I was chatting with a nurse at the doctor’s office when the topic drifted to the National Geographic magazines in the waiting room.
“My grandkids got their hands on one of those once,” said the nurse. “This was one that had tribespeople and it showed their…y’know…parts? And the next thing I heard was ‘Look, Grandma! Ding-a-lings!’”
We both had a hearty laugh.
“So yeah, I had to take it away from him. Now we gotta be careful with them.” I stopped laughing. We changed the topic.
I will never understand America’s psychotic aversion to nudity. Not sex, but nonsexual nudity. This woman is so swept up in it that she screens National Geographic for her grandkids. Not Playboy or Hustler or a bodice-ripper, but National freaking Geographic. I’m certain that this is a good way to raise chaste, well-adjusted children, and won’t backfire in the least!
Seriously, if you just yank the offending material away without any explanation other than “that’s naughty”, you just perpetuate the taboo nature of nonsexual nudity and increase the chances of further “Look! Ding-a-lings!” moments. Keep up the constant sex shaming and you’ll probably end up with another Bristol Palin or Levi Johnston.
We didn’t always used to be this way. It wasn’t that long ago that Walt Disney released a full length motion picture with topless centaurettes and harpies. A few decades later, and we had an Attorney General who ordered drapery on a topless statue. What happened?
I was lucky. When I was young and I pointed out nudity in an obnoxious way, my parents or my sister would just call me immature and explain how some people in the world don’t wear the same clothes we do, or the nudity was artistic, or whatever. If I giggled at the Sistine Chapel, my mom wouldn’t screen reading material for depictions of it. I quickly grew out of it, and it wasn’t long before I wouldn’t even notice if I saw a nipple or a buttcrack in my wanderings.
I think we’d all be better off if we disabused kids of the notion that the human body= bad and shameful. Might I make a recommendation?
There’s this French children’s movie called Kirikou and the Sorceress that I love. It’s based on a West African folktale about a baby boy who saves his village from the evil witch Karaba. It has gorgeous animation, an excellent English dub, and a touching story bereft of the hipness and sarcasm of Hollywood movies.
It also has nudity. Lots of it. The main character is naked. All the other children are naked too. The women are topless. Is the director some sort of raging French pedophile? No. He just made a movie about West Africa, and depicted it honestly. There’s no sex in the movie, and hardly any violence. It’s probably less problematic than your average Disney movie.
I say, go ahead and order this movie for your kids. Let them watch Fantasia, or documentaries. Let them look at art books and medical encyclopedias. And for God’s sake, quit using words like “ding-a-ling.” It’s called a penis.
Hell, if you’re really daring and Grandma isn’t around, let them read National Geographic.