If the Sex segment on the UK’s This Morning show had happened in the US (at any time of the day or night) executive heads would be rolling like ten pins, advertisers would be cancelling multi-million dollar campaigns and an outraged nation would be uprising. Don’t believe me? Remember the outrage over Janet Jackson’s 2004 boob-flashing “wardrobe malfunction” at the Super Bowl? Heck, the offending ta-ta was conveniently adorned with a nipple ring, yet you’d think Ms. Jackson and Jason Timberlake had been doing the biz on national TV. Such was the response from “concerned” citizens that the FCC (Federal Communications Committee) promised a “thorough and swift” investigation of the half-time show and the major TV networks installed five minute delays on live shows just in case anyone thought about pulling a similar stunt.
Read any commentary against sex and nudity and the word “morality” is usually not far behind. Rick Steves, a popular travel TV journalist, writes frequently about the nude spas he has visited in Europe, often wondering out loud why Americans are so hung up about nudity:
“You may not want to bring the more casual European approach to sex and the human body back home with you. And I'm not saying we should all run around naked. But I suspect that children raised in America, where sex is often considered ‘dirty,’ are more likely to have an uncomfortable relationship with sex and their bodies than those in Europe.”, says Steves in one article.
His detractors invariably criticize his morals, as in this insightful response: “Europe has been good to Rick Steves, so it’s no surprise his "standards" in propriety have been relaxed.” Or this dingbat: “I really enjoy Rick's shows on PBS. On the other hand I can do without articles like this insinuating that we are prudes because we still have a little morality left here.”
See what I mean. Why does nudity have to go hand in hand with morality?
Anyhoo, for Americans who prefer not to let it all hang out, there’s a website just for you: Wholesome Wear – offering “swimwear that highlights the face rather than the body”.
I wonder if this will be compulsory wear for all beaches in the US before long?
I think the best illustration of the insouciance* surrounding sex here in the old world is, when I showed the article to my wife, she said, “That’s nothing new, they’ve done that before on Breakfast TV, showing sex positions for older people.” (I just hope they weren’t using Bruce Forsyth and Ann Widdecombe as the models.)
So it would seem, though a smattering of people are pretending to be shocked by this, on the whole, it was taken pretty much in stride.
And, to be fair, there really wasn’t much titillation involved; here’s a sample of the televised demonstration, altered for American audiences according to FCC regulations:
Not exactly something to stir your porridge, is it? And, frankly, I think most people have figured out the “man on top get it over with quick” position on their own by now. If they haven’t, then they are probably the type of people who sit at home shouting at the telly and writing angry letters to the BBC and ITV.
But I digress.
I think this openness about sex and nudity is a good thing (even if coming a little late in my life). For one thing, it allows you to read a newspaper or magazine with pictures of naked people in it and not have everyone else on the subway car assuming you are reading porn.
Imagine taking the number 4 to Bleecker Street and opening the New York Post only to find a huge photo on page three of Mandy, a PA from Flatbush who is very concerned about Obama’s health care reform, orphans in Afghanistan and world hunger, but doesn’t seem to care a fig about putting her baps on public display. You’d likely be tossed off the train and lucky not to be arrested for aggravated public indecency.
Here, the Page Three Girls are legendary. They aren’t scandalous or shocking; they are simply there, part of the fabric of every day life, like the spectre of National Identity Cards, only less hideous.
For those of you in the US who have never seen a Page Three Girl, I offer this, censored, naturally, to comply with FTC, ATF and NSA regulations:
* A heretofore unknown difference between US and UK English, perhaps? My MS Word UK thesaurus claims this words is akin to “rudeness, impertinence and cheek**” My US dictionary, however, says it means “Blithe lack of concern; nonchalance” Be aware that I am using the US-style insouciance. (Post Script: I just looked Insouciance up in the Concise Oxford Dictionary and the definition is similar to the US definition. Maybe it was just Microsoft mistaking Insouciance for Insolence.)
** This is how I know it was the UK spell checker.
MHMail55-MT AT Yahoo.com
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