From Nicki Minaj’s assets to TV shows like Naked Dating, there is no denying that the media is over-saturated with sex – and it’s not a covert operation by any means. Thanks to such dignified publications as Zoo Magazine, you can walk into any 7/11 and be spoiled for choice of which scantily clad, glossy woman you’d like to take home. However, some would say – or screech – that the children of today have been forgotten in this steamy melee. With such rampant depravity everywhere, what’s to stop our precious, innocent little cherubs from becoming sex-crazed fiends right before our very eyes?
So what’s all the fuss about? If you don’t venture into the abyss of the Internet too often, you might not be in the know – though it’s pretty hard to miss. Celebrities such as Kim Kardashian, Beyonce, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj have all made the headlines in recent times for one common cause: their body. Some would say these women are successful purely because ‘sex sells’, but I disagree with that sentiment. Sure, no one’s thinking about the models’ brains or opinions when they pick up a copy of Zoo Magazine; but some female celebrities are using their bodies to spread positive messages. It’s nothing to turn your nose up, or hide your kid’s face, at.
Nicki Minaj hit the top of the charts recently with her rap/pop single, Anaconda. With racy lyrics – for instance, “He toss my salad like his name Romaine/And when we done, I make him buy me Balmain” – and an even raunchier music video; the central idea of the song is pretty obvious. She’s singing about sex, and her costumes in the video leave little to the imagination – but why would she release a song such as this? In the land of blogs and YouTube comments, everyone’s a reviewer. She anticipated the backlash this song would receive and released it anyway. Here’s why: Anaconda actually makes a pretty powerful statement to those who are brave enough to look.
If you compare the lyrics from Anaconda to any other modern rap song performed by a male, you’ll find they’re very similar: Nicki Minaj decided to speak about men in the same way that men speak about women. Judging by the uproar she caused, they didn’t like it. I’d say a strong feminist message such as this isn’t something children need to be protected from. If that’s a little too radical for you, though, you need only turn your children’s angelic faces to Miley Cyrus to learn that the female body does not exist purely to be sexualised.
Cyrus released a smash hit in 2014 with her heartbreaking ballad Wrecking Ball. When listening to the lyrics – “I came in like a wrecking ball/I never hit so hard in love/All I wanted was to break your walls/All you ever did was wreck me” – it’s hard to argue that this song is about sex. Anyone would agree that Wrecking Ball is an exposed, honest representation of despair. However, the music video resulted in international outrage.
When confronted with a naked Cyrus swinging on a wrecking ball and licking a sledgehammer, many were quick to dismiss the meaning of the song – and the close- ups of her tear-stained face – and condemn it as a publicity stunt. Remember, sex sells, right? However, it only takes a little brainpower to see that Cyrus was not trying to “encourage kids to sit on rocks naked” as one commenter insisted. Treat this video as an exercise in comprehension for your kids if Anaconda was too rough for you. Miley Cyrus’ naked body was not portrayed as a sexual entity, but a symbol of her vulnerability. Her actions with the sledgehammer were not suggestive of a strange kink or fetish, but a representation of her masochism within the broken relationship. With Wrecking Ball, Miley Cyrus not only created an emotional, heart-wrenching and relatable ballad – she spread the powerful message that a female’s naked body does not serve the sole purpose of a sex object. Remind me…why are we hushing and scolding our children when they begin to learn this lesson?
It’s an interesting aside to note that another commenter dismissed the Wrecking Ball and Anaconda videos as the “worst ever”. Apparently, the concept that females could have autonomy over how they portray their own bodies is a little hard to swallow.
It is important, however, to remember the old favourite: Zoo Magazine. Where does he fit in in this scenario? Sitting in plain sight on supermarket, convenience store and petrol station shelves – dear Lord, when will we start to think of the children? Try as I might, I can’t form an argument to suggest that this publication is in any way a positive feminist statement. However, there is very little to be gained by locking it, and other magazines of its nature, in sex stores out of sight.
These shops, with their strict 18+ regulations, restrict the products and services we don’t want our children to see. Relegating a magazine that celebrates the female body to this dark space only perpetuates the idea that half of the population’s anatomy is shameful, not a normal part of everyday life. Do you really want to teach little Sally that it’s okay for boys to walk around topless on the beach, but girls’ bare chests are shocking and disgraceful? Do you want your girls to be embarrassed of their body, your boys to see them as a great secret to unlock? Sure, you may not want your child to open up a copy and leaf through, but hiding magazines like Zoo doesn’t send a great message either.
I am a Generation Z kid. I was raised in a world where the female body is constantly on display, but my parents never once covered my eyes – “see no evil” doesn’t quite apply here. I was taught that, as a girl, my body is normal and should be respected just like the boys I knew. This may come as a shock, but I think I turned out okay. I understand, though: advocating for equal rights and desexualisation of a part of nature isn’t for everyone. What about the parents who don’t want their children to grow up with a healthy view of the female body?
It’s up to you. Zoo isn’t going to disappear off the shelves anytime soon, nakedness has always been a symbol for vulnerability and I doubt Nicki Minaj will ever stop celebrating her behind – and that’s the way it should be. If you truly believe that the female body is only a vessel for sex, that’s your prerogative. But it’s 2015 – not only has the time for forcing your beliefs on your children long passed, but it’s only going to get harder. We’re taking back our bodies and it is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of.