Wednesday, June 07, 2006

(Misplaced) Sexual Hysteria Continues

The fallout (pun intended) over Janet Jackson’s boob appearing on national television two years ago is still raging. Congress is getting set to increase indecency fines by 900%, bringing the maximum allowable fine from $32,500 to $350,000 per incident.

What’s really concerning, however, is not so much the level of the fine, but what people seem to be deeming indecent.

Take the “wardrobe malfunction” incident at the Super Bowl. All of the outrage has been about Jackson’s breast being displayed for a couple of seconds on the screen. Jackson was quickly vilified after the event. How dare she display what can be seen in advertisements in many major newspapers and magazines around the country!

But did she really display it herself?

The truly offensive aspect of that halftime show scene was Justin Timberlake ripping off the top of a woman. Whether the entire breast was intended to fall out or not (Timberlake’s defense afterwards was that it was not), what kind of message does that send our nation’s youth – or our adult population, for that matter?

Here you have a man, aggressively and without invitation, tear the clothing from a woman’s body. That man then comes away virtually unscathed in the public eye, while the woman is held up as an example of dangerous sexual promiscuity and indecency. Even this morning on the news, which was discussing the increased FCC fines, I heard the event referred to as “the Janet Jackson incident.”

This all makes we wonder about what we’re considering “indecent” in our society – and also exactly how our societal prejudices will play a part in that consideration and, subsequently, what we are allowed to see on TV in the future.

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