Why Are Some Body Parts Sexier Than Others?

June 24, 2013

Sexy or Gross?

Sexy or Gross?

Warning: This post contains bad puns. Reader discretion is advised. 

Magazine covers, fifty-foot billboards, widescreen movies: sex sells and marketers know it. Being overwhelmed by magnified body parts, it makes one realize how comical this whole business of sex really is. Some body parts are stars while others are background extras. A woman’s bust-line is in your face, but a plumber’s cleavage is the butt of jokes.

To shake hands with a stranger is a show of friendliness, but to touch his feet is deference. Isn’t this a kind of discrimination against feet? I mean, the average hand carries some fifty viruses on its surface, where as a foot, protected by socks and shoes, has almost none.

Oh I know we love of all our body parts as though they were our children, but don’t we have our clear favorites?  We are so proud of our eyes we show them off to everyone and his grandmother. But the anus, well that is hidden away like a shameful mistake. Yet we could live without our eyes (plenty of blind people live perfectly fulfilled lives), but not a one can survive without his anus. (So now whenever someone calls me an A-hole, I say, “Why, thank you. Yes indeed I am indispensable.”)

Yes, the obvious answer to why some body parts are sexier is that they have a denser concentration of tactile nerves than other parts do. But that does not explain why the mouth and anus are treated so unequally. Anatomically similar, both orifices have a border of soft, sensitive tissue packed with nerve endings, and it is arguable which of them is the cleaner (though I suspect each has its own set of resident bacteria). Yet kissing on the mouth is an act of love, but kissing ass is a humiliation.

It may be cultural bias that compels us to regard some body parts as sexy and others as  unworthy, but I do think it is beneficial to personally re-evaluate our relationships with our body parts.

Earlier this week I found myself in the waiting room of my local hospital. The clinic was backed-up, we all prepared ourselves for a long wait. Then in walked two very different kinds of women: a mother with a toddler, and Mandy, one of Toronto’s most notorious transexuals. Mandy changed genders later in life, she had the means to undergo every procedure in the Cosmetic Surgeon’s catalogue. Her high-heels were open-toed, exposing ruby toenails. In fact every part of her was calculatedly feminine. Unlike the mother with the toddler, who took her womanhood for granted. Mandy is outspoken about her flip-flop and she often repeats that standard line of having been “a woman trapped inside a man’s body.”

I could not determine if the talkative but cute toddler was a boy or girl until the mother enlightened us. Nothing in his speech, his manners or his appearance was male or female. He was what we all are basically: a person. This reminded me that a hundred years ago parents dressed little boys and girls alike, in frocks and curls. I wish there had been a way I could advice him to hold on to that wisdom he now owns naturally: that inside he is neither a boy nor a girl. That despite his skin tone, inside he is not black, or brown, or white. But soon he will learn to play with his ‘outie’ and then he will behave differently to those with an ‘innie’. I want to warn him that even though the two organs are not dissimilar (Mandy had her outie  made into an innie), he will give too much importance to them. The world will persuade him that they are as far apart as Mars and Venus. I would like him to always remember that each is a person trapped inside a body, no matter what shape of the externalities. But I know it is too early for that.

Soon after my cardiac event, I was lucky enough to speak to a very wise man about my fears and anxieties for a future with a partially dead heart. He advised me to re-examined my relationships with my body parts. He told me to question the values assigned to each of them. He said were I to do this, I will reach a stage when I am able to witness the deterioration of my body with utter acceptance. He was right.

I sometimes meet patients who are grieving over the amputation of a leg or a foot. Or people who are distressed about losing their hearing, their sight, their mobility, due to old age. I wish I could somehow share that advice with them. But I know it is too late for that.


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