Sunday, July 16, 2017

Immodesty is a Virtue

Ya know, if I saw other guys wearing Speedo-style swim briefs, I wouldn't feel the need to justify myself. (And if we were being sex-blind, we'd find that I'm not even the one wearing the skimpiest swimsuit on the beach). But since I appear to be the only one doing it, I feel like an explanation is warranted for why I insist on being different. Because if other people understood the reasons why someone would do this, you'd reasonably expect to see more people doing it, right?

Like most men, I came to the realization at a certain point in my life that I enjoy the sight of a woman's body - and the more of it I could see, the better. But instead of rejecting this as some kind of personal moral failing, I've learned to embrace it as a fact of nature. It doesn't hurt me; it brings me joy. Why should I shun that? There is a lot of discussion in society these days about whether this hurts women, but it's a topic rife with politicization. There may be a good way and a bad way of going about pretty much anything, but I don't believe that, at its core, men admiring women's bodies is inherently harmful. Our natural instincts may not always steer us in the best direction, but this is an activity I believe we can engage in positively and healthily, even if it takes a little conscious deliberation to figure out how exactly to go about doing that. And I spend a lot of time (too much, I think) deliberating on this very issue. But the discussion simply cannot begin with "this is wrong; we need to stop this."

Now, in the photographer's trade, you sometimes come across a certain philosophy by which a conscientious photographer will insist that he not ask a model to do anything he himself wouldn't be willing to do. There may be a lot of unscrupulous photographers out there who do NOT live by this philosophy, but I've taken it to heart. And I've applied it not just to my approach as a photographer, but to my life on the whole, when it comes to my feelings as to what I like about women. Indeed, it has informed - to a large extent - my transformation to a more feminized gender presentation. So when I see girls dressed in skimpy clothes that show off a lot of their bodies, and my response to that is (immensely) positive, I think, "if this is truly okay, then I should have no problem doing it myself." Which is exactly what I've gotten into the habit of doing (where possible and practical). And you know what? I like it. I enjoy showing off my body, and I like the feeling of being desired. If some women don't enjoy this, they have the option of choosing clothes they're more comfortable in (like the ones I used to wear for most of my sheltered life). But that's no reason to disparage other women who revel in that kind of attention.

Now, as a caveat, sometimes a girl will choose to wear shorts, for example, because she's hot, and not because she wants guys (or girls) to look at her and think "she's hot". In this case, she is not, in a sense, "asking" for a certain kind of attention, and shouldn't necessarily have to deal with it. But this is a nuanced issue. As human beings and sexual organisms, if you show skin, people are going to look. And if you're attractive (an admittedly subjective evaluation), people are going to like it. You can't expect this not to happen, and shaming people for doing it is wrong. (So telling a girl to change because her shorts are distracting is not okay, but then neither is it okay to turn around and criticize a man for viewing her "in that way" - my complicated response to a recent case of "wardrobe policing" in a nutshell). You should be prepared for it no matter what you wear (since different people respond to different things), because it's human nature, and because looking doesn't harm anyone.

That's the advice I have for women. But this is a two-sided issue. Men also need to learn how to handle their feelings with dignity and respect. You think that girl is hot? Great! There's nothing wrong with that. But that's not an excuse for you to act like a jackass, or do anything to make that girl feel uncomfortable. It's a two-way street. People are going to look. But they should still behave themselves. And at the end of the day, it has less to do with what a person decides to wear than we think. So I'm going to keep wearing as little as I can get away with in public - whether you like it or not; I do, and that's what counts - and I'm going to keep appreciating and defending others who do the same. Because that's the kind of world I want to live in. I'm just helping to pave the way.

No comments:

Post a Comment