I don't know what this is. An idea, a scene that pops into my head. Not full of steaming sex but what did yo expect? I think there is tension in it. A little, anyway. And besides anything else, this is not about my view on equality between the sexes. This is just a scene.
We were walking in the big lofty rooms, the sound of our shoes on the marble floor disturbing the peace. Groups of people looking at the painting, discussing them in hushed voices. I looked with amazement at the beautiful paintings, the landscapes, the dreamscapes and mythological creatures.
'What do you think?' he said and turned to me.
He was elegantly dressed in a light grey suit, his hat in his hand. He smiled.
'It is all very beautiful,' I replied, 'it is a grand museum.'
'But what are you thinking?' he asked looking intently at me.
I blushed, looked down. I felt, suddenly naked, dressed in a thin linen dress and a matching straw hat.
'I am thinking of all the women in the paintings.'
'What about them?' he asked, still looking at me.
'They are most often, I have to say, very naked.'
'So are the men.'
'There are fewer men in the pictures,' I said, 'and they are more clothed. Very few of the men are naked. The women are almost always naked.'
'Do you mind?' he wondered.
I fell silent for a while.
'No, I don't mind,' I continued.
'But it affects you,' he said, smiling.
'Yes,' I had to admit, 'it affects me.'
'What are you thinking of it?'
'There are so many men and women here, looking at the paintings,' I said.
I was silent for a while.
'And I wonder,' I said, 'what the women are thinking, seeing other women naked in the pictures. Do they see themselves in them? What do the men think? Do they think of the women at their sides and try to picture them naked?'
'Do you see yourself naked in the pictures?' he asked looking at me, smiling menacingly.
'Yes,' I said after a pause, 'I do.'
'What does it make you feel?'
'Oh, I don't know. I get embarrassed.'
'Is that all?' he asked.
I blushed, sensing that all the other visitors must know what I was thinking.
'Not only embarrassed,' I said.
He wouldn't let me off the hook.
'Hm, excited, I think.'
'Aroused,' I whispered.
He looked at me, his eyes shining. He enjoyed this.
'And the men,' he asked, 'what about the men?'
'What about them?' I replied.
'What do you feel when you think about the men watching the pictures, imagining you in them – naked?'
I blushed even more.
'Yes,' I whispered, 'aroused.'
We stood in silence for a while. I glanced at him and saw a faint smile on his lips.
'It is unfair,' I said.
'What is unfair?'
'That the women are naked.'
'Why shouldn't they be naked? They are beautiful.'
'The men have clothes,' I said.
'So they have.'
'It is not equal.'
'Why should it be equal?' he said.
'It is not fair.'
He looked at me. He was sterner now but I saw that he was still enjoying it.
'Are we equal?' he asked. 'Are you and I, equal?'
'No,' I replied, ' we are not.'
'Should we be equal?'
'No, we shouldn't be equal.'
'Then, perhaps, it is fair that those men should imagine you naked, in the paintings.'
I was silent again.
'I am still embarrassed,' I said.
'Maybe that is only fair,' he said, smiling triumphantly.
We walked for a while looking at more naked women. I felt my cheeks hot with embarrassment as I imagined myself in them.
I spoke boldly,' I said, after a while, 'I spoke boldly about fairness.'
'Yes, you did.'
'Will I have to be punished for it?'
'We'll see,' he said, smiling, 'we'll see, my sweet girl. When we get home.'