When I initially began to think about this trend, it seemed to reflect an increased comfort with the body. After all, to let professionals touch you in the way required for a Brazilian wax is not to be a prude. It also seemed to me that bodies without clothing were everywhere. Not just on TV and the Internet, but in the world at large. My female students, for example, displayed an astonishing amount of décolletage, as did the 70-year-old ladies I bumped into in the supermarket. This suggested an exceptional level of comfort with this portion of the anatomy among a very wide age range.Another article that recently rocked my socks: Men Who Explain Things by Rebecca Solnit. I especially love these last lines:
But a friend pointed out that the exposed body nowadays is a far cry from the exposed body of the 1960s. That was the era of hairy underarms and legs, frizzy unkempt hair, and bra-less breasts that sagged under macramé T-shirts. Compare this to the perfect orbs that protrude like hothouse melons from the tank tops of 70-year-olds. “Let it all hang out” has been replaced by “let it all be nicely exhibited.” Walt Whitman (and his hippie successors) sang the “body electric;” we sing the “body electrolysis” — also, siliconed and liposuctioned.
The battle with Men Who Explain Things has trampled many women -- of my generation, of the up-and-coming generation we need so badly, here and in Pakistan and Bolivia and Java, not to mention the countless women who came before me and were not allowed into the laboratory, or the library, or the conversation, or the revolution, or even the category called human.
After all, Women Strike for Peace was founded by women who were tired of making the coffee and doing the typing and not having any voice or decision-making role in the antinuclear movement of the 1950s. Most women fight wars on two fronts, one for whatever the putative topic is and one simply for the right to speak, to have ideas, to be acknowledged to be in possession of facts and truths, to have value, to be a human being. Things have certainly gotten better, but this war won't end in my lifetime. I'm still fighting it, for myself certainly, but also for all those younger women who have something to say, in the hope that they will get to say it.