Ambivalence over the Yucky Bits

At Salon, Rebecca Traister examines some recent women’s confessional articles in “Girlie Gross Out”, and wonders if it’s liberating or too much information:

Oversharing is in. And for a lot of people who are doing the sharing, or experiencing it, it’s not so much “too much information” as it is the next, necessary step in personal-is-political, enlightened honesty about the female body.

Traister doesn’t draw a conclusion, and I’m not sure there is one. I had an experience very similar to one of the several described in the article. I talked about it at the time, but rarely do anymore. It scared people, and that didn’t seem kind to do.

I’m reminded of the hubbub over breastfeeding photos on Facebook. I breastfed both my kids until they were at least a year old, often in public. But I always tried to be in a quiet place, and be discreet. It was something between my kid and me; I didn’t and don’t think it’s anyone else’s business. Yes, I fully support and encourage women to breastfeed in general, and their right to do so in public. Yet while I see how photographs of this support that right, they also bug me–they _are_ too much information. Mommy friends of mine breastfeed their kids around me all the time; that’s great. But they don’t deliberately solicit my attention to it, as do public photos, and the type of articles described at Salon.

My own conclusion then, if there is one, can be only about me. I try not to overshare about the messy bits, except to my OB/GYN. If somebody else does it, I appreciate that there are positive aspects, but part of me would also be fine if I didn’t know that. I support someone else’s desire and right to do it, but also my own right to be ambivalent, bothered by it, or avoid it.

Link from The Morning News.

2 Responses to “Ambivalence over the Yucky Bits”

  1. Steph Says:

    I think I am sort of with you on this one, in that I think there is a time and a place (and a person) where oversharing is perhaps a bit more acceptable. It’s one thing if my best friend tells me something private about her privates, but I don’t really want to hear about it from a stranger. I’m not saying people should be ashamed of their bodies or whatever, but I don’t think just because someone speaks with tact rather than complete candor that this is indicative of women being freaked out or ashamed of their bodies. Part of me feels as though these stories are not really shared in order to tell people “if this has happened to you, it’s ok!” so much as it’s for shock value.

  2. girldetective Says:

    I do think there’s tremendous therapeutic value in telling of stories, and myth-busting value for those who can hear. But there is a line that’s TMI. Sharing stories is one thing; making them lurid, even if true, for emphasis is another.