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Last week, I suggested that the Huffington Post was sexist for devoting much of its Entertainment page to obsessively posting accidental female nipple slips caught on camera. Arianna Huffington responded via a Howard Kurtz column by saying:
“As Freud said, ‘Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar’—-and a nipple slip is just a nipple slip.”
Well, I’ve been mulling over Huffington’s retort for about 24 hours now, and I’ve finally figured out what is so fucking strange about this response. Let’s start with Freud.
Sigmund probably never actually said “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar,” but theories abound as to the source of the attributed phrasing.
Here’s the best guess of any: “Sigmund Freud was once asked about the psychoanalytic significance of his smoking a cigar, to which he replied that a good cigar was merely a smoke.” So, Freud is sitting around having a cigar, and some student thinks it would be clever to ask Freud why he likes to put phallic objects in his mouth all the time. And Freud is like, ha, ha, you got me, but seriously, I am not gay. Sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar.
Nipples, meanwhile are not stand-ins for sexualized female body parts—-they are actually sexualized female body parts. It’s true, I’m not kidding. HuffPo confirms its peculiar interest in the female nipple by regularly posting intensely zoomed-in “nipple slips” on its Web site, while sparing male nipples—-regularly exposed on beaches everywhere, even by smokin’ hot American presidents—-the same “NSFW zoom” treatment and “check out these nipples, we found more somehow” headlines.
What might be a more apt comparison here? How about this: So, Freud is sitting around with a man’s penis in his mouth, and some student thinks it would be clever to ask Freud why he likes to put men’s penises in his mouth all the time. And Freud is like, ha, ha, you got me, but seriously, I am not gay. Sometimes, a man’s penis in my mouth is just a man’s penis in my mouth.
In other words, an Internet “newspaper” can feature sexist entertainment all it wants without actually being sexist, as long as it insists that its actions are meaningless, and can source that meaninglessness back to an unsourceable quote from Sigmund Freud, of all people. You’re good, Huffington Post. You’re really good.
Photo by RyAwesome