Monday, January 31, 2011

Violence vs. Nudity-Where Is The Real Pornography?

I saw something the other day that prompted me to write this. Sandy and I were watching Bones, one of our favourite TV shows. The writing is often fairly light-hearted, sometimes informative and in the end a nice way to escape for an hour. At one point in this episode the antagonist has her head blown off by a high-powered rifle. It wasn’t just suggested but was shown very graphically. I was caught off-guard, not prepared to see someone’s head explode before my eyes. Which of course was exactly the intent of the writers; it’s the media’s love of shock-value.

I feel a rant coming on.

This for me goes far beyond one television show, it’s part of a much bigger issue. We all have our ideas of injustices around us, I suppose, but even simple television episodes can speak to society’s skewed way of thinking. My issue lay in what is being defined as harmful these days. In other words, why is it acceptable to show graphic violence but not the human body?

I have to be clear that I’m speaking specifically about North American society. I'd love to hear from those of you in other countries but I think it’s pretty safe to say that places like Australia and New Zealand and many countries in Europe and South America have healthier, more liberal views of sex and nudity. There's also a differentiation that needs to be made between the two.

I live in a society that brings ultimate fighting to the masses, where people pay good money to watch grown men beat each other bloody in the name of sport. Yet these same observers will turn and cringe at the sight of a woman breastfeeding her baby in public. Why?

Although it’s far less common now with the popularity of digital cameras, I’ve heard stories of customers having their film seized when they’ve taken it in for developing because it contained photos of their children nude in the bathtub. If you ask me where pornography lay it’s not here.  It’s in seeing children of many countries across the world carrying weapons and being taught to fight and kill for a cause they don’t even understand. There are few things more pornographic than forcing a child to grow up this way.

I live in a society influenced by a media that would sooner show rows of dead bodies after a civil uprising than an exposed female breast. I live in a society that has become desensitized to violence yet taught that the nude human body is somehow pornographic. So many people holding this belief are God-fearing Puritans.  Yet if Man and Woman were created through God and the human body is something shameful to be covered, by association would this mean that God himself has created something pornographic? It just doesn't hold water for me.  I believe the human body, whether male or female, is not sexually provocative or suggestive in itself; it’s the eye of the beholder that makes it so.

Naturists born and raised into their way of life have extremely healthy views of nudity. I don’t believe anyone growing up from an early age has been morally corrupted or scarred for life in seeing their parents or anyone else around them unclothed. Yet I live in a society in which parents will buy violent video games for their kids then turn around and do everything they can to prevent them from catching a glimpse of a breast in a movie. Just as locking liquor away in a cabinet and telling a teenager they can’t have it increases the mystique, covering the body and treating it as forbidden does the same.

I've been told I'm a very liberal thinker.  But I really think it's time society's pendulum swung the other way. We need to celebrate who we are and be comfortable in our own skin. I long for the day when everyone would rather see a body unclothed than harmed.


  1. It's christian morals. ugly, sick things that they can be at time, such a shame since they have done so much good in the world.

    It's like people who are anti abortion, but pro guns and pro death penalty. conflicting views, contradiction and stupidity.

    although the sexed-up state of society still has a lot to answer for in terms of sex crimes, and in part plays a role in the devaluation of women, it is so hypocritical to view violence as "okay" compared to sexual themes.

    Killing someone is worse than loving someone? Disgusting. We are not Puritans anymore, and sex is not a shameful act reserved only for reproductive purposes within a heterosexual marriage of two people of the same race.

  2. Barry - good post on a few levels.

    I totally agree on tv violence. For me, there is no entertainment in any kind of violence. I've always been sensitive and censor myself in what I watch because I know it will disturb me. It completely pisses me off when I see something unexpected. A good example of this is movie trailors. Some of them are actually pretty graphic and are shown so quickly that images are burned to my mind before I can turn the channel. I hate it!!

    To your other point - If you want to see more body images, just turn on MTV. It's kinda of sad actually. I'm pretty liberal, but nudity needs to be balanced. The problem in our society is how we portray body image. There's no line between nudity and sex. Sex seems to be ok, but general nudity isn't? Seems kind of hypocritical. It drives me crazy that my 9 year old boy only sees images that objectify women and doesn't see the other side of just being natural. It's a constant battle of ensuring he has a balanced perspective. So far, I think he does.

    I could so RANT on this post in general, but I have to work! LOL Good post.

  3. Thanks both of you. It just really struck me this time, many people have such a backwards way of thinking.

  4. I agree with what you are saying. It somewhat brings to mind a quote from Ryan Gosling when his current movie Blue Valentine was given an NC17 rating due to a very graphic sex scene between he and his co-star Michelle Williams. They played a married couple. This is what he said:
    “You have to question a cinematic culture which preaches artistic expression, and yet would support a decision that is clearly a product of a patriarchy-dominant society, which tries to control how women are depicted on screen. The MPAA is okay supporting scenes that portray women in scenarios of sexual torture and violence for entertainment purposes, but they are trying to force us to look away from a scene that shows a woman in a sexual scenario, which is both complicit and complex. It’s misogynistic in nature to try and control a woman’s sexual presentation of self. I consider this an issue that is bigger than this film.”

    PS I love Bones and was also completely shocked at that scene. It is completely unnecessary to use that to get their point across.

  5. Very well and eloquently put, thanks for pulling up that quote Marisa. What's always amazed me is that sex scenes create so much buzz in the media whereas young, half-naked girls getting slaughtered in thrasher and horror films barely makes a ripple.