Secret Mojo Dumbs It Down for You

July 29, 2006

Man, it’s all “boob this, boob that, boobie boob boob”

Filed under: navel gazing,News — secretmojo @ 6:15 pm

UPDATE: Take this, ya boob-frightened prudes.

Like we weren’t getting enough “measured debate” after Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl malfunction—at an event, by the way, that also sported a (less sexy, more British) male streaker who got past security and danced on the 50-yard line until getting sacked by a linebacker. Now we must deal with Babytalk—the magazine, not the discourse—which published a picture of a baby eating:

Fast Food

I’m reticent to deconstruct the pose here. Because the premise is that a boob is always an object of desire—and let’s be honest, the lack of an Adam’s apple would also spark a little “willy shift” if women’s necks were always covered. Deconstructing why this photo may be offensive leads, nearly instantaneously, into Pervertland, where grown men wear diapers and 18-month-olds have sex drives. But deconstruct it I will, because I am fearless.

First, that’s a perfect boob. I realize stock photography is all about idealized worlds that don’t exist, and that a character-free approach to any subject is needed. But for those in the know (not me of course), porn and even fashion photography also depends on characterless, idealized situations taking place beneath fantastic lighting, complete with perfect boobs and two models locked in actorly eye contact to sell an otherwise insouciant or improbable act. So it was a photographical gaffe here, which serendipitously made use of the “vague sexual satisfaction” groove so often implemented elsewhere. “I wouldn’t mind being that baby right now,” thinks 80% of man-kind, despite themselves. Conclusion? The boob shouldn’t have been so good-looking. It should have looked like a mother’s breast, not a model’s.

Second, look at the way the kid’s going at it. It’s almost as if life depended on it. As if, without feeding, the poor feller may die. Hunger and sexual desire have been associated in the psyche for eons. Admittedly, sexual desire and babies have not—but this doesn’t stop anyone from projecting onto a little one, who can’t utter a sentence yet, the same eager bodily need, albeit from a different nexus, experienced by under-sexed sailors.

See, I told you: comprehending it leads us into Pervertland. Even Oedipus, who didn’t do it on purpose, gouged out his eyes after discovering his own defilement. But here’s this baby—obviously full aware who his/her mother is—nursing away with eyes wide open, presumably checking out his/her mother’s pleasure or displeasure on the matter. Gross!

What’s interesting is that a picture of a baby drinking from a bottle doesn’t receive the same kind of controversy. I think that’s just pure lack of imagination. We can picture ourselves (or our 13-year-old sons and daughters) in the act sexually when it’s a real breast, but are too imagination-challenged to see “baby bottle” and think “blow-up doll.”

Maybe it’s because there aren’t too many pictures of blow-up dolls on fashion magazine covers. Or maybe—just maybe—everyone’s forgotten what breasts are for. There are plenty of orifices—mouth, nostrils, ears—that have little sexual connotation. There are many protrusions—ankles, nose, knuckles, knees—that don’t either. This doesn’t mean, of course, that kissing the mouth or tickling the knee cannot be erotic. It just means that we aren’t fixated on it, because we’ve more often experienced the mouth and knee in their functional rather than sexual context.

So the real problem isn’t this picture, but all the pictures that came before it. The swimsuit issue, any picture on the cover of Vogue, Angelina’s hot spreads, and, well, damn anything on television from Good Morning America to Sex and the City. The sexual connotation behind everything is so pervasive that we hardly notice it during the beer commercials anymore. We just watch, unconsciously note that it’s all about the sex, and judge anything seen in the future upon that. Including baby pictures.

At the center of sexual connotation are of course, boobs. Guys are a rather explicit lot, and the subtleties of collarbone shape, eye contact, and timbre of voice get lost when the magic nodules sculpt the tank top. So it only makes sense that this picture grossed some people out, because it’s pedophilia on one end, and on the other, yet another woman whose boob is her most photogenic part. So of course it seems disgusting.

But solely because of our own minds, reinforced by the culture we live in. Which is probably the central, if not the most and only, disturbing thing about it.

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2 Comments »

  1. As a woman I can’t really account for ‘willy switches’. As a European, I can’t account either for the fear the naked breast seems to awaken in Americans (Nipplegate just made us laugh). I agree with your reasoning that the images that come before inform what people might find disturbing in this photo. We are so used sexualised bodies that we forget that nourishment is actually what the breast is for. However, as a mother who breastfed three children, I can assure you that there’s nothing disgusting about this photo – it’s beautiful, natural, healthy and perfectly normal. Nothing to get excited about.

    Comment by charlotteotter — July 30, 2006 @ 6:56 am | Reply

  2. boob IS a jobguifhgi

    Comment by Anonymous — September 19, 2006 @ 4:35 pm | Reply


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