woman at the time and was inspired to be occasionally, although most certainly not always, prudish himself.
The inconsistent prudishness led to once to an incident in which I was chastised for showing River's Edge to my brother. I was told that I knew why that was wrong. For better or worse, fifteen years of this popping into my head from time to time, I still have literally no idea why I he disapproved of that or, even more, why he thought I'd know.
Now, to help your understanding of why this was confusing, when I was twelve, my dad and I rented all sorts of things and watched them together every week, frequently the New World Pictures releases of the time, such as Galaxy of Terror; last I heard, the man had still never met an Alien rip-off he didn't like. He also, for the record, took me to Conan the Barbarian at the theater a year prior to that and it wouldn't be much later that we watched Barbarian Queen and every other weird, sleazy Conan rip-off we could find together.
But I may have strayed further than I intended there.
As you may recall, The Godfather has an extended sequence where Michael Corleone hides in Sicily and marries the lovely Apollonia Vitelli. Included in this is a rather sweet scene of the couple on their wedding night, that, as it happens shows the exposed breasts of actress Simonetta Stefanelli.
So, my father took this opportunity to get up, walk over and cover my brothers eyes during this, and only this scene in the movie. Mind you, I think it was more a play at demonstrating his power and thus humiliating my brother, but it nonetheless is solidified in my mind as a huge example of "What's the big deal with seeing boobs?" Seriously, if one is of an age that you believe they can handle the clearly adult themes and violence of The Godfather, they should indeed be able to deal with seeing a woman's breasts as she's about to make love to her husband, shouldn't they?
The same question arises for me in reading comics about vampires and all sorts of other times.
But the question is writ even larger over this cover of BabyTalk Magazine. What's the worst that can happen if one's husband or thirteen year old son sees a picture of a breast? It's a serious question. As a person who has on numerous occasions taken some sexual pleasure at looking at women's breasts - and that's just today - the worst I can imagine from that cover is that one might - and it seems unlikely to me - get physically aroused at the picture and then feel disturbed at themselves at having a boner while looking at a picture whose clear focal point is an infant!
But most people have done something like that at some point... and a thirteen year old is just bound to. Learning to deal with inappropriate arousal and realizing it doesn't make you a monster and that there are complicated factors involved and whatnot is part of normal development.
This magazine cover is a couple months old "controversy", so I don't mean to put too much into dealing with it specifically. Breastfeeding Brouhaha has a very concise and sane response and Boobs has an hilarious and excellently put response.
But just as a general thought, what the hell can seeing boobs do to a body anyway? Who amongst us grew up, from infancy to full adulthood, without seeing a boob, at least a photographic representation of one? I don't care how old you are, you saw an anatomy magazine at the library or a dirty postcard behind the counter at the dry good store, if not a lot more than that at a friends house or in a hidden treefort. What percentage of people didn't make it through that horror and still become decent, honest, hardworking citizens who may check out the occasional boob, but is overall pretty ok?
Look, we can pretend this is something we're getting over, but its getting worse since I was a kid, in the days that Planet of the Apes was rated "G" - you can look it up, if you don't believe me! - despite having a good two minutes of Heston butt onscreen and The Little Girl Who Lives Down the Lane and Sheena, as obvious examples, were rated "PG".
I'm not happy with this world at all.
This is a world where any kid who isn't a complete and utter moron, and even most who are, can get on the Internet and look at all manner of sex acts in lifeless and artless photographs of people whose bodies look entirely like caricatures of a natural human body - yes, even with parental controls on, sorry - but can't go to a movie theater and see some harmless jiggle-shows - or, more importantly, I reckon, solid, well-told dramatic stories about the wealth of human experiences that happen to show bare-chested women - and where any bare breast, even the most natural one of all, is an affront to alleged decency.
And here I am and I don't even understand what the issue is supposed to be in the first place! What the hell is supposed to happen?!