What explains why pornography is considered base while erotic art is deemed beautiful? In both cases we lay our eyes upon the beautiful (or sometimes not so beautiful) human form. According to Robert Scruton in Beauty, pornography objectifies the body whereas erotic art represents the embodied person — soul, personality, character.
No real new news here.
But what struck me about the argument is Scruton’s own words: “My body is not an object but a subject, just as I am…I am inextricably mingled with it, and what is done to my body is done to me.”
His thinking has implications way beyond pornography for me. Essentially he’s elevating the role of our bodies. They aren’t just flesh and bone, they are inseparable from ourselves, from our essences.
So, following this argument, if we abuse our bodies, we abuse ourselves. With over 60% of our country being overweight, are we not then a country of self-abusers? Sure being overweight has major ramifications on our health, mobility and even wallets. But some of the harm to our bodies isn’t something we can observe with objective eyes! In harming our bodies, we are also harming our inner selves, no?
I’m just as guilty of this abuse. Anyone who knows me knows that I love my candy a bit too much and could afford to substitute the gallons of diet soda I drink for water.
Maybe if we really looked at our bodies for what they are, part of our selves vs. disembodied features, we would respect our bodies more and, consequently, treat them better. The converse of self abuse is self love, right? So if we take care of our bodies, we take care of ourselves.
Perhaps now I’ll hesitate to reach for the cocoa and grab green tea a little more. Only downside to this new approach to the body? May have to cancel those subscriptions to the porno sites, ha ha.