Earlier today, singer Nicki Minaj had the unthinkable happen when the top of her low-cut costume briefly revealed her nipple on “Good Morning America,” which is live, national television.
Always quick to the draw, the breast-hating Parents Television Council — whose slogan, in case you didn’t know, is “Because our children are watching,” and that just makes me giggle — denounced the slip, telling TMZ that “For the umpteenth time in recent memory a morning news show has included inappropriate content for children and families…Instead of asking for forgiveness, they need to stop apologizing and implement the five second delay that so many Americans have been calling for.”
As it turned out, ABC did have the five-second delay in place, it’s just that…well, nipples pop out sometimes, and sometimes you just don’t get there in time.
But more than that, I’m going to make the point that so many of us have made, so many times before: Breasts aren’t bad, m’kay?
There are, of course, many ways in which breasts aren’t bad, and all of them play a role in why I believe that the PTC’s reaction to the slip (and, let’s just be honest, their reaction to most things) was staggeringly out of line. Many of these are issues we’ve explored before, but let’s recap some of them:
First, there’s the argument in which we note that breasts are natural part of the human body, and the human body is beautiful. All of this, of course, is true. Most women develop breasts, and since there’s very little we can do to prevent that from happening, it seems logical to accept their existence as a naturally occurring phenomenon.
Then, there’s the argument stating that children should grow up to love their bodies, not feel ashamed of them. Although I’m no psychologist (and perhaps I should have presented that caveat earlier on), it makes sense to me that if adults are horrified over the sudden appearance of something — anything! — children are likely going to internalize the message that that thing is bad.
But what’s really at the bottom of this freak-out, of course, is sex. And breasts, along with the myriad other things that they are — beautiful, natural, part of the human body, providers of milk for children — are indeed also sexual. So, circling back, at the heart of PTC’s message is that tits should stay off the air because tits are sexual (although we all know them to be much more then that) and sex is bad, and children exposed to anything even remotely sexual will suddenly become STD-ridden, sex-crazed, pregnant vampires who destroy the earth and all that is sacred.
Except that here’s the way that PTC mindset really plays out…
Children who are too young to know breasts can be sexual won’t see a breast and suddenly go through puberty. They’ll see that breast, not really know what to make of it (depending on how much they’ve been exposed to at home and in their neighborhood), and then, if they have parents who are part of the Parents Television Council, they will see that breasts cause embarrassment, shame, anger, and horror, and that reaction will imprint on their tiny little sponge-like brains. That imprint may or may not play out as they grow and develop, but it seems unlikely that it will cause them to love their breasts or their bodies, unless they do so in rebellion.
If they’re already teenagers, seeing a breast is likewise not going to suddenly turn them into sexual beings, because they’re already sexual beings. (Besides, if they want to, they’ve probably already found other breasts to look at.) But if they have parents who are part of the Parents Television Council, they will see that breast, and then they will see that it causes — you guessed it! — embarrassment, shame, anger, and horror, and that reaction will let them know that whatever they do, they better not talk to their parents about sex. This is unfortunate, since it’s been shown that parents can have a big influence on helping kids make decisions about sex.
So. Given the fact that ABC says they did whatever they could do to prevent this tragic slip from happening, and given the fact that breasts are around…oh, I don’t know, every time women are around, whether they’re visible or not…is it healthier to see a breast and react to it calmly, or is it healthier to see it and freak the fuck out? I’d argue for the former.
Does that mean that people should be forced to see tatas — or anything, for that matter — on their TV screen that they don’t want to see? No, of course not. But the question is, why are these people so afraid of boobies, and who are they really trying to protect?