Monday, February 6, 2012

Fearing the Way

These things seem true to me, regarding sexuality:
1) It is one of the most profound things in human existence.

2) It is so profound that it frightens many of us.

3) That fear causes some of us to hide from sexuality's profundity.

4) That drive to hide from sexuality often makes us behave illogically.
These things seem true to me about traditional wisdom:
1) Self-control is held in high esteem. 
2) Self-control is often regarded by students and teachers alike as a constant need, rather than a thing that may be let-go, under the proper circumstances (which, in itself, is a kind of modified control).

3) Therefore, any abandonment of control is regarded as failure and, sometimes, immorality.
Because of the truths above, many a bride -- and perhaps many a groom -- over the course of time, have fellt guilt over their pleasures with their spouses, even if they followed the rules of her religion and "waited." Why? Because the act in which they engaged felt like a loss of self-control; like an abandonment of everything they were taught. They stood too close to the doorway to Tao -- that place where all of our morals, all of our logic, and all of our social graces evaporate into the vapours of all creation . . .

Of course, there should be rules and guidelines for sexuality. Each person has his or her own moral and logical reasons for his or her own sexual activities. But, it seems to me, that one shows a lack of balance when one is either embarrassed or appalled by the idea of sexuality. Such a lack of balance is not healthy for the individual or for society.

This is not to say that everyone should be giving everyone else play-by-play recaps of the previous night's mattress romps. This is also not to say that children should be exposed to levels of sexuality for which they are not ready. (I think a lot of our advertising and films, etc., do go too far these days.)

But let's not get silly.

Some years ago, in a town near me, a caterer's establishment, in all its glorious schmaltz, put a replica of Michelangelo's "David" atop its building. The neighbors protested and had David (along with his offending appendage) taken down. Stupid.

The other night, my wife, an avid yoga practitioner, showed me a picture in her yoga magazine and explained to me that the magazine was receiving letters which protested the picture below (along with a series of pictures like it):

The protests are of the usual, canned kind: the pictures, they say, objectify women.

So, there is certainly some difficult terrain to navigate here. Let's face it: the yoga teacher in the ads is very attractive. I and a legions of men who have seen this picture would be lying if we said this picture isn't, as my student would say, "hot."

But that is okay, right? And isn't this where self-control comes in? The picture certainly has a mix of aesthetic and erotic beauty to it. I see both sides of it, and I admire both sides of it.

But what message is the picture sending? Is this an objectification? I don't see it that way. I see strength in this accomplished yogi; I see a control and command of the human body that most of us will never even approach; I see beauty and I see strength. And, somehow, I see intelligence behind not only the ad, but behind the face of the model, yoga instructor, Kathryn Budig.

The litmus test for me is often: Is this okay for my sons to see? Well, would I rather them see this or would I rather them see a picture of a lustful-eyed woman in an unimaginably low-cut dress, seducing the camera with parted lips? Because that's what they glanced at, yet again, in the supermarket last night. My older son pointed to the cover where, next to the frisky vixen, the words "sex tips that will drive your man insane in bed," were written.

They both wrinkled their noses and made the "barfing" gesture with its accompanying noises.

And maybe the truth shows there. They reacted to an inappropriate overload in an irrational (and rather rude, if amusing) manner. (See number four, above.)

So, yeah, I think it is okay for my kids to see the ad above. And I also think it would be okay for them to see even if Budig were not tactfully posed so as not to reveal her other assets. This is not an overtly sexual picture. It contains that balance of sexuality and aesthetics that composes a healthy perspective -- a view that I would rather my boys experience than that of a woman on MTV, stupidly and generically wiggling for the camera. It is okay for my sons to admire the beauty of a woman, especially when the depiction of that woman presents her as a strong and accomplished master of an ancient practice.

This woman is no object, so we shouldn't allow our own fears and repressions to label her as such.

We mean well, but we just tend to go after the wrong things, I think.

No comments:

Post a Comment