Art Should Make You FEEL

via These Photos of the Female Body Are Tough to Look At, But That’s Part of Their Message

You have to understand that an important part of creativity is making your audience FEEL.  It’s not always to make your audience think (although, really good creative works will make you think too – particularly books), but it had better make your audience FEEL – even if that feeling is disgust.

The thing is, often speaking about those things we’ve hidden from others is considered shameful.  Why? Because why would it be considered disgusting if it wasn’t shameful.

Menstruation – for a woman – is a subject that is extremely difficult to talk about, because many men consider it disgusting, and many women consider it shameful (to be hidden from the world).  No one should ever admit that they are having their period, because it’s shameful.

I want to know when this started.

But I know that I spent most of my adult life in fear of having my period.  Why?  Because, like many women with hormonal issues and mixed-up chemical processes inside our bodies, my period was ALWAYS like Niagara Falls.  Every day that I had a period was balanced between needing to be an adult and work and be in the world, and keeping my period secret from everyone around me.

As a woman working in the 80s, I got yelled at far too often for being away from my work – even to go to the bathroom.  And when your period means you have to change your period product (tampon or pad, whatever worked) every hour (or sometimes more often), I could be fired for being away from my desk.

I learned how to try to find ways to extend the ability of the product to soak up the liquid.  I learned ways to hide the fact that I had bled into the seat of the office chair.  I learned ways to clean up “oops” experiences wherever I went.  And if, God forbid, someone saw that I had bled through things, I was ashamed, guilty and self-destructive for days afterwards.

My mother berated me often for the fact that I had blood stains in my underwear, or in the crotch of my pants, no matter how much I told her how heavy the flow was.  I was disgusted that I couldn’t sleep in my bed without staining the sheets and the mattress (until I started to buy myself dark colored sheets to hide the stains that never completely come out).

I regularly took long soaking baths when I was bleeding, in the hopes that it would hurry the experience along  (and it sometimes worked).  But getting out of a bathtub that looks like you just tried to commit suicide will turn anyone’s stomach – let alone allowing anyone to be in the bathroom with me while I was in the tub soaking.  And cleaning it afterwards so that my husband wouldn’t see just encouraged the disgust with myself.

There is SO MUCH about a woman’s body that people want to hide, want to consider to be disgusting and shameful, that we should HIDE from the world.

I applaud artists like this, artists that will point out that we are constantly shamed by our bodies and our lives.  That being female is shameful and disgusting.

No, you can’t blame it all on Christianity.  No, you can’t blame it all on “the patriarchy.”  People like to think that way – that everything is dualistic, either good or evil.  That anything non-Christian or non-patriarchal must automatically honor a woman and her body.  Sorry, no.  Not if you look at history.  Not if you look at cultures other than your own.  Were there some where a woman’s body is considered sacred? Of course, there were.  But not all of them. And even when a woman’s body is considered sacred, that doesn’t mean parts of her body were not still considered shameful or disgusting.

Categories: Body Positivity, Mental Retraining | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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