Are scantily clad men and women, nudity or even pornography shocking anymore? Our liberal culture means that you almost can't view an advertisement, movie or music video without seeing nearly everything, or in some cases everything, being put out there. While sex sells and I love that people are comfortable with their sexuality, are we ruining it by making it too accessible?
Take the new music video for up-and-coming rapper Rae Chill, "Elevator"-- which is quite a catchy tune, by the way. Rae, a Megan Fox doppelganger, is an anomaly in the hip-hop community: A white female that raps like Little Kim or Nicki Minaj. She's positioned to play a part in the resurgence of the female rapper and with her talents, that should provide enough shock for anyone to glom onto.
However, the video is fraught with traditional stereotypes, with everything from a bevy of scantily-clad extras writhing up and down on the elevator to Ms. Chill herself appearing to be all-but-naked. The only thing that Rae is wearing is her very long locks strategically covering her chest -- oh, and a belly button ring. Is this shocking or is this just what is expected, both of a rap video and of an attractive woman?
This isn't just an online or media phenomenon. Look at the explosive recent success in the scantily-clad women casual dining genre. Taking a cue from Hooters, newer chains like the always-classy Twin Peaks and the Tilted Kilt are posting 30% or more sales growth in the last year despite the recession. This is being referred to as the "breastaurant boom" and that moniker speaks for itself. On a recent Fox News interview with Neil Cavuto, a Twin Peaks representative made the argument that the chain was very family friendly... which it is, if you want your family to perpetuate the feeling that the top value that women offer is what they look like and that they are primarily sex objects. But alas, people are taking their children to these establishments.
Our desensitization to sex makes it more difficult than ever to shock and we are running out of ways to up the ante. It used to be that pornography was naughty and secretive, left to magazines carried in paper bags and trips to the backs of seedy stores. Now it's available on cable television and it is unlikely that your child won't accidentally come across it while surfing the Internet. Part of the excitement built into sexuality is the element of the chase or it being hard to get. It makes it much more difficult for something to be titillating, "bad" and exciting when it's as commonplace as Diet Coke. There's a reason that the concept of moderation exists, even for things we love.
According to an article on CNN.com:
The consequences [of porn use] could be dramatic: The excessive use of video games and online porn in pursuit of the next thing is creating a generation of risk-averse guys who are unable (and unwilling) to navigate the complexities and risks inherent to real-life relationships, school and employment.
Are we already seeing real-life repercussions? One could surmise that the popularity of the erotic literary series 50 Shades of Grey and male stripper movies like Magic Mike are reflecting that women aren't being taken care of sexually in the real world.
Perhaps the pendulum can swing back the other way. We did have the oversized lumberjack clothing of the 1990s as a rebellion to the tight and loud looks of the 1980s, so maybe it's not too late. But it's going to take more than a costume change to preserve the excitement of sexuality and improve the standing of women in the U.S. and throughout the world. I hope that the talented Rae Chill, and others like her, will take the lead by being shocking in sticking to their talents, instead of commonplace hyper-sexualized messages.