I find attitudes towards nudity puzzling. I read this recent article on some people going around San Francisco naked and the comments were absolutely brutal - there were a few supporters but a really large percentage of them were violently opposed, some to the point that violence was in fact exactly what they had in mind. Most expressed outrage that anyone anywhere would want to be naked and talked about how awful it must be for the children to have to witness such debauchery. (I doubt most of those commenters know the word debauchery, mind you, but it is the appropriate term.) The majority of them roundly condemned San Francisco as a whole for allowing this sort of behaviour and were aghast that a whole city was so corrupt. The amusing fact is that the article in question talked about how there were just a few of these folks, in a single area in San Francisco that caused the ruckus. It isn't as if the whole city is full of nudists, but rather that if you wander the streets at random for days you are almost certain to never see anyone naked at all. Hell, in the semi recent past women won the right to go topless around Toronto and guess how many women I have seen take advantage? Zero, *cough* unfortunately *cough*.
These sorts of comments don't surprise me, though they are sad. What really got me was the large number of people suggesting that it should be legal for attractive people to go naked (19 year old women were normally the ones suggested of course) and that the law should restrict ugly people from being naked. Because, apparently, everybody has a right to not be offended by the bodies of those who don't fit the supermodel mold? Good grief. I want to see 19 year old women naked as much as anyone but quite frankly the idea that people's civil rights should be dictated by their level of attractiveness as decided by the crowd is utterly terrifying. The 'save the children' cries are almost as ridiculous - I have a small child and have watched lots of small children and they have absolutely no issue with nudity. The only problems that people have with other naked people are ones we create by conditioning each other to pretend to find the naked body horrifying. I say pretend of course because everybody wants to see attractive naked people of one gender or the other (or both!) but for some reason we feel compelled by the force of peer pressure to freak out if we witness this in public, or if the body in question is one that is below a seven on the beauty scale.
We also had a fun incident at the cottage over Thanksgiving weekend where The Pilot commented that he was entirely disgusted with people who sent their six year old daughter to school with makeup on. Wendy and I looked at each other with a grin and told him that we regularly send our four year old to school with makeup on... and he had real trouble figuring out what to say to that. Of course there are good ways and bad ways to do this - Elli finds makeup fascinating and so sometimes Wendy lets her use just a tiny dab and Elli absolutely loves it. We don't encourage it or discourage it but rather just let her have just a little when she asks for it. Much like brushing or styling hair or wearing particular clothes I don't see any reason to avoid letting a small person tweak their appearance a little with makeup. Clearly telling a child that they *need* makeup is ridiculous and awful but letting them try just a bit here and there? Harmless. The trouble here of course was not makeup itself but rather the image of 'looking slutty' that people are supposed to avoid. Why is makeup slutty? Even moreso why is promiscuity bad in the first place? We don't punish men who go to the gym to get buff and look attractive so why look down on women who try to look attractive?
I got into a discussion about sluttiness and exposure of skin in general and I advocated the position that complete nudity should be acceptable in public. Unfortunately I don't think I won any converts to my cause because I was talking with a group of older folks who have much more conservative views than myself but at least I kept the Thanksgiving conversation interesting. You know it has been an entertaining day when you manage to have a conversation with a bunch of older relatives in law that covers the topics of: Nudity, prostitution, marijuana, women's rights, promiscuity, child rearing, racism, politics and breast / penis augmentation. Nobody fainted or ran away but I know they were thinking about it!