But, there's a pairing of photos that are circulating through Facebook the past couple days (hours) that got me thinking, and then Jared and me talking while we cleaned up the kitchen:
Imagine Miley Cyrus in a nude-colored bra and underwear-like outfit and some guy (you probably know who he is, but I haven't investigated that yet) wearing a black and white striped suit. Her rear is in the air and her tongue is out, while the man in stripes sidles up to her rear end.
The image is noisy, to me, a person who does not have a television. [I do interface with the celebrity world every Thursday evening while checking out at the Flemington Shop-Rite.] The image is tacky and silly. It also reminds me of Philadelphia. When we lived in Philly, back in 2002, burlesque was trendy. Many of the burlesque performers had tattoos and wore outfits like Miley Cyrus', but their outfits were black. They also often had silky, shoulder length hair like Betty Paige, unlike Miley Cyrus.
In the Facebook posting, next to the photo of Miley Cyrus and Mr. Stripes is a photo of a woman in a blue bra, holding her breast up to her nursing infant. The mother looks peaceful. Her silky hair is natural and upswept. Her look is mild. She gazes at her baby.
The point of the Facebook juxtaposition is that Miley Cyrus' image/performance is allowed on TV, but the mother's image/performance is not.
Nipples, apparently, are not ok. Ask the guy who told me to "put on a bra" as he walked with his girlfriend down Market Street in Philly one afternoon. Jared and I asked him not to look at my chest. But then again, anyone with protruding nipples in America will be stared at.
Look, I'm not going to dig through what's ok for network TV and what's not. I don't know what the guiding rules are for network TV. Last time I watched TV and saw nudity was when NYPD Blue was pushing the boundaries, and I saw Dennis Franz's rear end quartering away from the camera as he was about to have sex. It's been awhile since I watched TV, I bet much has changed, or not. So, I won't discuss legal issues.
However, here are a couple thoughts:
1. Americans are pretty uptight about sexuality.
2. Americans are pretty uptight about breastfeeding.
Women don't really 'win' or 'lose' in either photo nor in juxtaposing the 'whore' and the 'mother'. I've been in both places, not performing for millions at a music awards show, but you know what I mean. I've felt and dressed and acted sassy, slutty, and silly. I've felt and dressed loving, gentle, and quiet. I've also been in between. Can't women do it all? Maybe not all the time, maybe not ever, but does it have to be one or the other only? When will we burst out of the boxes we are limited by?
I came home from work today, dirty and soaking wet. Beren hardly cared that my shirt smelled like a sour rag. "I want nummies," he told me.
I put my lunch box and backpack on the floor. I kicked off my Muck boots in the doorway and pulled off my ragged, wet pants and socks. I lifted my shirt over my head, and said "I don't want to nurse wearing this stinky shirt with ticks and poison ivy all over it." I'm left wearing just my underwear, Jockey bikinis, probably a stocking stuffer from my Mom. Jared puttered in the adjacent room.
Upon seeing my breasts, Beren became giddy. "Maybe I can wash my hands first, Bub? Go meet me in the big blue chair. We'll nurse soon."
After washing my hands, Beren and I cuddled in our nursing spot - a trash picked armchair. Me in my underwear with my little boy on my lap. Not Miley Cyrus, not Madonna and child. Just us.