God’s gracious action in creation belongs from the first to that delight, pleasure, and regard that the Trinity enjoys from eternity, as an outward and unnecessary expression of that love; and thus creation must be received before all else as gift and as beauty. David Bentley Hart The Beauty of the Infinite
In my last publication, I wrote about an extremely dramatic discussion taking place in the far, far away land of Facebook. (Here’s the link if you’re interested in more.) It was centered on a meme that read:
Girls’ bodies are not responsible for boys’ thoughts.
The discussion continues to unfold, and currently, the comment total is hovering around 350. It’s actually really satisfying and encouraging to see so many people engage in a topic about our bodies with a sexual lens. Sex conversations are not as common as I would hope they are and it’s just really exciting to see such an active exchange of views, even if we get a little juvenile from time to time. Nonetheless, better to engage in an erotic conversation than a political one!
Today, I noticed one particular comment that caught my eye and I felt compelled to respond. Below, is the direct quote, followed by a version of the original response.
“I’ve yet to meet a man who was as interested in my mind as he was in my boobs….
whether I wore a low-cut blouse or a turtleneck..”
While this is disheartening as hell to read, it’s also laughable. I don’t mean that to be rude. I just mean that sometimes, we take things so seriously and set such high expectations for one another, it’s like we forget we are also human and fuck up everything we do.
In the 15 years I have spent with the same man, along with raising three young men, and paying attention to men all my life solely to learn about sexuality; I have come to understand and know that men are just fucking simple as hell. I mean, they’re brilliant creatures as well and incredibly useful and fundamental to our survival. But also, they are dumb. And we can learn to live with that.
They like boobs. A lot. How can they not? It was the first delight they ever tasted, and that programming is primal. How can they not prefer the beautiful gifts of breasts— that granted and sustained life, that enabled them to form their first bond and relationship with the feminine divine— for viewing pleasure over whatever it is that you are saying or thinking about??
I mean, it’s literally the first thing they knew to depend on and appreciate, the first image that made them smile because they knew the approach to the mouth would be satisfying and nourishing. It is our bosoms that calmed their fears and anxieties. Our breasts are what they savored, which brought them joy and delight. Our nipples meant love and security.
How on earth do we expect men to not want to always appreciate that? And why would we expect they know how to shut it off—the programming of it all—when women are too bashful and reserved to have an intellectual conversation about it? How difficult is it to just explain to a man that: “Although I understand why you appreciate my breasts as much as you do, it would mean so much to me if you didn’t exclude my eyes from your viewing pleasure. This lets me know that you are listening. And while I know that many people have anxiety with making eye contact, if that’s the case, we can work on that. However, sometimes, I require your attention in the form of eye contact so that I know you understand me. If we could work on that…it would show me respect…it would better our communication…it would be less distracting for me… it would encourage me to be more inclined to give you special attention to my breast later on.”
Women Love Boobs, Too
And anyway, we women have the same damn programming and we are just as guilty of looking at other women’s boobs as men. We are all programmed to gravitate our mouths toward the nipple for nourishment and sustenance. Men’s nipples, not so much. But some do like ’em. Maybe we like boobs so much because it reminds of us what brings us joy and delight, which represented love and affection and connection? Maybe boobs = God for us, and we just haven’t reduced the fraction yet.
My only point is that we should stop and ask ourselves if there is really anything wrong with admiring the human form that God created. Is it possible, that despite the majoritarianism here, that we’ve got it all wrong about the naked body and how we see it and translate what we see into thoughts?
I like my body. In fact, I love it. I love the miles my children put on it. I love the stretched-out grooves above my nipples, the way my butt hangs with dimples. I love the crinkles in my bellybutton. I love all of this body because God formed it and my children evolved it, and my husband helped me discover how to attain pleasure with it in a shared, spiritual experience. This is the temple that I worship. Why do we hide our temples? Why do we act like looking at one part of the temple more than the other, or even just as much as the other, somehow diminishes us? Why is it wrong to appreciate the body in whatever form that is revealed before us? Why do we assume looking means lusting? Why do we surmise that glancing is eroticizing and fetishizing? And anyway, everything is erotic if it is viewed with a lens of love and appreciation for beauty. Our forms are beauty—divine displays of Creation’s beauty.
David Bentley Hart wrote that we cannot appreciate the Infinite (God and all God’s Creation) until we can see that creation is beauty in all its forms.
“It is delight that constitutes creation, and so only delight can comprehend it, see it aright, understand its grammar. Only in loving creation’s beauty—only in seeing that creation truly is beauty—does one apprehend what creation is.” (The Beauty of the Infinite, 253)
Is the body Created of and by divinity? Are we made in God’s image? Did God say that what God made was “very good”? If this is the case, if we believe this to be true; I question why we offer such harsh criticism of those who then appreciate, enjoy, and delight in that which God created.
Hegel once wrote, “Nothing can please or serve Him more, that the soul that enjoys it. For the soul doth accomplish the end of His desire in creating it.” David Bentley Hart echoes, “Thus to come to see the world as beauty is the moral education of desire, the redemption of vision…”
When the lens that we view the world reveals all the beauty in all its form, even despite the ugly, depravity and perversion are no longer part of the grammar of love— of the Trinity. Hart expounds:
“Joy and love are the only grammar of the Trinity…Only a corrupt desire that longs to possess the things of the world as inert property, for violent or egotistic ends, so disorders the sensible world as to draw it away from the God that sensible reality properly declares; such desire has not fallen prey to a lesser or impure beauty, but has rather lost sight of corporeal, material, and temporal beauty as beauty, and so has placed in it bondage.” (The Beauty of the Infinite, 255)
As I stated in my last piece, in regard to the same conundrum of flesh, how it is revealed, and why it creates such reactions. If our conclusions lead us to reduce any form or any revelation of form with condemnation, judgment, ridicule, or shame, that isn’t love we are displaying. When we assume the thoughts of others, we have already corrupted the possibility of understanding others. Nobody is responsible for the thoughts of others. Instead of assuming a man is thinking depraved thoughts about you and your body simply because he glanced at your chest, consider he is just reacting to instinctual programming that reminds him that boobs = God.