The absurdity of social mores never ceases to amaze me.
On the one hand we have a society that thinks it is immoral and unacceptable for a woman to go to the beach topless. We actually have a law on the books that a woman can be prosecuted for displaying her breasts in public. Unless she is breastfeeding, in which case it is acceptable, because it is for the benefit of the child.
So a mom doing something for herself, enjoying the beach and the sun and tanning, is bad, but mom doing something for her child is good and natural and acceptable. Who writes these misogynistic laws? And why do they persist? When will the women of Santa Monica realize they are being kept down by the constructs of a Judeo-Christian culture?
The absurdity continues when we look at the rules for men. Topless is acceptable at the beach, around town, in stores and it’s perfectly acceptable to change your shirt on the side of the road. But if you’re a surfer and you change from your wetsuit to shorts, you have to do it under a towel, because if a passerby were to see your bits or bum, they would be suddenly struck with such a force of either carnal desire or moral repulsion that they would lose control of themselves.
Yet in gyms and locker rooms across Santa Monica, from Equinox to the Loews Hotel, people are naked in front of each other all the time and nothing untoward happens.
Then there’s that whole circumcision thing that makes no sense to me. God creates man perfectly, and then God has man mutilate his body to satisfy some deal that God made the terms of. Clearly, man did not have an agent from William Morris negotiate this deal for him.
We are schizophrenic as a society when it comes to our mores. We look to the portrayal of violence as acceptable and the merest glimpse of a body part as offensive and subject to regulation by the FCC.
This week on “The Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart did an editorial on the topic of a recent U.S. Supreme Court decision that denied putting limits on the violence children can be shown in video games. Stewart played a clip of a video game where a woman is ripped apart. I have a pretty strong stomach when it comes to human on human violence, but it made me want to throw up.
The fact that something so grotesque as a woman being disemboweled is allowed to be seen by children, yet the innocent display of a body part on a beach is illegal, demonstrated to me the silliness of our mores. I don’t see why it is acceptable for obese people to wear bikinis, which frankly make them look silly and accentuate their corpulence, but a good looking surfer chick can’t show off her natural assets.
When it comes to sex and sexuality we are a nutso society. The theory is that prostitution is bad because it would demean women. It’s illegal to sell yourself for sex, but it is legal to be an actor portraying sex. It’s fine to be a pole dancer or a stripper, because that’s honest work that isn’t demeaning, but actually touching someone is bad, except for masseuses. They can touch and provide relief from stress but only so far. Then it becomes illegal.
One person can marry another for money, and that’s acceptable. Marrying for money is rather like buying a relationship, but if you pay for just the sex part, which is sort of like renting, that’s wrong, bad and immoral.
Drugs are bad, unless they are manufactured by a giant corporation that charges too much money for them, and are regulated by the FDA. Corporations can advertise their drugs on TV so long as they don’t tell you what they are for. Drug manufacturers can talk to doctors about their drugs but they can’t pay them to prescribe a particular drug. They can, however, give them an honorarium for their time in attending a steak and martini dinner to learn about the drug’s benefits.
I would like to see a society that has a bit more rational thought behind its laws and mores. But so long as we have politicians who philander, and preachers who molest, I don’t think it will happen, which is to say that we will always have an irrational society.
David Pisarra is a family law attorney focusing on father’s rights and men’s Issues in the Santa Monica firm of Pisarra & Grist. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (310) 664-9969.