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  • Friday, July 01, 2005


    Nudity and the American Way

    Why are Americans so afraid of the nude human body in public? It's almost a phobia, an obsessive vocal response by some people at the glimpse of a female nipple or the bare ass of anyone. I think it's partly a result of pornography which forges a strong association between sex and nudity. An adjunct to this is advertising which often twines sexuality, nudity, and promotional copy in more than suggestive ways. But it seems deeper to me.

    A reason often given is the need to protect children from the sight of adult nudity. Why do children need to be protected from nudity? I think the percieved progression is that nude adults are only moments away from sexual activity. Or that nudity creates uncontrolable urges for sex, particularly in men. Again, I think much of this springs from often associating nudity with porn.

    I've spent a fair amount of time in clothing optional environments in my life. I've found that the titillation and novelty factors drop off rather quickly. A by-product of being exposed to actual nude bodies of a variety of people (as opposed to carefully selected models) is a deeper understanding and acceptance of the variations of the human body.

    I doubt I'm going to convince anyone to become a nudist. But I would like to see if I can get people to question our cultural shame-based aversion to our own bodies. Nudity isn't the problem. The problem is our attitudes about nudity. When the nude body is criminalized, only criminals will have bodies. Or something.

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