What We Do With Our Bodies

There has been a lot of talk lately about women’s bodies. OK, maybe not just lately, but a few topics that have recently caught my (and everyone else’s) attention.

Leaking celebrity nude photos that were meant to be private
Catcalling women on the street
A celebrity mom doing a full frontal nude spread

I’m not a fan of Kim K., but her recent photoshoot brought up some interesting debates. The one I’ve heard the most is that “she shouldn’t do that because she’s a mom.”

You mean she shouldn’t be so narcissistic? Sure. I feel that way about all people, not just mothers.

Oh. You mean moms have to be sexless beings whose only identity is “mother”? No, I do not agree with that. (I learned that from my own mother.)

A mom is also a woman, and also an individual person with her own identity, her own desires. And while her body might be used to make and feed another life, it is still her body. She can do whatever she wants with it. Make more babies, never make another baby, breast feed in public, never breast feed anywhere, have sex, pose nude, lift weights, run marathons, gain weight, lose weight, etc.

burlesque6 2012 Chicago Marathon

I like to do what I want with my body. To date, that has meant the following: running a marathon, taking pin-up photos (and yes, nude photos meant for private viewing), dancing in various stages of undress in public, not gestating a fetus, having consensual sex.

Some people think running 26 miles at once is crazy. Or that taking a nude photo, even when shared privately, is asking for it to be leaked. Or that being naked or near-naked in front of a consenting audience is lewd. Or that all married women over 30 should bear children. Or that there is a right and wrong way to have sex between consenting adults.

But guess what? My body is my body. Your body is your body. We get to decide what we want to do with those bodies. You can judge all you want, but that doesn’t mean anyone has to listen to or care about your judgements.

Taking nude pictures and sharing them with the world doesn’t make someone a bad mother, or a bad person. That’s just someone who is very secure in their body and who doesn’t shame nudity – which to me (yes, a non-parent), is a good lesson to teach the kids. (I’m not saying all parents have to take nude photos, or show their kids nude photos, to teach body acceptance. My point is that nudity should not be shameful.) There’s also a lesson in consent there – those pictures were intended for a public audience, whereas leaked photos were not.

There is also consent of being in the audience – if you don’t want to see those photos, don’t look at them. A performer without an audience will likely stop performing.

Sharing my own photos, or putting myself on stage in various stages of undress, is an invitation for you to look at my “art” and as the audience to my performance, tell me what you think about it (via applause, hoots and hollers, or a comment afterward). If you don’t want to see it, don’t look at it. But don’t tell me or anyone else what we should and should not do with our own bodies. (It should go without saying, but I’m only refering to things that fall within our legal rights.)

Related, I might put myself on stage for our viewing pleasure, but walking down the street and minding my own business is not an invitation. Merely existing in public spaces does not mean my body is on public display. Catcalling assumes you are entitled to someone’s attention. You are not.

And at the end of the day, let’s all just worry about what we do with our own bodies, and respect that everyone else has the freedom to do the same.

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5 Comments on “What We Do With Our Bodies”

  1. Here, here. All that feminism comes down to is having the right to do with yourself what you wish. Birth control and sex and careers and babies. All the same spectrum. Love the sentiment of this post. In my recently divorced state of being, so much of this resonates with me. I’m now learning, at 30, what I want to do and see and feel and experience. It’s scary, it’s enlightening, it’s hilarious and it’s empowering.

  2. My first reaction to Kim’s nude photos was “who cares?” And when I read the negative comments that targeted her motherhood out of all things, it really sparked a nerve. I’m obviously not a mother but I am a female who embraces her womanhood and views nudity as a natural form of self-expression. What it comes down to is exactly what you wrote perfectly: “There’s also a lesson in consent there – those pictures were intended for a public audience, whereas leaked photos were not.” – THIS. Choice, whether it applies to nude photos or voting or careers or whatever else, is what separates the modern day woman from her oppressed counterpart many decades ago.

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