In the latest video (NSFW 18+) I made for Vimeo (censored 5 months later and now on Pornhub), I’m standing in front of a mirror looking at myself taking off my top then putting it back on. I’m not acknowledging the camera until the very end when I look straight at it before turning it off. I hadn’t planned on doing that, it just imposed itself once I had started (I’ve never thought of it before but I guess you could say what I do is a sort of improvisation).
So far, there’s been three comments by two people, “fantastic body” then “oh yes very nice Body” and “yes very nice Wife”.
I had to check on urban dictionary to see if there’s a definition of wife I wasn’t aware of but I didn’t find anything outstanding so I’m left not really sure of how the word was meant.
But my first reaction as I read was actually physical. Blood rushing to my face like some sort of extreme blushing. I think it comes from feeling seen, like when you start talking in a group and suddenly everyone starts looking at you and you think oh shit why did I start doing this?!
It also comes from feeling seen in a particular way, from being looked at from that perspective. The word objectification is what popped up in my mind. So again I go to the definition (I am so grateful for the technology that allows me to do that without even changing app!) 1. “The action of degrading someone to the status of a mere object” and 2. “The expression of something abstract in a concrete form”. I think both are relevant. The second in the sense that these words express their reaction to my video, so the abstract feeling made concrete by language. The first because these words feel like I’m being talked of rather than talked to. Of course the short form makes sense for speed, and for the type of non-commitment that goes with making comments online. But it’s still a choice to write it like that instead of say, you have a nice body. The omission of a subject is what creates the effect I am trying to discuss.
Now, I don’t mean to say that these comments are bad or that I didn’t like them. I don’t even mean to say that objectification is necessarily bad. This conversation is exactly at the center of what I want to explore. I am putting my own body in these videos then putting them up to be seen pretty much in order to see how I react to others’ reactions.
I’m still analyzing my initial response in order to construct the second one as a thought. There are competing feelings of appreciation and shame I’m trying to make sense of. What am I appreciating? Their appreciation of my body? My appreciation of my body? My appreciation of their appreciation? And what am I ashamed of? My body? Their perception of my body? My having shown my body? I don’t know but I find the whole process fascinating.
As a side note, I still haven’t figured out how to respond to comments and messages I’ve received. That’s another thing I hadn’t anticipated on having to deal with. I don’t know what I want to say yet, but I do know I don’t want to stay silent. This blog is a first step.