Thomas Wictor

I’ll tell you why everyone is getting naked

I’ll tell you why everyone is getting naked

I just read a piece titled, “Why is Everyone Getting Naked? Rashida Jones on the Pornification of Everything.” In it, actress, writer, producer, and jewelry designer Rashida Jones expresses bewilderment and dismay over what she calls the “Year of the Very Visible Vagina.”

This fall I was hanging out with my sisters, catching up on pop-culture stuff. We watched some music videos, looked at a few Instagram accounts, and checked out blogs. And amid the usual duck-lipped selfies and staged paparazzi photos, a theme emerged: Stripper poles, G-strings, boobs, and a lot of tongue action were all now normal accessories for mainstream pop stars. Across the board the Instamessage seemed to be: “You know you want to have sex with me. Here, take a look at lots of parts of my body.”

That was at the end of October, a month that had already brought us the Miley Cyrus cross-continental twerk-a-thon and Nicki Minaj’s Halloween pasties. With the addition of Rihanna writhing on a pole in her “Pour It Up” video, and Lady Gaga’s butt-crack cover art for the song that goes “Do what you want with my body,” I was just done. I’d had enough…

Men: WHERE ARE YOU??? Please talk to us about how all this makes you feel. You are 49 percent of the population; don’t sit around and let women beat one another up while you intermittently and guiltily enjoy the show. Speak up! We care what you think!

 Well, I’m a man. I’ll tell you why I think everyone is getting naked and how I feel about it.

1. The popular culture is becoming coarser and stupider due to the failure of the education system.

2. Consumers of popular culture are brainless crowd followers.

3. Too many parents have completely abdicated their responsibility to instil values in their kids.

4. There are so many media outlets that performers will do anything for attention.

5. Plenty of “taste makers” are frozen-in-amber nihilists who want to destroy all standards as a way of getting back at Mommy and Daddy for telling them what to do.

6. There’s a political angle to it, in that pornification is being recast as female empowerment.

7. Immature people are crippled by “the fallacy of the excluded middle”: You can only be a slut or a nun.

8. Popular entertainment is doing so badly in terms of sales that everyone is aiming for the lowest common denominator.

9. Whatever you repress, you become compulsive about. American culture is extremely ambivalent about sex.

10. When you have no boundaries, you indulge until you become numb and need ever more intense stimulation to get the same thrill.

How do I feel about it? Bored. Annoyed. Disappointed. Disconnected.

As a solitarian I don’t feel that this has much to do with me. Also, as a fanatical believer in free will, I accept that this is happening. I wish it weren’t, but I know why it is. Don’t get me wrong: If I had a little girl, I’d teach her how to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that her worth is based on her ability to give men erections.

I thought long and hard about embedding this video, and I decided to do so. First, let me describe it: A boy appears to be shooting his little sister with plastic pellets because he caught her twerking. She screams in pain and cries. It’s extremely brutal, so don’t watch it if you can’t bear to see children being tortured.

This is the fallacy of the excluded middle in action. The girl’s parents have raised her to think twerking is okay, but her brother abuses her unmercifully for doing what Mom and Dad have tacitly approved. This boy’s mindset is no different from that of the Taliban’s. They lash women for dressing the wrong way. A lucky Afghan woman is one who’s only lashed. The murder and mutilation of women are everyday occurrences in Afghanistan.

For those of you who won’t watch the video, I’ll tell you that the boy has very long fingernails and a large collection of pellet guns. My guess is that he’s a miserably unhappy loser with personal hygiene issues. His hatred of twerking is likely due to the fact that no attractive girl would ever twerk for him. Misogyny is generally the result of rejection.

If I had a little girl, I wouldn’t hurt her if I caught her twerking. I’d talk to her. We’d discuss why she wanted to twerk. I’d listen carefully and change my actions as a father, because obviously if my little girl wants to twerk, that means I’ve failed to instill what I think are proper values in her. But I wouldn’t punish her.

Personally, I see no moral content in twerking. It’s neither moral nor immoral. What’s immoral is for corporations to deliberately target little girls in order to sell them products. They do that by sexualizing everything about being a female. In my neighborhood, the little girls—the eight- to twelve-year-olds—wear stiletto heels, hot pants, tank tops, makeup, earrings, and sexy hairstyles.

The thing is, those little girls are always with their parents. I don’t blame the corporations. Like politicians, corporations can sell whatever snake oil they want. Caveat emptor. The parents are the bulwark. Little girls don’t drive themselves to the mall and buy clothes and makeup. The problem is that parenting is hard, and too many parents want to be their kids’ friends, so they give in. They don’t guide.

We Americans are dualists. As a culture, we believe in the thing and its opposite at the same time. Americans hate the rich and want to be wealthy. We’re rugged individualists marching in lockstep, and we’re militarists who oppose every war we fight. Believers in law and order, we venerate criminals.

Most relevant to Rashida Jones’s question, we’re lecherous prudes. This is our culture, not us as individuals. It’s not hypocrisy, because we practice the thing and its opposite at the same time. Hypocrisy is saying one thing and doing the opposite.

Again, I’m talking about our national character, not each of us.

I accept our dualism, even though I don’t like it. To me, dualism is a sign of insanity. But the pendulum will swing back in the other direction at some point, which is what always happens in dualistic societies. Little girls will want to dress more modestly again. With more self-respect and dignity.

Finally, pornification is inversely proportional to talent. The better a performer you are, the less you need to rely on exposing your parts. I thought Lady Gaga had talent, but it turns out she doesn’t. That’s why she porned it up. Now that she’s fired her creative team, she’s tanking.

I won’t miss her. There are plenty of other performers who are the real thing.


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