Unnatural Fear of the Human Body

image

I went through a lot of old paintings to find one that didn’t show nipples. They have yet to haunt me with guilt or fear.

American culture, especially on the more conservative side, has borrowed a lot from the example of the Puritans and other intense religious groups in how they treat the human body. I think the core ideas of such an ideology are closely related to issues like body shaming, sexual obsession and violence, and the fear of nudity. It all comes down to how we treat sexuality, which has been unfairly linked to the natural state of having no clothing on.

One of the inspirations for this article was a comment by a woman who was upset about the push to allow transgender students in school to use the restroom matching their identified gender. She made one statement that made me laugh and then feel kind of sorry for her kids. She was talking about how she didn’t want a transgender guy (physically female) using the same locker room as her son, and freaking out that her son might get “an image of a girl that he will struggle with for the rest of his life.”

I was reminded of how my father talked to me about pornography when I was twelve or thirteen. He pretty much had the same approach, that he’d looked at porn when he was a teen and ever since then he’s “struggled” with sinful images in his mind. I think if you obsess over it and thoroughly convince yourself that it’s evil to see someone without clothes on, of course you’re going to keep yourself trapped in guilt. Of course you’re going to keep remembering.

Or as one of my atheist friends likes to say in response to Christians asking him if he struggles with lust, “It’s only a struggle if you resist.”

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Who’s to Blame?

blameA guest post by Rissalyn Bard.

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Humans as a species have a tendency to dole out blame for anything and everything that goes wrong in their lives. Whether it’s a sarcastic “Thanks, Obama!” or an attack on a political group for some deficient aspect of society, blaming other people for our problems is something we humans excel at.

Blaming other people doesn’t fix things, though. It fosters resentment and results in nasty flame wars that don’t change people’s minds. This doesn’t just apply to political blame. Blaming a fellow student for causing your group to fail in its final project doesn’t give you a passing grade, and blaming an ex for your emotional instability doesn’t help you become more stable.

Blaming yourself for things that have gone wrong isn’t profitable, either. We often think that blaming ourselves is a noble thing to do and that we become stronger by taking responsibility for the emotional, mental, and physical disasters that we have to deal with. However, piling all that blame on yourself is a one-way ticket to depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem. Psychologically, it just isn’t healthy.

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Who You Should Marry

The ceremony and rings are optional, so this stock photo isn't here to make a point, it's just here to look pretty

The ceremony and rings are optional, so this stock photo isn’t here to make a point, it’s just here to look pretty

There have been some articles such as 10 Women Christian Men Should Not Marry, which basically give a list of certain beliefs and character flaws that are supposed to disqualify someone from being considered for marriage. But that’s kind of negative, don’t you think? Why not write an article about who you should marry? Some people have already written great satirical responses, and I can’t resist adding my voice.

A person’s positive traits should stand out above the negative. If you’re focusing on reasons to not associate with people (whether dating, marriage, or just friendship), you will inevitably find things to dislike about them. And people who do that are the ones who, in my experience, destroy relationships and add a whole lot more misery to the world. Most problems that people consider incompatibility are no more than annoyances that should be insignificant if you actually love the person. So what if one of you likes planning out the future six months in advance, and the other likes taking life as it comes? The one who likes planning can plan all they want, there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not like one of you is experiencing life six months in the future. You both live in the present.

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The Fascinating Human Body

Now this is sexy

This has little to do with the article but damn he’s sexy

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.

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Sex Ed and Teen Pregnancy

Because sex is fun

Someone I know posted this on Facebook a while ago: By not talking about sex openly we basically push children into becoming sex consumers and making unwise decisions which result in addiction. The desire for knowledge unsatisfied results in the consumption of knowledge unrestrained.

What follows is a condensed version of the ensuing conversation, with quotes from people who disagreed. The only changes I’ve made to other people’s comments, besides removing unneeded statements for brevity, are corrections to grammar and spelling.

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We’ve Forgotten What Romance Means

Romance

It’s romantic when the sun is near the horizon, apparently

When people get caught up in a fight over ideas, they often begin to lose sight of what those ideas actually mean. Through the sexual revolution, and the ensuing conservative backlash, the whole issue at the core of the matter seems to have been pushed out of sight.

We have liberal thinkers who see conservative ideas about love and romance as constricting and stuck-up rules, and respond with resistance against any rule. And we have conservatives who see the liberal ideas as threatening their ability to live according to their principles, and respond with the application of more and more specific guidelines designed to prevent their followers from even considering liberal ideas.

I believe the petty battle can be narrowed down to a misunderstanding of romance. Conservatives and liberals alike use the word to describe the happy, sappy experiences of a couple in love doing things that only a couple does. And while this is a valid definition of the word in our current culture, the reason it’s a valid definition, the original concept of romance, is what we’ve lost.

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Living in Fear

fearSeems like everyone lives in fear of something. We shape our lives around what makes us feel safe. Perhaps there are a few people who don’t feel fear, but they’re weird. (Don’t worry, it’s awesome to be weird.) So yes, almost everyone lets fear shape their lives to some extent, and I want to explore a couple extremes.

One of those extremes is me. Due to some imbalances of brain chemicals, I have several issues with fear. The most troubling is that I wake up almost every morning absolutely terrified. Shaking, unable to speak, sick with fear.

Yet despite that, I still get up every morning, get ready for work, drive thirteen miles, and start working. When you’re faced with potentially paralyzing fear, there are only two things you can do—become paralyzed, or grit your teeth and keep on going.

In addition to the morning terror, which often lasts several hours into the day, I am startled very easily. Especially by physical touch. If I’m not expecting it, I get really freaked out. Loud noises also sometimes leave me with a pounding heart for minutes.

I have social phobia. Just being in the presence of people makes me tense and frightened.

I’ve had a lengthy run-in with PTSD and shorter ones with feelings of agoraphobia.

All that to say, I am well acquainted with fear of the life-changing sort. But here I am with a full-time job, new friends, about to rent my own place to live for the first time in my life. At some point, the fear had been around for so long that it became normal, and now I just keep going in spite of it.

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