Biff America: Pectoral double standards
January 24, 2015
It was ignored by the online news media, but I recently had a serious "nip slip" at the gym. For those of you not in the know, a nip slip is when an article of your clothing either malfunctions or is displaced, which allows one or (sometimes, I guess) both nipples to escape. It is can be very embarrassing — chilly — and is often the subject of news stories.
Just during the last few weeks I have seen headlines about Nicki Minaj, Miley Cyrus and Lady Gaga all suffering from the calamity. There is even a website dedicated to the occurrence — nipslip.com — which, I swear on my mother's grave, I have never looked at until just a few minutes ago. But I'm not talking about some sleazy marginal fetish site; I'm talking about actual online news sources giving coverage to wardrobe malfunctions. Directly beneath (and sometimes above) world news and events — French terror attacks, pope in the Philippines, politics, economy — you'll find breaking news of escaped bosoms.
So you can imagine my horror when I glanced down while doing my "Spiderman Push-ups" (a genuine exercise) in the aerobics room at my local gym and saw that, due to a too-large T-shirt, my left nip was for a moment visible. There were four or five other folks in the room — a couple of wicked old dudes (about my age) and a few young, fit females luckily of the age that causes guys like me to be invisible. I wasn't sure if anyone saw but I knew that the facility had security cameras, so if any of the tabloids got ahold of the footage my goose would be cooked. I'm just happy my mother is no longer living. I can see her reading about the pope celebrating Mass in front of 3 million Filipinos, then scrolling down to read of my disgrace.
I went home, opened up my computer and braced for the worse. Luckily for me the news was stolen by the headlines "Kim Kadashian's new look is sexier than ever," and "NFL investigating whether New England Patriots used deflated balls to beat the Colts." There was also something in there about Secretary of State John Kerry's scheduled meeting in Geneva with several world leaders hoping to stem nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. So, with all the other big stories in the news it appears my push-up exposure dodged the bullet.
Though women’s plights and rights have come a long way, there is still a great distance to travel before they are considered fully equal persons, not objects.
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On second thought perhaps my wardrobe malfunction went unreported not because it was usurped by bigger news; perhaps it was due to my gender. In retrospect all of the nip-slip coverage I have seen was about women.
Two reasons come to mind why this could be the case. Perhaps since the female mammary is the first provider of infant nutrition, humans have a biological fixation and are hard-wired to focus on a potential food source?
Another possibility is that the news providers — my guess, mostly male — know that if they want about half of their viewers — male — to pay attention, they need to throw in some titillation. Because God knows if given the choice between the secretary of state fighting to limit nuclear proliferation or a Miley Cyrus mammary, a fair number would put off John Kerry for another day.
This has both prurient and financial motivations. To show a photo of an escaped breast is both sexier and cheaper than sending a reporter to hang with the pope. It is also another example that, though women's plights and rights have come a long way, there is still a great distance to travel before they are considered fully equal persons, not objects.
Some female Canadian tennis player — one of the best in the world — just kicked serious butt in the Australian Open. Just after dispatching her opponent she was interviewed by some older commentator who asked her to "twirl" so the adoring fans could see her outfit. At a recent red-carpet event George Clooney was asked about his efforts to stem the violence and the suffering of innocents caught in the middle of the civil war in Sudan. His wife, a human rights lawyer and activist who was selected for the U.N.'s three-member commission to look into possible violations of the rules of war in the Gaza Strip, was asked who designed the dress she was wearing.
The sad truth is that we as a culture are bombarded by distractions both biological and sexual. We worship youth and impossible beauty while shunning the realities of age, realistic looks and body types. Rather than posting articles celebrating the beauty of maturity the media focus on how to hide, mask and attempt to disguise the aging process. Rather than celebrating the varying healthy body types, they cover weight loss, Botox and surgery for those who aspire to a place where their genetics are not predisposed to go.
So that's the bad news — our mothers, daughters, sisters and female friends make less money, have inferior health coverage and have still not gained total equality. The good news is I still have that oversized T-shirt and will be doing my push-ups three days a week at the gym.
Jeffrey Bergeron, aka Biff America, can be seen on TV-8-Summit and read in several newspapers and magazines. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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