Sometimes I look at images that should be erotic. They are not hard to find. (Long gone are the days when, somehow, you would have to face a cashier if you were going to get a magazine.)

I have a few sites. Soft porn is enough. Mild stuff, really. Almost like still shots that could be taken from Rated R (not even X) movies. Something like some paintings you could find, except photos.

Men's fashion magazine sites where, among how to choose a bow tie you will also find a racy pictorial of a current celebrity.

These are things I find. Nothing brutal.

But these images confuse me. I think, but I am not sure, that when I was in college I could enjoy these things more, on occasion. I probably felt some guilt, because somehow I grew up with a morality that said this was wrong. But I also grew up with a morality that said it was normal for men, especially young men, so I felt guilty but also knew it at least meant I was normal.

Now things have changed and none if it is so simple.

I'm older. I've got two kids. The novelty of a naked woman has worn off, and sometimes I am just stunned at how young they look. Somebody get a coat for that girl; she must be cold.

I don't see the sex object as much any more. This is not a bad thing.

Another change, and maybe this is related, is that I'm nto as interested in erotica. I wish I were. I don't want to lose that. This is just mid-life crisis stuff, I guess, but I though I would rise above that when it came. I have to admit, though, it gets to me. Am I less of a man than I used to be?

The last change is that if you had asked me in college if I'd been sexually abused, I'd have said no. Whatever I remembered then, I remembered differently.

Mom looking at me change, sometimes touching me. A thousand subtle gestures or comments that sank in over time and didn't admit what they were until I was in my 30's.

When I was getting dressed in the morning, Mom would come to my with exposed breasts, as she was getting dressed, too. She would be asking something, but when I look back, could her question really not have waited until she had a top on? (Or is it me? Families obviously see each other in different states of dress? Maybe the sexuality there is something I brought into it.)

She gave me a pornographic magazine once, and a swimsuite calendar one year (I'd asked for it for Christmas), and passed her Victoria's SEcret catalogues onto my brother and me. There is a few more things like that.

So now, having worked on this stuff for a while, and identified some things, if I look at, let's say a Victoria's Secret thing now, I feel like I hear her saying, "You like that."

I don't remember her exactly saying that, though I think there were times when she did, "He LIKES so-and-so. She'S PRETTY." "Gosh, look at so-and-so's boobs. I can see why you like her."

So now, if something interests me, I wish it didn't.

I wish I wasn't curious about the pictures. I wish that looking at them was not arousing. That curiosity and that interest is what made it so easy for Mom to manipulate me.

Mom didn't look like any of those models. And if, now, I can see the young woman beyond the eroticism, why could I not see "MOM" (!!!) beyond anatomy?

So I wish I were not aroused at all. Whatever it is in me that creates a market for that stuff, that is what led me to put up with Mom's behaviour. I let her watch me change. I tried to show off my developing muscles for her. I checked what state of undress she was in if she came to my door.

Knowing these things, I look at images now and can't appreciate them. I hate what they say about me.
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"This is not my shame, this is their shame." Mona Eltahawy