Saturday, February 24, 2007

Third On The List

I used to tell people that the way to thwart terrorists on airliners was to fly naked. It makes it very difficult and perhaps painful to hide weapons. I thought I was original in this thought until I saw a NY Times column by Thomas Friedman dated December 26, 2001. It was titled ‘Naked Air’. I was doing a little research on writings that occurred immediately post 911 and ran across the column. It pre-dates my thought but I don’t remember reading the column at the time. Friedman proposes it, but laughs it off as a tongue-in-cheek suggestion as the column rolls along. Today the news is of the new x-ray scan machine that looks through your clothes. It appears the public is in a gigantic panic about the ‘see-through’ x-ray machine.

I am a rebel about clothes. My feelings about clothes go all the way back to my childhood. I can remember as a young boy, 7 or 8 years old, wondering to myself what the great secrecy was all about. I was raised in a fundamentalist religious family. Fighting and thinking my way out of that triple-layered bag has taken a lifetime, but the thing about clothes pre-dates my religious rebellion.

I used to stand at the bathroom window as a child after a bath. I was maybe 4 feet tall, but if I stood on my tip toes I could, wearing only my birthday clothes, peer out the window into the Texas summer heat. I used to stand there and wish I could go outside, but it was totally unacceptable in my childhood household to emerge from behind the locked bathroom door less than fully dressed.

I have been a bit of a rebellious and inquisitive soul from the first moments I can actually remember. My mother spent many years massaging her forehead and giving me that ‘look’ of genuine perplexity. I am curious by nature and also questioning by nature.

I question the necessity of 24/7 clothes.

Nudity is a subject that generates a plethora of reactions in our society. The reactions can be levity, shame, blushing, horror, panic, stupidity, pornography, jokes and all the ones you can think of on your own.

It seems that airline passengers are now horrified that scanners can see through their clothes. I’m wondering what will happen? Will they spontaneously combust? Will God banish them to hell because someone has seen them in their birthday suit? Possible jail time?

I have a contrarian view on all of this. I think our culture’s insistence on clothes 24/7 in all situations actually facilitates sex crimes and unnatural leering. I think our inordinate preoccupation with nudity is founded on the fact that we are not ‘supposed’ to be nude by command of those composing cultural law even as they stand far outside the harmony and simplicity of natural law. What could be more natural and innocent than being nude? Would we put clothes on an apple? On a waterfall? On a tiger? On an antelope? That idea is sophomoric at fist read I confess, but could any truth be more self apparent to even a casual Saturday afternoon philosopher or thinker?

I also hold the view that it is a control mechanism placed on mankind and womankind. It is a puritan and unnatural restriction on the natural beauty of man and woman. Those of you that read here regularly know that I talk often about a world or ‘order’ of natural good. I find nudity perfectly natural and even normal. However, we all willingly accept these restrictions, if not willingly we are generally compliant with little fuss. In doing so we set into motion all of the unnatural behaviors that our society is plagued with. We have ‘strip joints’. We have weird television and movie preoccupations with the subject. We have tittering little jokes about nudity. We have Brazilian women wearing strings on the beach instead of simply going nude. We have Madison Avenue advertising that distorts this cultural repression to the n-th degree and uses it to sell, sell, sell.

All unnatural.

If I consider going to the curb in the morning to collect my newspaper in my god given clothes, I will be summoned straight to jail for being obscene. Obscene? One of the breathless reporters on the x-ray story today said many people feel the see-through machines are generating pornographic images. Pornographic?

Children being massacred in Darfur is pornographic. Television shows and movies with senseless violence as their staple are pornographic. Despite the rave over "Kill Bill', I found it pornographic, and yes, I understand the genre and the implications of the genre of Kill Bill.

I doubt I’ll see the day when my culture owns any semblance of an idea about the innocence of the skin God gave us. I think it’s an intellectual and philosophical shame.

Maybe we all actually understand this, but can we find the courage to overcome it? What do you think? Is nudity pornographic or obscene? And before you answer, no I'm not talking about nudity that is within the framework of sex with animals or bondage or all the mixed up things that occur around sexual activity that involves nudity. To answer nudity "is pornographic if it involves sex with children" is not the discussion I am looking for here. That type answer is readily apparent. I am asking about simple everyday nudity. I am talking about sunning on the ocean's shore, for example. Pornographic or obscene?

If I owned the magic cultural hammer, its the third thing I would change in our 'culture'.


Jenn said...

Neither. It's just nudity.

Until someone makes it something else.

Last year, I wanted my daughter photographed for her birthday wearing just her ruffly-bum panties. Because what's more beautiful and innocent than a 2-year-old?

The photographer refused. Said she had to have a shirt on since she was over a year old. Because otherwise it would be pornographic.

I was disgusted.

I hear what you're sayin', Seven.

Rick said...

You had me right up until, you know, the pictures. Playboy does the same damn thing.

Enemy of the Republic said...

I agree! I went to a bunch of nudist beaches when I lived abroad, and what fun it was to be naked and frolic in salt water. If everyone were naked, pornography would be about getting clothed!

Steve said...

I like clothes. I also like nudity. I see no problem with either.. anywhere. :^)

Angie said...

To echo EOTR's comment, the only time I've been to a nude beach was while traveling in another country. It was easy to spot the Americans by their reaction to the nude sunbathers.

Is it pornographic? Not in my book but, of course, this is all based on opinion...which we each have a right too. I do wonder what U.S. society would be like if we were each more comfortable with our own nudity and in turn with our own bodies.

Reach said...

Again I say- it is time for the United States to (not only) catch up with, but join the rest of the world as we have (a) fallen behind- all pun intended. Nudity on foreign prime-time television would be rated "X" by our censors, and their viewing audience have no reactions as this is only normal behavior. I, too, have visited nudist beaches on both abroad and domestic lands. Yes, domestic, as San Diego does have a "less than" beach wear location which does attract many "perverts"- but are they really perverted? Who should fault any one person for the wear, or lack of, in their own backyard? Only on this soil, does thy neighbor hold the responsibility to monitor us in our private moments. I am against this idea. Well, except when it is time for the morning coffee and the neighbor is on his deck after our mutual fence has fallen from the previous night's high winds. OK, maybe it's just jealousy because his deck is larger than....I remember one time he threw this party on his...Well, that's another story.

On to the pornographic idea of the X-ray machines- How would any parent feel about their teenage, preteen, or young child appearing before a stranger via any machine to automatically remove clothing? Also, much like the ATM machines, will there be a recording device linked into this x-ray- for integrity purposes, I'm certain will be their disclaimer! Is there a test, or background check, for the individual monitoring this system? And, who will monitor the monitor(er)? Too many questions go unanswered....

My vote- I am against it and feel that this method does violate our Constitutional Rights! Only due to the fact they are making it a mandatory "inspection".


Seven said...

It sounds like the photog went to a liability seminar and was protecting himself from you; which is very weird. Or on the other hand maybe he was just the strange type. In either case I think it illustrates the absurdity of our culture's attitude. It's my humble opinion that most perversion develops from the fact that we have artificially re-manufactured the natural into the unnatural. That is a remarkable thing isn't it? BEG is a pro photographer and has done some amazing work with babies, pregnant moms etc, nude. The ability to discern between art and perversion is not hard. It doesn't require a seminar! Sorry that happened to you. Not only is it stupid, it was probably unnaturally embarrassing for everyone.

Yes, we are visual aren't we? The photo contains a very lovely girl. The sharp cutting edge is that we are asked to constantly contain, hide or wrap such extraordinary beauty. It is a beauty that literally distracted you from the message. Hmmm....maybe we should wear clothes in a classroom?

There are many very fine memories in my lifetime of such incidents as you describe. The freedom is not easily forgotten is it?

I love this comment. You are often sparse with words, but I must say they are always well targeted words.

Less perversion. Less sex crime. Less advertising around nudity where nudity is not germane to the product. More honest love in relationships and less lust. Flying in airplanes without weapons.....More everyday beauty. More adherence to caring for one's physical self. etc, etc, etc.

I have been to Black's Beach on 3 occasions. I saw the lurkers you talk about. My view is that the reason we have lurkers/perversion is simply because it is a place they can express a long buried search for the natural. That might sound odd, but I think it is a chicken/egg problem. We did we create the perversion by insisting the object of their search by rare? I think so.
I think the x-ray machine at present is offered as an alternative to the pat down search.
Personally I would find a pat down search from a stranger far more invasive than the machine. I DO understand the point you are making about our children, but I think we are back to chicken /eggs thinking.
We have child molesters and sexual deviates in large part because we encourage their deviousness by our cultural 'laws'. With the natural viewed in a natural context, the unnatural flows away.
Finally, all of you are invited to my place anytime to sunbathe on my 'normal' sized deck, swim in the pool and be natural to your hearts content. The fence is up.

Lynilu said...

I have no problem with nudity, per se. I have a huge problem with people who make a big deal out of it, make it feel obscene. I had a person like that in my life, and I developed a sense of embarrassment because it was made to be a "big deal." I hate it and I'm working on overcoming it. Yeah, we need to calm down and let the Puritanical tendencies in our culture die. The human body is amazing.

Seven said...

Silver Lovely,
Amen to your comment, there is something very destroying about the judgment people can bring to the subject.. I am so questioning some times that I also question the term 'Puritanical" This term, as you know, is a throwback to an early time in America. I have often thought there were many things in the Puritan arsenal that were not so pure really. The term is wasted on a belief system that insists on judgment and the unnatural. I am more inclined to call it the "Control and Judge movement of early American Christianity". That's kind of wordy however.

patti_cake said...

I feel nudity itself is a thing of beauty. To be nude is as natural and free as the wind, the ocean, fire.
My MIL is constantly harping at me and my SIL about tubbie pics of the kids. She drives me insane. We take them with digital cameras, they are not being sent off to photolabs where purveyors of kiddie porn dwell.
It's all in how you perceive things

Denny Shane said...

Steve, being a nudist myself I completely agree 100%

Lynilu said...

Seven, wordiness aside, I like your title! And amen back to you on the un-pure state of judgment that was present then and, obviously, is now in many religious communities. It spills over into other parts of our culture and leaves us all stiff and fearful. I know.

Mayden's Voyage said...

I'll be the "odd" voice here-
I am almost never nude. The shower or bath is it...the towel is within quick reach- even in my own house, the doors locked- and no one around- Never, ever, ever will you find me with no clothes on...I don't like it.
I won't even wear a tank top for heavens sake~ it's too revealing.

I feel so vulnerable, so exposed.
So, while I don't have a problem with someone being comfortable in their skin- it would make me very uncomfortable for someone to expect me to feel the same way.
A nude beach would not be on my list of places to go...

It's not pornographic- it's not wrong to be nude...but it's not for me either.