June OWLS Tour – Vulnerable
In the month of June, we will be discussing what it means to be vulnerable. To some individuals, being vulnerable could be seen as a sign of weakness, but in fact, vulnerability is actually a sign of strength. In this month’s posts, we will explore what it means to be vulnerable and how certain characters in pop culture glamorize vulnerability. When do we show our vulnerability? How do we express vulnerability? Why should we show vulnerability? These are questions that we will be discussing in our posts featuring characters that show vulnerability and/or sensitivity and what we can learn from them or even our own personal stories.
Be sure to check out Takuto’s post about Sarazanmai – and tomorrow is a whole new month!
To be “vulnerable” is the opposite of “playing it safe”. It is leaving yourself open to attack, injury, or loss. It is a gamble; maybe a calculated risk, maybe a leap of faith. Keeping your guard up all the time is exhausting and limiting. Dropping it can be blissful.
Imagine a world where countries could allow themselves to be vulnerable! How much more resources could be poured into making everyone’s life better and less stressful? (As I lapse into a John Lennon song.)
When you tell your lover your innermost secrets, you are vulnerable. But vulnerability isn’t just confiding in someone you believe will understand. There is some vulnerability in everything we do. The blogger is vulnerable to their readership. The actor is vulnerable to the audience. The employee is vulnerable to the employer. The mountaineer is vulnerable to falls and avalanches. The soldier is vulnerable to the bomb and bullet.
Life itself is “managing” vulnerability.
Vulnerability is not always a good thing. The tortoise has a shell for a reason.
It doesn’t pay to wander about open and vulnerable in a potentially hostile world. I may love being nude but I’m not going to willingly climb barbed wire or wade thru snow drifts or meet a herd of religious fundamentalists that way. You are stronger if you reduce your vulnerabilities in the presence of danger, however you can. There are times it pays to be a hard target.
Still, the tortoise must stick its neck out if it is to move forward!
Vulnerability, as a choice, is a liberating experience. It can also be a devastating mistake, so, choose wisely. And accept that there will be times your vulnerability will not be appreciated, let alone reciprocated.
Vulnerability can sometimes just be a state of mind. If something leaves you vulnerable to insult, you can mitigate your vulnerability by refusing to accept the insults. Try to let them roll off like water off a duck. (Or in my case, bare skin.) Insults always demonstrate the shallowness of the insulter. Don’t join them.
Everyone is born and lives in a state of vulnerability. The “strength” of an infant or toddler is entirely dependent on the strength of those caring for it. As an adult, we are still dependent on a complex web we call society and vulnerable to its failure. Even the “self-sufficient” survivalist in his/her cabin in the wilderness is vulnerable. Just wait until he/she gets sick or seriously injured or there is a wildfire or the game goes away or the garden fails. Society is a good thing, even for a hermit.
When we choose to be vulnerable, we tell or show someone else something that could be used to harm us. We’ve decided it is safe and we’ll deal with the consequences if we are wrong.
In return, we hope and pray we are appreciated for who we are. It gives that warm fuzzy feeling inside, that someone likes you as you are and wouldn’t want you to change. The other person has proven their trustworthiness and you can move on to greater intimacy without defenses getting in the way.
Simple acceptance is still ok, at least in the public venue. Oftentimes mere tolerance is the best you can get.
Anime loves the naked warrior trope.
There is both psychological and physical vulnerability to nakedness. The naked warrior is strong enough that none of that matters.
We aren’t all naked warriors. Some of us just want to be nude and relaxed and at least accepted. To bad there is such a closet about it. We hide it away and don’t dare tell anyone outside of a club that we’re nudies.
Our clothing that serves as armor against the environment also hides self-perceived physical imperfection. The lack of clothing renders us vulnerable to the elements, to injury and some might even fear sexual assault. But most of all…
People judge. People are fearful of being judged and found wanting – or even hated. People make moral judgments. People will even judge you in a way they don’t really believe just to maintain unity with those around them.
We even judge ourselves, taking what we perceive as flaws and then projecting our own insecurites onto the people around us and then imagining them making the same judgment we just did on ourselves.
There is reason for the closet. That level of vulnerability doesn’t go over well with a lot of people.
You are nude in public, therefore, God says you are a disgusting sinner and will burn in Hell.
You must be doing it to become aroused. Sick, sick, sick!
You are naked because you want to arouse me. Hentai, hentai, hentai!
Gentalia are ugly ugly ugly!
Isn’t that really what makes nudity so vulnerable? The judgments of others? Maybe the people you work with. Maybe friends and family. (If you are really unfortunate, the judgment of a cop and a court.) Even people who you will never see again and have no control over you.
Leaving any closet risks rejection and loss. Being a nudie is no different.
Clothing is armor against the negativity of others. It hides what you think of as imperfections so you won’t be judged for them. It protects against false assumptions regarding your virtue. Whether you are rocking a string bikini on a hot bod on Venice Beach or in a burqa in Riyadh, you are still conforming to local notions of acceptability.
Nothing is without a cost. Armor also separates you from good things as much as bad things. For the sake of imaginary security thru conformity, we have a restriction on necessary liberty. It is impossible to convey with just words the sense of physical and psychological liberation a day without clothing produces. It is almost like you have to be there.
In that sense, the vulnerability of human nakedness (or just being topfree for women) is politically revolutionary. Clothing is a form of authoritarian control over your body and of free speech, implemented with deference to particular religious factions. The same factions that can’t cope with gay and transgendered issues. Nudity is illegal because it is wrong and it is wrong because – uh – higher powers… uh – the Bible says – no that won’t work today… and public morals… something.
Ah, just shut up and get dressed you pervert! Think about the children!
If you see me naked, I’m not being hentai. I’m just being authentic “me,” the version of me I wish the world would accept as good. I am being vulnerable, not aggressive. (LOL! I’m much too old and out of shape to be otherwise.) Appreciation would be nice – but acceptance and is what I aspire to. Some days I’m lucky to get tolerance.
Europe, in one of the ways it is superior to the US, seems to understand this a little bit better – but still not completely.
But I insist and I persist.
What is more vulnerable than a nude person? A nude person riding a bicycle. But… that’s another post!