Friday, November 16, 2007

Messages In Bottles

Last night, after the girls were in bed, but before my wife came back from wherever she was (I know where she was, but tain't none of your business), I was cruising through my stupendous archives. One thing I try to do every once in a while is check to make sure no comment spam has erupted in older posts. Lucky for me there isn't a whole lot of that since I got word verification. What I did find, however, was something so much better than a Viagra ad, or a link to a Korean porn site, that it got me thinking.

Back in April, I wrote a piece on the women's sexuality, and the way some men perceive a confident, independent woman as a threat. It's a good post (even if I do say so myself), but far too much attention was paid, in comments, to a photograph I found that accompanied the post. To a person who found the photograph "pornographic", I responded:
To view this particular photo as porn reveals a certain, um, prudishness (to be kind) toward the exhibition of the human body. This is most definitely not "pron" (I'm assuming that's a typo), but most definitely an artistic rendering of Augustine's idea of original sin as concupiscence. It also demonstrates visually one of the ideas I was trying to convey, viz., that the power women have through their sexuality is threatening to many men. Your reaction, it seems to me, proves my point more than you might imagine.

I am quite proud of that particular piece, and the accompanying photo, and was dismayed as I read through the comments by how much time was spent on the non-issue of the pornographic nature of the photo.

Then, as I was scrolling down, I came across two comments I had not previously seen. I thought, for a moment, I had comment spam, but a quick glance showed me otherwise. The first was from someone called "The Flip Flop Girl":
I"m sorry you had to go through that silly arguemnt with that ignorant prude! I love your essay and it helps me to see some really healthy and balanced expression from a Christian point of view. We are living in very strange times indeed. One must hope, and pray, that a Democrat is elected president in '08 to, at the very least, help clean up the current mess and abuse of power. My blog deals with sexuality and pop culture from, well, my point of view, a young woman. It has been interesting to me to read my responses, predominantly from men. Many do provide thoughtful and sensitive feedback which is reassuring. Then there are those who seem to see me more as a sex object than anything else, or exclusively as a sex object, and I feel sorry for them. Finally, I love the photo on your blog. There's absolutely nothing wrong with it!


That was a nice affirmation.

The second was from Rebecca:
Hello! I am neither Christian nor male, but I loved this posting and have added an extract from it to my own blog. I've recently moved to Egypt and I'm experiencing my sexuality in a new way, simply because the men in the street here harass women so much. I'm seeing more clearly than ever in the streets of Cairo how female sexuality is a powerful force that makes men uncomfortable. I loved reading your perspective - it was a positive contribution in my efforts to get my head around women's sexuality. Thanks!

There are few things more gratifying than to find these kinds of comments. It is the kind of affirmation of what I'm doing that tells me I am not wasting my time. I put these little missives up, and wonder, "Does anyone get what I'm doing here?" Indeed, even when I get a reaction, as I did here, it usually revolves around something tangential, irrelevant to the main point (or demonstrative of it in a scary way . . .). Yet, here are two young women who found something affirming. To touch someone in that way . . . Wow. It's a kind of miracle in a way.

By the way, I do believe the abstract point I was making here is now on full display by some of the lesser lights of our political media figures. We have Chris Matthews almost daily fight to regain his masculinity against the threat of Hillary Clinton (his latest nonsensical goofballism is his insane obsession with her hand-clapping). We have Tucker Carlson crossing his legs when he hears her voice. These are blatant, public examples of the kind of existential threat a strong woman poses to men who, for whatever reason, fear for their masculinity.

Virtual Tin Cup

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