Show your (naughty) bits for freedom!
Gwen Jacob is the reason why Toronto should be awash in naked female boobs, even though it’s not. Twenty years ago the naughty 19-year-old questioned why it was okay for men to go topless but not women. So, she went topless, got arrested, and to make a long story short, five years later the Ontario Court of Appeal agreed with her and since then women have had the freedom to go as bare from the waist up as any man. And while few women do, it’s given women the right to breastfeed in public without worrying that their hot, naked mammaries are causing a wave of boners throughout the streetcar. I mean, even if they are, this is Canada, and Canada is part of the West, and it’s pretty much a given deal in most places that men are expected to control themselves around women’s bodies. It’s amazing just what a few expectations can do to change a man’s behaviour. In some parts of the world where women have few to no rights, sexual harassment is commonplace and largely unpunished. But men from those cultures seem to have no problem controlling themselves in Canada where jail time and stiff – erm – fines are the consequences for roving hands – or roving anything else, for that matter.
Last night I found myself in a friendly debate with a friend who, in my opinion, is in denial of his conservative leanings. He complained about a movie called Short Bus that you supposedly can rent from the Toronto Library that he described as an otherwise boring artsy-fartsy movie, the first scene of which is five minutes of a man fellating himself. “Do you think taxpayers’ money should pay for this?” he demanded.
It was hard for me to say not seeing it in the context of the entire movie. So I asked him whether he thought that all movies with dick in them should be banned, and then, whether vajayjay should be banned too. Then I asked about boobs. Yes, he said, he thought they should be. Male boobs too I asked? He had to think about it but conceded yes, that’s only fair. (Well, at least he was consistent. So maybe he’s not completely a conservative, even though he likes to defend uber-extreme-right Toronto Mayor Rob Ford.)
Why ban boobs? I asked. Because, sez he, they’re sexualized.
I didn’t question it too much at the time – or we might have been distracted by our friends, we were at a public gathering – but this morning while reading an article in the Toronto Star that mentioned Gwen Jacob, Breast Freedom Chick – I was reminded of last night’s entertaining conversation.
Women’s breasts are sexualized, huh? By whom? Certainly not by women – we don’t care that much about breasts, except insofar as we define ourselves by male standards of beauty, hence the popularity of boob jobs. But, as I’m fond of saying, if all the men disappeared tomorrow, any plastic surgeons left would have to get real jobs. Because who the hell would subject themselves to the torture chamber of plastic inserts, Botox injections and lipsuction if not for male-defined standards of beauty? Good Goddess, anorexics could eat again. Women could gain weight and no one would care because fat lesbians never seem to have a problem getting dates.
Breasts are hardly sexualized by babies. In fact, they’re there not for male pleasure, but to feed the kids. No, breasts are sexualized by naughty men, and men only – so ‘splain to me, Ricky, why we should cover up just because you guys are afraid you’ll pop a boner on the streetcar?
So then I got to thinking. Why are genitals even sexualized?
Okay okay, that’s what you use if you’re going to have sex – one set, at least, unless you’ve got some really unusual fetishes. Still, what would it be like if we were all running around naked? Okay, in Canada mostly we’d be victims of unusual new cases of frostbite but during that two-week period in late July when it’s actually warm enough to wear summer clothes, what would happen?
Well, if you’ve ever been to Hanlan’s Point, the nude beach on Toronto Centre Island, you’d know that really, nothing much to see here. Real life is not like a French movie. Even real French beaches (if you’ve ever been to one) are not like a French movie. Real people doff their duds there, and you see their real-life bodies.
The novelty of being around a bunch of naked people dies after about ten minutes. Women are usually a minority and I for one don’t feel much threatened by being surrounded by a lot of dangling wang. Okay, it helps that most of the men there wouldn’t be interested in anything I have anyway because nude beaches attract gay men like publicity attracts Kardashians. But even if they’re straight – and you see plenty of families and male-female couples – at my age, I figure if they’re looking they’re just plain desperate, and if that’s the biggest thrill of your day, babe, well then, I just feel sorry for you!
So what if everyone had the freedom to just walk around naked, weather permitting? After awhile, if enough people did it, who would really care? I’ll bet, actually, that a lot of men wouldn’t do it because they’d be worried about appearing ‘too small’. Or that women might titter behind their hands to their friends as they walked by.
If my experience at Hanlan’s Point – or any nude beach for that matter – is any indication of the average, I can guarantee you that the only men who will do this is the old and unsightly. Young, hot, studly men will most likely at least keep their Speedos on. I was at Hanlan’s Point this summer during Pride Week and on that day the beach was the most crowded I’ve ever seen – mostly with absolutely drop-dead-gorgeous young men. Almost all of whom didn’t go au naturel.
Think of the diminished importance of male genitalia if we saw it every day on the street. ‘Flashers’ use their equipment as weapons against women, to upset and frighten them. Why? The fact is, flashers are almost never rapists. They won’t hurt you. They just get a thrill out of upsetting you with their mighty mandingo. What sort of power would male genitalia have over the female psyche if they were as common as left elbows?
Sexualized, indeed. In some places a woman’s hair and ankles are considered too sexually provocative for public view. Famously, in Afghanistan, all parts of a woman are considered so morally dangerous that they must be covered head to toe at all time. Who decided that? I’ll bet it wasn’t the women.
Public nudity – everywhere – would desexualize everything (trust me, this isn’t much of a sacrifice for Toronto guys ;) and render breasts and genitalia about as scandalous as your eyebrows.
I’d suggest that as the next step for the Occupy movement, but unfortunately, it’s gotten way too cold for that sort of thing.
Too bad we didn’t think about this in September!