Friday, July 8, 2011

Genitalia: Should it be Discussed on TV?

Yesterday I had an argument with my parents about genitalia. Let me backtrack.

We were watching the new talk show on CBS called "The Talk", the mirror image of ABC's "The View", starring Julie Chen, Sharon Osbourne, Leah Remini, Sara Gilbert, and Holly Robinson Peete. Yesterday Jenna Elfman was a guest host in place of Osbourne. They began their show by discussing Elfman's recent Tweet that stated how her three-year-old son wanted to know what a vagina looked like and how Elfman drew a picture to show him. This resulted in a bunch of laughs from the hosts and their audience members and a bunch of annoyance from my mother and father, leading them to change the channel.

My parents didn't like Elfman's story because they feel that discussions about genitalia should be kept private and not publicized on television. However, my argument is that discussing genitalia should be no different than discussing any other body parts. Why is it that we feel the need to censor just the sexual, private parts? What made them private anyway? Who and what started this that sexual associations should not be mentioned or even seen for that matter? One thing that has always irritated me is how sex is often referred to as "the dirty" or "the nasty." Sex is not a bad thing that should be regarded as disgusting! It is actually a beautiful, natural thing apart of life and no different from eating, sleeping, drinking, or bathing. But it's society that has brought negative connotations to it so we are so used to being careful when treading in this area.

I'm thinking it's a step forward to talk about these things so they are no longer considered taboo or offensive but some people may disagree with me. I understand that if people were to walk out in the nude it may result in some awkwardness and perhaps police involvement, but isn't this something we should try to change? If I was told that all of a sudden people were allowed to walk around nude with no questions asked, I'd still feel odd about doing it because we live in a society where we must cover up and it would be difficult to reverse that now because it has been so ingrained in our culture.

But then again, I was always taught that the human body is beautiful, so shouldn't we be able to express that beauty without shame? This point actually leads to an extension of our argument. We changed the channel to "Charlie Rose" where an ad for a perfume, a photo of a naked woman (private parts covered, including breasts), was shown. Now, is this inappropriate to show on TV? The human body is beautiful and nothing to be ashamed of, and the specific parts are covered, so there should be no issue. However, what some people may consider "beauty," others may consider "sexy." Though the two can often be interchangeable at times, they also convey different, opposite meanings. In my mind, I guess to separate them we can say that "beauty" is the more "pure" form, whereas "sexy" is the more "raunchy" form. Both mean attractive, but in different ways. Nude images can be considered works of art to some, but to others, they can be considered sexually enticing, which can lead to different things. Nothing wrong with being called "sexy," of course. It's still a compliment we all like to hear. But, being called "beautiful" is considered a greater honor I think.

I'm kind of conflicted. Ironically enough I was a bit hesitant in posting this considering the subject matter, which is something I am somewhat trying to fight against! What do you think? Should we refrain from discussing "penises" and "vaginas" and exposing the human body in general on the airways or is it something we should welcome as the first step to evolving ourselves? Should we remain the way we are now, censored, to keep people comfortable? Is it something we are happy with, so why should we change it?

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