Soy Mexican Mocha
Garlic bagel w/ cream cheese
Censorship is a concept every person has to square themselves with at some point in their life, and more than once. We must choose what we say, how we dress, even how we act around other people. As parents, we have to grapple with these choices the whole way through our child's infancy to adolescence. Even though, he's only two, should we let him be in the room for a violent film we don't think he understands? The debate over what we allow other people to say and do is much more esoteric and comes only after we have instituted layer upon layer of self-censorship on ourself.
I am pretty anti-censorship (I used to be a card-carrying member of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund back when I had the money), but I am also a big believer in tact. I am forever the diplomat, as all my old performance reviews show. This is because it matters to me that I am understood, that people can hear what I have to say. So if I want my mother to read this or anything else I've written, I can't go dropping the f-bomb in every other sentence. That's knowing your audience. And if I want my mom as part of my audience, then the word "fuck" is the sacrifice I make to keep her there.
Obviously, though, I'm only going to make the sacrifices I feel I can make and still retain my voice, my self. I ask myself, what is more important: to say what I need to say, or to be heard saying it? And after all, if you can't speak without swearing, can you really speak? Who is the master of your words?
But beyond the words, the songs, the art, there is the uglier censorship of society. I've been reading too much lately about the ugly reality of rape culture, which, once we open our eyes, we find everywhere around us. I'll let my more activist feminist friends school you if you don't think it's there. (I watched "Mirror, Mirror" recently and was appalled to hear Nathan Lane's character drop a rape joke - in a kids movie!). Every female in this society (and most others, sadly) must decide how much she will sacrifice for rape culture.
I recently re-posted a picture on my facebook page (mostly for the accompanying text) of a woman who was topless with only some sort of appliqué over her nipples and the words "still not asking for it" written across her body. Needless to say, this was met with mixed responses. One of the main themes, though, was about this woman making herself a target.
The bottom line is that if this woman, or any woman wants to run around buck naked, she should be able to do so without fear. If that's what satisfies her as a human being, no one should ever be able to say that she's wrong. We weren't born wearing clothes and it's really society that's weird to be so hung up on them. But we also know, as she does, that she will draw attention to herself by not covering up. And if she does become the target of violence, people conditioned by rape culture will likely still blame her for making that choice to not conform, to not cover up. Oh, she didn't deserve it, they may say... but isn't she still "asking for it"?
No, in case you were wondering. It is always, under any circumstance at all, one hundred percent the rapist's fault for rape.
So, what is a free-spirited nudist - as we all are when we are born - supposed to do in a rape culture like ours? That is the dilemma.
As a parent, I will censor my children's nudity. I will limit where they go and the people they play with. I will restrict their freedom because I know their audience. The world is full of monsters and I am afraid of them. I will try to give my children as much liberty and self-expression as my fear will allow. I will try to see all the good and wholesome people out there, and more importantly, I will try to teach them early to be good people, to not be monsters themselves. But I will be on alert. The truth is I sacrifice some amount of joy for that vigilance, but that is where I'm at.
And as a woman... I try to walk that line every day between vigilance and joy. If I want to wear something revealing, something sexy, even walk down the street late at night wearing it, I refuse to say that I can't do that. I refuse to say that it's wrong or dumb to do that. Sometimes you gotta drop the f-bomb. Sometimes you gotta "work it" (though if I thought too long about where that phrase comes from, I'd probably not use it). But I can never forget my audience. I'll always be vigilant, carry my keys in my hand as I walk, never allow myself to get drunk and be out of control of myself or my surroundings.
Know your audience... But know your own voice, and never let the audience choose your words.