PC Culture

Bias Complaint Filed over Joke about Janet Jackson Nipple Incident

Janet Jackson performs during the halftime show at the 2004 Super Bowl. (Win McNamee/Reuters)
This makes the movement against sexism look like a joke.

An Indiana University student filed a bias complaint because a guest lecturer made a joke about Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl nipple incident when discussing the Federal Communications Commission.

According to an article in The College Fix, the lecturer made the apparently controversial comment during a freshman media-studies course. The educator had been discussing “net neutrality” and the role of the FCC, and he used “nipplegate” — when part of Jackson’s nipple was exposed during the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show, leading to more than 540,000 complaints to the commission  — as an example.

The Fix reports that the lecturer told students that the FCC “developed a streamlined categorization method to track the quantity of nipple complaints they received,” joking that he’d spoken with FCC people who said they’d gotten “four Janet Jackson nipples” worth of complaints.

Almost a month after the lecturer made that joke, a grad student reportedly decided to report it to the school’s Bias Incident Reporting System. The complainant, who claimed to be an associate instructor for the class, stated that the lecturer had “repeated that offensive phrase ‘four Janet Jackson nipples’” for “extra effect,” and that that was offensive.

“As a South Asian PhD student who studies race, gender, and class representation in the media, I am appalled that such misogynoir was casually conveyed to a 100-level class full of freshmen with no sensitivity whatsoever,” the complaint stated.

The complaint continued, noting that the lecturer’s “offhand misogynistic comments about a Black woman’s body were not clarified as ‘wrong’ by [the lecturer], no further explanation was given.”

As a woman myself, I am personally confused how what the lecturer said was in any way misogynistic. I mean, it would be one thing if he had been an American history professor, teaching a lesson about the American Revolution, and then randomly started shouting about nipples. That would be uncomfortable and cause for complaint. That’s not what happened, though. No, what happened was a lecturer was talking about FCC complaints, and he decided to refer to perhaps the most notorious example of an FCC violation in recent history. Yes, he also decided to add a joke, probably because he thought it might make the class more exciting — and probably because he thought that a room full of adult students would be mature enough to handle a joke about a body part that literally every human being has.

But apparently not. Honestly, I am more convinced every single day that things have shifted, that conservatives are no longer the pearl-grasping, sex-shaming Puritans as they were once reputed to be. No — it seems, more and more, that this is something that instead increasingly describes the politically correct Left. All it took were some relevant mentions of the word “nipple” — something anyone in college should know about by the time he or she gets there — for at least one student to become so upset that she thought that the university needed to know about it.

This wouldn’t be such a big deal if bias against women were something that no longer occurs — but unfortunately, that isn’t the case. It is a fact that there are still some people out there who are very much sexist, who will say far worse things about women than a perhaps slightly stupid joke about a well-known nipple . . . um . . . incident. This is why I think these sorts of overzealous, extraneous bias complaints are so dangerous: They make the movement against sexism look like a joke, and making a mockery of something that women still unfortunately very much face is no way to help us at all.

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