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February 19, 2014

Barbara Walters: Hey, Let Me Tell You About My Vibrator for a Few Minutes

You guys just totally ignored this when it was in the French open thread (fil ouvert) yesterday, but you're not getting away with it that easily.

Deal with it.

View co-host Jenny McCarthy asked Walters if she has "more self-confidence and more self-love" given her age.

"Self-love?" Walters asked.

"Barbara, are you talking about that vibrator of yours again?" Whoopi Goldberg chimed in. "I can't handle it."

“How did you know? You know what it's called?" Walters replied. "A selfie."

Yeah I don't get this. Not the vibrator part, but the fact that about six years ago, everyone in the Media Class (and those who take cues from that class) decided that it was about time we all started talking about vibrators a whole heck of a lot.

I guess people think it's a little bit of naughty honesty, and not much different than a guy saying something along the same lines.

I dunno, though. I kind of want to throw a yellow flag on this particular play by Tastemaking Society Types.

I don't think anyone should be ashamed to use a vibrator. But there is a whole category of things which we are not ashamed of, per se, and yet we don't talk about publicly with strangers. With friends, sure. But with strangers? No.

I pooped earlier today. I would not mention this except that it falls into this category of "Not shameful, but also not really fodder for casual conservation." I'm not ashamed of my poop, and if pressed, sure, I could even be persuaded that my poop was Empowering or whatever.

But -- absent using it as a "for instance" in this category of Things Which Are Not Shameful But It's A Bit Self-Indulgently Narcissistic to Overshare This TMI with People -- I also don't think people really want to hear about my poop, and, this post and its dark turn towards the fecal aside, I generally respect people's wishes about remaining ignorant about my netherous voidings.

There is a certain social protocol which announces something like this: You will not discuss anything in public, with strangers, if 20% of the population is uncomfortable with it. This is part of why I say that racial jokes are a breach on the site -- more than 20% of the population is uncomfortable with them, so such jokes, even if a racist intent is proven by a panel of Bishops to be absent, still make a big chunk of the room uncomfortable.

(I say "20%" arbitrarily -- you cannot literally live by the rule that no one can ever be offended by what you say, because there's always someone willing to be offended by anything. So "20%" is my way of saying a "significant minority.")

Commenters have likewise been warmed about using overly graphic sexual language. It didn't really bother me personally, not in that I was scandalized, but I was bothered that the person wasn't observing the normal rules of decorum.

Now I don't know what the percentage is on discomfort with vibrator talk, but I imagine it's more than 20%.

And so while I'm not really offended, per se, I'm sort of annoyed to see a social breach going on, as if the 20% (or more) who might be uncomfortable about this matter just doesn't count.

Well I think they should count. My objection here isn't about sexuality per se, or about naughtiness; it's more about social boorishness.

Maybe I'm too inhibited, but I think this sort of basic politeness, avoiding making people uncomfortable, is part of good behavior, or at least ought to be.

One Defense for Babs: She didn't offer the information; Jenny McCarthy and Whoopi Goldberg kept asking her about it, probably to embarrass her (in a friendly way).

But that defense of Babs would just shift the breach to the other two.

And, Open Thread.


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posted by Ace at 07:32 PM

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