There are many behaviors that were historically taboo, but currently are widely acceptable. For example, a woman showing off her delicate ankles used to be considered quite provocative. Then of course, a woman wearing slacks was seen as very inappropriate because I suppose it revealed women actually had legs instead of an amorphous blob of flesh (?). In some societies, it’s shocking for a man and woman to hold hands in public.* It’s easy to mock the idea that these innocent body parts and behaviors could ever resemble anything remotely titillating.**
Now, many people have adopted this idea that any sense of propriety is absurd, misguided, or somehow promoting the subjugation of women and other bad things. We have Kesha going to lunch with her mom (!!) wearing basically a mosquito net. Furry conventions exist. There are mothers who think that sharing pics of their bosoms is fine as long as their baby is somewhere in the vicinity. And if you dare suggest like “yo, maybe keep that to yourself?” then you will be accused of being a rude, closed-minded, patriarchy-promoting, homophobic, bigot-y poop head.
I think part of the outrage here is that when I suggest someone not go public with their body – or what they enjoy doing with their body – it’s interpreted as me casting shame. And that has a certain logic – we often hide parts of ourselves that we are ashamed of. But saying “keep that to yourself” doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t approve. It doesn’t necessarily mean I think what you’re sharing is fundamentally gross.
I think about it a different way. Take the word treasure… or savor, maybe. When I’m savoring a moment with my hubs, it’s not a public thing. It’s private. And if I went public and posted something like “my husband just gently caressed my derrière,” it would be met with indifference at best and voyeurism at worst. So, I don’t share those sorts of things because it gives other people the opportunity to evaluate it (even ignoring something is a vote of value, just negative!). It also detracts from the moment itself because it wasn’t meant for anyone else. Sharing that moment would dilute and cheapen.
So even more so with our bodies and sexuality, aye? All morals aside, I don’t want to know what gets you sexually revved up. I don’t need to know what your nips look like. I don’t need to witness your tender family moments. Am I repulsed by these things? Sometimes, not always, it really depends. But it’s actually the beauty and specialness – or at least, potential beauty and specialness – of bodies, sexuality, and intimacy that makes them cringey to witness in public.
Don’t exploit yourself, your body, or your privacy by offering it to the public like a desperate sacrifice to the gods of attention and validation. Treasure it. Savor it. And if you find that you cannot savor or treasure your body, sexuality, intimate moments without sharing them with the world, well.. maybe that’s something to mull over during your next poo time.
— EDITORIAL NOTES —
*My family visited Zimbabwe when I was 9, and I remember the local friends we knew there warning my parents to not put on this shocking display of affection.
** speaking of, I always thought titillating was a particularly unchaste word. [blushes]