Trending news headline: Model dons bathing suit for photo shoot on hotel balcony.
Why should I care about this? Why is it even popular?
I saw this headline trending on Facebook and hours passed before I realized the reason is probably people wanting to see the pictures. This is how un-stereotypically-masculine I am.
I mean sure, I can appreciate a beautiful person. Face, body, clothed, unclothed, all pretty much the same to me. (And the conservatives stuck in antiquated views of gender say “Liar!”)
I looked up the headline and there wasn’t much to it. A few words that can be summed up as “look at this famous person wearing a small amount of fabric”, and then a bunch of pictures of the lady standing in contorted poses. It was about as exciting as an illustrated article about the forehead wrinkles of a septuagenarian.
No, I’m not saying the woman was wrinkled or looked bad at all, only that for something that’s supposedly news, the article was incredibly inane and elicited no reaction from me except an apathetic “huh”…and this blog post.
I always have to try approaching this issue from the perspective that maybe I’m a really unusual male person. The conservative notion that men will lust whenever presented with bare female skin sounds ridiculous and false to me because it is false for me.
And after all the effort people have put into trying to convince me I’m not actually a very different or unique person, maybe I’ve just picked up this idea that if I can do it, so can you.
I think it’s pretty simple. If you truly believe that seeing an unclothed body will make you automatically lust, then you will lust. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. What if you realize that you have control of your own desires, and seeing an unclothed body can be just as fine or just as bad as seeing a clothed one?
This is just my own experience, of course. But maybe I’m not so different as I seem. What if the difference here is that so many men still believe that they can’t control themselves? What if the outliers like me are simply people who learned to think about it differently?
It’s the same old argument: is this trait learned or innate?
To which there is hardly an easy answer. How do we even begin to separate what is built into basic human nature, and what isn’t but becomes natural over many years of learning?
We can look at small children and learn how they see the world. This is one reason I love writing child characters. There’s so much we can learn about ourselves by seeing things from their perspective.
But on sexual matters, that doesn’t work. Children aren’t sexual beings yet. Puberty awakens that part of us, but by then we’re already such complex mixtures of the innate and the learned.
It’s true that the human body is fascinating. It’s true that many people take that fascination to a very unhealthy level.
Maybe it just isn’t quite as beyond your control as you might think.
When I was a teenager, I spent a couple years looking at porn on and off. I’d feel a powerful urge to see it, and I’d give in and pull it up for a moment, and then feel bad and shut it down. Until the next time, sometimes days, sometimes weeks later, that the urge hit me again.
As I got older and started to form my own beliefs, I thought a lot about the issue. I came to the understanding that sexual desire is in fact natural and there’s nothing wrong with it. I realized there’s nothing wrong with the unclothed human body.
It may seem backward, but this realization is what helped me stop. I don’t look at porn and I don’t want to because it’s exploitative. And beyond that, it simply stopped carrying any appeal for me. I know what the human body looks like. It can be beautiful and fascinating, but those reactions are natural and not meant to be overpowering.
So maybe the next time you feel a powerful urge to look at some people wearing small amounts of fabric, stop and think. Why should I care about this headline that promises sexual gratification at the expense of some random person I don’t even know?