When the Internet Hates You
My sons sometimes slip and call me Daddy ... or "dude." My mom has called me by my siblings' names more often than I can count. I may even have been called a bitch once or twice in my lifetime (for no good reason, I assure you - I'm always perfectly sweet, right? Ahem).
But do you know what I've never been called?
A pedophile. A pervert. Deranged. Mentally ill. Disgusting. Sick.
I had never been called any of those things ...
... Until a few days ago.
See, a little while back, I wrote a post here on the blog called "The Naked Truth." You guys liked it. I got one snarky anonymous comment, but for the most part, the feedback was overwhelmingly positive. Then it was republished on The Huffington Post, with a different title: "Why I Want My Sons to See Me Naked." Then it was mentioned on Redbook Magazine's website ... and Women's Day Magazine's ... and The Blaze ... and HuffPost Canada ... and about a bazillion other websites.
And y'all? All hell has certifiably broken loose.
I have gotten a ton of supportive comments. But I can hardly read and appreciate those, because they're peppered with nasty landmines: This woman is sick. Someone should call child protective services. She's ruining her children. These boys are going to be perverts.
Besides the vitriolic comments, I've gotten bombarded with hate mail. Hate tweets. Hate-Facebook-messages. On one message board was a link to my post with the headline, "Aging, insecure mom tries to find solace in children's acceptance of her body" - followed, of course, by a bunch of people spewing about what a nutjob I am. One woman said she'd never let her kids play at my house ... because, clearly, I flaunt my nakedness every time we have company.
All I wanted to do was convey how important it is to me that my boys know what a real female body looks like, and not cultivate an "ideal" based on the images they'll inevitably see later of the impossibly thin, airbrushed, and implanted. (If you haven't seen the original post, read it, and you'll see where I'm coming from.)
But here's where the problem lies in our society: many people simply cannot separate female nudity from sexuality. And so when I say I want my boys to see my body, those people apparently picture me strutting stripper-like in front of them in some crotchless undies and a pair of pasties, like, "Come here, boys! Mommy has something to show you!" And it just makes me laugh. Because ... seriously?
There is nothing - I repeat, NOTHING - lascivious or sexual about my sons seeing me unclothed (and honestly, I question the hangups of anyone who thinks otherwise). This is not me spreading out naked on a bed and inviting them to come take a good long gander at my lady-bits. It's not me holding a conversation with them as I trim my pubes with one foot on the bathroom sink. It's me in the shower, and them poking their heads in to say, "Mommy, can we have a snack?" It's me flopping out a boob while we're watching TV and nursing whichever of them I've nursed throughout the years. It's me changing into my pajamas while they sit on my bed and chat with me about their day. It's the boys bursting in to tattle on their brothers while I'm on the toilet. It's random, fleeting, incidental moments where they might happen to catch a glimpse of - gasp! - their mother's naked butt or a little bit of nipple. It's life.
Do I try to teach them about modesty and privacy? Sure. It's my job as their mother. But news flash: kids don't always grasp a concept right away. Sometimes it takes years. My kids are little. They don't care who sees them when they change clothes at this point, and they only remember to poop with the bathroom door closed, like, ten percent of the time.
Here's the deal: I'm not going to give them the impression that my body parts - or theirs - are dirty things that they should be ashamed of. If they have questions about why my body looks different than theirs, I'm going to answer them openly and honestly.
If we keep the female anatomy shrouded in mystery, we indirectly teach our boys that women's bodies are only to be seen for sexual reasons, or to "be sexy." When we don't allow them to see those bodies in a more natural, NON-sexual context, we're perpetuating the objectification of women. We're reinforcing the archaic stereotype that breasts, for example, are solely sexual - and not practical anatomy used to feed babies. I want to let my boys know that a naked woman is NOT always just an "object of desire." That like theirs, our bodies are made to be strong, and functional, and that all body types have their merits.
Why can't people understand that when you're talking about your kids seeing you naked, there's absolutely nothing sexual about it? How hard is that to fathom, seriously? I mean, come on.
It amuses (and amazes) me that people are talking about what a bad example I'm setting for my children while they cyber-bully me. "Yes honey, mommy will be with you in a minute, I'm just telling this perfect stranger that she's a piece of shit parent and that her children are going to grow up to be rapists."
While I can't say I didn't expect some negative comments - after all, I did put myself out there for the world to scrutinize - I am surprised at how far it has gone. And how mean people can be from behind the safety of the computer screen. And how I kinda wish I had just stuck to blogging about poop and writing funny poems. Because, as much as I'd like to say it doesn't, I have to admit ... it stings a little.
Haters gonna hate. And my kids are gonna keep seeing me naked.
... At least until they learn to knock.