NAKED BODIES: WHAT DOES IT SAY?


 I am in the process of creating a concept for my, soon to be published book, that will deal with how we understand sexuality and the effects thereof. In my discussions with the publisher, I suggested that we consider having an outline of naked bodies for the cover page.

What transpired from this brief was very interesting and telling. It confirmed my understanding of how many people view sexuality and the gender discrepancies that we experience. Most of the examples with body figures that we could find, presented women. I then requested that both the male and female form should be portrayed. This idea transpired in a design in which the naked male outline was so subtle that you could barely see that it was a man next to the very distinct naked female figure.

I realized that I was not conveying the idea in my head with much success. I then decided to ask a young female artist friend of mine to compile my brief visually, in the hope that an illustration of my idea would advance mutual understanding and greater clarity. As my young friend is not that familiar with the naked male body, she did what all young people do – she used Google images to find a realistic image to guide her in her creation. Here’s the thing – she really battled to find naked, non-pornographic male images, whilst the female naked form was plentiful.

This made me think about why this might be so. I am sure that there are many reasons. One could possibly be because of the dominant discourse that women do not sexually respond to visual stimulation and therefore there is no need for such images. This idea circulated for so many decades that people are not even aware of the discrepancy in how the female body and male body are used and exploited in the media. The female body became the marketing tool and is often seen as a commodity. We have become so desensitised to this because it became the dominant discourse.

Professor Bronwyn Davis (1993:153) uses the metaphor of a pane of glass to describe the invisibility of discourses. Discourses take on the qualities of a pane of glass through which one observes the world. It is only when the glass fractures or breaks that one’s attention is drawn to the glass. Discourses are thus usually invisible to people and we have little or no conscious awareness of discourses. This might explains why we continue to accept the use of women and their naked bodies (out of context) as a marketing tool, whilst the use of male bodies are mostly excluded. However, I believe that there might be another coinciding discourse present.

Being naked holds a vulnerability, especially if others can view our naked body. Maybe in our gender indoctrinated minds, this vulnerable position is only reserved for women. Maybe naked images of men are not as available because men are not supposed to be vulnerable, but are portrayed as strong, in control and invincible? Your thoughts on the matter?

Reference:

Davies, B 1993. Shards of glass: Children reading and writing beyond gendered identities. St Leonards: Allen & Unwin.

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Christmas decorations and blessings


Christmas is for me a time of reflection. Over the years I have established many rituals to support my awareness of self and others in this time. The most meaningful ritual relates to my Christmas decorations.

I love Christmas decorations, especially the Christmas tree lights. It symbolizes for me Christmas as the celebration of Light and Life: Jesus, Light of the World and the possibility of light each one of us.

For some years now, I buy every Christmas season two or three new strands of Christmas lights. Over the years my collection has grew and today I am able to fill our living spaces with lights.

When I put the Christmas lights up, I invite those who assist me, to join me in a ritual. For each light that I put up, I name a blessing that I experienced in that past year. I also name a way in which I can extend that blessing to others in this time of light and love.

One of the blessings I named this year was access to technology and the world wide web which enable me to connect with friends, family and colleagues all over the world.  I extend this blessing by means of this blog today and invite you to join me in this ritual of naming blessings.

May our souls be connected as we look upon our Christmas lights and decorations and may we stand in solidarity to bring light, justness, justice and love.

Christmas greetings.

Emotionally whole


Have you ever thought about the term ’emotionally whole’. Whenever I hear this term it reminds me of the absent, but implicit. If I am not emotionally whole, it implies that I must be broken or only partly developed. What does it look like and who decides if someone is emotionally whole or broken? It just does not sit very well with me!

Somehow this term always reminds me of a broken vase. I struggle with this metaphor and find it even somewhat disrespectful to refer to any person in these terms. What is emotional wholeness and how do we achieve this? Often people use this term as a generic statement, but are we as people ever whole or un-whole? If one understands the metaphor of wholeness in terms of the absence of brokenness, it implies that an un-whole person’s emotions needs to be fixed. Does the hurt, disappointment and struggles brake us, or does it change our ‘reality’ and cause new ways of being, even if these might be negative?