May 31, 2012
I recently watched St. Elmo’s Fire for the first time in years. One of the funny things that has always stuck with me is when Mare Winningham’s character describes her mother. “She whispers the words she thinks are bad ‘cancer’ ‘alcoholic’.”
It is like she wants to hide these things she would rather not address. We get uncomfortable unless we practice saying them or seeing them.
This is our American world – we hide what we don’t want to see.
What is exciting to me is that some of the hidden is breaking free and standing front and center. Specifically what I see is breastfeeding and same-sex couples. These seem to cause controversy. That is because for many generations these were hidden. “Oh, he is not married, he is a bachelor.” Or “she is going in the room to feed the baby.” I see these situations as similar. Both involve loving relationships, two people who are doing something so normal. I think it has to do with a fear of sexual expression. People see a same-sex couple and think about sex. People see breasts and think about sex.
The truth is that humans are sexual and probably look at a tree or a car or a stranger walking down the street and think about sex. Somehow, though, we find certain social situations to peg as something we have to hide, something to limit our titillation.
Here’s the thing – if we see babies nursing and if we see two men or two women holding hands then we will all be freer. And, I believe we will all be sexually healthier because we will not be fearful.