Friday, March 2, 2007

Image and Exploitation

First of all, let me tell you how annoying Blogger is. They have "locked" my blog because it was flagged by their "spam-prevention robots". Whatever. Who knows why? So I'll publish this when they review my verification info and they let me back in their little club.

Milo Walker Medeiros
In case you haven't heard, I have a new little cousin and Carrie and Lyman have a son, Donna has a grandson. He was born on Feb 26, pretty uneventfully given the nature of childbirth, and he is a cutie pie for sure. I think he looks much like his beautiful father. Plenty of pictures on Lyman's blog.

On image
I've been intrigued by Special K's remarks on Bookish (and also here). We all know how important image is in our culture today, but its remarkable to delve into the role our own image plays in our identies, senses of self.

Two mornings ago, I caught a brilliant 1 hour documentary called "The Man Who Stole My Mother's Face", by a filmaker named Kathy Henkel. It is the story of a woman (the filmaker's mother in fact), at age 59, who is brutally beaten and raped in Johannesburg, South Africa--during Apartheid with all its police corruption. The film focusses not so much on the crime but on the impact of the beating on the victim's physical image and her sense of self. It was a staggering film, amazingly well done. Not at all the terror story of rape you might expect although it certainly exposes the horror of those crimes and their exceptional incidence in South Africa---the film reported that 1 of 2 South African women will be raped; that 1 in 3 of those will be raped more than 3 times in their lives. That child, and yes, baby rape are common.

Interestingly, the film included some footage of some ethnic dancing---women largely. All of the allusions of movement were sexual, but empowering. The contrast was so stark.

And then...
That chick from American Idol who had naked photos surface on the web. I'd wanted to talk about this a little bit and Jason mentioned it today and I got all enthused about it again---especially as it relates to film discussed above. Empowerment of a woman's sexuality is hard won; it must happen at the individual level and it has to happen in a culture that accepts it. What really makes me want to curse is the fact that women volunteer for the exploitation of their bodies by participating in the "adult entertainment" industry.

It is absolutely true, I don't doubt it for a minute, that men and women experience sexuality or maybe I mean sensuality, very differently. Excuse me if you find an unintended slight here, but I think for men, there is a much stronger visual aspect, in many cases to the exclusion of all other senses, than in women. I think that women appreciate lovely bodies and beautiful faces, no doubt, but I think that the relative contribution of physical attributes compared to other sensory information about a partner weighs heavily as well. I think its simple brain chemistry and perhaps the fact that all men are missing an entire 1/8 of the entire genetic code women get with that XX/XY thing. Men are just missing certain information.

So I don't think its a bad thing for guys (or gals) to enjoy some visual excitement. But why are smart (?) women, women who wish to have public lives, so easily agreeing to be photographed nude, to videotape their personal interactions...?

I almost put up a poll here till I realized you guys wouldn't answer, but seriously, how many non-celeb-wannabes have actually had naked photos taken for other than clinical reasons? Taped you and your honey making the two headed beast? Seriously? I"m surprised at how it seems very common.

To me, it seems like such a huge step backwards; to win empowerment and then exploit it. Rob always argues that he's not sure who the bigger fool is in those circumstances. But I'll tell you---its not the women who are making the real money from their bodies.

Near Tragedy
I returned home from a few errands Wednesday with my arms full of various things and no key to open the door. When Mary, who was downstairs with all three girls and who is a LOT deaf anyway finally heard, she opened the door, turned quickly as I noted the tears in her eyes, and said, "we have a big problem". Alarmed, I put all my things down right where I was standing and asked for details. Her vision had suddenly become extremely blurred in both eyes. Halos were appearing around objects (I mean in addition to me, I always have one). I got her sat down, took a brief symptom inventory and her blood pressure---nothing else seemed to be going on. We called her ophthamologist who thought she should come to the office on the following day---which incidentally was her 80th birthday. I got her settled and headed back upstairs to take care of business. A couple of hours later, she knocked at our door, wet-haired, bathrobe and I immediately thought she had taken a bad turn. She looked at us and said, "these aren't my glasses". I wondered--'are you asking me if they're mine? 'Cuz mine are right here on my face!" So I said, "what?" and she said the glasses weren't hers. That she went to shower, took off the glasses and realized that she could see better without them on. Took a good look---she had been wearing Rob's glasses for about half the day. We were both so relieved we laughed and laughed.

But you know, while I was taking her blood pressure, I thought her glasses looked different and asked if they were new---she said no, she'd had them about a year. Huh---I usually notice changes like that and I'd never thought her glasses looked nearly as sophisticated as the ones she was sportin'.


Anonymous said...

HAHAHA! on the glasses thing. It happened with mom and dad and with Kringy and Paulo.
Nonna is off to LA............she is so excited to meet Milo and spoil him.

Love you, Carol Jean

Special K said...

I'm glad you are enjoying my book blog, Kathy - sorry I haven't updated it for a while - I've been so busy, I've not had a lot of time to read.

BTW, I saw the beautiful things you made for Milo when I was in CA - LOVED the crocheted blanket and the adorable little jacket. Your work is so fine - I was very impressed.

Kathy said...

You are kind, K. I do love the fiber thing and nothing is better than a new baby in the family, right? I should say that the crocheted blanket was done by my mother and I really like it, too. She liked it so well that she made one just like it for herself. Looks great with her red sofa!

I do love your bookish blog and agoraphobia as well. I'm getting increasingly serious about writing some fiction so I appreciate your really insightful comments on literature...