Nudity!

In America, nudity is an awesome subject.  Not just because it deals with things like boobs and penises, but because it provides examples of all of the confusing and wonky ideas that exist in the country.

I personally love nudity, I like to see my wife naked all the time.  When my kids were a little younger they loved nudity to the extent that we gave up trying to make them wear clothes.  Even my cat loves nudity; I’ve never actually seen him wear anything and that is some severe dedication to the idea.

However, even though nudity is generally liked in my household, when I google how other people feel about it or read a story about it, I get punched in the face with so many mixed ideas it is incredible.  Please find below some of the ideas that I find that just boggle my mind.

  1.  Magical Boobs!

PG-13/TV-14 Nudity used as sexual teasing is just fine.

I don’t understand this thought.  Nudity and sexuality are not permanently linked together; each can exist without the other.  However, when it comes to movies and TV shows that don’t want to go full out with nudity, almost-nudity that is made as a sexual tease is just fine.  See the picture below (yes, I’m including pictures).

Megan fox transformers

 

Now, you might say: Ray, she’s not naked, I’m starting to think that you don’t know what nudity means.  I’m smart, you don’t know me.

Nudity is used in this discussion as a continuum.  One of the means by which something can become nudity is when someone uses skin with the intention to induce a reaction in the intended audience; it doesn’t need to be total nudity (that sentence was stupid smart).  Pretty much every PG-13/TV-14 movie or TV show has used this tactic.  Just look at Megan Fox.  I don’t know about you, but wearing revealing clothes while arching my back and pushing my boobs up has always helped me fix my car.  I’m not saying the revealing clothes are a problem, but the intent for this scene was not to create a world in which young teenage boys respect women.  I personally think this scene was to show that boobs are magical and can fix cars.

2. Evil Boobs!!

Found everywhere there are young children.

Lets observe another side of nudity using the same gender but remove sexuality from it.  Breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding is something almost every mother had done and almost all of humanity has been on the receiving end of it.  For some tiny humans it is their only source of food, yet for some reason when a woman does it in public, or shows a picture of it on Facebook, everyone loses there minds!!!  It is easy to see why people go so crazy, I mean, just look at the two women in the pictures below.

breastfeeding_in_public1

Another picture with no nudity!  Ray, you keep using this word, I don’t think it means what you think it means.

The audacity of these women, having boobs and children!  If you look at the this picture and the one of Megan Fox you can only come to one conclusion.  One picture is empowering women and showing the use of nudity as a beautiful and useful part of the cycle of humanity; the other is showing two sinful women breastfeeding.  Don’t they know that if someone were to walk right by them and try really hard that that person might see a small part of a boob?  Children are out and about in the world and they might accidentally see a part of a boob.  Come to think of it, those children who are being fed might see a part of a boob!  *One clarification here, I don’t think that women should have to use those stupid sheets to cover themselves when doing this, I know that when I’m eating, I love to have a sheet on my face.  I just used that image as that was one that was available to me without having to search through pictures of women breastfeeding.

3. Explicit Boobs!

Actual nudity used in both a sexual and non-sexual manner.

Insert: Pixelated picture of the Braveheart kilt flashing scene.

Ray, there is no kilt flashing picture.  You’re right, italicized version of myself, I googled Braveheart kilt flashing scene image and instantly regretted it.

Nudity exists in the world both in sexual and non-sexual ways.  There are R rated movies in which the actors/actresses bare all and there are people in doctors offices that are taking off their clothes so that someone with a medical degree can practice their witchcraft on them.  There is nudity in porn and there are people who are naked because they literally don’t have enough money for clothes.

The point I am getting at after listing all this is that it strikes me as odd that in America, especially in the Christian subculture, nudity is treated as a one-trick pony and it is given very specific boundaries.

The Megan Fox picture is given a free pass because there is no nipple, penis or vagina in it so it is obviously not as evil as a picture that does have those things.  Breastfeeding is lumped in with Explicit Sexuality because it draws attention to the fact that women do in -fact have boobs and nipples.  Explicit Nudity is all lumped together because who cares about context! If nudity was done in humor or porn it is all the same!  It does not matter that all those African women in those National Geographic magazines were not doing porn, just existing, but in this country they are used in jokes about “Dad’s porn stash” of National Geographic in the basement.  It does not matter that a woman who is breastfeeding has to deal with the stares and thoughts of people who are appalled by what she is doing while half of the country is trying to convince everyone they go to Hooters “for the wings”.

These ideas have led to more interesting and horrible developments where we try to align the identity and value of a person to how they present themselves and how comfortable they feel in their own skin.  We have people saying that females should wear certain clothes of certain lengths so as not to temp males.  As if every body type can conform to some kind of code and as if males can’t control themselves.  We have people saying that we should all just watch porn because it is just boobs and penises and what is the big deal – screw the basic family unit!

I don’t have an answer to all of this, I’m still trying to think through most of it myself.  I know that as a society we take nudity simultaneously way too seriously and way too flippantly.  I also know that nudity, in certain contexts (porn for example), has no proven positive effect on anything.  Mostly I know that a good deal of our issues and thoughts about nudity and what is too much and what is too little is tied to the idea of gender roles in social, cultural and religious systems.

The main problem is equality.  Not just equality for women, but true equality for both genders.  The kind of equality that means when a girl says no, no one questions what she meant by that.  The kind of equality that means when a guy says he was raped, no one laughs at it.  The kind of equality we are NOT just fine with boys having Blue Crush posters on their wall while telling girls to try and wear clothes that makes their boobs look smaller so the boys won’t be tempted (that last comment is directed at you Christian schools).

Okay, I’ve ranted enough.

 

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14 comments

  1. I’m sure this was an outstanding post, but I really did not get past Megan Fox’s picture…
    …maybe I’ll try and regain my focus and try to read this later.

    I need to…um…
    …relieve some pressure.

  2. Great post, after having visited Europe and knowing many Europeans, America really takes nudity and sex too uptight. The human body is magnificent and should not always be hidden away. Discretion is the key, who is your target audience, are you doing it to offend etc. It has taken me much of my life to finally become comfortable in my skin and still struggle at times. My husband does a great job of telling me I’m sexy and to just let the nudist in me out!

    • I totally agree, we have teased ourselves with nudity so much that we have become obsessed with it and have created an environment where it can only become sexual. Context and reason matter greatly and you hit it right on the head about the target audience. I’m glad your husband has been able to help you with that. It is wonderful when marriages help people become more confident about themselves.

      • It all started when my sex drive kicked in 2010, I was so insecure, did not even like him seeing me nude (I blame the Christian influence) Anyway 2011 we went to Mexico, we went to topless place and I totally opened up

  3. This was a really great post! I think we’re trained to be ashamed of nudity from a young age. We fully clothe our babies just to sit around the house, for god’s sake! I really like how you tied in so many aspects to this! That mindset that we carry that tells us that a woman is less in control of her own body or more deserving of assault based on a lack of clothing is ludicrous. It’s just another way in which we perpetuate a rape culture! I’ve always asked people when they’ve argued with me about it: “so what you’re saying is that men just physically can’t control themselves around a woman in skimpy clothing?” The human body is beautiful, and I think that the implied shame for it that we learn from an early age contributes to the hatred that so many people harbor for their bodies and the value that’s placed on a human being as a result.

    • Very true. I’ve never understood the men can’t control themselves aspect or the victim blaming. I think some people are just trying to point out situation avoidance, however, once something has happened to someone, the solution is not to tell them what they did wrong. We need to stop spreading blame and just put it on the people who deserve it. You are also right about the shame people feel coming from the shame we assign to being naked. We tell people to cover up then we put mostly naked, computer generated models on all the advertisements. The psychological effect can in no way be good.

  4. I laughed my way all through this post, & I am truly one of the most unfunny people I know (except when I’m not trying to be funny. That’s a different story altogether).

    But more importantly: Ray, you are, indeed, “stupid smart.” Lots of good things to ponder on here.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

    And P.S. I went to a Christian high school where a teacher once asked several female students to kneel on the floor to prove that their skirts were, in fact, knee-length.

    Yes, really.

    I’m so glad we can all laugh about this together now. 😉

  5. Thanks!!! I went to a Christian high school to. I remember one Spring where a male student was allowed to go home and change (he went to Starbucks) because he told the teacher he felt guilty because there was a small hole in his jeans and he was praised by the teachers. During that same spring a female student who was wearing a large sweater (nothing remotely sexual about it) was told to go home and change, because she had larger boobs than other girls and it was her responsibility to make them look smaller. I am glad as well that we can laugh about it now. Thanks for the comment, I love following your blog, keep up the great work!

    • I went to a catholic high school and the girls shirts were cut very low. My sister told me that the marist brothers used to pause and she could feel them looking down her top(she has big boobs). Also whenever it rained after school, things turned into one big wet t-shirt competition. Back then I thought that it was great; now as a parent, I’m appalled.

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