So I’m sitting at my desk, innocently looking through my Twitter feed and painfully enduring skirmishes in the Republican civil war, when “I just love my tits being out!” scrolls down the screen.
I confess: When I see “tits,” I tend to pause. Not for the same reason men do, of course, but because I’m human. I’m a sexual being. I’m distracted by the shiny objects when I’m off-guard. Unabashed displays of sex and nudity will grab my attention—for a split second.
Then I move on, unconcerned and, frankly, bored. When the story about Kendall Jenner proudly admitting that she just loves to show off her breasts entered my consciousness then quickly slipped away, I felt nothing except sheer boredom after the immediate impulse of curiosity. Maybe I rolled my eyes, but I don’t think I generated enough energy for it.
That’s exactly the problem. It wasn’t shocking. It didn’t offer anything of value. It was empty, as gratuitous as a nipple shot in a B movie.
Look How Well We Use Our ‘Freedom’
Jenner is nothing like the vanguards of female sexual liberation who broke the boundaries of convention in a testament to individuality (for better or for worse—mostly for worse). Those women were true dissenters, pushing their ideals for a greater cause. Whether you like what they did or not, they had a purpose that was more than their own self-objectification.
Women like Jenner and all of the other “brave” celebs who brag about exposing their bodies today aren’t like their fore-sisters who expressed their sexuality as a declaration of independence. They were, as Camille Paglia describes them, rebels who “wanted to smash the bourgeois codes that had become authoritarian totems of the Fifties.”
The sugar-pop princesses today who fill our Twitter feeds and infest click-bait advertisements on websites don’t compare. Their “art” is more like neon paintings on black velvet propped up against pickup trucks and sold along roadsides.
Let me just say, for the record, I’m not a fan of the sex-positivists or the 1960s rebels, but I understand their reactionary fire and the authenticity of their dissent. Love them or hate them, they inspire thought, discussion, and fierce debate.
It Means Nothing Except Me, Me, Me
All we have today is the drip, drip, drip of “I love showing off my tits!” It’s no longer compelling, provocative, or challenging. It’s gauche without the grist. It’s vulgarity without the vampishness that dared to explore, as Paglia said, “the wilderness outside the status quo.”
Again, love or hate the equal-opportunity feminists of the past, they at least had depth. Today, our culture extols meaninglessness draped in sheer designer clothing. When Jenner was asked why she liked exposing her breasts, she didn’t have a clue.
“I’m weird,” she said. “I love my tits being out. It’s like one of my things, I guess. . . . When I’m older, I want to be able to look at it and be, like, I looked good.” No longer is sexual expression about defying the gods of convention. Now it’s just about being seen.
Once upon a time, women wanted to escape objectification. They wanted to take control of their own sexuality and use it in way that empowered them, breaking the bonds of a male-dominated society that covered up women because their sexuality was both a threat and an offense.
But they aren’t free. They are in bondage to their own vanity. They have made objects of themselves. Their sexuality is no longer a meaningful part of who they are as women, as human beings. It has been cheapened and devalued, sacrificed on the altar of ego. Like Narcissus, they merely love their own image, longing to see it reflected in the eyes of others.