Thursday, July 29, 2010

To see or not to see: who decides and who cares?

This is not the type of post one would expect to find on an old lady's blog, but the topic is one I've considered from time to time in recent years. If you are easily embarrassed, perhaps you shouldn't read further. Or, perhaps you could read further while pretending you're watching one of the doctor shows on TV and letting your thirst for knowledge override your need to protect yourself from a discussion of things related to the human body.

I'm speaking out today about a sensitive topic because I feel that the male members of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) have been scamming female television viewers and catering to male ones. (This will not be a discussion of "male members"; they can stand up for themselves.) I'm attempting to make a case that the FCC and network censors have perpetuated a fraud by insisting that any female nipple be covered or blurred on television, while allowing the entire rest of a big boob to bounce freely and while imposing no similar viewing restrictions on nearly identical male nipples. I think they're trying to make us believe that they're on the job by focusing our attention on the tip of the iceberg when, in fact, the giant mass that makes up the rest of the iceberg is where any prurient danger to society may lie.

Several years ago, the local board-of-something-or-other met to discuss what restrictions and ordinances should be applied to a couple of so-called "gentlemen's clubs" that had recently opened in the area. I still laugh when I remember reading the following item in the newspaper's report of the board's decision: "Dancers must remain at least three feet away from customers at all times and must wear pastries." Yes, it read "pastries," with an "r."

At the office we had so much fun discussing that typo. If the dancers themselves were tarts, would they meet the requirements? What if the dancers had cinnamon buns? Could they still be fined if they covered themselves with "bare" claws? Would doughnuts provide acceptable coverage, what with their dirty little peepholes? Thus began my mild curiosity about why female nipples are considered erotic when male nipples are not.

Do you remember the fuss when Janet Jackson had a nip-slip at the nationally televised Super Bowl? What a furor that caused! Since Janet was wearing the gold jewelry equivalent of a "pastry," I submit that it was not the nipple but the rest of the breast that censors and many viewers found too shocking for family television.

More recently -- and what set me on this current bandwagon -- I saw TV censorship carried to such an extreme that my eyes rolled more than once. The show was a documentary about a transgender man who would soon be undergoing surgery to make him a woman. The scene took place in a doctor's office as the doctor explained the upcoming surgical procedures. The patient had been living and dressing as a woman for about a year, but in this scene his body, naked except for a pair of white briefs (or panties maybe?) was clearly that of a very tall, rather skinny, flat-chested man. Get this: They blurred his nipples. Even though it was discussed at length that the patient was still a male in every physical way, the censors must have based their decision on the idea that he would someday in the future be a female. How big of a prude do they think I am?

Another point: If I stop to think about the last handsome, shirtless, well-built guy I saw on TV, I can conjure up a very pleasant image in an instant. I see broad shoulders and amazing abs. The nipples are there, too, but they're no more significant than shirt buttons. They play no role in my fantasy. Not being male, I can't say for sure, but I suspect men's minds work much the same way. My point is that, male or female, it's not the nipples but the shape of the flesh that surrounds the nipples that we find titillating, er, exciting.

I'm guessing most guys, given a choice between looking at a flat-chested woman with bare nipples or a woman with a set of well-rounded boobs under a patch of frilly fabric that conceals the tips, would grin and gape at the second woman. This is not to belittle the first woman, who might even gain a couple of points by covering up with a little frilly fabric of her own to distinguish her nipples from those of her male counterparts. And what about the sweater girls of the 1950s? Not a nip in sight, but they had everybody talking.

Think about the exposed cleavage you see on TV awards shows or red carpet interviews. Think about the barely-there costumes on "Dancing with the Stars." Think all the way back to "Baywatch." On TV, female nipples threaten to pop out all over the place, but they don't, quite. And as long as they don't, nobody raises a fuss. The TV censors go on taking care of their male viewer buddies by showing them plenty of the breast parts that really interest them.

In closing, I assure you that in writing about this topic, I am not making demands on network censors. My calling them out is not an instance of tit-for-tat. I just want the censors to know I see through them. And in no way am I expressing a desire to see more female nipples on television. I'm merely suggesting that if one occasionally does escape confinement, accidentally, it would be nice if we as a nation didn't get sucked into some great, collective, hypocritical gasp.

I can live with the fact that the female nipple doesn't get to breathe as freely as the male nipple does, so long as it gets the same amount of respect. After all, women's nipples serve a legitimate, honorable, and very respectable purpose.

If you have an opinion on this topic, I would be very interested in reading it. Further, I hope no one was offended by what I've posted here. I wrote this only because the perceived public fascination has resulted in a type of discrimination, and I needed to get these nipple issues off my chest.


  1. Great one! Or should I say pair? This brought giggles (not jiggles), the most I've had in weeks. Thanks, Velvet.

  2. When I read the pastries line, I laughed so hard, I nearly shook my monitor off my desk!

    There is a double standard and it's apparently going to stay that way. In an age where cities get all riled up over the site of a woman feeding her child... OY, some people apparently have nothing better to do.

  3. bluffroadglass7/29/2010 9:35 PM

    Great...uh...points, Mom. :)

  4. A nip-slip? I've never heard the term before but that had me laughing hard this morning! And you're so right. There is such a double standard when it comes to women's nipples. When nipples are blurred, that's all I see...that tiny blurred spot.

    And it's not because they're wearing pastries, either...

  5. that leads me to think of all the unattractive men walking around shirtless, who have breasts that could benefit from a good support garment. NOT FAIR!

    p.s. the word verification I got was "unded". Somebody's been reading too much "Twilight" and Sookie Stackhouse.

  6. Oh, I enjoyed this so very much....

  7. I do have to laugh whenever I read the word 'pasty'--without the 'r.' I KNOW what a pasty is, of course, but around here, a 'pasty' is food--NOT a glorified nip covering. And we pronounce the food 'pasty' as 'PASS-tee', not 'PACE-tee.' If you want to know more about the pasty, there is an article on Wikipedia...

  8. I'm glad y'all received this in the spirit in which it was intended and had a few laughs.

    CMK, if I read the Wikipedia article correctly, then your pasty actually does involve pastry (the crust). How appropriate that is in the context of this post. Cool!


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