Boundaries: what a chappaqua stripper can teach

Posted: Sep 11, 2001 12:00 AM
A little more than a week ago, according to police reports, a woman named Nicole walked into the Wiens' house with a bottle of whipped cream and some sex toys, looked around at the mob of boys and girls, and said something like, "Aren't some of these a little young for my act?"

The rest is history, yet another chapter in the Chappaqua, N.Y., sex diaries. Chappaqua is a nice town plagued by ex-president jokes, adolescent sexual braggadocio (which last spring broke out of the locker room into cyberspace), and now this. One football player told the New York Post, "Jeremy's parents were right there, having a good time with us."

You know we are having a little trouble with boundaries when the only adult in the suburban living room with moral qualms is the stripper.

In this brief respite between arrest and this week's arraignment of the Wiens, it is worthwhile to ask: What can we learn? Here's what Jeanine Pirro, Westchester County district attorney, says happened: "This nude dancer, with the assistance of some of the high school students, was inserting objects into private parts of her body as well as putting whipped cream on parts of her body that was then being licked by some of the students."

Several girls who were present told police they left the patio "disgusted."

Obviously most Chappaqua parents were disgusted, too: How could you do this to other people's kids? I am rather more fascinated by a different broken boundary: How you could do this with your own kids? And even more unfathomable: How you could do this in front of your own parents?

A high school senior wants to fondle a beautiful pro? Of this I don't approve, but I certainly understand. Now invite your girlfriend along? OK, things are getting weird. But on the back patio with Mom and Dad cheering away? As a Chappaqua police sergeant told the Journal News, "We always want parents to support and encourage their kids' endeavors, but ..." But indeed. Can you imagine? C'mon boys and girls, invite Aunt Ida and don't forget the whipped cream!

Boundaries: I open up my Westchester Yellow Pages. Under entertainers, there is Nicole's agency, Gorgeous Strippers Plus, sandwiched between Bubbles the Clown and her Costume Characters and Muskrat Banjo Bands. Boundaries: Associated Press reports a Los Angeles aerobics club has introduced strip aerobics: "Some people may flash their butts, and one woman wears pasties and has been known to pull her bra down, but others might just pull up a T-shirt and then pull it back down, or even do the whole class entirely clothed."

A new University of Pennsylvania report says more than 300,000 American kids are involved in the sex trade. In Massachusetts, taxpayers pay for anti-AIDS lessons for high school teens that include instructions in safe fisting. Today's New York Times reports that a new Broadway play -- making scarcely a ripple, so well-trained are we in the sacred inviolability of arts -- has two 70-year-olds simulating sex, with full frontal male nudity. Watch Grandpa get it on stage.

It is not just parents who are having trouble with sexual boundaries. There is a porning of America taking place. The new social norm for the place of sex in society parallels the point of view of the average 18-year-old boy.

Parents, they tell us, are supposed to stop it. It is our job to protect our kids, no matter what. And so it is. But practically, parents alone, without help and reinforcement, cannot sustain sexual civilization all on our own. We need help from other parents and adults, from educators, clergy, advertisers and entertainers, and at key moments from the Chappaqua police department, who recognized that what took place in the Wiens' home was thankfully not just a moral outrage -- it was (still) a crime. It is the law, let us note, that in this instance made the boundaries clear.

It is indeed parents' job against all odds to protect our children from sexual degradation. And it is the job of a decent society not to leave us all alone in this task.