Taking up where we left off in the last article that went into the various aspects of the 1960’s and the beginning of some strange traditions, we will explore here the sexual revolution in how it affected women, in particular the treatment of a woman’s body. This article is going to ask the reader to think a little more creatively as we look at the exploitation of women that has often been celebrated since the 1960′s. One question to keep in mind is the following: How have women been recognized for their equal dignity over the last few decades? Have they been recognized for that dignity as woman or have they been degraded into something else? I will try do this by using similes and metaphors, then, I will try to move into the real beauty of a woman’s body in hopes that the translation to the final un-posted picture will be understood. And finally, this article will end with a poem to a woman by John Donne.
I want to talk about how a woman’s body is like the land. Now before you start screaming or getting excited, I believe a woman’s body is even better than land. The reason I want to use this analogy is because I read an article about this connection a woman’s body has to the land. Unfortunately I can no longer find this piece. It was on the internet posted from a “faraway” country; my fear is that he was probably not well liked by others for the article he wrote because it exposed some serious problems that that country was having.
The author in this article made the point that in this area of extreme violence, the men prove that they have conquered the land by raping the women. He went into the theory of why men do this. Raping women, controlling them with this sort of force, proves that they have control of the land because if they can control a woman’s body, they control the land where she lives. In turn, it shows the power they have over the men who originally took care of those women which in turn takes that power from the men who had guardianship over the land. This, sadly, has happened throughout human history; for instance, Ancient Greek literature mentions this phenomenon rather nonchalantly, like it was no big deal. So, it can be concluded, if you control the women, you control everything else that belongs to that society, too: their beliefs, their knowledge, their offspring, and, yes, you even have their land and all the resources that go with it. Power over the woman’s body means power over a whole lot more.
So, some of you may be asking in your minds: well, we at least have allowed women the choice to do with her body what she wants in this country. The choice to do what? Since I don’t want to use the gory details to describe what women have been allowing to happen to their bodies and consequently their interior selves, I will use the analogy of land with all the connections it has to so many other things. Using the analogy of a tree, or a river, or a bird would work, too, but this will have to suffice for today’s exploration. Keep in mind, too, that any exploitation of a woman’s body is not always as visible as the exploitation is on the land because exploitation of woman has interior implications before any exterior manifestations of that exploitation can be seen. The Picture of Dorian Grey by Oscar Wilde is an intriguing way to envision that mystery.
On to the analogy–land. There are three types of ways to approach land:
1. To allow it to be wild–a virgin land.
2. To cultivate it–a land nurtured and cared for.
3. To exploit it–a land stripped of all its resources, poisoned, and used until it can give no more.
#1 Virgin Land
The first land is beautiful in its grandeur. Untouched, it remains wild and free. It can be as striking as a mountain or as green as the land the surrounds the lake. It grows many things, supports many beings, and yet is untamed by man. This is the land of virginity. This is the land that a committed celibacy retains. This is land in all its vibrancy. Pure and wild! The caretaker of this land comes from a higher place.
#2 Cultivated Land
The second sort of land is very beautiful in its own way, but instead of having some other nature be the caretaker, the caretaker is a human being. The human being takes care of the soil, knows what kinds of plants to use in the land, waters it, and smiles on her with his own sunshine. He refills the soil when it needs more minerals. He makes sure to water the land with the necessary irrigation techniques. He makes sure that the land does not overheat in certain areas, so he plants some shady trees. He makes sure that the pests and weeds stay away. He makes this land a beautifully cultivated garden, helping her develop the fruit that will last. This land is also pure like the virgin, but she is slightly more tame than the virgin because this land allows the caretaker to be a man because she wants his help in being the best land that she can be while she in turn helps him become the best man that he can be, a reciprocal love.
#3 Exploited Land
Then, there is the third kind of land. Nobody cares for it. There are no signs to keep out trespassers. Anybody can come on it and do whatever they want. One sort burns the land, so that all the nutrients die in the soil. Another dumps all kinds of plastics into the soil, so that the land can never reproduce. Another trespasser poisons her with toxins, so the land’s plants die. Another sort drills and digs all kinds of deep caverns that leave scars too big to be refilled. This land is not pure. It has become sterile. It is not wild. It has been dominated. It is not tame. It is in shock. It is not loved. It has been destroyed because of hate and the hunger for power. The worst part about this is that the exploited land cannot sense very far. Her trees that could feel the winds of change have been hacked down. Now her land just feels the hot razor of wind going over desolate land–empty pain.
The one thing that makes a woman completely different from land is that she breathes not only with life but also with her heart and soul. She feels the repercussions of how she is treated. She knows deep down when her being is being hated and overpowered. The land has no such defense of reason. But woman here, she can stop the crimes committed if she just acknowledges that she has given into the disease of exploitation (please note, there are some women in some countries who have no choice to move away from exploitation sadly). And after she realizes that she has given into the disease of exploitation and that she wants to do life another way, she can even help her children, her society, animals, the land, etc.
The Beauty of Woman’s Body in Art
(sorry, don’t want to perpetuate the exploitation with pictures)
The Woman’s Body in Poetry
Elegy 19. To His Mistress Going to Bed (written in 1669) by John Donne
Come, Madam, come, all rest my powers defy,
Until I labor, I in labor lie.
The foe ofttimes having the foe in sight,
Is tired with standing though he never fight.
Off with that girdle, like heaven’s zone glistering,
But a far fairer world encompassing.
Unpin that spangled breastplate which you wear
That th’ eyes of bust fools may be stopped there.
Unlace yourself, for that harmonious chime
Tells me from you that now it is bed-time.
Off with that happy busk, which I envy,
That still can be and still can stand so nigh.
Your gown going off, such beauteous state reveals
As when from flowery meads th’ hill’s shadow steals.
Off with that wiry coronet and show
The hairy diadem which on you doth grow;
Now off with those shoes, and then safely tread
In this love’s hallowed temple, this soft bed.
In such white robes, heaven’s angels used to be
Received by men; thou, angel, bring’st with thee
A heaven like Mahomet’s paradise; and though
Ill spirits walk in white, we easily know
By these angels from an evil sprite,
Those set our hairs, but these our flesh upright.
License my roving hands, and let them go
Before, behind, between, above, below.
O my America! my new-found-land,
My kingdom, safeliest when with one man manned,
My mine of precious stones, my empery,
How blest am I in this discovering thee!
To enter into these bonds is to be free;
There where my hand is set, my seal shall be.
Full nakedness! All joys are due to thee.
As souls unbodied, bodies unclothed must be,
To taste whole joys. Gems which you women use
Are like Atalanta’s balls, cast in men’s views,
That when a fool’s eye lighteth on a gem,
His earthly soul may covet theirs, not them.
Like pictures, or like books’ gay coverings, made
For laymen, are all women thus arrayed;
Themselves are mystic books, which only we
(Whom their imputed grace will dignify)
Must see revealed. Then since that I may know,
As liberally as to a midwife show
Thyself: cast all, yea, this white linen hence,
Here is no penance due to innocence.
To teach thee, I am naked first; why then
What need’st thou have more covering than a man?
Interpretations of this poem anyone?
There is something to the beauty of a woman’s body. Her body is fearfully and wonderfully made. But, her body and what it means has so many implications.
So, as to the question of her body and sex, what does this all mean? Do we continue to exploit women or do we figure out what beauty and feminine dignity really mean? What are the implications of the treatment of women and their bodies? How do women perpetuate the problem of exploitation? How should men approach women in their femininity and personal dignity?
Theology of the Body by John Paul II
Love and Responsibility by Karol Wojtyla (John Paul II)
Mulieris Dignitatem by John Paul II
God is Love by Benedict XVI
Song of Songs in the Bible