In the beginning I was mostly interested in the bodies of small creatures, spiders, frogs, worms, snails, caterpillars, chicks that had fallen from nests. When we are very small, we are much closer to nature and wildlife, or did it just feel that way? I would once sit, delighted and thoroughly entertained at watching little red spider mites crawling all over hot paving slabs or a stone wall. I now can’t remember the last time that I saw any. Are they still about but I have failed to notice them?
Do children still have funerals for dead butterflies and beautifully ugly, bald, dead blackbirds chicks? I can remember taking one with me to a Girl Guide camp, hopeful that I would be able to raise him after our cat ate his parents. He did of course die and I sadly gave him a grand little funeral with a decorated grave, then I dug him up again a few days later, eager to know how his little body was decomposing.
As I became older, human bodies began to hold a similar fascination, inside and out. Women’s bodies have always been the most interesting because they can grow and feed babies, men’s seem rather boring in comparison, a penis alone a poor consolation prize. A part of me has always felt a little bit sorry for men because of that. I’ve never met a man who laments not having this ability though, yet, somehow in many places all over the world Men even feel that they are better and more powerful than women. I’ve never understood this when they can’t even grow their own babies. I can remember having these thoughts at three to four years of age when my mother was pregnant with my sister and they have persisted over the years.
I’ve been nursing for many years now and have seen the bodies of many men, women and children. I cannot remember a man or a child ever apologising to me for their body, like the frogs and the spiders they mostly just unconsciously are, as they are, but it often saddens me that women almost always apologise for their bodies. They are sorry for their body hair, for stretch marks, for how fat or thin they are, if they might smell a tiny bit of anything other than perfume or deodorant. They are sorry that I have to do something as awful as a cervical cytology/smear test.
Bodies are meant to have hair, a cervix is a cervix, just a part of the body but tucked a way, to me and other doctors and nurses no different from looking into an ear or down a throat for tonsils. Bodily secretions really don’t bother me, I used to play with frogs and snails and dig up dead birds. I still find it all interesting. Little babies chubby hands or the wrinkled veiny ones of a 90 year old are both as equally delightful, they are alive and working and pretty amazing as every single living creature is, when you look, think, notice and wonder.