We tend to be inundated with so many sexual images in our daily lives it can be difficult to sort out genuine feelings of attraction and sensuality from the many slams on our sexual cortex delivered through the media. So let’s be frank about a human need. Being naked or nearly naked and having sex is a good thing for both the body and the soul.
Last evening I watched an HBO program that featured the Ted talk by Cindy Gallop. She has created a website to promote healthier, more honest sexual content. It’s titled Make Love, Not Porn. She cuts through the precepts of the porn industry to encourage couples of all orientations to stop with the often mysogynistic views of sexuality promoted by the porn industry and find your way to healthier views of body, soul and sex.
We all know the porn industry is huge. It makes billions of dollars for purveyors of sexual imagery. Banning the industry as some people might like to do would not really stop the exchange of such imagery.
The real question we should be asking is how do we educated ourselves and our children about sex? And, how does it balance with othere healthy physical, mental and social behaviors.
The reason this all relates to running and riding and swimming is that we tend to celebrate our bodies through these activities as well. It gets a bit confusing in fact when we see a particularly athletic body to which we’re attracted. The leading fitness magazines all toss hot bodies on the cover.
But let’s start with the fact that our faces are almost always naked. There are cultures that think even facial skin is too much to bear. They force women to wear covers over their faces in order to avoid temptation.
Recognizing this is an issue of control and fear towards women, the majority of the world does not impose such restrictions. But then were does it stop?
Well frankly, it doesn’t. Once you decide that faces are okay to view, then shoulders are fair game too. Then backs, and bellies. Thighs and calves and ankles too. Athletes of all genders bare these parts of their bodies on a daily basis. It’s particularly true from June through August. The naked face of summer is delicious in its entirety.
If you have never actually been naked out of doors, you really need to try it. Do it under cover of night if you have not been so bold as to wander around in daylight. Even a walk through your garden at midnight without clothes on is an enlightening experience. All your sensations come alive. If you’re lucky enough to have a partner to toss down a blanket and make love outdoors (barring attacks from mosquitos or encounters with skunks) there is much to be learned from the excitement.
Running naked down a long beach with no one around, just the sea breeze up your butt crack and the sun beating down on your shoulders? That’s also being alive. See, it’s not just about sex, this sex thing. It’s about feeling your sex. Feeling male. Feeling female. Feeling your gender and what your body does and does not want you to do.
We can laugh about the risks of running naked. Women with large breasts may find it a bit painful. Same with men hung so low they flap on their own thighs. So make it a short run. Or just walk. The naked face of summer wants you to feel alive. Feel yourself.
People can say, “Oh I don’t want to see that…” because older people may not be so beautiful to look at. But what is that attitude, really? It’s a form of discrimination against the aged. It’s a denial that we’ll all get old someday. It’s a denial of our own humanity and our own mortality. It’s a sin, really.
The real sin is discrimination against our naked selves. Of course the Internet is a virtual landscape where that discrimination cannot be held against us. Just visit the portal of any general porn website and there are millions upon millions of people willingly exposing their bodies. Some even invite commentary. You can argue all day about the narcissism of these sites, but placed against the discriminatory attitudes we have against naked bodies in society, and the massive resistance to the taboo, and you can surmise there is a certain liberation going on. People are tired of being told they have to hide behind clothes.
It’s an interesting facet of our culture here in America that the political party that claims to love liberty and personal freedom is the party most involved in trying to control what women and men do with their bodies. The Republican Party simply cannot handle the idea that sexuality is an important part of personal freedom. This deep dichotomy drives so many of them to distraction, and manifests itself in many confusing ways. Just look at the many comely women on the Fox News channel. Are they all legitimately there as news reporters? Or is the titillation of legs and boobs on screen a Trojan Horse (pardon the pun) to allow Fox to deliver its discriminating, politically charged and angry message into the minds of millions of Fox viewers?
In the political world we constantly find sexual secrets and supposedly devastating affairs cropping up among those who lobby against the very nature of their own being. Those that deny their own urges and feelings are often the most persistent and zealous persecutors. Of the things they most hate or deny in themselves. Even the Apostle Paul might have been a gay man. Conflicted at heart by his own urges, he was brilliant nonethelessm the ultimate proselytizer of Christian faith.
But the movement to empower oneself by distributing and celebrating self-imagery that includes naked pictures is an interesting blowback against the long history of culture that says sex and bodies images are bad.
Certainly athletes stand on the forefront of this. Going all the way back to Greek and Roman era images, we see naked athletes competing in games. Why were they naked? What admission was those societies willing to make that then got obscured by religion and imprudent prudence?
The hyper-religious might argue that those societies decayed due to such hedonism. But wait: they also lasted thousands of years. They brought forth some of the greatest thinking in all of history, including the concepts of freedom and democracy we now try to enjoy today.
The emphasis should be placed on the phrase “try to enjoy.” Because it’s the fascination with the taboo that is driving the mysogyny of porn. It is the urge for domination in the face of rejection that makes men want to watch women being abused. It is fear over women’s bodies and the mystery of sex that makes being seen naked so seemingly dangerous. And it’s the literal interpretation of the Adam and Eve story that sets the whole fear thing in motion.
It’s time to stop being so literal about the idea of being naked, and start being real about it. That’s why athletes have such an important role to play. Stripping down to compete as we run, ride and swim is a manifest way to take ownership of our bodies and show that our sex is real, whatever that may be. Male, female or transgender.
Get real, or get out of the way.