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sean
 
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Culture Ambiguity vs Freedom of Expression!

28 May 2012, 08:27

Stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld once told his audience: "There is the example of the various tribes in which women live their entire lives topless. Apparently the men in those cultures aren't affected at all by that".

       Seinfeld was asking if the men from New York were being ripped of for having to pay to see breast on display in a strip club, when African culture and others it cost nothing to see the same thing!

       ANC supporters told ITV News that "their culture does not allow for this Zuma painting especially when its coming from another race and that they feel offended and violated" seeing a painting of Zuma having his genitals exposed?

       In 1950s a Jesuit magazine in America wrote in an article regarding modesty and cultural differences: "...there is dressing that is in the middle of the fashions,and there is dressing that is to the extreme". Point is dressing for a woman back in the 1950s meant that when a man was looking at her he could only see her angles showing and no more.That was it for modesty back then.Times have changed so why don't peoples attitudes do the same?

        However moving forward into our generation, the sexual body parts get regularly expose as part of popular culture and it is the norm even in Zuma's Zulu culture reed dance ceremonies. So why the big fuss then about Zuma's genitals being expose as an attack on Zulu entire culture by the artist,Brett Murray?

       While the necessity for the virtue of human dignity is constant, the specifics of what actually constitutes vulgarity is socially conditioned. So how does one define what is or isn't obscene,vulgar or tasteless in any one culture or time period? Is it when what is depicted attracts the attention of the average person in that culture in a direct moral way and if it generates a response morally in that same individual. Has the scene got people's juices flowing since it came out in the Goodman Gallery? It sure did in various ways indeed.

         South Africa has one of the most liberal of constitutions in the world. And Brett Murray's artwork have exposed the use of that constitution to the very limit. In a nutshell the South African constitution allows him to do just that. So he's not breaking any laws or abusing any of his constitutional rights as a South African national.He's just doing what he's allowed to under law. What's the big deal then?

       How could something like an exposed penis artwork be legitimately wrong for Zulu culture,and yet exposed woman's breast in the Reed Dance Ceremony is perfectly permissible in the same culture?

       Why the change in attitude? Is it all about conditioning? The more regularly you expose to woman's breasts the lesser of a big deal it becomes. Was the showing Zuma's danglein a painting too much of a step up for the Zulu culture? Even too much of shock perhaps. Beaches in Europe are littered with nudist and we watched with binoculars from the clifftops.Have we reached a disturbing place here with this Spear painting?

       Was the artist of the Spear supposed to choose his artwork based on what's going on in somebody else's head? How bizarre can this get? What are we supposed to do in future if this is the thinking of the masses?

           References:   1.www.catholicculture.org/news/headlines/index.   2.itv news.   3.South Africa President Penis Art Unlawful...The Huffington Post/www.huffingtonpost.com

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