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Thursday, June 22, 2017 12:09 am

Our bodies, our selfies

PHOTO COURTESY AMY ALKON
Amy Alkon
My girlfriend of two years had me help her download photos from her phone, and I found about two dozen close-ups of her private parts. She said she was “just curious.” Well, okay, but why not use a mirror? Besides, she’s in her 30s. Surely, she knows what her parts look like without a photo shoot. Do you think she took these to send to another guy? – Disturbed

Men aren’t used to women being preoccupied with their girl parts. Even in Redneckville, you never see a woman hanging a rubber replica of hers off the back of her pickup.

The truth is, not all women went for a look-see down there with a hand mirror at age 14. Recently, some women may have gotten inspired to do some camera-phone sightseeing thanks to the increased visibility of the lady garden via free internet porn, the mainstreaming of the waxed-bald vulva and giant ads for labiaplasty (aka a face-lift for your vagina).

Though it’s possible that your girlfriend is texting these to other guys, consider what anthropologist Donald Symons calls the human tendency “to imagine that other minds are much like our own.” This can lead us to forget about biological sex differences, like how men, who are in no danger of getting pregnant from sex, evolved to be the less sexually discriminating half of humanity. Note that women don’t have to text photos of their naked bits to get sex; they just need to text their address and tell the guy not to dawdle.

It’s hard for many people to tell whether another person is lying, especially when they’re invested in believing otherwise. Borrowing from research methodology, a way to figure out whether a lone ambiguous event might be meaningful – like whether the panty hamster pictorial might mean what you dread it does – is to see how much company it has. (In other words, is it part of a pattern?)

Look back on your girlfriend’s behavior over your two years together. Does she act ethically – even when she thinks nobody’s looking? Does it, in fact, mean something to her to do the right thing? Being honest with yourself about whether she has a pattern of ethical corner-cutting will allow you to make the best (that is, most informed) guess about whether you have something to worry about – beyond coming home to a, um, new addition to the framed photos of her parents’ anniversary and your nephew with his Little League trophy.

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