Monday, January 18, 2010

Like so many flowers

My long walks have been stymied by the Cleveland winter, thereby relegating my exercise routine to the stinky gym. The cardio machines are positioned before rows of televisions, two of which are dedicated to the endless display of music videos.

I suppose there is a notable contingent drooling over twentysomething chicks spreading their legs and pumping their hips like jack rabbits, but I just shake my head and think: stupid stupid stupid. This has nothing to do with human sexuality.

Sex can be good, medium or bad, but it's that elusive "great sex" for which we all pine. You'd think that with all the naked, shaved, spread-eagle sex sex sex online and in print, that "elusive" would no longer be an accurate modifier for "great sex," but of course, it is.

A couple of months ago, I posted about a movie called American Swing, which chronicles the sexiest time period this country ever saw. Back in the 1970's, women were basking in the new found freedom of The Pill and legal accessible abortion. Before that, they had to depend on a man fumbling with a condom in the dark, or a tube of spermicide and a diaphragm. If something went wrong and a woman was faced with an unwanted pregnancy, she was shunned along with her bastard child if she was unmarried, or she had to seek out an illegal and terrifying abortion. Sex truly could ruin your life. When women were finally freed, baby, they were freed.

Musing over American Swing makes me mournful for that unapologetic sexual euphoria. The Joy of Sex with the Girl Next Door has given way to cartoonish breast implants and all they imply, and it's only getting worse.

For starters, howzabout some genital dye for women who don't think they're quite pink enough? For more serious endeavors, welcome to the world of cosmetic gynecology.

What?

Cute little boobies were great until someone started saying, don't you want those to be just a little bigger, sweetie? The beautiful and individual breasts are all but gone. Today, a starlet doesn't dare dream of the bright lights before bellying up to the silicone bar so she can look exactly like the one that came before her and the next one in line.

And now we're going to have a gold standard for vulvae. Well that's just great.

This site will give you an idea of how desperately women just want to be accepted. Visit the "Everyday Bodies Project" in the sidebar, although you won't be able to access the page and view the pix until you've create an account and joined the community. It's very intense, but real human experiences are like that. I wonder how many of the "Everyday Vulvas" would elicit an understanding nod from "cosmetic gynecologist" Dr. Hayes along with a subtle suggestion about "self-esteem" and "confidence;" and a discrete mention about a "simple procedure."

Those cooters look just fine the way they are, you goddamn butcher. Leave. Them. Alone.

* * *

If you're out there, babygirl, please listen to me. You don't need any of this. You're beautiful the way you are. The road to the land of great sex is paved with desire, the sort that blooms from the inside out. You can only find it in the eyes of someone who completely enchants you and vice versa. It's magic, which is why it's so elusive and wonderful. You have it inside of you right now, I promise. There's a prince charming out there who will unlock it one day. Be on the lookout. His armor may not be shining. It may come by way of a rusty Chevy. And don't be surprised if his clothing is rough and his hands are dirty, but you'll know him when he makes the scene. In the meantime, don't listen to the bad guys. Don't let them kill the beauty inside of you.

Love, Erin

* * *

53 comments:

(S)wine said...

i received an email not too long ago from a friend on FB, a young woman who has just been divorced and started dating someone she's known for a while. she said: "before, i thought he was very ugly, but now, for some reason, he's like a Greek god to me."

i didn't respond or ask for details, but it just sort of underscores the perspectives we all have and how they change, and what changes along with them.

fake tits are a huge turn off for me. fake anything is. and i'm not just talking physical here.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Sage post, Erin.

The pernicious tragedy is that these medicos rely on FUD (fear, uncertainty, doubt) in creating/attracting a market for their cash-machine careers: why try and help a woman feel good about herself in the head (from where all 'great sex' is controlled and delivered) when, instead, you can tell her she has labia like free-swinging hangar doors, and that no guy will ever come near her unless or until she has an invasive procedure to 'correct the condition'? But no, it's easier to play on their inherent insecurities.

Personally I find it lamentable: but then again, wherever such ephemeral and transient aspects are placed above sentient thought and a person's genuine/actual worth, my feeling is that society gets precisely what it wants and deserves.

Where FUD is allowed free rein, and the 'role model' is a pneumatically-titted bleached-blonde, then a fool and his/her money will be soonest parted.

sic transit gloria mundi... infelix ego homo.

dean said...

I so want to comment on this, and I just don't have time right now.

For now, I will just say Right on, Sexy O'Brien-type. Right on.

paul bitzan said...

Let me be the first to offer a dissenting (although only slightly) opinion.

If you've got the money and desire to alter your appearance, that's your choice. So, I must say it's interesting that you cite abortion as a choice that indicates freedom but boob and uvular alteration as masked oppression.

For the record, I like every variety of boobie. While I haven't given it much thought, I'm pretty happy with the various flavors of lips, buttons and the like, too.

My wife has indicated that now that we are done with procreation, she'd like to renovate the rack to her pre-LaLeche form. I've explained ad-nauseum that I'm very happy with her bosom and she has explained very clearly that she's not doing it for me.

Who am I to argue?

Jennifer said...

I spent my younger years lamenting my small breasts. If I'd had the money, I would have gotten implants. The older I got, the more I appreciated their size (not much sagging; didn't get in the way, etc.).

Now, I'm the only female in my family to maintain a larger breast size after childbirth, and I long for the days of my perky B-cups. It's alright, though. Either way, The Husband doesn't mind.

Diane Vogel Ferri said...

In my limited experience - any normal man likes us just the way God made us. This is quite a timely and profound post.

Diggestive said...

Fantastic post , very very well said

Meagan said...

Amen!

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Paul Bitzan wrote: "If you've got the money and desire to alter your appearance, that's your choice."

Eh?!

I thought Erin had made a rather strong philosophical position clear, so I've no idea how we've arrived at this tangent - as no one's arguing a point based on whether they be 'should be permitted' to have any work done based on income or free will.

The point here is, rather, that in their rush to ascertain whether they could, they never stopped to ask whether they should.

The suggestion that breast augmentation or "vaginoplasty" can resolve completely any feelings of a lack of self-worth is wide of the mark by some margin - indeed, the only two types of people who will tell you different are those trying to sell you the procedure, and those trying desperately to convince themselves that their lives won't be "better" until they have the procedure done.

And with no small amount of irony, the very way in which you've managed to reduce this concept [of invasive cosmetic surgery] to a commodity that you just walk into a shop and buy, like so many doughnuts, just illustrates the problem - and that of the wider societal malaise which sees people go under the knife, rather than try to get "it" right in their minds first.

The type of cosmetic surgery Erin describes goes to self-worth: the more the surgery becomes commonplace and commoditised, the more the people having it done become commoditised in turn - now that might set the cash registers ker-chinging for the surgeons, but the more we commoditise people with procedures which make them conform to some false idyll, the sooner we arrive at Stepford Wives, and then we're all screwed.

Erin O'Brien said...

Okay, I'll be a little more forthright here in the comment section.

There is an entire industry hell bent on making women believe their pussies are too fleshy or hairy or what-the-fuck-ever and they LOVE the internet because they can post photos and say See? in no time I can give you this nice polite perfectly pink symmetric pretty little kitty. Isn't that nice? when in fact it TOTALLY FUCKING SUCKS and saps a woman's self esteem and, ultimately, her sexuality by hitting below the belt in the most insidious way.

There was nothing wrong with small boobs until everyone decided there was. There was nothing wrong with any of the pudenda in these "before" shots until someone said there was. I'll go so far as to say they probably tried very hard to find normal looking twats for those pix so the vast majority of women looking at them will think, Oh dear! They mean ME!

FUCK THAT FUCKING BULLSHIT.

Amy L. Hanna said...

Mirrors are more forgiving than the vanity of the company one chooses to keep.

Norrin2 said...

Amen, sister. I hope every young woman in America heeds your words of wisdom and refuses to mutilate themselves in order to conform to some standard of beauty that no one truly believes in but the hucksters and the brainwashed.

Once Known as The Badger said...

Umm, well, I, uh, clicked the "before" shot link and ... I liked the befores much better. There, I said it. Gulty pleasures, I suppose.

Once Known as The Badger said...

Guilty. I don't even know what "gulty" is.

DogsDontPurr said...

A while back, I blogged about my neighbor who hired me to be her driver on the day of her plastic surgery. This woman was gorgeous just the way she was. Perfect in every possible way. Yet she felt she looked ugly because she thought her thighs were too thick. So she was going in for lipo on her thighs.

Her thighs were already perfect. She was an avid runner, so her thighs were toned and muscular. I was stunned when she said that she wanted thighs like mine! Mine are sort of skinny, but because I have no muscle tone due to 5 knee surgeries and a rare nerve disease. My thighs are atrophied. Yet that was the look she wanted.

She paid $10,000 to have a thin layer of fat sucked off her body. Probably less fat than in a McDonald's hamburger!

It was sad. Just so very sad. She had such major self esteem issues. Your post here expresses that so well.

I love it when you do these type of posts. I feel my own self esteem go up several notches just by reading them!

Tommy said...

I never met a vulva I didn't like...

standing on my head said...

erin-your comment hit the mark.
and i'm glad, 'cause i'm just spluttering here. i'm no paragon of high self-esteem, but holy crap!

talesNtypos said...

Nice post Erin. I didn't click on the link, but I did appreciate, and share the sentiment.

Shaina said...

it's funny, i just went through a lot of pain and annoyance to make my breasts SMALLER, not larger. they were a hindrance...i can't understand anyone wanting bigger than a C, or maybe a D. don't they understand, it HURTS (backs, shoulders, and during any activity that makes them bounce)? and is nigh on impossible to shop for unless you WANT to look like a slut?

i want to be in shape more than i want to lose weight.

i guess i'm one of the lucky ones, huh. five summers of a very earthycrunchyhippy camp plus awesome friends have made me completely happy with how i am, inside and out, and NObody can convince me i'm not.

Miz Dinah said...

What's even worse is when the procedures go awry and you end up with a mutilated vajajay/leaky boob implants/lumpy lipo, or worst-case scenario, dead like the Argentinian supermodel who died over ass cheek implants. A picture-perfect vulva doesn't do you much good when you're six feet under! Enjoy what you've got and don't mess with it unless it causes you physical impairment. Great post, Erin!

Vince said...

What the heck is anyone doing with a camera in that area in the first place. And surely if the man is focusing with his eyes he is doing something very very very wrong.

Oh, as to sex before the Pill, because of the danger the tension was driven to such a pitch that its relief must have been like a steam whistle going off. Ergo, gem polished sex.

Gillian said...

No one's going near my vulva.

paul bitzan said...

Cosmic Navel Lint wrote: The point here is, rather, that in their rush to ascertain whether they could, they never stopped to ask whether they should.


OK. So why don't you tell me what I should or shouldn't do? Certainly, your system of values is the only correct one. Right?

Erin O'Brien said...

I know a woman who had a breast reduction. One of her nipples refused to take to the reduced/reformed breast and they did some sort of patch with skin from her thigh.

No one's telling you or your wife or anyone what they should do, but one thing's for sure: you should pay attention to what Dinah said and know the risks of elective surgery.

***

I just looked at those before after shots again. For those women, all of their erotic individuality has been erased forever. They all look the same.

stupid stupid stupid stupid stupid

Neva said...

Thanks for saying this...Now could you print it up and paste it to everything that moves and doesn't move across the US?

Bill said...

sex is just friction and fantasy. the fake stuff may help with the fantasy part. "in love" sex is deeper, almost inexplicable. i like em both. wouldn't encourage anyone i love to change anything.

Anonymous said...

As the father of 2 daughters I appreciate these comments. I've told them all their lives they were good enough but now they are old enough that only their peers opinions matter. I hope I did enough.

RJ

(S)wine said...

There is also the clinical issue of having foreign substances surgically implanted into the natural biology of a living being. Common sense dictates that this is quite...fucked, for lack of a more intelligent word. There are myriad things (this among them) that we, humans, have thought of and done. I continue to be astounded by our overall stupidity...and quite amused at those times that it doesn't impact my particular life.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Paul Bitzan wrote: "OK. So why don't you tell me what I should or shouldn't do? Certainly, your system of values is the only correct one. Right?"

Where to start?

Paul,

Sorry, but you really do appear to be struggling with this, don't you?

Just to repeat what I and others here have tried to make clear: this isn't just a cheap and cheerful, cut-n-dried question as to whether someone has "the right" to have a procedure done (as that's a simple yes or no answer and not actually the point of Erin's blog) - there's a larger moral, philosophical and societal question resting behind it, based on a woman's feeling of self-worth, and how society (for that read those trying to separate you from your money) fails to value a woman's innate beauty and instead tries to push her down a path which insists she conforms to an unceasingly narrow precept of what 'beauty' is - and a woman's real worth and beauty are to be found at the polar opposites of silicone tits and a 'vaginoplasty'.

Vince said...

Yes CNL, but on your philosophical point, is the 'system' not twisting the Public and the Private in this situation. And using an aspect of womens nature, the conform to survive in a very nasty way.
Further, this has nothing to do with men in the absolute or the abstract. This and most mental abuse on women is done by women.
Put simply, men do not care, we like variety. And it is getting downright wierd when you look at women on the telly that are white, they are all getting that facial look of olympic swimmers.

Kirk Jusko said...

Guys, when it comes to small breasts, look at this way: the closer your eyeballs are in relation to the breast, the bigger that breast will appear.

If you're lucky enough to get that close to the breast in the first place.

lucy beckett 1935 said...

I have nothing to add. Erin was her usual impassioned self when she posted this, and the ensuing comments have been almost entirely thoughtful and without rancor. I have always been small breasted - more or less so depending on my weight and whether I was pregnant or nursing. Finding a bra that fit was nearly impossible. After my fourth, and last, child, and the subsequent nursing, I stopped wearing one altogether. I don't ever remember wishing my breasts were larger. The nipples did the job they were made for and all the nerves were intact. Now, at 75, my breasts remain perky (well, relatively so), while my better endowed friends deal with the sagging and swaying. Now I'm going to go look at the 'dirty' pictures.

Erin O'Brien said...

I love Lucy.

emmapeelDallas said...

Erin, this is one of your best posts ever, and that's saying something!

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Vince wrote: "Yes CNL, but on your philosophical point, is the 'system' not twisting the Public and the Private in this situation. And using an aspect of womens nature, the conform to survive in a very nasty way."

Insofar as 'the system' is the cynical cabal of plastic surgeons, and other quacks, on the hustings and punting madly for your dollar, yes: they use every trick in the book to play upon your FUD so you begin to doubt your own worth and value - whether that's "have a bigger penis", or "have breasts right for you..." It's the pernicious use of terms like 'right' which are objectionable and play upon your fears (the implication being that whatever you've currently got is 'wrong').

Either way, it's a centuries' old sales technique of preying on you when you're at your most vulnerable - "does my bum look big in this dress?" is only the beginning of a very slippery slope. The fact that this bare-faced crime is done at the point of an orthodontally-enhanced perfect smile doesn't make it any the more palatable (no pun intended).

The chief issue is that there is virtually zero by way of counterbalance to their sales pitch - and anyone who dissents is shouted down and classed as a 'frump', or 'frigid' or, in the worst cases, simply "ugly". It takes big brass balls for a woman to stand up against that kind of attack when all the magazines are telling her and her sisterhood that everything they need for a perfect life is but a surgeon's knife away.

Vince wrote: "Further, this has nothing to do with men in the absolute or the abstract. This and most mental abuse on women is done by women.

Not sure I'd agree with your synopsis there, Vince. Women's 'perception' of what they think men want (because all the magazines tell them so) is very much part of the problem.

Vince wrote: "Put simply, men do not care, we like variety. And it is getting downright wierd when you look at women on the telly that are white, they are all getting that facial look of olympic swimmers.

Not sure where you're going with this? Care to elaborate?

PS: Lucy Beckett, you're some lady!

paul bitzan said...

CNL,

My objection to the flavor of the post is that there seems to be no middle ground expressed here. No tolerance for dissent.

I am merely supporting the notion that a woman (or man, for that matter) could elect for any number of surgeries after careful consideration, without it being a manifestation of societal pressure or mass marketing. It's possible that a person might like to have perky boobs.

That seems reasonable to me. Not only do I believe a person should have the right to the procedure, but I believe that person should be able to go through life without being judged as a "slut" or having his/her self-esteem questioned for having done so.

How's that for a place to start?

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Paul,

If that's all you've taken from Erin's piece, and all its subsequent replies, then apologies, but you've missed the point spectacularly.

1. I'll not repeat again that the tenet of this discussion is a notch or two higher than any mere "right" to have a procedure - I thought I'd covered that in my previous two responses (along with others here) - although given your replies, apparently not, as the message is yet to sink in.

2. Apropos "no tolerance for dissent": if and when you get round to offering any, I'm sure I and others will be only too happy to address it; but simply repeating the same mantra about having a "right" to surgery, "if you want it", is not the discussion that's being had here. Just so we're clear - this isn't a debate about "rights": it's far more subtle that that.

3. No one, except you, has ever hinted, intimated or suggested that anyone who has elective surgery is anything resembling "a slut", so please get a grip and a sense of proportion - and try reading what's actually being written.

PS: call me Bren - that's my name.

paul bitzan said...

Bren,

Um, please see posts above. Look carefully and you will see words like mutilate, brainwashed and slut. I've got a pretty good grip, thanks.

I clearly understand what you and others have stated. What you may have missed in my entries is that I feel that it's OK for people to alter their appearance; that it's not always a matter of a Barbie or Ken complex. Therefore, I don't agree that cosmetic surgery is an inherently bad idea.

Sheesh!

Erin O'Brien said...

The point of this post is not about judging what an informed adult elects to do with his/her body, Paul.

Every single pop culture outlet we expose our young women to is full up with women with fake boobs, insidiously telling them this is what beautiful is. Now the internet is going to be full up with photos of how their vaginae should look. This taps on feminine insecurities in the most profound sense.

I have no idea what the statistics are, but a botched vaginoplasty can also ruin a woman's sex life forever.

If an entire industry is out there trying to convince young women to shell out money for that, why then little ol' Erin can try to convince them otherwise.

Vince said...

Yes Erin all true. But Bren wrote 'Women's 'perception' of what they think men want (because all the magazines tell them so) is very much part of the problem'. How so, and I do hold that there are many things that can be layed at the door of men, but this is not one of them.

paul bitzan said...

Uncle!

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Vince wrote: "Yes Erin all true. But Bren wrote 'Women's 'perception' of what they think men want (because all the magazines tell them so) is very much part of the problem'. How so, and I do hold that there are many things that can be layed at the door of men, but this is not one of them."

Then, with respect, Vince, I've no idea on what 'evidence' you base your opinion, as it would appear the weight of female opinion here, and the content of their magazines, is against you.

It doesn't take a genius to see that were women not constantly bombarded with such false physical idylls, via virtually all forms of social media, then they would feel commensurately better about their appearance and self-worth; and the millions spent on elective surgery every year would dry up.

Erin O'Brien said...

Vince: no way can I generalize on men on this topic. They run the gamut, but my guess is that Donald Trump has pretty exacting physical standards for his trophy wives.

It's ironic though, that he pays the most for them only after they are gone.

Vince said...

Huh, what has Trump to do with the price of eggs. His wives know the score.
This debate hinged on those that could be swayed into thinking that the body that their ancestors gave them is somehow a wrong un. Where my point, if you had a bump in the middle of ones nose that you could jump-start a motorcar, hitting it with a chisel might not be such a bad thing. In this I hold I speak for most men. However when all hetro men are looking at a woman with her legs open the last thing on his mind is comparison.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Vince wrote: "... Where my point, if you had a bump in the middle of ones nose that you could jump-start a motorcar, hitting it with a chisel might not be such a bad thing. In this I hold I speak for most men. However when all hetro men are looking at a woman with her legs open the last thing on his mind is comparison."

Most of what you've written here, Vince, suggests an ability to appreciate only the ephemera and skin-deep nature of "beauty" - whilst choosing conveniently to ignore the insidious nature of how advertising works on women's insecurities. As long as you do that, you'll not get what's being discussed here.

And as for "in this, I hold I speak for most men": no you don't mate; nothing like and not by a long way.

[shakes head] You could be forgiven for thinking The Enlightenment had never happened...

Cosmic Navel Lint said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Vince wrote: "Granted Bren, but this nasty game is driven by a need to compete between women. Earlier I think you mentioned the Arse being big in something of other. Well men do not know how to answer this question. We just see a juicy rump covered in something or other. If it is his wife asking the question, the image in his mind is not the one standing before him. And it is much the same with this. No one in their correct mind would call women or men pretty in this region, the asthetic is not the goal. And cutting chopping or encasing it in the years production of DeBeers is not going to change this fact.
Further, I challenge you to find a hetro man that should a woman be covered in hair from knee to belly would not Hit it.
It is dryness we do not like over much."


Sorry Vince, but as much as I try, I can't read the above as anything other than loose collation of non sequiturs attempting to link together an uncertain and variable (and certainly unproven) series of opinions.

I'm guessing that's why you deleted it?

Vince said...

Thats all as may be. But at least it's an attempt at honesty.

rebecca said...

Thank you for writing this, Erin. It's great. You are a heroine.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Vince wrote: "Thats all as may be. But at least it's an attempt at honesty."

Perhaps. Although, as I think we've now seen, merely "attempting to be honest" doesn't guarantee coming to a readily recognisable point; or allowing you to steer clear of the drag-anchor of being platitudinous.

Be fair: simply attempting to be honest is no defence for trying to reduce female beauty to the results of a surgical procedure in order to suit your own libido, preference and taste; and neither is assuming you might speak for "most men" with your opinions on the subject.

Vince said...

Ah, but it really helps when one comes by a sophistic gobshite.

Cosmic Navel Lint said...

Vince wrote: "Ah, but it really helps when one comes by a sophistic gobshite."

Err... actually, no it doesn't - it just shows your ignorance.

And not that I've used any here, but on the evidence of your submissions, you wouldn't recognise sophistry if it walked up and fellated you in the street mate.

Mi'Lud, the prosecution rests...

Erin O'Brien said...

Everyone is entitled to their opinions here. I encourage disagreement, argument, and even red-faced indignation, but please let's keep it polite and respect one another when we disagree.

Okay?