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Hooray, Hooray, Nude Chicks Today!

April 24, 2003 - 8:09 p.m.

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How about this, writing about the Dixie Chicks on two consecutive days. And I'm not even a fan.

Yesterday, I considered them because they have been getting death threats over their anti-war views.

Today, I read that they are striking back at their critics. What they are going to do is going to strike a decisive coup de grāce into the hearts of those conservative, pro-war hawks.

They are posing nude.

Take that!

Before I write any further, let me make one thing perfectly clear. As a heterosexual man, I like nude women. When I see a nude woman- so rarely in the flesh, more often in pictures- I see confirmation that there is a benevolent God.

However, I am not aware that a nude woman has ever changed the currents of social consciousness.

Jessica Hahn posed nude in Playboy to prove a point. Do you remember Jessica Hahn? Even if you do, I bet you don't remember the point she was making by posing nude. (Don't ask me, I don't think it was ever elucidated.) Demi Moore posed nude in Cosmopolitan to prove that pregnant women can be sexy. It's a valid point, but the fine folks at alt.binaries.pictures.erotica.pregnant were making the point long before Demi did. Not to long ago, I read a story about women doing a nude anti-war protest. I don't even remember the country in which they were doing it. I read it on one of those "news of the weird" sites.

I would have loved to be present to overhear the pitch that Entertainment Weekly made to the Dixie Chicks that convinced them that they would be helping themselves and society by posing nude. That speech would be worth more than gold to me.

There's a sense in which I'm happy to see the Dixie Chicks posing nude. They are physically attractive.

The picture is not pornographic, but it is an artistic nude. The band members are posed carefully to conceal any naughty bits. There are words written on them in body paint. And everyone knows that the way to transform pornography into art is to use body paint.

But what is the point that they are making that can only be made in the nude? One band member tells us, "It's not about the nakedness. It's about clothes getting in the way of labels."

What?

Here's the quick catch-up if you haven't followed this controversy. During a concert in London, the lead singer told the audience that she is ashamed that George W. Bush is from her home state of Texas. In response, many country music fans accused the Dixie Chicks of being unpatriotic, and many country music radio stations have banned Dixie Chicks' songs.

So clothes have what to do with this?

How did the Dixie Chicks visualize the results of posing nude?

"Hi, this is Skeeter, and I'm calling to ask this radio station to play the Dixie Chicks again. When the Dixie Chicks told the Europeans that they were ashamed of our Commander-in-Chief, I though that they were unpatriotic bleeding-heart liberals betraying our great nation at a time when our sons are bravely over in Iraq risking their lives to protect our God-given freedom. But now that I've seen them naked, I've changed my mind. Because sometimes clothes get in the way of labels."

The reason that some women get duped into "making a point" by posing nude is because they believe that a woman gets power from her sexuality. Power through sexuality has been Madonna's mantra for decades. But let me tell you this about the theory that women have power through their sexuality: Somewhere, there are a bunch of privileged white men who are giggling like little children on a sugar high over that scam.

"Sure, baby doll. I'll keep my power through money, status, and control, and you can have your power by sexually arousing me. That's as feminist as it gets."

The Dixie Chicks sure will get attention. (And Entertainment Weekly sure will get money.) There will be attention from heterosexual men especially, who are programmed to salivate like Pavlov's dog at the sight of nude women. And I hate to admit it, but I am the victim of programming as well.

I've been burned by the nude women marketing trick. I have a friend, let's call him Elwood. Elwood is obsessed with lesbians. Well let's be more precise, he's not necessarily obsessed with actual lesbians, but he is obsessed with pictures of women having sex with each other.

I personally have an unresolved cognitive dissonance when it comes to pictures of women having sex with each other. On the one hand, I am not a fan of female homosexuality, because theoretically it reduces the number of available women for me to date. And the way I am, I need all the help I can get in terms of numbers. (I like my not-heterosexual women friends, but it so annoys me that they persist in not finding me sexually attractive.) On the other hand, I find pictures of women having sex with each other to be visually pleasing. Thus my dilemma.

But anyway, Elwood showed me a CD that he bought. It was by a group called Fem 2 Fem. This group, he told me, was an all-woman band, and all of the band members were real lesbians. There is proof that they are all lesbians, because the cover features five nude women writhing with each other. And, Elwood told me, they perform lesbian songs.

So you know what I was compelled to do. How could I not buy a CD that had a cover featuring five nude women writhing with each other? And those songs had to be erotic, right? I bought that CD, and to this day, Critique Records owes me $15 and the five minutes of my life that I wasted on that garbage.

But what do I expect from the lesbian band whose songs about lesbians were written by two guys named Michael and Peter, who wrote their adolescent fourteen-year-old clueless boy fantasties about what they believe that lesbians do.

And it's too bad, because the vocals weren't bad, and the music was decent as far as dance music goes. But the lyrics sucked so badly that I wanted to drive nails into my ears to stop my eardrums before my brain could translate the vibrations into nonsense.

Maybe the lyrics caused me so much pain because I saw too many of my own stereotypes about lesbians in those lyrics, and the realization made me feel stupid. But that's a digression.

The point is that now, I am suspicious of anything that can't be sold without nude women.

I see two tragedies from the Dixie Chicks' nude picture. One is that it will further trivialize the anti-war movement, which would have been an important movement if not led by entertainers prioritizing stunts over substance. When the hawks have statesmen acting tough and pounding their fists, while the doves have unemployed actresses wearing missle-shaped dildos and singing cutesy jingles, the hawks are going to win that war of symbolism.

The other great tragedy is that it seems that the Dixie Chicks have resigned themselves to believing that their words and thoughts and feelings aren't enough- that only their bodies are worthy of attention.

As I've said, I'm not a fan, but I did happen to see a documentary about the Dixie Chicks a few months ago. I think it was on a country music channel that my Dad watches sometimes. The theme of this documentary centered on the Dixie Chicks' struggle to be taken seriously as musicians in an industry that wanted to sexualize them. In the documentary, the Dixie Chicks' preservere, and they shape their identities through their music first. And I though to myself after watching this documentary, It looks like the Dixie Chicks deserve their success, after their fight to be musicians instead of sex symbols.

I guess they didn't win that fight after all.

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