Recently, the mention of the porn-promoting “shock jock” Howard Stern in a book I’m reading about pornography as a serious public health issue reminded me of a morning years ago when I was the topic of conversation on The Big J Show on Hot 101.9.
The day before, Big J had encouraged female listeners to drive to his studio and show him their breasts in exchange for a free CD. Appalled, I sent him an admonishing e-mail. The next morning, he brought it up on his show. I heard not one but two female listeners call in to champion Big J and “raunch culture” in general. One asked why I listened to hip-hop if I was so offended by Big J’s request (the implication being that sexism is at the root, if not the root, of hip-hop). The other called me the “b” word.
The first caller had an excellent point; I turned off the radio and dumped hip-hop for good. The only time I listen to it now is for research’s sake, and its misogynistic, hedonistic, narcissism-promoting message never fails to horrify me.
“Edgy” has come to mean irreverent, pointless vulgarity, a celebration of mindless conformity rather than an innovative pushing of the envelope. Women’s bodies are viewed as a form of legal tender, our sexuality commodified and exploited for profit and as a means of displaying of dominance.
As long as we continue to remain passive about Howard Stern and the litter of fledgling “shock jocks” he spawned who, along with the rest of the media, broadcast this new “edgy” to America’s kids, we cannot reasonably expect anything to change.