So a few days ago, a friend of mine linked to an interesting picture on Facebook. It was of a topless woman who had written “STILL NOT ASKING FOR IT” on her breasts and abdomen. I won’t post it here, because I know some of my readers find nudity distasteful*, but it sparked a very interesting debate. I’ve seen it shared a few other places since, and every time the comments are just breathtaking.
You wouldn’t wear a chum suit to swim with sharks.
There is this idea, beneath the surface of almost all of the comments, that women’s bodies are a dangerous weapon that once unleashed turn normal respectable men into mindless automatons of desire with undeniable destructive force. There are two issues to be addressed there:
- Men are not savages, and society should not give them permission to behave like such. Showing men a pair of perky breasts should not turn them into raping machines. If they cannot control themselves in the face of a flash of skin here or a lowcut top there or a pretty lady in high heels and a skirt walking through the park in twilight, this really isn’t the lady’s problem. It’s the man’s. If the men in our society cannot bear the sight of a little boobs or butt without losing their minds, I think that we should either blame society or men, not women. That’s sort of like saying, “I know I promised not to eat any more sugar but then there were chocolate bars in the checkout lane and I completely lost my mind and woke up the next morning with a Hershey’s mustache surrounded by shredded wrappers. I blame Safeway.” Uh, no.
- Women’s bodies aren’t chum. They aren’t a shredded bucket of viscera whose only purpose is to attract sharks. Imagine for a moment that a man was painting the side of his house in only a pair of tight shorts and the woman who lived there invited him in for a cup of lemonade, roofied him and raped him. Do you think society as a whole would say, “man, you really shouldn’t work with your shirt off. You KNOW what those rock hard abs do to women.” No. Because there is a double standard, and women’s bodies are the only ones treated like a weapon. Women are told to be demure, to be “good”, to keep their breasts and buttocks covered, to not wear too high of heels, etc, etc, etc, to “protect themselves” or to “protect men from temptation”. Then, women are told that they should be sexy to keep their husband and they must dress attractively to be respected and on and on and on, because apparently our bodies aren’t our bodies, they are a tool. A tool that must know when to be used and when not to. A tool that is constantly meant to be in the service of others.
I don’t normally cuss on this blog, but I can only think of one word to sum up my feelings on this subject:
Let’s make one thing clear; the only time a woman is “asking for it” is when she says, “give it to me, I want it.” Simply having a pair of breasts isn’t asking for it. Even showing you her breasts isn’t asking for it. Her body isn’t consent, period. I know people who think the act of sexual intercourse is in and of itself consent, which is such an utter crock of insanity I hate to even write about it because it makes my heart bleed. It really does. Women have a right to decide when they want to have sex and when they don’t. I once jokingly told someone that it’s a little different when you’re married, because there’s this assumption that your bodies are there for each other. I was talking to a guy, as a matter of fact, and his response was that while some guys might think it’s cool for their girl to just stick her hand down their pants and say “give it to me” it really doesn’t work that way.
And you know what? It doesn’t.
We live in a world where privacy is something that you can have or give away with the click of a button, it’s a commodity that is bought and sold without so much as our knowledge. Our bodies may be our last line of defense. Our bodies may be the last place where we can truly feel ownership of ourselves, the last thing that isn’t being bought and sold and grasped at for profit. And for women, that feeling of ownership and peace has never really truly fully been there. We’ve always understood that our bodies belong to our children, to our husbands, to our world as a whole. Our beauty has always been something we’ve been told to use to our advantage, if we’ve got it, or if we haven’t that’s always been something that has set us apart.
To tell us that our bodies deserve violence because they are appealing, that it is our duty to avoid violence by hiding our bodies…
Let’s make everything very, very clear: No one’s body belongs to anyone else, even if you are married. You give access to your body, but it must be a gift and it must be given freely. If a woman is less than dressed, that’s not consent. If she’s passed out on the couch, that’s not consent. If you have some control over her, as her boss, as her lover, as coercion, that’s not consent. If you didn’t ask and she didn’t say please, one of those two things has to happen. And the reverse is true, ladies: men don’t want it by default. Don’t go around sticking your hands down their pants.
We don’t have a right to each other’s bodies. Nothing but permission gets that for us.
I know in the romance novels he always gets that look in his eye and she just knows and they fall on each other like wolves in heat and it’s so whatever, but that’s not life. I know in the movies they never talk about it either. It’s ridiculous. We’re adults, and we’re responsible, and this is the real world where consent is necessary. If you’ve got someone willing to communicate with you about sex, by all means communicate. And if you don’t, you should very seriously think about whether or not your sexual life is really what you imagine it is, because there are plenty of people out there afraid to say no, afraid to say slow down, afraid to say I don’t want this. They are afraid because society has taught them that if someone goes after their body it must be their fault for taking the lid off the chum.
So don’t treat each other like chum. Honor and love and respect each other. Treat the gift of a lover’s body like the miracle and art that it is.
I guess that’s all I’ve got to say.
* Side note: I see nothing shameful in nudity. God created Adam and Eve naked, and they only felt ashamed after experiencing sin. I, personally, believe that our bodies are a good creation, and in their purest (nude) form are not an embarrassment but a testimony to the art and pleasure of our Creator.