I rarely, if ever, crosspost from my photo blog verbatim, but this is too powerful to not post here. It’s also as relevant here as there.
While reading an opinion piece at Creative Loafing called the “Right to Bare Breasts” by Jessica Blankenship I came across one of the most powerful statements of why indecency and nudity laws, as well as the general idea of obscenity is an illness in our society.
“The criminalization of the female body fucks with a woman’s ability to hold herself with any sense of balanced identity and worth.”
How in the name of all that’s holy can we teach our daughters and our sisters and our friends and loved ones that the human body, in all shapes, sizes, colors, genders and configurations is a sacred thing to be cherished and enjoyed if we deem something as insignificant as the display of a female breast to be criminal?
The very concept of criminality is one that most people never think about. To deem something as criminal is to deem it worthy of bringing the awesome power of the State to bear upon that act, in all it’s impersonal violence. To deprive a human being of the most sacred of things; their freedom for the societal sin of that act deemed criminal.
Think about that for a moment. To say that baring a breast is criminal is saying that baring a breast is worthy of taking someone’s freedom, of locking them away from society for society’s good.
Teaching our children that from birth is to teach them that they are not worthy of society; that they are not decent; that they are, by fact of their gender and shape of their body indecent by nature and unworthy in any sense of the word. They they are, in fact, criminal by design.
I’ve been following the gotopless.org protests around the world. I find it highly ironic that a political protest movement about gender equality in the display of 1/2 of the human body has to resort to black bars over nipples to post the photos from their protests to Facebook. If the numbers are to be believed, fairly 1/7’s of the world’s population; 1 Billion people; are on facebook . If that doesn’t represent the entire human race, I don’t know what would. And to say that baring a nipple is to be shunned and banned from communicating with that billion people is, itself, a travesty.
What’s to be done? The legal challenges in the courts now, and the successful challenges in some states in the past are ultimately the best avenue to success; at least here in America. Other countries have their own legal avenues of change. Some will require generations of change, but it’s coming.
It’s not about showing a boob in public. It’s about respect and love of the human body. It’s about giving people total sovereignty over their bodies and what they do with it. It’s about equal protection under the law, irrespective of gender or orientation or configuration. It’s about freedom to be, and to love and to be loved. But most of all, it’s about beauty; the beauty given by our creators, be they random events born of quantum equations or some bored long-bearded sky god with a celestial biology kit.
I realize that this post probably doubles the number of words posted in the last year here. And there hasn’t been a photo yet. There won’t be a photo, this time. There is an assignment.
That assignment is to go take off your clothes. All of them. Stand naked before your mirror and your self. Look at yourself with the thought that what you are seeing is, under some very broad and common circumstances, is criminal. Think about what it is about what you are seeing that is so unworthy of society that your very freedom is the price you’d pay for it. Remember that feeling. Let it burn hot and deep, down where you’ll never forget it.
Now, the next time you see a story or an article about someone getting arrested for “indecent exposure” or flashing their breasts or some innocent or even not so innocent photography, think about that feeling. Think about what it felt like for your body, the most wonderful of creations, to be deemed indecent, to be deemed criminal.
The next step, I leave up to you. Thank you.
Ever get that questions from your partner? Never ends well, does it. You’re honest answer of “nothing” is never taken at face value. They question your answer and then the whole situation devolves into one of doubt, mistrust, frustration and distraction.
There’s a meme floating around that has a his and her diary entry. One side (in the case of the gender switched image floating most recently) has a “His” diary of doubt, miscommunication and woe where “Her” diary simply reads “my code is broken, can’t figure out why”.
What’s really going on here is summed up pretty succinctly by something SAM posted over on her Facebook:
“I love how instead of asking her “what’s wrong” he makes up this huge relationship disaster thing, and she’s just thinking about work. HE COULD JUST ASK HER. But no. That’s too risky.”
When I’m asked a general, information seeking question like “what’s wrong?” I always try to take a moment, look back on the last few minutes of conversation or interactions with an eye towards how my emotional or mental state may have shown on my expressions and body language. I make an effort to empathize with my partner and see myself through their eyes.
My internal reality isn’t pertinent at that moment, only my presentation of that reality. With that bit of self analysis, I’m able to effectively communicate “what’s wrong” because I the know “what’s wrong”. Usually “what’s wrong” is a miscommunication or crossed signal between us.
“What’s wrong?” can be answered by saying, honestly and with confidence “I’m worried about X” or “Just lost in thought; something is farked up with code at work and I’m distracted by it” or “Just thinking about X, Y, Z and Thee”.
When someone asks you “What’s Wrong”, the answer is never, ever, “nothing”. At the very least, “What’s wrong” is a misread signal between you. It’s rarely an accusation, though too many people take “What’s wrong?” as an accusation of “What’s wrong? You’re making me feel bad/nervous/left out” or “You’re not reading my mis-delivered signals and are making me feel ignored” or some such.
Correcting those missed signals requires an almost instinctual root cause analysis on you OWN behavior and it’s presentation to you partner.
Now the other side of that is that when you ask someone ‘What’s wrong”, trust them to tell you the truth and if they say “nothing” then believe them. You can usually trust them to mean “Nothing is wrong with you and me and us.”
I had a pretty good grasp of interpersonal communications for most of my teen and adult life. I am always examining and re-examining my interactions with people, especially those that did not turn out the way I wanted them too.
SAM has helped put a fantastic amount of polish on them in the almost 7 years she’s lived with me. We both had enough hidden emotional land mines to blanket a demilitarized zone. After the first couple, we both started forcing ourselves to take a step back and *asking* when the reaction we got wasn’t what was expected. The scariest part the first few times was being completely, brutally honest with ourselves AND each other. It really doesn’t take more than a few times for the world to NOT end when you’re open and vulnerable with your partner before that becomes *easier* than the whole “ugh grunt me man me no feel emotion!”.
So the next time you feel the need to ask your partner “What’s Wrong?”, accept the answer of “Nothing” and follow up with something more empathetic and understanding. Saying something like “Ok, but you seem distracted and distant. Anything I can do to distract you from your distractions?”
Make your partner feel safe to open up to you. If you accuse them of lying to you, you’ll never build any kind of trust. They’ll pull further away at best and, usually, start truly lying to you to prevent the entire spiral of accusations and acrimony that almost always results from that kind of interaction.
So how do you, dear readers, answer that question? What questions drive you batty? What answers make you grind your teeth? How do you work through them to a mutually beneficial, honest, and healthy interaction?