Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Online Puritans: Are Nipples the New Gay?

Almost every major online vendor or online bank has caused difficulty for the purveyor of erotica (and genres lumped into the same general category).  We had Amazon removing sales ranks from gay fiction and non-fiction (a.k.a. amazonfail).  Paypal has a spotty history when it comes to erotic, nude of gay material and Google checkout has similar policies.

The most recent... um, "front" on the battle to define what is decent or appropriate online seems to be the female nipple.  Facebook outlawed the nipple, drawing ire from breast-feeding advocates.  And now Steve Jobs has declared the iPad a nipple free zone.

The German press were astounded and the entire app for major newsmag Stern was taken down because it included a gallery of erotic photos, and Apple staff added pixelation to the sexy gals in the pdf edition of their magazine.  Now, I am not a huge fan of page-three-style girls but this is like the guy at the newstand covering their naughty bits with magic marker before selling them.  A bit presumptuous, no?

"Today they censor nipples, tomorrow it's editorial content," said a spokeswoman at Bild. Because Europeans take the right to bare boobies seriously--and I think they are right to do so.

I would make two points here. The first is that apps and e-magazines are not on the open internet--they are selected and downloaded by adult people for their personal use, just like print magazines. So when you have a proprietary format and device seizing enormous market share, banishing anything deemed adult is a very intrusive form of social engineering.

The second point is that a nipple is not sex. A nipple is a nipple. I may not want to see a pair next to the daily weather report but readers of the Stern do, and that's their choice. Conflating nudity with sex is the same as conflating gayness with sex. It is a kind of moral policing that is implicitly judgemental and insulting to a publication's creators and consumers.  It says 'people like them' should be ashamed for sullying iPads gleaming white online premises.

And if the Apple Empire they are willing to take on a magazine with the profile and circulation of Stern, small erotic romance epublishers haven't got a chance.

1 comment:

Marian Perera said...

Reminds me of the bodice-rippers I used to read when I was fourteen. The men didn't have nipples - not on the covers and not within the pages.

What's with the fear of nipples? If you see the 95% of the breast that does not include nipple, is that somehow better?