Simi Valley Sophist

The Simi Valley Sophist ruminates on all manner of topics from the micro to the macro. SVS travels whatever path strikes his fancy. Encyclopedia Britannica: Sophist "Any of certain Greek lecturers, writers, and teachers in the 5th and 4th centuries BC, most of whom travelled about the Greek-speaking world giving instruction in a wide range of subjects in return ..."

Location: California, United States

Retired: 30years law enforcement-last 20 years Criminal Intelligence Detective.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Her Embarrassment Killed Her

A grieving mother in Washington approaches strangers on the street and asks if they are aware of inflammatory breast cancer. Most answer in the negative. This is despite many years of media attention given to the problem of breast cancer. One in eight women in the U.S. will contract breast cancer in her lifetime. And, it seems that younger and younger women are falling victim to the disease.

Each year Avon, the cosmetic company, and the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation sponsor a large number of breast cancer charity walks all over the country. Tens of thousands of people directly participate in the events either as walkers or supporting crew members. That says nothing of the huge number of people who contribute financially to enable the walkers to qualify for participation or the family and friends that line the walk routes cheering on their heroes.

The media attention to the breast cancer problem is out there. So, how is it that a sixteen year old, who has surely heard of breast cancer, is too embarrassed to tell anyone that something is happening to one of her breasts? Her relatively rare form of breast cancer, inflammatory breast cancer, is manifested, among other things, by surface changes to the breast. If those same conditions were to appear on an arm or a leg, there would be no hesitation for a visit to a medical doctor. Now she is dead. The answer to the question about the sixteen year old could well be rooted in our cultural insistence on eroticizing the female body on the one hand, and on the other hand our shame attitudes concerning certain specific parts of our bodies, both male and female.

As I write this piece, I am sitting in a coffee house while humanity flows past me. A goodly number of the women are dressed in a manner which screams to a male, “look at my body.” Body clinging clothing; short skirts, low waist pants; plunging necklines; skin, skin, skin. Perhaps they are making the statement to other women as well.

The American society allows a woman to publicly reveal or highlight and call attention to most of her body. But, that liberal attitude comes to a screaming halt if a nipple, genitals or too much buttocks is exposed. Of course, the same rules apply to males concerning buttocks and genitals even though I think that we can agree that females don’t generally view the male body as an item of eroticization. In other words, society allows, no encourages, female eroticization and intensifies the eroticization by hiding specific parts her body and thus stimulating the male imagination.

Health professionals routinely exposed to the nude female body of patients or clients, and nudists know that for the most part the totally nude body is anything but erotic. In fact, the constant exposure to nudity is profoundly de-eroticizing. But, put her back in her clothes and change the venue and she can be profoundly erotic. Eroticism is a state of mind, is it not?

Recently a group of people in San Francisco bicycled around the town partially or fully nude on the occasion of the SF 2006 World Naked Bike Ride. San Francisco is just the place you would expect such an activity. Go here for photos. Actually, Seattle fits the profile as well. The bicyclists had average bodies, and I suspect that not many people would consider the nude bicyclists as erotic. Some consider the public nudity as pornographic. I don’t agree, with the exception of the male calling attention to his penis by having it protrude through a hole in the female panties he is wearing. From my perspective as a police officer, I would have arrested him for indecent exposure if there was the least evidence of sexual gratification on his part. In other words, don’t get an erection while being exposed. Notwithstanding pantyman, most communities would be scandalized by the display of so much flesh. Making a statement with nudity as the vehicle is the object of the bicycle event and other events like “Boobs, Not Bombs.” If everyone was accustomed to public nudity, no one would give two hoots about a message painted on a nude body.

Noted conservative Rabbi Shmuley Boteach feels that the de-eroticization of the female breast as a result of breast feeding is a bad thing.

“There are two effects of breast-feeding that we often do not focus on. One is the de-eroticization of a woman’s body, as in her husbands eyes one of the most attractive parts of her body becomes, in effect, a cafeteria,…”
I’ll admit that I’ve not considered the nursing breast as erotic.

It is interesting that the more conservative sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam are the most stringent in covering the female body in public. This modern American male hardly considers those females clad head to foot and without makeup to be erotic. Yet we know that many of these women discard their coverings in the privacy of their homes. Apparently, the males of these sects are hiding the female’s eroticism for their singular pleasure. And, she is not to spoil everything by opening an infant cafeteria.

Is it the insistence of males, and the complementary obliging females, which keeps females seeking to be publicly erotic and yet feeds a confusing dichotomy by revealing much, but denying all? The end result is that despite all the public display of our bodies, we are confused about the intertwining of eroticism, sex and nudity. It’s ok for a small child to be nude in certain circumstances, but at some point we demand that the child cover up the prohibited areas. As a consequence, we as a people are not comfortable with our bodies and we are shy and shamed by some of its parts. We exploit and deny our very essence. Apparently, that confusion cost a sixteen year old her life.