Nudity norms examined

Every once in a while my mind turns to wondering about how humans first came up with the different cultural norms. Do you ever wonder who first came up with some of the cultural values we now take for granted? And what kind of bored people did they have to be in order to do so?

Every once in a while my mind turns to wondering about how humans first came up with the different cultural norms.

Do you ever wonder who first came up with some of the cultural values we now take for granted? And what kind of bored people did they have to be in order to do so?

I think about that sort of stuff way too much. So this is what came to my mind, how did our culture decide which body parts are not acceptable for display in public places?

This list generally includes genitalia (male and female), buttocks (male and female) and nipples (female only; male nipples are typically considered acceptable).

I mentioned “nipples” rather than “breasts” because the current style seems to be to expose a lot of cleavage almost to the nipple. So it’s not the whole breast that’s forbidden, or maybe it is, but people, specifically women, won’t listen.

Of course, the lines demarcating what’s acceptable depend on who is doing the accepting or rejecting. There are places in the world where a woman walking around showing the very slightest of her face or even just some leg above the ankle could get her stoned to death. Yet, in another society that would be considered way too much clothing, back to the topic.

I sort of understand genitalia being on the list. Most cultures generally consider public sex to be taboo so a rule about keeping sex organs covered might follow rationally from that.

Besides, even in the absence of any social principles against it, if you’re a guy, you wouldn’t want that particular organ dangling unprotected.

It could get caught in a car door or worse still, get stack in the spikes of a speeding moto. (Hell! I wish I hadn’t written that)

But what about the other body parts on the list? Strictly speaking, they aren’t sex organs. True, they’ve been incorporated into our sexuality, but if being used somehow during some sexual encounters were enough to get a body part on the list then we’d have to hide our (name a few parts)and then say, etc.

The bottom might be explained because we use it to defecate, which is not the most pleasing of activities. Then again, people occasionally throw up partially processed food through their mouths. I also don’t want to witness that if I can avoid it.

So if the use of an orifice to, at some times, expel processed food is one of the criteria that puts a body part on the no-no list, then that’s another strike against the mouth. So why are public displays of buttocks forbidden, but not mouths?

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not suggesting that, even if it were allowed, I’d start walking around naked in public.

I am also not suggesting that anyone else change their ways. Nor am I recommending any changes to our culture,
Besides, even if our culture was more open to nudity, I still wouldn’t go around exposing much of my body to the public without spending some quality time in the gym getting some muscle on.

However there are a number of tribes out there who don’t treat public nudity as a taboo, these among the very few I know of, include the Dinka in southern Sudan, the Karamajong in Uganda, not to mention the bushmen in South Africa (hope the use of the word bushmen doesn’t classify my article politically incorrect, something I have tried to avoid from the start).

I don’t mean these tribes walk around, no, it’s just that they sort of, you know, show considerably more skin than most cultures would put up with. I have nothing against the way these people choose to dress (if they do at all), in fact I would very much appreciate it if my own culture would take on some of those norms.

Again, I don’t recommend that any changes be made to my culture, make no mistake about that. I am simply practicing thinking aloud. . That’s all. Well, I’m fantasizing too. But I’m not prepared to share those fantasies in public.

easywilber@yahoo.com

ADVERTISEMENT