The ’80s Pin Project: You Naughty Thing

For an explanation of what the Pin Project is, go here.

And so it continues. This week’s pin is the 1980s version of a morality play as wearable art.

You naughty beast.

You naughty beast.

I mean, not that I’m judging you or anything, but… *judging*

I’m unapologetically fascinated by sexual innuendo pins. Sexual innuendo anything is interesting, actually, because so much of it is unwritten (which kind of does imply that people are always thinking about sex which is why that’s the place towards which our minds gravitate, but I’m getting ahead of myself). This pin is one sentence long. One. And in that sentence we, the readers, inherently understand this pin isn’t implying that the mind being read is entertaining thoughts of murder (I can read your mind and I’m calling the police), or thievery (…and I’m locking up my valuables), or eating meat on a Friday during Lent (…and I’ll join you for a burger). No, no. This pin specifically implies that the mind in question is thinking long and hard–ha ha–about sex. Sexy sexy sex. It’s like a woman wearing a shirt that has “My eyes are up there” printed across the chest. Which, of course, means they have to look at her chest in the first place in order for the message to have any sort of meaning. Because I’m sexy and playful and make naughty jokes and you are a bad, bad boy. Get away from me. Tee hee. Got it?


It kind of reminds me of the bizarro sexual dynamic in the 21 Jump Street movie (which, BTW, I *love*) between Jenko (Channing Tatum) and his wildly inappropriate science teacher, Ms. Griggs (Ellie Kemper). Watch:

Get away from me. Slap. You’re so hot. Yep, pretty much sums it up, and it’s the part of the movie I don’t think is funny.

It could be amusing except for the way that statements like the one this pin makes perpetuate the idea that men alllllllways want sex and it’s alllllllllways shameful and it’s alllllllways up to the woman to say no, no matter how clearly the lust-stricken (and in the video, adult) Ms. Griggs may want a little action. (Slap!) In real life, Ms. Griggs would be a predator. In real life, she could face serious repercussions over her attraction to her student. In media life (and how many people saw this movie?), the audience is in on the joke that Jenko is a cop and an adult and what’s REALLY funny is that Ms. Griggs has squishy hot lady parts. She clearly wants sex. She’s scary.

The pin in the photo, “I can read your mind and you should be ashamed of yourself,” is one that was meant to be worn by females. No guy would have worn this pin, because of their own set of social pressures that include always being seen as manly and quasi-turned-on. And neither would anyone over the age of, like, 25. Could you see a 40-year-old woman wearing this pin on her business casual, office-to-happy-hour blouse? No, you can’t. This was an accessory designed for the 16-20(ish) set, women who don’t necessarily understand how to be in control of their sexuality yet, even though they’re blossoming like crazy. How do you keep someone in check that may want to explore their sexuality but lacks the savvy to do so within socially defined parameters? Shaming works, right?

I bet you’re thinking…but Terri, this pin is like a billion years old. It’s practically a piece of cultural pre-history. Surely we’ve evolved since then, right? Come along as a culture, and have a healthier view of sexual development than we did in the stone ages of the 1980s, right?

Then ask yourself why abstinence-only sex education has traction. Ask why purity rings are a real thing. Ask why slut-shaming is so easy to do. Easier and easier, in fact, thanks to the internet.

Even though, in confusing contrast, American culture is becoming more and more creepily, tween-centrically sexualized. Sexualization and the conflicts that society heaps up on it start earlier all the time. It’s not easy being a woman, and it’s really not easy developing into a woman when a perfectly normal aspect of adult womanhood is held to freakishly austere criticism.

Remember, folks, a healthy grasp of sexuality, in general, isn’t something that should be viewed as shameful. However. If you’re thinking sexual thoughts about a tween, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Way more serious than I had anticipated. So be it. But I have to end this on a positive note. Here’s Buddy Holly’s “Every Day”, possibly the happiest song in all the world. I post this to be more conscious about the messages I send.

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