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We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off To Prove We Have Got Talent (Or Why We Shouldn't Be Surprised That Children Are Getting Mixed Messages)
The first part of the title to this blog post is a play on the title of "We Don't Have To Take Our Clothes Off (To Have A Good Time)" by Jermaine Stewart.  The second part of the title to this blog post will become obvious as we go on.

Last night I did something I have never done before - and I never plan to do it again unless under extreme pressure to.

I sat down to watch the "MOBO Awards" which started at 8.00pm.  Now, according to me, 8.00pm is more or less prime time television - it is definitely before the 9.00pm "watershed" for programming unsuitable for children.

In my defence I will say that I only even considered watching it as I thought there might be a chance that Kristyna Myles might win an award (she didn't - and I found out that the award she was nominated for wasn't even televised).

The opening singer was Jessie J.  I admit that she is not exactly on my list of music to listen to at the best of times.  However, last night's performance sent her plummeting in my estimation.

She started off wearing some sort of black dress which was quickly removed to reveal what appeared to be a sequined bra and pants.  Jessie the proceeded to pornographically gyrate (I believe the modern day term is "Twerk") on stage for the duration of the song.

I was relieved when I found out that I didn't have to sit through any more graphically sexual performances (or raps about guns and killing) and I switched the TV off.

Radio 1 had had their wrist slapped for broadcasting swearing in a live performance at the "Big Weekend" in Glasgow.  I am wondering if a sanction cannot be applied to pornographic dance routines and suggestive (be they sexual or violence oriented) lyrics in performances.

We have so many debates going on about things like the objectification of women via Page 3 of the Sun and how many definitions there should be of rape, etc.

Not forgetting the old argument about whether or not what a woman wears is any indication of how "sexually available" she is (ie, someone dressed in a low cut top and a miniskirt, etc).  However, I feel we are missing the point.

I may or may not have written on this blog about the scars from the operations to mend the hole in my heart I was born with (I know I wrote about them on the original Inkyworld blog).  Let's just say that they left me feeling very uncomfortable wearing any tight tops or any cropped tops.

I suppose you could say I was lucky when I was growing up as there was nowhere near the pressure on me to look perfect which there is on children and teenagers today.

(My favourite pop singer when I started watching "Multi-Coloured Swap Shop" was Adam Ant.  I think I liked the white stripe across his nose.  Then I had a brief liking of Boy George, followed some years later by Aha and Bros. Finally Bon Jovi and Clouseau.)

The female singers and groups were innocent compared to nowadays.  Yes, you had strange fashions like bra top and cropped tops - and you could count on some borderline controversial lyrics from a certain Ms Madonna Ciccione - but nothing as suggestive as the Pussycat Dolls.  (I am trying not to remember Madonna's "Erotica" book which got several column inches in the music magazines when it came out.)

If we are going to insist on allowing Jessie J, and the rest of them, to perform sexually suggestive routines on primetime TV we need to have a total rethink on how we educate our children to live with themselves.

We are bombarded by images of so-called "perfect" people every day and young people copy their role models (with sometimes disasterous consequences).  I dread to think how many young girls watched Jessie J last night and wanted to copy her.

Allow me to take this scenario to ridiculous extremes for a minute.

Imagine for a minute that you went to your GP, or a Solicitor, or any other company and you found them walking around in their underwear whilst encouraging you to dispense with all formality and touch them whereever you liked.  Or worse, touching themselves in a sexually suggestive manner whilst dealing with your requirements.

What would you do?  Run a mile and report them to the nearest Police Officer?  Ask them to cover up and attempt to behave normally?  Carry on regardless, after all, you are in their premises therefore you have to obey their rules?  Immediately remove all your clothes and join in?

Of course, we adults have a choice as to whether or not we watch sexually suggestive performances or listen to lyrics glorifying sex and/or violence (sometimes both at the same time).  We also have a choice as to whether or not we bow to pressure to have all our imperfections removed, get laser eye sugery, and jump on every diet bandwagon which rolls past us.  Children don't - at least not unless we teach them to be proud of who and what they are.

We also need to teach them to listen to themselves when bullies are making their lives a daytime nightmare.  I eventually escaped into daydreaming and writing.

Someone once told me that swearing indicated a lack of expression through language (they hated it).  Just out of interest I can turn the air blue (why do we say that when we talk about swearing) in two languages.  My Dad never swore when I was growing up but if I heard my Mum say "Godverdomme" ("God Damn It" - usually shortened to "Verdomme") or "Verdikeme" (unsure as to the spelling or translation of the last one) I knew something was seriously wrong.  "Wel allemachtig" (something like "Well Almighty") was another one.

Maybe we should have a rule where performers who disrobe and/or perform sexually suggestive dance routines (unless they are in a lapdancing club or other building where only adults are allowed to be present) are seen as lazy - going for the quick payoff.

I have seen some really talented singers who have managed to dazzle me with their voice and stage-presence without performing a striptease or dancing in a manner better suited to a bedroom between two consenting adults.

Instead of teaching children that sex sells more than talent we should be teaching them that sex belongs between two consenting adults and talent will get you a lot further than sleeping your way to the top (or making it obvious that you would be willing to sleep your way to the top).

However, talent is not valued anywhere near enough these days.  Schools seem to be busily trying to delete all trace of an imagination from the brains of students in the race for exam results.  As for any kind of differences (sight problems, hearing problems, etc) - they seem to be ignored or brushed away as though they don't matter.

It was only several years after leaving Education that I realised my sight was actually an advantage instead of a disadvantage - and I have to thank you lot for that revelation.

Through typing this blog I have come to learn that my "sideways view of life" (which came as a result of my sight and how I was forced to work around it when I was at school) can actually be a good thing and help other people.

For example, I don't blog about people in a negative way without finding some positive point to make as a result.  Nor do I sit in judgement on people if I can avoid it (there is a saying about walking in someone's shoes before you judge them).

In case you are wondering - that is how I treat my friends too.  I am honest, loyal, non-judgemental, and I will help them if they are prepared to help themselves.

Talent should come before beauty or sex.  Then we will get a world without objectification of men and women.  Men are objectified by Page 3 even more than women - women have a choice whether or not they pose for it but it conditions boys (who grow up into men) into thinking all women are fair game for sex and makes men run on their baser instincts.  That is before you come to things like The Chippendales, and that advert for a soft drink (the name of which escapes me at the minute) where all the women in an office stopped to watch the window cleaner have a drink from a can.  As for the Levi's ad with Nick Kamen and the washing machine???

If children were taught to value their brains as well as their bodies the world would be a better place.

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