Since beginning this blog, I’ve learned a lot about power, gender, sexism, racism, feminism—I’ve learned a lot about the world. I’ve learned that the world is on fire with hate, and will likely be so long after I’m gone, and my words have either fallen into an electric sinkhole or found a comfy spot to curl into and lick themselves for eternity. I’ve learned that the only way to quench this hate is love, and that there is enough of it to go round, and round, and round again. Enough to quell all the hate, enough to fill our cups to the brim and keep us laughing all the way to heaven.
I’ve learned that we—as a society, as a global village, as a whole—are in a lot of pain. I knew that already, of course, but I’ve felt the pain in a new way, watched its tentacles reach into lands I barely thought about before. And I’ve watched the pain reach toward me, in the form of tentative, half-formed thoughts, the words of an internet searcher somewhere, looking for something. Salvation. Stimulation. Understanding. Release. Escape. Growth. Renewal. Reassurance.
The terms that strangers enter into their browsers tend, on the whole, to motivate me to keep at this endeavor. Lots of people find my posts not because they are looking for a cultural analysis of the way we handle the female body, but because they are looking for pictures of the female body. From my search terms, I’ve gathered that people want to see:
- Various characters, or actresses, naked or scantily clothed.
- Michelle Duggar, who is not an actress and doesn’t play one on TV, naked.
- Jokes about moms in mom jeans.
- Women—sometimes mothers, sometimes any woman scantily clad—catfighting.
- Boobs and babes, babes and boobs. Especially mom’s boobs. In fact, from the number of people who are seeking a titillating combination of “mom” and “boobs,” I am guessing that those of us who have procreated should not be so worried about our attractiveness. Apparently, mama boobs are all the rage, y’all.
Of course, there is nothing wrong with wanting to see the female body. The female body, just like the male body, is beautiful. And there is nothing wrong with wanting—needing—to be stimulated, excited, relieved. I’m not writing this blog to judge those who need release or excitement—if I were, I’d be judging everyone, including myself.
But I believe that in the search terms—in the seeking we are doing for the naked female body, as well as for ways to disrespect women (jokes about our bodies, pictures of us fighting one another)—we find the driving force behind a culture that has gone haywire around sex. A culture that cannot separate healthy desire from unhealthy obsession, objectification, and disrespect.
There are seekers who confirm this belief. Some people seek:
- Pictures of the male body, but not linked with “sex” or “hot” or a particular actor or character.
- To understand objectification—male or female—or to understand sexual empowerment or sexual agency.
- Ways to help girls deal with self-esteem issues.
- Confirmation that desire and its manifestations is OK, particularly when connected to religion.
Some seekers give me pause. When I come across a term or a phrase that belies pain, it confirms my desire to do this work. I hope the seekers find something of comfort here. I hope my words—and the words of others doing similar work—give them strength.
If we could only find a fraction of what we seek—truly find it, and not some electronic simulation of it—we’d have peace. That, I fear, is not something I, or anyone else, can provide. It comes from within. Still, there is meaning in the search, and its results.
Page after page of them.