I was chatting with an artist friend today about nakedness and my response to seeing it, comparing the sight of feminine nudity to that of male nudity, even the non-erotic sort that is preferable to me either way.
A nagging sensation that has been bothering me for quite some time finally coalesced enough to really see the thought. In my mind, even partial female nudity is shameful and embarrassing to see, while complete male nudity is “just another body” whether it is attractive or not, though blatant sexual overtones send me off to find art that is less irritating to look at.
I finally asked myself why.
Consciously, I know that both the female and male bodies are “just another body” … so why do I cringe about the breasts on ancient statues of women and simply admire the statue of David as a work of art? (Let’s just take straightforward eroticism out of the question for now. I’m not prepared to see it clearly until the simple element of nudity is dealt with.)
- Exposure doesn’t feel safe amid the culturally ingrained “men naturally want to rape women” mindset, so I think I feel afraid for them, as I would for myself.
- Exposed female bodies make me uncomfortable by contrasting the mind-bending shame I feel over my own female form, having been taught my body is cursed.
- When I was growing up it never seemed to occur to anyone that all of us might be capable of saying, “oh, it’s just another human body.” … If only we had been taught to see each other that way. *sigh*
I had no clue this programming was running in such an all-encompassing way. It was easier to project my shame problem on others so that my own automatic revulsion seemed very natural. I didn’t stop to question it until I met people I respect who don’t respond this way at all. They are obviously healthier than I am, since they don’t have that ugliness lurking beneath the surface just waiting to spew out.
It’s fear, pure and simple, and I don’t think it’s healthy to inflict that darkness on other women, or to react that way over my own body, either.
Now I wonder … how do I even begin to heal this damage?
A few related articles below:
when our culture stops seeing “beauty” as a necessary element for womanhood the better off we’ll all be.
How can we work together to gain healthier perspectives on sex, the body, holiness, manhood, and womanhood without slipping into legalistic, shame-based tactics? How can we engage with each other and the real issues we’re dealing with while still seeking wisdom and true humility?
Every so often, during discussions on “modesty” and how women need to cover up to help the guys, someone will throw out this caveat: “But men have to be modest too! So, guys should always wear a shirt.”