Because I wrote that article on the purity movement and how instead I plan to teach my daughter what I consider healthy respect for her body and sexuality rather than treating her vagina like some ancient tomb to be guarded by cultish warriors I got sent the blog entry by one Mrs. Hall entitled "FYI (if you're a teenage girl)." A lot. Click on the link if you want, but here is the gist.
Hall basically penned a letter to every teenage girl on Facebook letting them know that they were doing themselves great disservice whenever they posted pictures of themselves that were at all revealing on their profiles. This included girls in their pajamas not wearing bras underneath, which is silly because movies have taught me girls don't wear bras to bed. They cover their breasts with those weird L-shaped sheets. Throw in an arched back or pouty lips, and Hall insists that your profile be blocked from her house lest her teenage boys be tempted to linger on these images.
I know your family would not be thrilled at the thought of my teenage boys seeing you only in your towel. Did you know that once a male sees you in a state of undress, he can't ever un-see it? You don't want the Hall boys to only think of you in this sexual way, do you?
Mrs. Hall seems like a very nice lady, if exceptionally hung up on the idea that her children might possible be sporting un-authorized erections. She honestly seems to think she's offering girls good advice on how to not over-stimulate males to the point where they, I don't know, can't wait for the marriage bed as she feels is proper or something. I can respect that even if I think it's dumb.
I do take exception to the idea that my gender is utterly incapable of co-existing with a girl we've seen in a state of undress. That idea is actually one of the feints of misogyny and rape culture, the idea that men can't help themselves so women must police their entire physical existence lest they wake the uncontrollable penis beast of DOOOOOOOOOM!
Mrs. Hall, let me tell you about my female friends...
The best man at my wedding was a woman. Let's call her Lynn. I did Rocky Horror with her for several years, which means that I've seen her in extremely sexy lingerie. I've even briefly seen her topless thanks to a wardrobe malfunction.
More than that, I was her Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sparring partner (To clarify, I was actually supposed to be the untrained attacker she would be defending herself from... which she did easily because she's a ninja and I'm a pudgy writer). This involved me lying on top of her, sweaty, writhing, holding her arms back, bodies strained to the physical limit. Sound hot? Yeah, it kind of was.
On the rare occasion I get to see Lynn these days, I'm not thinking about her nipples or lying on top of her. I'm thinking about how cute her kids are, or we're talking about Doctor Who, or discussing writing, or a million other things that friends shoot the breeze over that don't involve brief moments in our long history when her form may have excited my genitals.
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I've got another very close friend. Michelle will do. Thanks to a burlesque performance she did at Numbers and just the easy way us goths are about our bodies, I reckon that there is less than seven square inches of her I haven't seen exposed. I've also seen her make out with her wife, which was very physically exciting. That's not what I'm thinking about when our families meet for dinner. I'm thinking how wonderful it is to have someone that supporting, understanding, and intelligent in my life.
I used to be in a band, sharing singing duties with a girl who I once convinced to show me a picture of her nipple piercing. On tour, I slept in the same bed as her, a girl with whom I had a very passionate artistic relationship often involving love songs and with whom I was often very drunk. Nothing ever even slightly happened between us. Why would it? She wasn't my girlfriend or wife and I wasn't in love with her. She was just my awesome lyric and singing partner.
Also, she was the only one in the band that didn't snore.
I even have friends that have posed nude for fetish websites, appeared topless in horror movies, and in two cases have filmed hardcore pornographic videos. At any given time on Facebook I probably have at least one girl I have seen naked active in my newsfeed.
And it doesn't matter. It doesn't matter to them that I've seen it, and it doesn't matter to me. It's perfectly possible to look at someone in a seductive pose with fun bits out, feel physical attraction to them, and still have a normal friendly relationship to that person. A person is supposed to handle sexual feelings with wisdom, restraint, and a sense of propriety for the same reason you're not supposed to eat an entire bag of Halloween candy in one sitting.
As Penn Jillette said, "I rape all I want. The amount I want is zero."
It's not the job of those girls to censor their lives or activities in order to shield me from the prospect of a boner I can't use on them. Just because a man gets hard does not mean that the source of that erection owes him anything or is in some way attacking his morality. Any arousal that results from a picture they post of themselves is my problem to deal with because it's my body, just as Tom Hiddelston and Chris Hemsworth are not responsible for cleaning soggy theater seats. Only scary people equate desire with an attack.
That's the crux, Mrs. Hall. My parents didn't hide the world of sex from me. Instead, they taught me to respect other people's boundaries and my own body, to actually deal with feelings rather than avoid them and hope they go away. It seems to me the lesson you're teaching your own boys is that a woman that in any way causes a man to feel sexual, opens herself to all kinds of things.
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And that sort of thinking is very dangerous. It absolves guilt in the minds of a person. Nothing erodes a person's morality faster than assuring them it's not their fault. Frankly, if your sons can't be trusted to view pictures of their friends on Facebook in their pajamas, I'm not sure I'd want them around my daughter. Will they lose their "daily uphill battle to keep their minds pure" if she bends over to pick up something she drops?
Speaking of my daughter, I named her after a girl I also saw both topless and bottomless. When I visit her grave I'm not thinking about the night she flashed me as a birthday present. I'm thinking about how much I miss hearing her laugh and if she would approve of the man I became.
In one sense, you are right. I can never un-see what I saw, meaning I haven't forgotten the details of various breasts and vulvas. It's just that mama raised me to value the woman they were attached to. Block your sons' friends if you must, but have a care that they know that such things do not release them of the responsibility of their own dicks. Morality has nothing to do with the way others make us feel. It's defined by our actions resulting from those feelings.