The Desexualization Of The Female Wrist


When I was fifteen I asked this girl to the movies and we saw something with Brendan Fraser. It was real hot outside and I can’t remember what I was wearing but she was wearing a tank top that stopped at her belly button and some tight jeans. I asked her because she had kissed lots of boys and I hadn’t kissed anyone and I thought, “Well, what the hell? Maybe she’ll kiss me.” When we sat down it was dark and my hand gently brushed her wrist, which was thin and beautiful and uncovered. I said sorry and she asked what for and I said for touching your wrist and she said it’s just a wrist. Then she touched my wrist, playfully, like it was a joke and I came in my pants.

I recently bought Steve Roggenbuck’s latest eBook Crunkjuice and there is poem that goes:

i call you, the phone clicks i thought it was your mother
i guess not, she is dead
rain clouds hitting a brick library

While on the surface it appears Roggenbuck comes to terms with the loss of his or someone’s mother, applying critical analysis it becomes obvious that, at least thematically, Roggenbuck provides the definitive commentary into the desexualization of the female wrist.

Now as a boy with two wrists who wears shirts, singlets or occasionally neither, who sometimes bares the entire upper torso, who walks around and observes girls in tank tops, dresses and skirts that are sometimes salacious, it is important to remember that such frivolities were not always the norm. One need only look to Slade who argues that — in Japanese culture — where once the wrist had been wrapped and hidden by the Kimono, the advent of modernity, both in and out of the sporting arena, saw the West encourage an alternative clothing that instantly attracted, instantly showed itself off.

This is reflected in Roggenbuck’s first two lines. The words ‘i call you’ refer to an invitation — where, in the sporting arena, the Western wrist literally revealed itself to a then covered Japanese wrist. This segues neatly into the ensuing cultural globalization and desexualization of the wrist as voiced by Roggenbuck who says ‘the phone clicks i thought it was your mother.’ The phone clicking represents the Japanese acceptance of a then racy ideal while the mother is an allegory for the Japanese public who, unaccustomed to such liberality, mistook the wrist for something else, a blinding, confronting sexualized piece of flesh.

The desexualization of the female wrist was, however, inversely related to the sexualization of women’s clothes as witnessed during industrialization by western culture. Roggenbuck comments on this with the line ‘i guess not, she is dead’ which clearly refers not only the death of the (hidden) wrist as a body part to be covered, but also — paradoxically, for through death comes birth — the arrival of the more revealed forearm, shoulder and breast.

Like Roggenbuck, I too noticed the inverse relationship between the covering and uncovering of skin, the sexualization and desexualization of a body part. Before the incident with the girl and the movie that had Brendan Fraser, during the previews there was an advertisement for the 1983 TV miniseries of Jane Eyre that depicted girls wearing modest dresses covering until the wrist with the ladies usually wearing gloves. I remember I looked to my left and saw, with stark contrast, the hugging, revealing, pink material that clung to my ‘dates’ breasts, stopping midway up the bosom to reveal a generous amount of cleavage. Now, given my familiarity with shopping malls, MTV and the Internet this was not the first pair of breasts I had seen. Even so, sitting there I wondered what difference it would have made to my excitement levels had she been wearing a modest top with no cleavage at all. As we discovered earlier, probably not a great deal.

Depending on ones interpretation of Roggenbuck’s last line ‘rain clouds hitting a brick library,’ there is room to wiggle either side of the wrist desexualization line. If taken negatively ? as in a violent storm that thrashes a quaint old library where maybe the library loses several bricks and this causes the recently donated computers to become damaged — it could be argued that the wrist has lost its place on the sexual front line due to over exposure and newer, more exciting developments. However, assuming such an interpretation is narrow and shortsighted. After all, one need only type “wrist-y” into Urban Dictionary — the absolute dictionary for the online pop cultured youth ? in order to discover its modern day sexual relevance. So if taken positively — like gentle spring showers that water the roses that line the library recently built through volunteer and community coexistence — it could be argued that the wrist is still a very exciting, sexual body part that should not be over looked.

Ultimately, despite the constraints/discourses society places upon the wrist, we must each make our own mind up as to it sexual overtones. I, for one, still feel a slight tingle at the sight of the dainty body part.

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image – mast3r