The trip had begun like most of our church youth group trips had, with me working on the 1970-too old, Dodge Crap-O-Van. Was it a new water pump that time or a bad alternator? I can’t remember. I do remember the crunch of gravel under my feet and the singing of the cicadas from the church parking lot’s only tree, so I know it was in August. I remember praying to God for the strength to get through the whole repair without using sinful language, but I prayed that prayer frequently working on old vans.
I can’t remember what the trip was for, either. Were we going to some Bible college? A Christian rock concert? Or was it the trip to Denver where we spent two weeks doing vacation Bible school puppet shows? It’s been so long since then, but those youth groups trips were incredibly important to me, at the time. My father’s post traumatic stress and my mother’s agoraphobia created a home where friends weren’t very welcome. We lived deep in the cornfields, where dad could shoot paper targets until the fear went away and mom could drink in the sun and trees until the strain of normal life was lifted. I came of age not at school, not hanging out with my friends, but at Bible camp, in Sunday school, and on the sticky vinyl seats of our church’s 15 passenger van.
For whatever reason we’d gone, I will never forget the trip back. We were exhausted, and all of us were fading in and out of sleep. The engine was a continuous roar, drowning out conversation and the tires droned out a hypnotic hum down the interstate. I was in the first passenger seat, in the middle between several thousand dollars of sound equipment on the right, and Darcy Trigg was on my left. I laid my head against the cold, hard fiberglass of the roadie boxes, and closed my eyes.
We hit bump and I awoke, conscious only of scratchiness across my face. I moved my hand up to the scratchiness, and confusingly found something soft and warm. The fog of sleep clearing, I realized that in my sleep I had turned away from the hard case, and turned instead to Darcy. My eyes fluttered open, and I froze. The scratchiness was the collar of Darcy’s sweater, stretching across my face from chin to widows peak. Not only had I turned to her in my sleep, I had laid my head on her chest and slid down. One eye looked down the front of her sweater, but the other was on the inside, her ample breasts and white satin bra, cast a warm pink by the sunlight shinning through her top.
She must be asleep, I thought, and there is no way, that if she wakes up she is going to believe this is an accident. She’s going to to know what a disgusting pervert I am, and no girl will ever talk to me again…I will be “that guy.” I closed my eyes, and very carefully and very slowly moved away, sitting perfectly straight, and not opening my eyes until I was in a position to stare straight ahead. Then, and only then, did I slowly turn my head to Darcy.
Her chin was in her left hand, her elbow on the window sill, watching the cornfields shoot by. She’d been awake the whole time! Clearly she hadn’t pushed me off or woken me because she was mortified with embarrassment. I was so ashamed, and yet I didn’t want Darcy to think that I thought she was ugly. I wanted to say that I thought she was beautiful but at the same time I was terrible sorry for violating her. My mouth was dry and I felt shaky.
“Darcy..” I whispered loud enough for her to hear, but too quiet to carry over the road noise to any other listening ears, and leaned towards her for greater privacy.
“I…I was asleep…I…didn’t…” I stammered.
She turned to me slowly, her eyes big and kind, bashful from underneath her brow, a slight smile upon her lips. She leaned toward me, closing the space between us I’d made by sitting up straight, and laid her hand on my knee.
“I didn’t mind,” she said softly. She searched my eyes, her serenity and kindness pitying my confusion and fear. Squeezing my knee, she sighed contentedly and returned to watching the landscape out the window, giving me a last over-the-shoulder smile.
I sat in total confusion. Darcy was the kindest, most gentle soul I knew at the time. Growing up in a world that divided women into nice girls and sluts, Darcy’s credentials as a nice girl were impeccable. She was quiet, demure, modest, and serious. She knew the Word, and walked the walk…and she told me that I had done nothing wrong and she enjoyed me having my face down her shirt. I realized then that maybe good girls did want to be kissed, held, and touched. Maybe, just maybe, good girls might have sex drive, and maybe a girl could want me, the geeky guy with the thick glasses, because I was OK, and not because she was screwed up.
Several months ago, I was reading an ongoing message-board about feminism. A lot of the guys were saying things that I found reasonable, and a lot of the women were pretty distraught with the guys’ statements. One women, a self proclaimed feminist, made a point that went something like this…
“You have no idea what you are taking about. You aren’t even entitled to an opinion because you don’t even have the facts to form one. You are reacting to what you think feminism is, instead of what it is. Take a single semester class in women’s studies. Read a single book on feminism. At the least, go to feminism101. Just please, don’t ask a feminist to take the time to argue with your strident ignorance of the most basic principals of feminism. Know what the hell you are talking about, and we will go from there.”
I was offended, and yet…Did I really know anything about feminism besides what I had heard from Rush Limbaugh and my pastors? I had no real facts, instead I had my feelings, about second and third hand “facts”. So, I sat down and read through the Wikipedia article on feminism, read through the feminism101 site, and took a cursory pursing of women’s studies.
The majority of expectations feminism holds for society and the individual strike me as both reasonable and moral, so I make an effort to meet these expectations. Most of them are very simple, like “Women should have the same value as men.” or “Rape is caused by the addition of a rapist.” Some are more complicated, like “Don’t view women objectively”, the subtleties of of which are little difficult at first. Observe the following images…
In this image, the woman’s breasts are the center, the focal point. The eye naturally goes to the central portion of an image. In fact, if you draw an imaginary line from the top left corner to the lower right, and another from the upper right to the lower left, you will see the lines cross almost perfectly in her cleavage.
Now, compare that to this image. Again, the cleavage is perfectly centered in the “cross” of the image. The total focal point of the image is the breast. It’s superficially similar to the first, except something uniquely subtle and horrifying has happened in this image. It’s not a woman anymore! The first image is a naked woman, and breasts are the focal point. The second is just a picture of breasts, completely divorced from the human being that is them and the sum of all her other parts and thoughts. There is no mouth to speak, no eyes to communicate subtle emotional state, no hands to suggest ability, and little body to express body language, age, or strength. The breasts are completely dehumanized, an independent object with no humanity.
I agree with feminist ideology that objectification harms the objectified and the objectifier. That said, I love me some boobies. Often, I make eye contact with women not because I want to, but because my desire to stare at their breasts reminds me to. I find breasts captivating.
There is no real reason to be captivated by them. I haven’t been in middle school for a long time. Seeing something I enjoy no longer produces any fantasies about it. Nor am I in high school anymore, I have no urgency to see women I don’t know, in any state of partial undress. If the opportunity provides itself to glance, I take it, but I’m not out looking for it.
In fact, it’s mildly frustrating. I wish I could turn it off sometimes. Today we were at the grocery store and a woman was going up the same isles we were, but from the opposite directions. Her breasts were just really interesting. I successfully didn’t ogle, stare, ect., but the amount of effort it took not to was irritating. It wasn’t a sexual thing, but a bouncing bosom is simply more fun to observe then rows and rows of nearly identical consumer food products. Why? I dunno. Some people say evolution. Some people say sin. All I know is that for two swinging sacks of mostly adipose tissue, they sure get my attention.
Ultimately, that relates to my greatest disappointment with feminism (and several other ideologies, for that matter). For most males, the female breast, in almost any context, is more fascinating than any other viewable item in that context. When feminism seeks to teach society acceptable and unacceptable ways to act upon that fascination, everyone wins. When it seeks to pathologize that fascination, everyone loses.
My apologizes to the vast majority of feminists who respect the makeup of both sexes and merely seek to see women valued equally to men, you folks are not whom I am referring to. Thanks for reading, all.