Friday, February 13, 2009

Michelangelo's David and That Lady on the Airplane

We have one of those old magnet toys of The David on the fridge at our office. You know the ones. Laney loves to play with it and calls him "Magnet Man." So,I decided to take this as learning opportunity (I worry that I'm raising a little cultural retard since we don't take her to church, so how the hell does she know who David and Goliath are?). We got to looking at pictures of The David on the internet. We talked about how The David is a representation of ideal male beauty.

Which got me to thinking (as it does) about that lady that's in a bikini on the side of the airplane. It's a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue thing. I find the whole Sports Illustrated swimsuit magazine thing kind of creepy in general, and this especially so.

Which got me to wondering: what's the difference between these two things. Why is it OK for Michalengelo to extol artistically the beauty of the male form while I think it's creepy for SI to extol commercially the beauty of the female form? And then it hit me that that question is so stupid and shallow and obvious that it sounds like something plumbed from the depths of Bill O'Reilly's murky, nasty, willfully ignorant little cellar of a brain.

Women's bodies are used as marketing ploys. PETA, for example, evidently thinks that the female body has less intrinsic value than a rodent's (and I fucking HATE fur coats and haven't eaten meat in 10 years). Women's bodies are devalued, commodotized, bought and sold. This is obvious. So, what was UP with that whole David/SI thought process I was working through?

And, man, this is sad:

I was afraid of sounding strident, angry, man-hatery. I have been successfully indoctrinated in the philosophy of the cool girl. I was trained by a young age to think that male approval means more than female approval. That it's only ugly girls who complain about men honking at pretty girls from their cars. That it's somehow empowering when gross, middle-aged men drool over you in magazines (or from an airplane seat). Here's an anecdote: I was a 23 or 24 year old bartender working the day shift when one of my 40-something customers looked up from his third lunchtime beer and commented on how great it looked when I turned around and the bottom of my shirt cupped (his word, complete with HAND GESTURES) my ass. And, I. Felt. COMPLIMENTED!

If I could, I would drill a hole in my head and tweeze that fucking memory out of my brain.

And, now I look at my little daughter and her perfect, perfect little body and I think I will, by hook or by crook, teach that child that her body is HER body. The only approval she needs for it is her own. And, for crying out loud, when gross men say gross things about that body, she should make sure that guy knows he's gross.

Now, I'm off to watch Dollhouse. Yeah... I get the irony.