We have a very strange position on nudity in general. Clothing is a tool. A form of technology. It has four core utilitarian purposes:
1. Keep us warm during cold times and protect us from the harsh sun.
2. Protect us from the environment. Like rain, tree branches, or rocks we might scrape against. As well as other human-made objects.
3. Serve as an identifier. Such as a uniform.
4. Allow us to carry things. Although a bag could often serve us better for that.
These are all valid reasons for clothing. Yet when it is not serving those purposes, it is still viewed as a necessity for reasons of decency. The reality is that nudity does not cause harm. As a result, it should be considered the default state. Clothing being optional. Often however it is the other way around. Clothing is the default state and only optional in very few places, such as public showers, locker rooms, nude beaches and the home.
Where did we ever get the idea that nudity is a bad thing? That we must cover it up?
Just to take a guess, I’m going to say it has a lot to do with our religious background and the belief that the physical world is carnal and evil.
Part of our problem is that we associate nudity with sex and then view it as perversion. Yet most of the time that we are nude, it is not for sex. Taking a shower or bath, changing our clothes, personal grooming, sleeping in the nude. Just a few examples, none of which involve sex or should be viewed as perverted. I’m not even going to go into what defines perversion because that is often a subjective term defined by the individual. But sex at least is only one of the many reasons for nudity and not the default reason, as people can have sex while mostly clothed if they wish.
There are good reasons why people themselves may not go nude. They may feel sensitive about their bodies and the way they look. Although one could also make the argument that it may be healthier for us to go nude and see each other as we really are, so that we know we’re not all that different from each other. Perhaps helping ourselves feel better about our bodies. You cold also say that nudity can help motive people to take better care of themselves by working out and eating better, because they know they’ll be seen and can’t just cover up.
There may be some evidence to that last one. The best beach bodies are often found in places that are warm all year. Locations where people are in less clothing more often.
There may also be some level of control associated with covering people up. We don’t want other people seeing our significant other nude. But that’s a childish stance that is controlling and should be washed away in our modern society if true. It is not our place to say who can and cannot see our significant other in the buff. That is up to them and them alone. But a lot of that mentality also exists because we associate nudity with sex in our culture right now. Take away that cultural association and we may see that mentality disappear as a reason for covering up. If such a thing is possible.
Whatever the reasons, we really need to change our stance on public nudity as a whole. We need to stop demonizing the human body and learn to accept it.
I was asked the question once by someone regarding nudity. They said “but don’t you think that if we all went around nude all the time it would numb us to the affect of nudity when it comes to sex and the desire for our partner when we see them nude?”
My answers is yes, it would numb us to it to a certain degree. If we saw people running around naked in public all the time, eventually we wouldn’t think anything of it. But rather than being a negative for sex, it may prove to be more positive. The way we are now, we associate nudity with sex so much that the simple act of seeing someone naked turns our thoughts toward carnal lust. To the point where some people view all nudity as pornography. We’ve conditioned ourselves to have that reaction because public nudity is so rare, that we’ve demonized it so much. I even had a friend tell me not too long ago that she wouldn’t want her little daughter to see a man’s penis in a public park. Why not? More than likely she is associating a man’s penis with sex and perversion of some sort. She’s not seeing it as just a natural part of the human body like any other part, such as a finger or a toe or a man’s nipple. All of which are perfectly acceptable in a public park for kids to see. The same is true of seeing a nursing woman’s naked breast. We’ve become so hypersensitive about nudity in a negative way, that seeing a woman breastfeeding her child in public is viewed by some as indecent, irresponsible or lewd. Why? Because again, any form of what we have defined as nudity is always associated with sex and perversion. That’s not even to tackle the bigger question as to why we view sex in such a negative light so often. But if we saw nudity all the time, sex would then be defined as an intimate encounter between people. Which is how sex should be viewed. So in the end, it may turn our views toward sex around. Where we see it less as a dirty act and more as an act of passion and/or love.
Another one I get a lot is something along the lines of “I don’t want to see other guys junk.” Which is a typical homophobic-like response of modern day Americans. It also comes from a lack of exposure to nudity and some misguided sense of decency. It’s not about what you want to see or don’t want to see, it’s about the freedom of the individual to be nude. The same freedom you would have. You don’t want to see it because you associate it with sex. But if it was a normal sight, you may not have that response. Also, if you don’t want to look at it, then don’t look at it. But the reality is your eye is probably drawn to it because secretly you do want to look at it. You want to see it and compare it and maybe admire it. All completely natural things whether you’re a male or female. So maybe just accept that fact and once you do it won’t be a big deal anymore and you can move on with your life and stop being so conditioned to be disgusted by a perfectly natural thing. It’s the denial of these things that leads to hatred and censorship and the idea that one should be disgusted by these things when they shouldn’t be.
So in a nutshell, nudity should be the default in my opinion. Clothing should be optional. If you want to require clothing on personal property, that’s your call. In terms of public space, it should be perfectly normal and accepted.