June 19, 2013
In Defense of Naked Women
Posted on Mar 10, 2011
By Mr. Fish
I used to be 11. Occasionally, I am 11 again. I’m OK with that. I have a theory that by the time people reach 13 they’ve experienced every age they will ever experience in their lifetimes; 14 does not exist. Nobody, for example, has ever been kinder or more conniving than he or she was at age 6, nor has anybody ever had an orgasm that was more mature than one had at 13. All that any of us have after we turn 14 are the prejudices and affections that were formed during the previous 13 years, and that, after slightly more than a decade’s worth of rehearsal with our families, friends and neighbors, will then find either confirmation or argument with the outside world.
Of course, sometimes, after suffering a certain amount of pain over some of the more incessant arguing with the outside world, we might look for and find other people lucky enough to have formed personalities more nobly equipped to communicate peaceably with the parts of the outside world that exist contrary to our makeup and we learn to either pantomime their comfort or to seek lifelong distraction inside their joy. And they don’t even have to be real, these pacifying people, nor do they have to be people, necessarily; sometimes they’re simply movies or sermons or books or television shows or political platforms or advertising campaigns. If we’re lucky we might be able to convince ourselves, lying on our deathbeds, that Jesus Christ can’t wait to shake hands with us because we’re such close friends with Spock, Oprah Winfrey, Giorgio Armani and every bald eagle in North America.
The 13th century Sufi poet Jelaluddin Rumi said that a person was just as aware of what his or her life was about as a pencil was of what it was writing. Of course, if Rumi were alive today he’d be Afghan, having come from the Balkh region of Persia, and he’d no doubt spend an inordinate amount of time in airport security having both his accent and his sneakers checked for explosives. “We said remove your head, A-rab, and place it into the plastic tub for X-ray!”
(Pause to allow for sound of veteran clapping his hooks together.)
Freezing my nuts off at 3 a.m. on the rooftop of a parking garage at a movie theater on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood, Calif., in the spring of 2005, I found myself thinking about the Susan Sontag quote that said 10 percent of any population is cruel, no matter what, and that 10 percent is merciful, no matter what, and that the remaining 80 percent could be moved in either direction. Down below dressed in rubber and plastic and burlap and armed to the teeth with battery-operated weaponry and corrective lenses strode hundreds of space aliens, robots, senators, queens, lords, storm troopers and an elite battalion of disparate knights, call them Jedis of chess and masturbation, into the lobby for the 3:30 showing of “Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith” (or Shit, if you decided to defer to the greater wisdom of the spell-checker on your laptop) and I rushed to join them, eager to mock them while secretly hoping that the movie might blow the mind of the 13-year-old that I knew piloted my orgasms and yippied and yahooed at fireworks and excessive violence and defecating zoo animals and the non-taxing demand of reacting to something completely meaningless. My costume?: somebody way too cool to give a sith, of course.
Watching the movie I was reminded of something that a 20th century Spanish poet said about the United States of America. He said that it was the most primitive society on Earth with the greatest technology.
During the springtime of my first pass at 11, in 1977, I both saw the original “Star Wars” movie and had my first look at hardcore pornography. The movie, everybody knows—many too well; the magazine, given to me by a bearded 10-year-old named Riviera Kamero, was called Tailgunner! and specialized in ridiculously huge close-ups of vaginas pried so ghoulishly wide open beneath lighting severe enough to cook a hotdog that they ceased being genitalia and came to resemble brutally frank dissections of rodents. Thrilling to both and embarrassed by neither, I spent my prepubescent years attempting to move inert objects with my mind while simultaneously memorizing the contents of Tailgunner! as if pressing the most vital information from a topographic map into my brain in preparation for some future hike reputed to strand and then murder those unrehearsed as to the treachery of the terrain.
So what did one have to do with the other? What did trying to master telekinesis ultimately have to do with my greater understanding of each glistening fold and each ripening contour of the female thingamajig?
Maybe it was this: Contrary to the popular idea of feminism, I decided that experiencing a woman as a sexual object wasn’t inherently a bad thing. I, for one, love being objectified during sex, particularly when the object that I’m being thought of seems able to exist without the incessant commentary of my personality to define or justify it; like a sunset beautiful without the explanation of science, or a poem moving without a syllabus, or a smile infectious without the psychological profile to categorize it. Or, more specifically, a 20-inch wiener dog playful enough not to require any interference from the sap holding the leash. What was bad, I decided, about thinking of people exclusively as a sexual object was that you missed being able to experience them as anything else, thereby making them completely invisible when dressed and breathing normally—a point of view, mind you, that I had when I was 5 years old and surrounded by girls just as likely as I was to nose-pick and swear and piss in the woods. Feminism suffers, I think, when it attempts to deny a woman access to the complete freedom that comes with all that lies between despicability and respectability.
A cunt and a vagina, it turns out, are exactly the same thing. (Pause, repeat.)
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