Thursday, March 16, 2006

Sensitive Subjects ...

L.A. Dave sent a link to a story to me this morning (click on the title of the post to go there) along with the query: "Do you think this story is appropriate for a mainstream daily newspaper? As a journalist, look at it and give me your opinion."

So I read the story, and this is what I wrote as a reply:

"Huh. OK. Well, that's something to read with a morning cup of coffee, isn't it? I wonder what the art was like for that story! Badump, bump!

As to your question about whether it's appropriate for a mainstream daily newspaper, at first, I was skeptical, but I think that's because I object to the dek and the porn star reference.

A few grafs in, I was thinking that this was gratuitous. Asking myself, 'What purpose does this story serve?', the case wasn't looking good. But the more I read, the more balanced it became and I wasn't put off anymore.

This is an issue that likely concerns a lot of women, and while it does seem somewhat 'alternative,' why shouldn't it be in a daily, mainstream newspaper? ...

What are your objections to it? (I ask as a point of discussion, not to suggest that you shouldn't have any.) It's certainly something I wouldn't have expected you to contemplate before, because as an appreciator of porn, what you see are the perfect, perhaps-airbrushed nether regions that are discussed in this story. And most women don't look like that.

The thing that saves it is that it's not just about women wanting to look like Jenna Jameson. It's not just about vanity. For some, it really is a self-esteem issue or a medical issue. I like that the chick from the porn industry medical side of things is telling women NOT to do this for vanity's sake."

And then, after he shared his further thoughts, this is what I wrote in reply:

"Well, it certainly doesn't surprise me that it ran in an L.A. paper, true!

I don't have a problem with it. It's a story worth discussing, and a lot of women's issues tend to get short-shrift. Like the one person in the story said, 'If this was a men's issue, it would have been dealt with long ago.'

You make a good point about breast implants, but I suspect that fewer women are doing this purely for vanity reasons (I'm sure insurance doesn't cover it in most -- if any -- cases, and it ain't cheap). Breasts are more visible, eh? : o ) And even then, it's not purely a vanity issue all the time. Kathy, a radio personality in Chicago on WTMX-101.9, went through this a couple years ago: She was always an A cup and felt really self-conscious about it, like less of a woman. She wasn't considering implants for her husband, she was considering them for herself. And if recent pictures of her are any indication, she got them. Good for her, I say. Women have enough shit to deal with in the world. If it makes her life better to have a bigger rack, rock on. She talked about it on the air a lot. She was really torn, not sure if she should do it, if people would think she was vain, etc. But people were overwhelmingly supportive.

The porn star who videotaped her surgery and then sold the tissue is a freak, I grant you. But for women who have this done to feel better about themselves, well, who can judge that? Sex is such a difficult thing for women with body issues. You don't want the lights on, you don't want to do it in the daytime. It's very hard to just let go and be fully in the moment, cuz you're wondering what your partner is thinking. And while the truth is that they're probably not thinking anything -- most men just seem happy to have sex -- women have a lot of hang-ups regardless.

It's certainly a very personal decision, but I thought the story did a good job of presenting all sides of it. And the fact that it *did* run in a mainstream publication gives it some credibility that I don't think it would enjoy being in the pages of Cosmo, which is just a pile of crap."

I sent a note to Steff, who lives in Vancouver and is the author of a blog I visit every day (I haven't figured out how to put hotlinks in posts, but her URL is - yes, you read right; some of her posts are rather randy - if you're prone to blushing, you've been warned - but she also writes about issues of the day, and the girl's got writing chops), and in her reply, she said that people need to be able to "talk about sex issues in intelligent, open ways." That's what her blog is all about. If people vote with their mice, Steff is onto something. She gets plenty of traffic.

As a Canadian, she has many of observations about America from the outside looking in, and a rant today was especially rousing. It got me to wondering just what it's going to take to piss people off enough to get off their butts and starting holding people in Washington accountable.

I guess November will tell the tale.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The surgery described in the L.A. Times story has been featured on main stream television, and Dr. Gary Alter is a regular on "Dr. 90210," the reality show in E!. The surgery has been featured on that show, too, done not only by him but by Dr. Robert Rey, whom the N.Y. Times this week called the most famous plastic surgeon in America.

5:03 PM  

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