Monday, February 7, 2011

For Our Own Good

Once upon a time, I read that unmarried women were encouraged to attend the ancient Olympics, which were conducted nude, so that they could get a good gander at what they'd be up against in the marital bed. Married women, though, were forbidden to watch. I guess their husbands didn't like the competition - not the sport, but their wives comparing those buff, rippling muscles and freely swinging cocks to their husband's shortcomings.

Once upon a time, a grade school friend and I followed the alleyways behind houses and apartment buildings as a shortcut to the convenience store. Cunning plan, except that at the end of the alleyway, there was a tall cinderblock wall. It was either double back, or scale the wall. Even though I wasn't much of a climber, I managed to get over it. She was much more fit, so she got over it long before I did. When I finally slid down the other side, the rough blocks pushing my shirt up and scraping my belly as my feet sought terra firma, she stood in the vacant lot on the other side with something in her hands that had her full attention. I scrambled over to see.

As with Garce's blog entry last week, my first sight of a nude, adult woman was courtesy of Playboy Magazine. Emily and I were fascinated by the pictures. Was that what we'd turn into? It seemed impossible. (Given my body, it was, but Emily was graced by far kinder nature.) Then we got to the crotch shot. She said "gross," and flipped the page, but I flipped it back. Guys can see their cocks. They can look down, or into a mirror. They play with them, befriend them, are tormented and pleasured by them. Girls are denied much of that. In that picture, I finally got to see what was down there. Sure, I'd felt it, but that wasn't the same. I wanted to keep that picture and study it, since Emily kept trying to turn the page, but there was no way that I could tear it out and take it with me. She'd think that I was a freak, and my parents would have made my life unbearable if they caught me with it. It was strictly forbidden knowledge.

Once upon a d time, and even now, girls are forbidden to know about their bodies because any picture of a vulva is "filthy porn." Even researching breast cancer on the internet is forbidden because the search term includes the word breast. There's no such thing as a purely educational picture that's okay for a girl to look at. It has to be a drawing. But even then, it's suspect. It's subjecting children to evil influences - because knowledge is the ultimate evil.

The United States is a weird place. A small but influential portion of the population has decided that ignorance is our children's best defense in a war against deadly STDs and teen pregnancy. Why we let them force their religion on us is a mystery, but that's the way things go here. There are other weird anomalies here that make no sense. It's okay to show naked women in R-rated movies, but a penis is an automatic X rating. So it's okay for boys to see girls, but not for girl to see boys. (Shades of the Olympics, except that now we're treated as married women from birth).Girls can't even look at pictures of the most intimate parts of their bodies. 

The forbidden, close enough to touch late at night under our blankets, and yet forever held beyond our sight - for our own good.


  1. Kathleen,

    Wow. All I can say is hear, hear. Every point is vividly stated and illustrated.


  2. Craig - thanks. I was feeling a bit "uppity."

  3. Hi Kathleen,

    thank you for this passionate post. It had never occurred to me that women have to work harder to get sight of their own sex.

    There is no logic to the reaction to body parts. I find the American attitudes some of the most puzzling.

    A while back I was running a little campaign to convince people that circumcision is a form of mutilation. Only America and Australia routinely adopt it as a practice. In both cases it was originally any anti-masturbation technique disguised as pre-emptive hygene. I found the commonest reasons mothers gave for cutting up there sons was "so he'll look like his dad." In what circumstances were they imagining some kind of side-by-side comparison where the uncut boy goes "I wish I'd had part of my sex cut away when I was too young
    to have a say in the matter."?

    I loved the energy of this post. I'd like to see you get uppity more often

  4. Nature puts things in a place for a reason, and foreskin is one of those things.

  5. I'm with Mike on this, it had simply never occurred to me that women were forbidden to be too inquisitve about their own vaginas. And it must be weird to look at a mature woman with boobs and hips, when you're a prepubescent girl and think how you;re going to explode all over someday.

    The thing about penises though. It's true, it is a double standard, and no denying it. Having said that, a vagina, visually, is a vacancy. Its very non-threatening because there's just nothing to see there. The interesting stuff is all hidden away inside. A penis - its out there brother. Big and weird and in your face, sometimes literally. Even when you're a guy, there's something a little unnerving about it, because it doesn't look like anything else in nature except another penis. It just looks purposeful and aggressive. Even the sight of my own dear hard-on seems weird to me poking straight up there. It's pure attitude on-a-stick.

    However its starting to show up more and more in movies and on cable. I recently watched the Spartacus Blood and Sand series, and there are swinging dicks everywhere, though yet no erections shown. One guy gets castrated too and they do show THAT. Ow!


  6. Garce - there is interesting stuff on the surface. Not being a contortionist, it's difficult to see. I guess that's why in the Our Body, Our Selves movement, women were encouraged to take a hand mirror and see themselves.

  7. Excellent post, Kathleen! Obviously you've opened some of our male readers' eyes (figuratively speaking!)


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