By Alyssa Velazquez
Elm Staff Writer
Once upon a time, about 900 years to be exact, the Earl of Mercer and Lord of Coventry, Lord Leofric married a very beautiful women by the name of Godiva. Peace prevailed throughout the land until 1057, when Lord Leofric raised the taxes of Coventry exponentially. So much so, that Godiva, now Lady Godiva, begged and pleaded with her Lord that he lessen the taxes that were burdening the townspeople of Coventry.
It took many hours and days of matrimonial harassing before Leofric told his wife that he would relieve the taxes–on one condition. Lady Godiva would have to ride through the town cross-legged upon a horse with no garments of any kind to cover her womanly figure.
The indecency of this stipulation was almost too much for Lady Godiva, until she was reminded of her suffering people outside the castle.
She would eventually agree to the compromise, on the conditions that all the townspeople would be required to shut their windows, doors, and most importantly, no one would be allowed to step outside on the appointed day of her ride.
On that day, Lady Godiva released her long, Rapunzel-length hair to serve as both a natural cloak against the cold and the injustice done to her beloved people by her husband.
The people of that land, having come to know the power and oppression of Lord Leofric, obeyed the laws set forth on the day of Lady Godiva’s humanitarian march; that is…all except one. There was one man that day that, despite reason, could not resist the temptation of watching what the rest of his townspeople were being forbidden to see.
Perhaps he had been born curious, maybe he was in love with Lady Godiva, or possibly it was much simpler than that, a misunderstanding bred out of an absence when the proclamation had been announced.
Whatever it was, Tom, the sole viewer of the catalyst for Lord Leofric to withdraw the taxes on the land, had, in one day, not only been relieved of a fraction of his financial burdens, he would consequently go down in history as Peeping Tom.
Peeping Tom: the poster child for mischief, a patron saint for spies, an observer of the most malicious kind, and the role that so many women play whether they are in or out of a relationship.
Through stealth and the invention of Facebook, everyday women of the twenty-first century are given windows of opportunity to observe the relationships around them. Judgments are passed from a handhold, disbelief is produced from a public display of affection, and distain is conjured up from couples held together seamlessly by an invisible umbilical cord. I’ll admit: I do this. We all do this. But why?
This past weekend, on a night that I had expected to be spent studying and catching up on the piles of readings that were suppose to have been done the day before, I spent the evening with my roommates talking about the men-who-must-not-be-named: the ex-boyfriends.
Each of us took turns digging through our computers’ archives and scrounging through mutual friends on Facebook hoping to find in the albums labeled “Senior Prom” or “Summer 2004,” even “First Year of College,” a snapshot of our ex, forever frozen in time on a computer screen. None of us were very sorry to see them that way.
We were, however, not so happy to have to relive the failings of our relationships in front of foreigners to those said relationships.
When it was my turn to reveal the skeletons from my relationship closet, introduce the very different men I had dated over the years, I found myself becoming defensive. I felt judged by my friends for my past actions and companion selections. They didn’t know it, but I knew they were feeling the same way I was.
We were all covering up our still-lingering feelings of hurt and the judgmental atmosphere with indifference and profanities. We were being Peeping Toms; except it wasn’t Lady Godiva on display, it was our relationships.
As soon as that night’s relationship show-and-tell had ended, I couldn’t help but think, if the world is filled with over six billion people, each one of them unique and identifiable from the person sitting next to them, then why wouldn’t couples be any different?
Despite what the movie industry would have us believe, relationships are not all the same. So then who are we to say what is acceptable and what is not?
Whether it is friend or foe, what gives us the right to fabricate rules and steps for obtaining and cultivating the “perfect and acceptable relationship?”
After all no one really knows what happened to Peeping Tom after he saw Lady Godiva on that fateful day. Some said he died on the spot, others that he became blind.
Whatever became of him, Peeping Tom’s role in history will forever be limited to simply seeing the nude Lady Godiva, but never fully understanding the relationship that prompted her to mount her steed.