Saturday, March 3, 2012

'Into me see'

This is the quasi-onomatopoeic description of the word 'intimacy' by a wise old man I know.
Intimacy: into me see.

I think it is a brilliant description. Because it really opens up the true meaning of the word in a way I had never seen before.

I read somewhere that a woman, in deciding whether a man could be a possible candidate for her affections (in a romantic sense, that is) should ask herself one simple question:
'Can I bear to see him naked?'

Whilst I think this is wise, I also see this as only part of the equation.
They forgot to add:
'Can I bear for him to see me naked?'

Or, (as I am sure the men would be quick to point out):
'Can he bear to see me naked?'
And, it must be said, if a man is in the running, the answer to this question should obviously be 'yes' from the get-go :-)
Unless he is one of those outlying 'slow-burner' types :-)

When I was a teen I actually believed that men's idea of intimacy was a purely sexual one.
I am sure that idea came from fairly accurate perceptions of the world around me at that time.

Ask any 20 year old woman what men (her age) want and see what I mean.
At 20, most women are at or close to their highest level of attraction to men (of all ages, actually) and given that a 20 year old woman is probably likely to find herself in the company of 20 year old men (who on the whole are not yet aherm, 'masters of themselves' shall we say) due to school, college, home life, job, etc, it is only fair to say that a certain perception could develop which is not necessarily true of all men.

But I was able to self-correct as I got older of course.
We are all on a perpetual journey of self-correction, I guess.

What might a man's idea of what intimacy means to a woman be?
Perhaps exactly the same as mine was.

And I would hope, that as a man matures, he too sees that women have a different version of intimacy than he may have thought at first.

There are other kinds of intimacy as we all know.

Emotional intimacy.
Spiritual intimacy.
Psychological intimacy.
Social intimacy, to name a few...

Some people see the above forms of intimacy as more 'intimate' than sex, of course.
I somehow cannot find a real life example, but a good fictional example is Julia Roberts' character in 'Pretty Woman' who refused to kiss her clients on the lips because that would be too intimate.
Counterintuitive, for sure, given her profession.
But somehow I can understand that.
For her, it was 'just a job' afterall.
I guess not many people can feel 'intimate' at work.

As a little digression, I shall state here that it took me a long time to take a personality test. Several posts over at Bellita's have touched on personality testing.
After a little (OK, a lot!) encouragement, I finally took the plunge.
And it didn't surprise me to see that my personality type are the least likely to actually take a personality test :-)
Because we don't like to be 'figured out'. Even though we love to figure others out, in order to fulfil one very specific function of ours - our raison d'ĂȘtre.

We do things slowly. We do everything slowly, to the point of near-total inertia, prompting in others the need to check we are still breathing.
(This reminds me of the film 'Beethoven' - the one about the dog - where it was actually the job of one of the household's children to check every morning that Beethoven the dog hadn't died, by placing a mirror under its nose to see if it steamed up. That's how inert the dog was).
And that's how inert my personality type can get :-)
I wonder if President Coolidge had the same personality type as me?
When told of his death, writer and wisecrack of the time Dorothy Parker quipped, 'How could they tell?'
But I digress...

We are 'private' beings.
Not secretive, but definitely private.
Odd for a blogger to claim to be 'private' but I always had it in mind that no blog of mine would be about me, per se. Just general, preferably abstract ideas I find interesting or important enough to write or talk about.

Back to the topic in hand, one of the possible hold-ups in relationships is the idea that one or both partners is 'private'.

We cannot bear to be vulnerable.
We cannot bear to be 'naked' to someone else. Even in marriage.

When those 'absolutely see all'  total body scanners at airports were first being proposed, I noted with great amusement how horrified some people were.
Of course I 'get' the concerns raised, and in fact I was one of those same horrified people, but I couldn't help wondering: is this a Western disease? Or is this a modern disease? Or both?

Why do we fear nudity so much?
I am no fan of naturism. Or even nudity just for the sake of nudity. (Apparently naturism and nudity are two completely different concepts). In that sense, I guess I am fairly conservative.

But, is that a problem in itself? What's the problem with a nudist beach, exactly? Why are some people so vehemently opposed to them?
I mean, I really don't think it would bother a Kalahari desert tribesman so much if he had to go through a body scanner in order to get in to the next village...
But is this because he is neither Western nor modern?

Are we too 'clothed' in our current world?
Do we have too many clothes on, figuratively speaking?
Do we seriously need to 'shed some clothes' so we can finally have some fun in our lives?

As a Brit, I know that this is a national thing for us. We are known for this 'reserve'. Some might call it 'uptight'.
Other countries I know which are also 'afflicted' by this national 'disease' are Norway, Switzerland and Germany.
Some would say all of Europe is like this. Too afraid of nakedness. Too 'square'.
Americans never seem to be tainted with this brush though :-)

I find it interesting that the word for 'privacy' in french is intimité (intimacy). The Anglo-Saxon languages feel the need to separate out these two concepts, but the Latin-based ones recognise them as one and the same. Interesting.
And telling, because culturally, these two populations are very different in their approach to many things.

There are some personality types that are much 'worse' than my own when it comes to privacy.
I know these people well :-)
Yes I am looking at you, INTJs :-)

On the other hand, paradoxically, I cannot bear people who 'let it all hang out'. Those who go on talk shows like 'Oprah' and 'Jerry Springer' and want to dish out every possible detail with no regard for their own anonymity or privacy.
I literally get hives with these people.
They drive me insane with their lack of 'restraint'.
I always want to run from them :-)
Even though I like them on principle. Because of their honesty.

I guess it is the extremes that I take issue with, on all of the above.

There should be a balance. Like with everything in life.
There is always a fine line.

Question is, where should the line be?
Who gets to draw the line?
And why?

Is the need for individual privacy killing intimacy?
Has it always been this way?
Or have human beings gotten more and more 'uptight' in recent years?


Anonymous said...

INTJ - guilty

Privacy issues? Hmmm...

Between Wives #2 and 3, I dated a good bit. If I thought the woman had any potential for a LTR, I told her a brief synopsis of my (then) current situation. Their reaction told me all I needed about the LTR prospects.

Now, I tell new people I meet almost nothing of my past. Certainly not the ugly, painful parts.

Just the facts, ma'am. Just not ALL of the facts.


Charming Disarray said...

Americans are a lot more prudish and uptight than we get credit for. :) We did have all those puritans, after all. It's a weird mix, I guess.

"I read somewhere that a woman, in deciding whether a man could be a possible candidate for her affections (in a romantic sense, that is) should ask herself one simple question:
'Can I bear to see him naked?'"

Women will rarely admit this, because for some bizarre reason we're all supposed to pretend we don't care about men being physically attractive, but it's very true and probably very common. I'm tired of men saying things like "Women don't really care about how attractive a man is. They just care about his status." And they tell me this like they know more about the issue than I do, ha ha ha.

Spacetraveller said...

@ Bill,

"INTJ - guilty"


Hahaha - I'll tell you an equally guilty secret of mine, Bill.
I am a sucker for this personality type :-)
Rather like the auditory thing, I seem to helplessly gravitate towards these people...
Hmm...could it be that I was born into a family made up almost exclusively of INTJ's?


@ Charming Disarray,
"Women will rarely admit this, because for some bizarre reason we're all supposed to pretend we don't care about men being physically attractive, but it's very true and probably very common."
So true...and increasingly more common nowadays, I find.

I think though that the article I was referring to was talking less about finding a man attractive (because in which case his face and general body shape would suffice!) and more about 'Can I bear to get intimate with him?' fully recognising that for some reason a woman is particularly sensitive to being physical 'close' to someone she does not find attractive.

Fact: A man is much more likely to sleep with a woman he does not find attractive than a woman would a man she does not find attractive. There are obvious biological reasons for this, of course.
How do I put this delicately...if she is 'not in the mood' a certain lack of lubrication would make the whole experience a rather painful one for her...

I think you are right about Americans...not sure how they earned their reputation of being the 'loud-mouthed extrovert' abroad...this is not fair :(

Afterall, give a Brit a couple of pints of cheap lager and he or she is anybody's.

And yet we are 'reserved'.
Life ain't fair.

Anonymous said...

Re: Americans. Not all of us are like those on Orpah or Jerry Springer... indeed, not all of us even watch these shows, though I admit to personal distress that these shows exist. But in a nation of 300 million people, one is bound to find more than a few willing to tell lies.. er truths about themselves that no one wants to hear, on TV.

I'm reminded of a time in London where I was told, in an Oxford/Eton accent, that some people had ancestors listed in the Domesday Book, 1000 years ago. I actually heard a gasp behind me, when I replied, in my best Oklahoma hick accent, "Family wuz inbred? Don't ya'll worry about it, us'ns gots miracle pills fer them diseases nawadays."

Everyone has personal tolerances for private matters, usually taught to us at a young age. What's more, it seems that we're also taught to judge somewhat by what others reveal about themselves, usually in regards something we would never tell about our own families/persons. In other words, if someone reveals their sister is unmarried and pregnant, to a total stranger, those who would never reveal such a thing are much more likely to judge harshly for the revelation. Many more would be embarrassed for that person who revealed it.

One of your fellow countrymen recently made a statement about taking offense:

"Ok, so you're offended. So effing what?"

You get to set your line, I get to set my line, but neither of us are entitled to bad behavior because of a line being crossed. Everyone is entitled to a bad attitude about a person, but no one is entitled to bad behavior, including the one you have a bad attitude about. The key is to know when you can walk away, and when you should run like hell.

The Navy Corpsman

Spacetraveller said...

@ NC,

"Re: Americans. Not all of us are like those on Orpah or Jerry Springer.."
Of course...
Not all Brits are of the 'reserved' variety. In fact I think that reputation comes from Brit behaviour of 100 years ago.
Things are rather different now :-)