Lately I have watched a fair bit of TV…the benefit of being sick and tired! Anyway not all of it was easy viewing, some because Marie Kondo inspired me to sort and tidy and spark joy, but at the precise moment of watching it I wasn’t physically able to do anything really, and then when I was well it was a sad sorry mess.
You see Marie, when I acknowledge that I won’t fit into those pre-Faith clothes again and thank them and let them go…well what I am left with does not spark joy Marie…oh no it sparks the grim reality that my clothes are currently of the large and practical nature. I have either clothes that are nice but probably will never fit me or baggy maternity wear. And so Marie…I now have piles of clothes and I am unsure what to do.
My hair in a similar way reflects the disorganised nature of my life and closely resembles a birds nest. Not in a cool hipster-or mum bun (yes there are some people who can rock this look despite its name)-way, but more like a bird who couldn’t find the right shaped twigs, so it has used what it found in a skip outside a McDonalds and then shat on it.
But apart from this reality check, which tbh is a daily occurence… the most uncomfortable viewing has come from programmes and books of a more serious nature. So here’s my thoughts on a few things you too may have seen or heard about or maybe not?! These books/shows I don’t necessarily agree with everything in them, but some of these subjects I just have not thought about enough, which is what makes them so vital and so uncomfortable in equal measure. So here goes:
For those of you who have managed to get past the title and watched the Channel 4 show, you may have issue with the fact the images are ‘vulvas’ and not actually vaginas. Tis true…but the discussion that goes a long with it is generally about the wider physical area as well as identity, shame, self confidence, sexuality, pleasure…and basically everything.
So here’s the thing yup you will see A LOT of vulvas-like a lot. And it can seem uncomfortable…but actually women need to see this, I am pretty certain that until this I hadn’t really seen anybodies but my own before, and even that one hasn’t seen much light. Sorry far too much info. But women don’t see other peoples vulvas, not in changing rooms, or toilets or really on TV. Which leaves any comparison to the highly edited/unrealistic world of porn and anatomical drawings in science books. This means that lots of women worry a lot about whether they are ‘normal’ or ‘right down there’. I am from a pretty open house when it comes to talking about sex, in some ways my mum was too keen, and I have pretty awesome friends who are open about this too. However, on my first smear test when the nurse just passingly remarked ‘everything looks normal’ well I could have cried with relief.
This show tells women and girls that our downstairs are as diverse as our finger prints and that is good not bad. It challenges the myth that we should be ashamed if we don’t look a certain way and it opens up discussion around so many intimate things that have a massive effect on how we behave/feel/identify. The stories that were shared were beautiful, hilarious, heartbreaking and empowering.
It’s a pretty important thing to think through as a woman and talk about-probably equally important for the guys, I am just taking it from my perspective.
I will be honest though I skipped some of the part on periods, I am all for opening discussion just my stomach really couldn’t handle the visuals at that time.
Shameless: A Sexual Revolution by Nadia Bolz-Weber
‘Our pain and failure-the things we so often try to hide, the things that create shame, the things that scar-are what gives us texture. And without texture, there is nothing for others to connect to’
I actually haven’t finished reading this book-my kindle (well my mums I am borrowing it) says I am 80% through, so nearly there. And it’s good people.
For me it reads in a tangle between familiar and yet a little obscure. It is about sex and the church, and NBW writes not only from her own personal stories of how the church has damaged her but also stories of her parishoners. It also sheds light on some of the history behind some of the more conservative christian movements-like purity culture. Now, as you are all aware I am sure I am a christian, I grew up going to church and still go now-and ‘waiting until marriage’ was definitely encouraged and taught. However, the purity culture didn’t really spread much further than that..I don’t know anyone who had a ring, never heard of dances/balls to celebrate purity (a bit random to me) or pledges. In many respects I would say I was raised with a healthy attitude towards sex, and I am happy with decisions I made. So it pains me to read of the shame and hurt and isolation so many have gone through and still go through.
I am not trying to argue that the church in the UK doesn’t have a long way to move forward on this; I think progress is still desperately needed in understanding and having healthy discussion about bodies, sex, relationships and sexuality in a broader sense. But I am trying to explain that my experience of purity culture is not so all-encompassing, saying that a 10 year old boy once recommended to a 19 year old me (when I was a leader at summer camp) the infamous ‘I kissed dating goodbye’ by Joshua Harris. I found the whole thing a bit hilarious…so no massive fall out from that.
This book was enlightening and although I may not go as far as NBW in some of her thoughts, I found it insightful, wise and full to the brim of compassion-which frankly is needed in a world so often marked by shame and secrecy! Regardless of whether this was your upbringing or not, whether you are Christian or not-it is a good thing to ponder over. And if you are a Christian-it invites you to look at a positive narrative around sex from a sacred standpoint-understanding desires more, not as something to fear but something we were made with.
Afterlife by Ricky Gervais on Netflix
We loved this show.
It was nice to have something to watch together (my husband although listened to my lengthy analysis of 100 Vaginas…did not watch it with me). We are huge fans of Ricky Gervais’ work, especially The Office-but this was breathtakingly beautiful.
In this Netflix series Gervais plays ‘Tony’ a journalist for a local paper who is struggling to carry on after his wife dies. It has roles from lots of his past shows, and some brilliant additions too. Not everyone appreciates Gervais quick wit and cutting sarcasm, but his use of it alongside such poignant emotional depth is so clever and so raw. There are trademark RG comments about God/atheism’ but to be fair, a series on death and life was bound to bring them up. Also some laugh/cry out loud and squirm in your seats moments. It is not for those who can’t stomach a swear word-but seriously for authentic ‘this is what it is to be human-its shit but its beautiful’ times-this series has it covered.
I have written enough, the truth is I started writing this over 6 weeks ago, and I keep watching and reading stuff that challenges me…alongside some pretty rubbish stuff too. Plus I am trying to think about Lent, Passover and Easter and what I am doing with all that. But lets be real; you probably stopped reading about half way through-if you are related to me, hopefully you stopped before I overshared about my cervical screening experience.
What I will say is these things and a few others ( The Red Table Talk on White Privilege https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=322049678665001 ) are not easy comfortable discussions, they can cause us to be defensive because maybe they challenge/question our long held beliefs/upbringing. But it is ok to investigate your views again, in fact it is good-it doesn’t mean you are throwing out everything you ever thought as wrong-it may just be you are widening your perspective, or thinking afresh.
It can be uncomfortable but healthy and even life giving. (So can getting a smear test-so if you are due get it done!)