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Spring is finally in the air and those nubile, Ripcurled surfers, with their washboard stomachs and tantalizing wetsuits, (that leave as much to the imagination as the one-pieces sprayed on to the Olympic rowers), have thankfully returned to our street en route to the beach. It makes every extra dollar of that premium we pay for housing close to the beach, so worthwhile.

And if I’m honest, it takes the discipline of a nun not to perv on them, even though my son thinks it’s highly immoral for me to do so, or at least, to do so in what he considers to be a salacious way.

Which is an accusation I take offence to. Because what I’m actually guilty of, is ‘appreciating’ the beauty of grown men in their twenties and thirties, not young boys; which by my definition makes me a cougar, rather than a pervert.

For those not ‘in-the-know’, ‘perving’ in Australia is defined as ‘looking lustfully at the opposite sex’. Gawping. My interpretation is more akin to a mature appreciation of male aesthetics. Especially since ‘lust’ has long since been filed away in the ‘things I did when I was young’ box of experiences, along with late nights and drinking more than three units of alcohol.

Unfortunately, rationalizing my behavior to my fifteen year old son has been harder than persuading him that low-slung trousers look ridiculous. And even I can see, that in the under-developed mind of a teenage boy, my argument does sound worryingly like a feeble excuse for lechery, almost as lame as my analogy of the male physique to a timeless piece of art.

What I can’t decide is whether his TITF reaction is because of my age or because I’m a woman. After all, we haven’t forced him to justify his behavior when he’s been caught red-handed ogling older scantily-clad women on the family computer. I think his attitude smacks of double standards.

So annoyingly, sexist comments regarding male physicality have therefore become taboo in our house. And sadly, his Dickensian awkward attitude towards anything sexual regarding me, his mother, (he has obviously also chosen to believe that he is the product of an immaculate conception), only brings out the worst in my delinquent side, and the more he doth protest, the more lewd I become.

Although luckily I do have the familial support of his sister on my side, who at eighteen, is apparently allowed to verbalize her fascination with ‘fit’ young men without coming across as sordid. The old man’s opinion is typically and very firmly ensconced on a fence in Switzerland somewhere; he is simply relieved that my sexual focus is aimed anywhere other than on him.

So my daughter and I have had to take our new bonding activity underground, due to the perving embargo in our own home. And so, closeted away, in the sanctity of ‘the tip’ she calls a bedroom, we engross ourselves in our new sport, where, with the meticulousness of Olympic judges, we scrutinise every fine detail of male physical perfection.

We question the worthiness of pecs over abs, if tattoos are still sexy, is exfoliation  necessary, whether men can you get away with long hair in their twenties, beards, and how short is too short? All brain-taxing dilemmas.

Is that so wrong? After all, it’s been common practice for men since the days in the cave.

‘Innocent’ perving, or ‘appreciation’ for want of a better word, is a fundamental trait of human nature, an evolutionary act with its roots in the most primal animal mating rituals. Think of birds showing their flamboyant plumage and the flaming red booty of baboons. Shouldn’t  women be free to ‘appreciate’ beauty too, without being condemned as lascivious?

I’m not sure if my son is being ageist or sexist in his attitude to women perving, but either way, I probably need to give him a lesson in equality and double standards.

Male Body photo courtesy of Weipim at www.flickr.com

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