Have you noticed how much more we are exposing ourselves as a nation - as a world? Of course you have. You do not stagger from pillar to post playing blind woman in the buff, do you? Perhaps you do. I wouldn't like to spectate, but would I have a choice? Let's get naked shall we? On Twitter we generally have celebrities of both sexes sharing pictures of themselves in their pants or announcing their break ups to the world whilst publicly fighting with their exes. Seemingly desperate once upon a time celebrities lay themselves bare twenty four hours a day for the cameras and an audience who would need to be stoned to watch them for very long. On Facebook there is a new trend. Women have literally been turning themselves inside out for all to see. By this I mean, I have seen countless pregnant bellies of women at various stages and lately, foetal scans loom up on my computer screen as the little mites float, happily ignorant, in their dark world, little negatives not yet fully exposed. But it is only a matter of time...
Time was when we British (I am half-British so I feel half-qualified to comment) were so buttoned up that men got collar chaff and women were suffocated by their corsets. It didn't take much to make them swoon. This level of containment was probably not such a good thing and often led to unseemly spillages. Now, we see everything! I have nothing against the comeliness of the female form nor of the sculptural beauty of the male form (I am thinking of my husband of course) it's just that I do not want naked folk splashing around in my cornflakes first thing in the morning as soon as I flip my computer lid to the newspaper pages or briefly check out Facebook, which as we have already uncovered is likely to be full of people in their briefs or not as the case may be. I know I do not have to look, but it is hard not to come across this stuff when it seems to be everywhere.
I am a believer in freedom of expression but feel we should have some level of choice as to what is foisted upon us. My friend recently went Nuts when she went into the local newsagents with her young boy. The topless magazines were on the counter at her son's eye level. She demanded that the magazines were moved and to the credit of the newsagent they were. It disturbs me that my sixteen year old son can access hardcore porn at the touch of a button should he choose to. The sexualised images of teenage girls that are constantly sent to him online and via Blackberry have become the norm. I suspect many of these girls are drawn into this kind of behaviour and probably agonise about it afterwards, but electronic messages are all too easily sent. My husband has carefully advised that I should never send e mails when wound up - ooh the regrets! Bring back the lost and dying art of the considered letter - but who has the time to send them any more?
I too expose myself to some extent, through words - in this blog - and somewhat distilled - through my books, and I am grateful for Facebook as it is the only marketing mechanism I have at the moment. It galvanises people for positive reasons - I am thinking of the mustering of volunteers to look for the little missing girl April this past week - as well as for the less so (the galvanising of rioters in London last year for instance). To some extent I wager, most of us get sucked into this ethereal soup for good or ill - the electronic world seems somehow intangible, but its effects are very real. There does seem to be an undercurrent to all this exposure that seems to me best negotiated due to risk of drowning. I know I need to be careful not to look too long or too often at the glossy fashion or 'celebrity' images of other women otherwise I find myself comparing or worse, commenting.
For women, too much peeking can lead to confidence crises that have a huge knock on effect in terms of us being productive human beings. Apart from anything else too much viewing dulls the brain and can be incredibly time wasting. I know too many young women who have experienced reduction in terms of the self, who, bombarded by increasingly impossible images, feel compelled to project something that is not authentic - they waste life-time trying to be something manufactured by someone else instead of producing something from the quintessential self that is creative and satisfying: a book, a painting, some lucid thoughts perhaps.