After Janet Jackson exposed her right boob during the 2004 Super Bowl half-time show, I started giving breasts some serious thought – not that I hadn’t thought that much about them prior to that. The incident, if you can call a planned event an incident, caused quite a public outcry. Important people called for investigations. Others called for punishment of Janet Jackson. Still others cited this as an example of how our society is becoming more and more debased and sexually oriented. Even the U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced that it was investigating the incident and planned to take a more aggressive stand against indecency, urging Congress to raise violation fines. I think it was the most commotion one boob has ever caused -- unless you are counting the Bill Clinton presidency.

However, none of the non-official people I spoke with who witnessed this exposure were the least bit upset by it. It seems like people in the public eye feel a responsibility to speak out against such things, while the majority of adult football fans loved it or were amused by it.

Most of us spent considerable time during our first few months of life with our mouths on breasts. For many of us breasts were our only source of nourishment. They were also a source of comfort and security. I’m not sure at what point in our upbringing, exposing one’s breasts became unacceptable. It must have been a gradual process because I never really noticed the change in emphasis. After I was weaned, I really didn’t give breasts much thought until adults taught me that breasts were private things that shouldn’t be seen in public. Then after puberty I wanted to put my mouth on breasts again.

In my early youth, National Geographic was a well-known source of bare breast photos. It was the precursor to Playboy magazine for all kids of that era. The rationale for that being acceptable was that those breasts belong to members of primitive tribes where such things were a normal part of life. I recall looking at them and thinking things like; “I sure am I glad I’m a guy and don’t have those on me,” and “Breasts are not really very attractive. No wonder women cover them up.” I never thought those National Geographic photos looked sexy, even after I went through puberty, and I still don’t.

When you get right down to the bare facts, most breasts are not all that attractive or sexy. Our society has taught us that they are sex symbols. Women with small breasts get breast enhancements. Women with big breasts want breast reductions. Women with saggy breasts (and lets face it, sooner or later most of them are) wear bras that either counter that tendency or clothes that hide it. The small percentage of women with really nice breasts (whatever your definition might be) often makes a significant effort to draw attention to them. Women during the 1960’s started going bra-less to show their independence. At least they said that’s what they were showing. Whatever happened to that movement?

When I saw Janet Jackson’s exposed breast, my first thought was, “Not bad for a middle aged women.” My second though was, “It’s a good thing her outfit is holding it up.” My third thought was, “Ouch, that nipple jewelry must hurt.” Nothing about the exposure of her breast caused me to have sexual desires or to want a drink of milk.

Perhaps the public officials who spoke out did have sexual desires after seeing Janet’s boob and figure that children all over the country were being corrupted by her actions. Bare breasts would not be a big deal if society didn’t make it so, and Janet Jackson would not have exposed hers if society had not created an environment that made it a big deal. Janet Jackson is a sex symbol – or so I’m told, and her exposure sent a sexual message. If Janet Reno had done the same thing, I’m sure I would have sent a different message, although I’d rather not think about it. But National Geographic does come to mind.

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