There’s been some digital ink spilled in the last week or two about the sexism of “taboo” images in the social media sphere–the big three are images of women’s body hair, menstruation, and breastfeeding. It just so happens I think all three are awesome.
By flagging these types of images of the female body as inappropriate, while taking no action towards over-sexualized pictures of women’s bodies, Jessica Valenti at The Guardian made the claim that the social media landscape is “protecting” men from the female reality and proliferating the hypersexual fantasy woman.
I thought back to a time early on in my sexual history when I “protected” men from the normalcy of my body–my period, my body hair, my scent, my underwear that actually covered my butt. I’m grateful to have learned to value authenticity early on in adulthood. I was inadvertently sex-positive before I’d ever heard the term, and have always been attracted to people who were not just accepting but welcoming of my body in all it’s normalcy. Thinking of presenting myself to someone completely shaved, polished, fragranced, and thonged seems such an antiquated idea, my pre-teen notion of what sex is like.
Though I can’t speak for all women, I find it super hot for a person to be interested in the ins and outs of my phenomenological human experience. I know when I am with someone I care for deeply, all I want is to know what it’s like to BE them. It boggles me to imagine a relationship without transparency. Privacy is important, but not to the point that it makes you feel anxious, ashamed, or embarrassed of normal aspects of your everyday life.
For me, I do what feels right when it feels right. Sometimes I have long body hair, because I like it, I think it suits me, it’s easier than shaving everyday, and I have sensitive skin. But sometimes I go hairless, when it just seems like the season to be soft and shorn.
I don’t talk about or flaunt my period more than I do any of my other toilet activities, which is to say, if something particularly gnarly went on, I might just share it… It makes me feel most authentic to promote an eco-friendly period, so I wear reusable cloth pads for the entirety of my cycle. (Big huge shout-out to Luna Pads because I love them!) I feel no shame living with two males and soaking my pads in the bathroom.
As far as breastfeeding is concerned, I have yet to have that experience. If one day I am granted the gift of birthing a child and we both feel happiest nursing, I will breastfeed wherever, whenever, however, and if Instagram still exists at the time, I plan to make my entire account adorable pictures of my child suckling my breasts.
I get it, “protecting” people from your normal, female body is like when you stub your toe or bump your head in public and try to pretend nothing happened and you aren’t in searing pain. There’s embarrassment and insecurity involved. I’m not saying every woman needs to grow out her pits and hang up her blood-stained reusable pantiliners for all to see. But if those things feel right to you, do them! No reason to hide the majesty of your body just to protect half the species from the other half…trust me, they’re gonna find out eventually!