Are boobs really a threat to American family values?
By JENEÉ OSTERHELDT
The Kansas City Star
I mean really, its time to end the war on boobs. Were living in a nation where breast-feeding moms have to stage nurse-ins for their right to feed babies in public. Janet Jacksons boob accidentally popping out of her Super Bowl costume is remembered as a national disaster. As if her breast was a weapon. And now, not even a bronze, lifeless statue can bare its breasts without someone crying shame.
Phillip Cosby, director of the American Family Association of Kansas and Missouri, thinks the sculptures boobs are a danger to minors. For the second year in a row, hes attempting to take down the Accept or Reject statue at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens. He believes it violates Kansas anti-obscenity laws and, he announced this week, hes on a signature-collecting mission to bring it to another grand jury.
I spent Thursday afternoon basking in the serenity of the sculpture garden. (By the way, signs at both entrances warn that there are sculptures depicting the human form and parental guidance is encouraged.)
I stopped at the controversial sculpture, a headless woman, naked except for an unbuttoned shirt exposing her breasts, taking a picture of her head that is not there. The first thing I noticed was not her nipples. It was the fact that her body is disjointed. And her torso isnt connected to her body. You can see the woodsy view right through the space between her breasts and her belly. Its anything but sexy. It is, however, thought-provoking.
But I dont have any children. Maybe Im seeing it all wrong. So I sent pictures to a few parents with no explanation or backstory and just a simple question: If you were walking through a sculpture garden with your kid and came across this statue, what would you say?
I would tell Eli to close his eyes, said John-Alan Suter of Leavenworth. His son is 8.
Whoa, inappropriate, said Emily McQuillen, a Liberty stay-at-home mother of 11-month old Ella. At her age now it wouldnt bother me as much, because she would not pay attention to it and it would go over her head, but if she were older and more inquisitive, I might say its inappropriate.
My old friend Arketa Howard, a Virginia mom of a baby boy and 2-year-old girl, didnt see any offense. I would think that it was beautiful and interesting and I would read the sign to learn more about what its called, who the artist is and what it was about.
I then told them about the artist, Yu Chang. His piece symbolizes our loss of identity when we only take pictures of bits and pieces for people to see. I also told them about the protest. Only John-Alan, a Kansas City rapper, still thought the statue was obscene. He says the city should work with protesters on a replacement.
Contrary to conservative opinion, the sculpture doesnt push sexting. It encourages us to really think about social media, technology and the way we allow it to reduce us to our parts. Parents need to talk to their kids. This sculpture could be a real ice-breaker for hard topics if we let it.
On the gold plate attached to the statue, theres a short poem:
Choice of life, attention and contempt. Virtual and real, stick and together.
We have a choice. We can continue to treat the female body like a shameful taboo and force women to fight for the rights to their bodies. Or we can teach little girls to own their bodies, to respect their bodies, to understand that their bodies are not to be feared or exploited.
But some people cant even handle the body of a bronze, headless woman. They cant look at her without reducing her to just boobs.