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Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Party-Pooper's Dilemma

Posted by Tariq al Haydar


by Tariq al Hayder



"...You might control yourself now, and not masturbate, but they'll get you in the end, as a wet dream. You might dream about raping your sister, your mother. It's not something you can control. It's a power beyond you —and all you can do is accept it."
- from "Kafka on the Shore"
by Haruki Murakami

I assume that virtually every heterosexual male on the planet above the age of fifteen has participated, at one time or another, in a discussion about breasts. Bear with me as I go off on this (sexist?) tangent. I'm going somewhere with it, trust me. I have spearheaded many such conversations with friends and even guys I barely know. Young men debate and analyze everything when it comes to tatas: size, texture, taste, smell, suppleness, firmness and molecular weight. I, for example, have often heatedly argued that if they're so big that you immediately know that they must be fake, then they're too big. And conversations sometimes branch out: for example, there are, obviously, those who prefer hindquarters to breasts. I'm ashamed to admit that I carry in my blood the male gene that causes us to have these discussions. What can I say….

But in the midst of all this talk of posteriors and mammary glands, I often suppress a deep, dark secret: my favorite part of the female anatomy is neither of the top two. Rather, it is the…bellybutton and thereabouts. That part of the female physique that so enthralls me lacks an adequate name. I mean…"stomach" sounds so unappetizing, and "abdomen" is too scientific. Nonetheless, I love that area, whatever you want to call it.

It has taken me two paragraphs to finally get to the point, and I apologize for that self-indulgent, meandering introduction. Because really, I just want to talk about cheerleaders, but I thought it would be best to first establish my love/obsession with the female form. And, as luck would have it, cheerleaders almost always expose their midriffs (hey, that's probably the best term for it! Although even that doesn't do it justice). I remember logging onto the Dallas Cowboys website and ogling the cheerleader they had on there until time lost all significance. I didn't even bother perusing all the lovelies they had on their site, there was just this one girl with café au lait skin and long hazelnut hair with blond highlights. She had the perfect midriff and bellybutton, and I just looked at her, drooling (figuratively). Her name was unimportant. And I admit the pleasure of looking at her was intertwined with a subtle pain I couldn't quite explain.

But aside from that mysterious pain, which perhaps is connected to the fact that I, myself, cannot presently enjoy such feminine beauty. Longing or whatever. Aside from that, there is a sense of …something being off. Whenever I see commercials for the NBA or any other (American) sport, I inevitably see cheerleaders, and I wonder: What do cheerleaders really have to do with basketball (or football)? Does the fact that I enjoy looking at hot ladies with perfect abs make it OK for the National Basketball Association to provide me with that viewing pleasure? Is it in fact OK for me to strive to fulfill that impulsive desire?

I have to say that, for me at least, the answer to both questions is an emphatic "no". I'm sorry, but I'm uncomfortable with female beauty being packaged and pushed as a product, even though I am guilty of consuming that product. This is the sort of thing that has become so commonplace it almost seems tacky to question its validity. So what? So a few girls dance around and shake their moneymakers. What's the big deal? But just because one has grown accustomed to a phenomenon does not mean that it is kosher.

In my opinion, how a woman looks should be irrelevant outside of the personal relationship she's in. Nobody cares what Ric Bucher or Scoop Jackson looks like, but much ink has been spilt in admiration of Stephanie Ready and Erin Andrews' feminine charms. Is that because quantifying and exploiting female beauty has become part and parcel of the culture? And how do cheerleaders fit into the equation? I'm not sure. And, to be honest, the next time some honeys show off their skin while executing elaborate dance routines, I'll probably watch. But I will feel uneasy.

17 comments:

Eboy said...

You're a sick man, T. Glad that you're on our team, though. :)

Tariq al Hayder said...

I've long since made peace with the fact that I have a sick, sick mind. But what makes you say that?

ASPOV said...

Good for you! I'm glad for the unease part, and thank you for the honesty. You know I could go on and on, but before I do, if you have a moment or 200, please read "The Traffic in Women" by Gayle Rubin. I'll send you a precis thru email. Well done!

Eboy said...

Because while the thought of the exploitation of the female form is valid, it's part of the American culture of sports as brawls and unruliness are in European futbol matches. It is kind of odd to think of strange females as an object of men's fantasies, but movies, tv, magazines and the internet still feed that thought process too, so it's almost impossible to escape. It's really just a part of life and not an odd taboo enticement that it was viewed as 20 years ago.

Eboy said...

Great subject matter as well. T, you have some readers of your personal blog, no? Get them involved here too.

ASPOV said...

Also, funny as I read thru your post, I was reminded of that scene in the Transformers where Shia is checking out Megan Fox's belly button and looking like he has totally zoned out everything else. It seems your obsession is not unusual--it has been mainstreamed! See how I see connections??

Eboy said...

Cheryl, I think EVERY male that watched Transformers had that same reaction to Ms. Fox in that scene, connection queen.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Oh Cheryl, Cheryl Cheryl...that Megan Fox scene made me violently convulse at the multiplex. They had to feed me Snickers because they thought I was a diabetic or something. After I came to I explained that I was fine...that was merely the "Fox" effect. She's aptly-surnamed, by the way.

Eboy said...

And to think she's engaged to the wanna-be douchey rapper from Beverly Hills 90210. Life just ain't fair.

Tariq al Hayder said...

Also, Eboy:

"it's part of the American culture of sports as brawls and unruliness are in European futbol matches."

True, but there's one big difference: hooliganism in European football is viewed as a serious problem that must be dealt with. Numbers of police and riot control officers keeps increasing. Cheerleaders, conversely, are seen as a harmless part of sports culture.

And:
"It is kind of odd to think of strange females as an object of men's fantasies, but movies, tv, magazines and the internet still feed that thought process too, so it's almost impossible to escape."

Hence the Murakami quote at the beginning of the piece and my admission that it is commonplace. However, not everything that is widely accepted is necessarily OK. Or else plenty of injustices would never have ceased.

ASPOV said...

you guys are hilarious!!

Tariq al Hayder said...

She's engaged to Brian Austin-Green?!

I will now go insert the nozzle of a musket into my mouth.

ASPOV said...

My comment was to the "Fox" comments, not what followed. Also, you think this is what Red Auerbach had in mind when he resisted so ferociously Celtic cheerleaders?

Tariq al Hayder said...

I didn't know Red Auerbach didn't want cheerleaders. A google search turned up this, which is basically a better-written version of what I just posted, I guess:

http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2008/02/17/go_go_dancing_all_over_reds_grave/

Tariq al Hayder said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eboy said...

My comparison to Euro futbol was sarcastic, T.

Tariq al Hayder said...

But you still believe that cheerleading is part of the culture and should be accepted, right?