Enigma wrapped in a satin sheet

Your friend is checking out a girl in a photo on your desk. “She’s hawwt!” he says, running the risk that she could be a relative of yours. Then you have to tell him the bad news. “Um, she’s 12.” Awwk-ward.

So now she’s not hot? If only it were that easy.

Take Miley Cyrus. Her nude back got her back in the news this month. Is the strategically released Vanity Fair photo taken by Annie Leibovitz beautiful art? Or is it child pornography? (My money’s on publicity stunt, but I digress…) Um, it’s probably both of those things, depending on who’s looking at the photo.

Some people find the pale back of the Disney-waif attractive and would like to see even more of her unwrapped. Other people find it inappropriate for someone born only 15 years ago to acknowledge that she’s an attractive, sexual being. Back skin: good or evil? Debate.

Personally, I think she looks a little deranged in the photo, like she just slipped out of a straight jacket and that if the camera panned a little to the right, you’d see “HANNAH MONTANA TOLD ME TO” scrawled on the wall in lipstick.

But, yeah, it’s a provocative pose and some people are gonna be aroused by the photo. Being told that she’s a minor isn’t going to cool them off. And it doesn’t help when the law says she’ll be fair game in a few months (at least in some states). How can Miley be off-limits one day and doable the next, just because the Earth revolved around the sun 16 times since the day she was born? It’s arbitrary societal rules like this that ignore our differences, confuse sexuality and create taboos that foster guilt and deviancy.

It’s no secret that guys like young women — always have, always will. It’s biology and stuff. Yeah, Tina Turner still looks good and all, but no guy’s gonna pick her over Rihanna. So putting a legal cutoff point at the low end of the age scale is tricky business, because it creates a thin, artificial line between appropriate behavior and perversion. “No sexiness allowed beyond this point.”

There’s no way to control when people become sexy or what other people find sexy, and it looks like Miley is starting to feel sexy and people are enjoying it. We’re all sexual beings, into whatever we’re into, for whatever reasons. That might not make other people’s desires legal or even “right,” but we should at least try to understand them. The human brain is something worth unwrapping some more.

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One Response to “Enigma wrapped in a satin sheet”

  1. D. Holub Says:

    Great post. Thought-provoking. It’s unfortunate that nuanced arguments like this have no place in our sound-byte driven media. How can nuanced, complex ideas that are out of the knee-jerk mainstream be presented in three minutes between commercial breaks anyway?
    But let’s say that you went on TV and offered your thoughts on Ms. Montana (although highly unlikely, due to media beholden to executives and advertisers who fear the slightest controversy will cost them money)
    But let’s say you did.
    It’s not so much that everyone would be offended and unable to comprehend. But after the rest of the media reports on these “controversial” statements in more 10-second sound bytes, and then offer two talking heads where someone must be “for it” and another “against” (every issue must be divisive, right?), well now we’re right back where we started: An anti-intellectual populace too rushed to take five minutes to contemplate beliefs that stray from a) institutional knowledge b) mainstream repetition or c) the beliefs of whatever their clergyperson is saying these days.

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