Over the past week, I have been doing a lot of thinking on the so-called “writer obligation.” This is discussed a lot, often times involving a controversial text and whether or not it should have been written/be read by the public. It speaks to a writer’s obligation to society: stating that what is written in part shapes the fabric of daily life and perception. I don’t disagree with that last sentence, but still encourage all writers to not be obliged to anyone.
With partisanship on the rise and many Americans firmly settled into their echo-chamber media bubbles, books that attempt to understand political and religious thinking, without declaring obvious winners, are becoming crucial insights.Jonathan Haidt‘s The Righteous Mind is an essential tool for anyone trying to understand the political psychology of the other side.
Right away, it should be obvious to tell that this post will focus on issues much more directly regarding women. Men cannot go topless. Men can only take off their shirts.
There is a truly bizarre fascination with nudity in this world. To my knowledge, no one has ever died from nudity. No child ever saw the nude form and was struck blind, regardless of what certain religious doctrines claim. Yet if you listen to most civilized cultures out there: being naked in public is one of the most damaging things an individual can do. There are laws (some very strict) against it.
Now, before I continue, let me just say that some of these laws are very good and serve a purpose. Being naked by itself may not be dangerous, however there are plenty of perverts and deviants out there who can use nudity to harm society. Laws against these people are a necessity and increase safety as well as allowing individuals to grow up unscathed from horrible memories. Yet those people aside… just how dangerous is nudity?
Well… it isn’t. Few studies have been done on the effects of family/parental nudity in front of minors, but one of the most thorough “found no ill effect and no good effects of parental nudity.” Again, this is in regards to simply nudity – without any sexual intent. Yet it is this differentiation that is likely the main problem. Where does nudity end and sexuality begin?
Well it seems that, for women, sexuality begins the very moment that they remove their top and expose their breasts. Written like that, it does not sound stimulating (or maybe it does, I don’t judge) but that is how most media-created sex scenes begin. The aroused woman tossing off her top to indicate that she is ready to begin. This image has become so entrenched in sexuality that it is impossible to be seen as a simple act of nudity… or then again, maybe most men are just really turned on by boobs.
Beginning a sexual act in public is, at the very least, likely impolite. It is not hard to see how the label “indecent” was ascribed to such actions. Yet what if a woman simply wants to remove her top? After all, men do it all the time and there is no overt association with sexual intent. In the name of equality: shouldn’t all women be allowed to go topless at their leisure (or at least only bound by the same restrictions that affect men).
Well, even the most fervent human rights activist will acknowledge the physical difference between men and women. Men don’t have breasts, women do – so of course the rules are different. Really though, it is not simply for the reason listed above that most societies discourage toplessness (or nudity in general). The concerned citizen will say that it is to dangerous for a woman to just walk around topless. It could give the wrong idea.
Right – while that may be true, let’s quickly examine that argument in all its glory. It implies that a great enough percentage of men will rape at the mere sight of breasts to create this atmosphere of extreme hostility. Boy, that does not give us guys much credit. Also pokes a hole in the whole sexist attitude of men being superior. If our minds are superior to women, why is it that we can be reduced to primal instinct with the removal of a couple garments? Does not sound like the superior sex to me.
Second argument: the human body is shameful and should be hidden. Right… I have written about this before. Needless to say, I find this argument to be… I believe the most politically correct term I can use is f*cking stupid.
The idea that nudity will make people indecent in character. Well, let’s look at a recent example:
ABOUT THOSE CELEBRITY LEAKS
Now before I go further, I feel I should make my general stance on this issue known. It is a crime what happened to the celebrities involved. It was nothing less than an invasion and subsequent theft of private materials. The hacker (whoever he or she may be) should be arrested and held fully accountable to the standard of the law. Apple should also be held accountable for allowing the leak to happen and for their blatant overuse of the Cloud (it is hard to truly delete something when it is quietly backed up to another source). To those on the internet – the internet is a moral-free highway of information. Nothing can or should be stopped from being filtered through. We cannot close the internet to “indecent material” without creating a very slippery slope as to what indecent material is. Illegal material (such as child pornography) is, of course, another matter entirely.
So that being said, you have the right to use the internet to share those pictures. Those celebrities also have the right to hunt you down and persecute you to the fullest extent of the law. It is their wrongfully seized material after all, this is not a case of the Beyonce Super Bowl photo. You decide if it’s really worth it.
All that said, this is not the first time that private material has been stolen or even the first time that nudes have been stolen and posted without consent. There is a sick obsession with celebrities that I believe went indecent long before those pictures were leaked. Also, in terms of the scale of crimes and atrocities happening in the world – this is really at the lower end of the totem pole. With all due respect to those affected (again, it is a crime). Personally, if I was told that I could eradicate two out of three crimes from the world and my choices were: stopping invasion of privacy in terms of identity theft, stopping invasion of privacy in terms of publishing private and personal documents, and stopping invasion of privacy in terms of stopping nude leaks… it would be an easy choice as to which would be leftover.
Yet it is this obsession with the taboo of nudity that helped turn this into such an issue. Yes, there may well have also been some misogynistic intent involved. I’m sure there are those sick individuals out there who view these talented women (yes, primarily women targeted… few people seem to care about nude male celebrities) as nothing more than collections of attractive body parts. This is problem completely unrelated to nudity, privacy, or anything else. It is a much greater problem that results in most of the unequal treatment towards women.
Many people, however, have probably only looked on curiosity and arousal. Society conditions us that every showing of the nude female form is sexual, so these can be seen as nothing less. In terms of judging these actions, it is hard to. Please do not look at anyone’s stolen material, there is enough out there that is completely legal and well (or at least slightly more) accepted in this bizarre taboo of nudity.
Yet, as long as these taboos exist, incidents like this will continue. As long as people demand nudity, that forbidden fruit of indecency, it will be in high demand.
For those out there wondering, spoiler alert: all of those celebrities did indeed have breasts and vaginas. I know right, stop the f*cking presses.