Permission to Notice

Yesterday at the gym, after spending an hour on the weight machine circuit doing drop sets, I walked past the gorgeous personal trainer (let’s call her PT) and nearly walked into a wall. Last week I caught myself checking out her butt. That is absolutely the first time that has ever happened. I mean, sure, I’ve been checking out guys’ butts all my adult life. That just meant I was awake and my eyes were open. But a woman?

As near as I can figure, I have only been allowing myself to notice beautiful women for about eight years. The first class I took in seminary was an anti-racism/anti-oppression class, where I realized how institutional racism and sexism were, as my brother would say, a thing, and I also realized that I had classism and homophobia to deal with. Working in academia for two decades means the classism is being continually reinforced from the outside, but Boston is a fairly liberal city, so aside from the same old story of heteronormativity, I feel like the homophobia is coming from the inside.

It is strange. I have always thought beauty was a neutral category. (There are no neutral categories.) I thought that I noticed attractive people (men) simply because they naturally stood out, like a streetlight on a dark road. Undoubtedly, there are a handful of Outrageously Beautiful People for whom that’s true, who walk onto the train and the squeaking of all the passengers’ heads swiveling to follow them is deafening. But they’re the exception, not the rule.

The first women I noticed was about twenty years older than me, a white-haired dean who was 95% of the time breathtakingly efficient and capable. Nervously, I asked a lesbian friend if the dean was hot. “Absolutely” was the reply. Okay. Good call. (Trust your instincts.)

So yes, I guess I understand that giving yourself permission to see things or people in new ways can open up new possibilities. But when did I become the kind of person who walks past a beautiful woman and nearly walks into a wall?

5 thoughts on “Permission to Notice

  1. tarnishedsoul June 22, 2016 / 8:51 pm

    OMG!
    I was out eating at a restaurant a few weeks ago and I fell all over myself when the server came over and gave me my food. I couldn’t even mumble “thanks” because I damn near fell out of my seat at how hot he was.

    It happens…it just happens…and I know this wasn’t the entire point of your post, but it made me think about my own experience.

    Liked by 1 person

    • writerspilecki June 22, 2016 / 8:53 pm

      Thanks! It helps to know I’m not the only one. I guess it just takes getting used to.

      Liked by 1 person

      • tarnishedsoul June 22, 2016 / 8:55 pm

        Oh trust me…I was so anti-bi, anti-homo, anti-every effing thing at one point in my life that when I first started realizing that some guys had a physiological effect on me, I thought I was going to die…

        Hot is hot…we can’t control that.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Jamie Ray June 23, 2016 / 1:19 am

    Although the idea of what is beautiful is a social construct, what turns each of us on is unique and doesn’t always align. You may be attracted to strength – I know I am attracted to warmth (Donna on first sight at a political meeting). But absolutely trust your instincts.

    Liked by 1 person

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