“I remember when I was young back in the 70s, I couldn’t wait for my parents to finish reading the Sunday paper so I could sneak off with the department store inserts. I would go to my room so I could jack off while looking at all the women’s underwear ads.”
This was John’s first comment when he and I read the controversial Calvin Klein “upskirt” article by Susannah Constantine in Daily Mail.
I remember those ads from the 70s, pages and pages of women simply sitting or standing modeling the latest bras and panties. Nothing suggestive about those photos, yet plenty of guys from all ages and walks of life (my husband included) found plenty to fantasize about. So what is the big deal? Well according to Susannah the Calvin Klein ads are nothing short of pornography and not only are the ads indecent but are stealing the innocence from our children. Oh boy.
John and I love to spend our mornings going over the news and we have found ourselves in some pretty lively conversations especially when the topic of sex surfaces, and especially when there is a fear of sex or sexuality.
What intrigued me about the Daily Mail article was when Susannah claims these ads are snatching her children’s (especially her daughter’s) innocence. Innocence is really just another word for ignorance. Look it up. Innocence can mean a lack of experience. It can also mean a lack of knowledge about something. Do we really want our 12 and 15 year olds (the age of Susannah’s daughters) to not know anything about sex or sexuality? Isn’t it our responsibility as parents to educate our children about a wide range of topics? Shouldn’t we be talking to them about how to manage money, teaching them how to keep themselves clean and healthy, the importance of getting a good education, how to have a healthy relationship with others as well as themselves, and last but definitely not least, to talk with them about sex?
I don’t want my teenager to be innocent about sex. I want her to have some facts about what is going on within her body and the changes she is feeling not only towards herself but those crazy butterfly feelings she has when she is attracted to someone else. If the goal is to teach my children independence, then I’m not doing them any favors by shielding them from life.
When Susannah Constantine writes that her son doesn’t have to “trawl the internet” to find pictures to get his “rocks off” as she puts it and that all he has to do is look at the Calvin Klein ads, I want to respond with, “exactly!” I mean, really, when you get down to it, seeing a picture of someone in their underwear is just that, a picture of someone in their underwear. What society seems to want to ignore is we are sexual beings. It really doesn’t matter if you have a picture of underwear in an upskirt shot or a 1970s picture of a woman in her panties, the human body is going to create a response from other humans. I can just as easily be turned on when John is wearing a suit as when he is laying out in the sun nude. He creates a response within me, and I can’t help it.
When Susannah comments in her article in regard to her daughters, “What worries me is how it might make others – by which I mean sexual predators – regard them”, because of the Calvin Klein ad, I want to say, “now look who is being innocent.” Look, here’s the thing, we don’t live in a perfect world. Not everyone is going to respect and value the boundaries of others and there will always be those who want to inflict their control and behavior on others by force. The trick is to not let those people create such a fear in us that we allow them to entrench on our boundaries without ever coming in contact with us.
I don’t believe these ads “cheapen us” as Susannah claims, I see these ads as a fantastic opportunity to:
(1) open up some lines of communication with the next generation and answer questions they may have about all the changes they are experiencing,
(2) to quote Klara Kristin, the Calvin Klein model, who commented on her Instagram about the ad, “All this discussion about it makes me think about how alienated and scared some people are to the female human body. Be and love yourself and your sexuality #girlpower.” and
(3) go buy some new, fun, and yes, sexy underwear!