It's been a while, but I'm back! So, I was originally going to post about something else, but that will have to wait until next time because I read about something I want to talk about.
Apparently, America's Sweetheart Jennifer Lawrence recently had some topless photos leak after her phone was hacked. Cue the storm of slut-shaming. Lots of people are disappointed because she didn't live up to the perception they had of her in their heads, while others are defending her.
I found this particularly striking because a couple of years ago I probably would have been in the group of people who are disappointed in her. However, now--probably partially because of my stay in Europe--I have a much different view on the matter.
Everyone knows that Europeans are much more comfortable with nudity than Americans, which is probably because of America's puritanical roots. We are a country built on a population who believed themselves to be the chosen people, and the puritan roots still influence our collective cultural consciousness in many areas in addition to this one.
Now, don't think Europeans are all perfectly fine with walking around naked or in revealing clothes--they too comment when someone only wears leggings or is wearing a particularly low cut shirt. However, the human body is embraced as a more natural part of life.
I remember one time near the beginning of my stay in Germany I took the wrong train, which went through a part of town I had never been in before. There was a large billboard with two men and two women on it, all standing nude in a non-suggestive manner. I was shocked. Adults being exposed to nudity was one thing, but children saw this. However, when I looked around at a group of thirteen-year-old boys, they took no notice of it, and let's face it: if a bunch of pubescent boys weren't leering at it, it wasn't a big deal.
It's like they were exposed to it often enough, that it wasn't as dirty or exciting (titilating?) as it is considered in America. Think of it this way, a hundred years ago women would not be running around in shorts, it would be shameful and slutty, however, now it is normal. Yes, legs are still sexy, but we see them so often that it is not a big deal. Nudity will always have a sensual side, however Europeans see that it is just as natural as a woman having two legs.
I was talking to a friend one night who really loves directing films. She said that the way American film treats nudity is ridiculous, because they do so many awkward film shots and positions to try to hide bodies that it just feels uncomfortable. I thought that was really interesting, because from a technical perspective, it truly is much easier (and more authentic) just to include the nudity. We want realism in our movies, yet who walks around wrapped in a sheet when they are in a room alone with someone who just had intercourse with them and just saw them naked? That does feel a bit stilted.
I realized that because of this, Europeans are more comfortable with their bodies than Americans are. I discovered this in the locker room at Aikido. In everyone other locker room I had been in, the unspoken rule is "do your stuff, don't look at other people, and be fast about it." However, people were walking to and from the shower without covering up with towels, talking to each other completely nude as normally as they do when they are clothed. And you know what? I found myself a bit envious because I was not comfortable enough to do that, because my culture had taught me to always try to hide my body.
The question I was faced with was "why am I ashamed to show my body to other women?" After all, I had changed around other women at church events, so clearly it was men who were not supposed to see my body, for fear of arousing them sexually. However, this shame of showing our bodies leaked into my consciousness to the point where I did not want other women to see my body.
So, now when I see women who appear on screen nude for some sort of art, instead of seeing them as sluts or people with no morals, I see them as women comfortable enough with their bodies to break against what tradition has told us we should be ashamed about. Though that is something I would never do, I have come to realize that it is not fair to judge other people by the standards you hold for yourself, because everyone has a different set of moral beliefs. So, before you get high and mighty about your morals, just remember: there is someone in the world who would consider what you do slutty or shameful. Are you a woman who wears pants? Well, then someone thinks you are an immoral, immodest woman. However, you are operating the best you can under your set of beliefs and would completely disagree when they say you shouldn't wear pants or shouldn't even show your ankles because it is lewd.
So, get over yourself.
I don't mean that in a bad way, I just mean that it is difficult not to judge people by your standards, but if you do, people will continually disappoint you. Plus, by holding other people to your moral code, you are saying that your view on the world is more important than theirs, and that's not fair. I'm not saying you need to endorse nudity, but at least keep an open mind before condemning someone. They don't share your beliefs, and it perfectly possible for them to good, intelligent, upstanding people without conforming to your standards. The exception to that, of course, is if they are doing things that harm other people, but that is a completely different subject.
As for the Jennifer Lawrence scandal, let's remember that she is a victim who had her phone hacked. She never intended the public to see those photos, and what happened to her was completely illegal. Plus, she is still an incredibly talented actress and good role model when it comes to encouraging women to be strong, confident, and comfortable with their bodies. She refuses to let Hollywood boss her around on what her body should look like. And perhaps we should lay off criticizing how she lives her life until we all have one of these:
So, I'm sorry if I offended or shocked any of you, but that is my view on the world, and it is just as valid as yours. I'd love to hear what you think about this!
Currently wearing clothes,