I'm glad I'm not the only one who had an apocalyptic reading of reporter Claire Hoffman's account of being manhandled and degraded by "Girls Gone Wild" producer Joe Francis. The San Francisco Chronicle's snarkalicious Neva Chonin takes the much e-mailed Los Angeles Times piece as a jumping-off point to detail the cataclysmic state of U.S. sexuality.
For those who missed the L.A. Times piece from two weeks back, here's your chance to catch up: Hoffmanss article started with, "Joe Francis ... is humiliating me. He has my face pressed against the hood of a car, my arms twisted hard behind my back. He's pushing himself against me, shouting: 'This is what they did to me in Panama City!'" This alleged behavior is Francis' attempt at violently reenacting his 2003 arrest on charges of racketeering, drug trafficking and promoting the sexual performance of a child. In tears, Hoffman manages to wriggle free and slugs him one. The rest of the article delves into Francis' humili-tainment empire and questions his professed love for women. He tells Hoffman just how crazy he is for women, but she rebounds, "Sometimes it doesn't sound as though he is."
In reading the article, Chonin said she "felt her pain." Specifically, "the mental ache of channel surfing into 'Girls Gone Wild' and suddenly feeling embarrassed to be female. Heck, 'Girls Gone Wild' makes me embarrassed to be human." But what bothers Chonin about the program isn't the uninhibited "sexuality" but "the fact that, in a country rife with vestigial puritanism, it views sexuality through a leering lens." For those lucky Europeans, nudity on beaches and TV is no big whoop. But in America, we're "marked by repression on the one hand (magazines condemned for cover images of breast-feeding babies and nude expectant mothers) and masturbatory excess on the other ('Girls Gone Wild' and any men's magazine that isn't GQ or Esquire), we are forever looping between scolding and ogling," Chonin wrote.
And that's where her argument gets interesting. The outrage over a child nursing a bare breast suggests that "a woman's body has no right being bared unless it is for the purpose of arousing a man." For evidence, Chonin points to the throngs who read Maxim: Breasts are great when clad in titillating lingerie, but not so great when, say, nursing a baby at a neighboring table at dinner. Likewise, she argues that those men who love girl-on-girl porn wouldn't be so thrilled to see "real lesbians -- the ones whose sex lives aren't simply warm-up acts for straight men."
This is a depressing look at America's oversaturation with sex (or something closely mimicking it). And if the success of "Girls Gone Wild" is any indication, there's no shortage of men, and surely women too, who, like Francis, absolutely love (humiliating) women.