Queer I Stand
A Mature Approach to Sexuality, Theological and Otherwise
In doing so, they end up pregnant, they end up being abused by predatory adults, they end up learning from colossally bad examples in popular media, and various other negative outcomes. Taking the difficult step of realizing that teenagers are sexual, and then dealing with that fact realistically and non-exploitatively, would go a long way in solving many of the teenaged and adult problems that people experience in romantic and sexual relationships. But, that would entail then taking teenage sexuality seriously, which society-in-general is not willing to do. Even Miley Cyrus, in trying to break out of that teenaged non-sexual perception, still had her performance surrounded by teddy bears. The viewing public has since not allowed her, or anyone, to forget that she has disappointed them by not remaining an eternal and apparently non-sexualized teenager.
Many people seemed particularly offended by Miley Cyrus' nude bikini during the Thicke collaboration section of her performance. Yes, it was flesh-toned; and yes, it was more revealing than her previous one-piece swimsuit. But, her level of nudity in comparison to Lady GaGa's later performance was downright Puritan and modest in comparison (not that I found Lady GaGa's outfit to be objectionable—on the contrary!—but let's be serious!). The notion that nudity means sexualization is a very oppressive and pernicious meme that has resulted from Christian anti-material, anti-physical, and anti-sexual feeling more than anything reasonable or sensible. Certainly, naked human bodies are beautiful and admirable, and I would defy anyone to say that if a nude person, or even a partially-nude person, of any gender walked into a room, that their eyes wouldn't turn to them and be drawn to them immediately. But, the gaze with which one views such a person need not be exploitative, objectifying, or sexualizing; it can be appreciative, it can be confirmatory, it can be communicative. That Lady GaGa's greater amount of nudity was not taken as sexual or suggestive by many commentators on Sunday night's events, but Miley Cyrus' lesser amount was, points out how very easy it is to view nudity in ways that are not exploitative or sexualized without any particular training in feminist theory, queer theory, gaze theory, or alternative theological viewpoints.
I have found the reactions to Sunday night's performances more telling than the performances themselves about the neuroses of the modern American overculture. I suspect there was more calculation than the performers are willing to admit in terms of attempting to deliberately push buttons of the viewing audience in order to get attention, and it has worked spectacularly. The screen of a twenty-year-old young woman who was a former child star, a mid-thirties man attempting to re-start his singing career, and a bunch of teddy bears has been used to show a gag-reel of nearly all the sexual neuroses of our wider culture in the form of strongly-worded blog posts, Twitter messages, and Facebook memes. Many of the people commenting likely do not consider themselves Christian, and yet they are just as enthralled to the old ideas of Christian sexual theology and morality as the pope.
The Pagan and polytheist plural viewpoints on these matters would likely agree on several of the following points: 1) sexuality is a beautiful gift, and one in which the gods can be experienced by humans; 2) children become sexual beings when they are teenagers, and need to be educated and nurtured during this difficult time in ways that are respectful, appropriate, and affirmative; 3) the human body in all of its diverse organs is beautiful, and can be viewed uncovered without the necessity of sex, sexualization, or exploitativeness being a part of the equation. If more of the commenters on the performances Sunday had views such as these, there would not have been nearly as much of an uproar; and if the producers and performers likewise had such ideas, their performances, their dances, and their songs would have never existed. I will leave you readers to decide whether the latter would be a good thing or a bad thing.
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus is a metagender and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou (a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist religious group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and other related gods and divine figures). E is a contributing member of Neos Alexandria and a Celtic Reconstructionist pagan in the filidecht and gentlidecht traditions. Follow Lupus' work on the Aedicula Antinoi blog.