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Ifat Glassman

Meaning of Nakedness

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On a really hot day, assuming that going naked on that place is legal, would you go naked or stay with clothes and suffer from the heat?
All one would need is a large-brimmed hat :) .

Seriously though, were you asking the question assuming that one is in a situation where nudity is socially acceptable? For instance, are you asking if one would go nude on a beach where a large number of people are nude? Or, do you mean walking nude in downtown Vermont, because there does not happen to be any law on the books, even though everyone is going to be staring at you?

Assuming that being nude is socially acceptable, one may be hesitant to be nude if one has not been in that situation before. You mentioned the example of a locker-room shower. In many countries, showers are private. The first time I was in a locker room in a Western country and all the guys were stripping I was uncomfortable doing so myself. Even though I knew intellectually that it was merely an arbitrary custom one way or the other, it was only after a few visits to the locker room that I actually stopped being conscious of it.

As for your friend covering her boyfriend's eyes lest he see you, I daresay she might have done that even if you didn't care!

Parenthetically, I'd add that a vast majority of people probably look more attractive clothed than nude.

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Sexual organs are sexual. You cannot change that.

But breasts aren't sexual organs. We have chosen to sexualize them.

So to argue that we ought to retain certain parts as sexual cues is like arguing that certain scientific disciplines should not have specialized jargon...

Some groups of people may wish to adopt alternative means of communicating sexual intent, for whatever reason, and may wish to abandon the use of traditional means for communicating that intent so that they can free up the traditional means for other purposes.

No, it is not like that at all.

It is like arguing to not change the word "Man" or "Mankind" in our language just because they don't refer specifically to males. What I am saying is that what we do culturally works and there is no major disadvantage to it. It would make a lot more trouble to try to change it than whatever supposed disadvantages it holds, so you all must provide actual reasons why it is a good idea to tear it down.

Sure, it's arbitrary! A lot of culture and language are, by necessity, arbitrary but that doesn't mean it should be rejected!

"I like pissing off Catholics because they imposed irrational rules on me" or "I'm a horny young man who likes staring at boobies" are not good reasons to tear down a cultural institution. I do not dig fashionable non-conformism so unless someone presents a practical reason to de-sexualize (and thus make acceptable in public) female breasts, I will not endorse it.

Edited by Inspector

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What I am saying is that what we do culturally works and there is no major disadvantage to it. It would make a lot more trouble to try to change it than whatever supposed disadvantages it holds, so you all must provide actual reasons why it is a good idea to tear it down.

What about the sexual insecurities and uneeded shame that the taboo of nudity brings? What about the underlying reasons why society treats nudity as unnacceptable? You may attribute it to hiding it so it's of more value sexually, but I don't think that's what a majority of the rest do.

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What about the sexual insecurities and uneeded shame that the taboo of nudity brings? What about the underlying reasons why society treats nudity as unnacceptable? You may attribute it to hiding it so it's of more value sexually, but I don't think that's what a majority of the rest do.

None of that is inherantly tied to not going about nude. The sexualization of the female breast brings nobody any shame as far as I know. Remember that our discussion is only that. No matter what, genitals are still sexual and should be covered in public. I don't actually know of anyone who refers to nudity as shame or anything of that nature. As far as I know, the common wisdom is that the reason for covering up is that nudity is sexual. Which has nothing to do with being ashamed of one's body. But then I haven't known too many Catholics.

This is only fueling my "you're all just a bunch of repressed ex-Catholics who want to pointlessly and irrationally rebel for its own sake" theory. As I said, fashionable non-conformism != cool.

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I said that I have never been so hot as to have wanted to take off my pants.
This would be helpful, if you said it while considering if there was no social taboo on the naked body in public. You did not specify that. Did you say with the social taboo in mind or not?

Yes, it is obvious that sexual organs are used for having sex. Do not insult my intelligence by trying to claim otherwise.
Yes, it is obvious what sexual organs are. However, this is not all there is to it. There are different forms of underwear, of different coverage, and of different transparency. What logic is used to determine which one of them is the correct one?

...so it is a man-made fact... but that is a fact.
OK, so you do see it as a man-made fact.

And frankly, I don't see why one would judge it to be bad. Unless you don't think breasts are sexy.
This is an assumption, and I hope this was not a pressure on me, impying that if I (or whoever) disagree with that point, then I (or whoever) don't find breasts sexy.

Furthemore, it is very incomplete. It is as if that statement assumes that what one finds sexy, must be covered. Is this correct?

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Sure, it's arbitrary! A lot of culture and language are, by necessity, arbitrary but that doesn't mean it should be rejected!
Abritrary should be rejected. The only guide to action and judgement is reason, not social established taboos and rules.

It would make a lot more trouble to try to change it than whatever supposed disadvantages it holds, so you all must provide actual reasons why it is a good idea to tear it down.
This discussion is not about changing what all of society thinks, but whenever human body must be covered in public or not.

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I don't actually know of anyone who refers to nudity as shame or anything of that nature. As far as I know, the common wisdom is that the reason for covering up is that nudity is sexual. Which has nothing to do with being ashamed of one's body. But then I haven't known too many Catholics.

This is only fueling my "you're all just a bunch of repressed ex-Catholics who want to pointlessly and irrationally rebel for its own sake" theory. As I said, fashionable non-conformism != cool.

I'm not catholic nor ex-catholic so I don't see what that has to do with it. If you're taught for so long that nudity is bad and wrong, then when confronted with situations of public nudity, I don't see why it is so hard to believe that the result would be shame. Not that their bodies are to be ashamed of, but it is shameful to be nude. It would be very interesting to find a study of how many adolescent kids in junior high/high school experience ill feelings towards having to change clothes in front of their peers. When I went to school, there were many who refused to and would rather put up with whatever ridicule from other kids over hygene then expose themselves in front of others. There's ample historical references to stripping people naked in public as a major form of humiliation. There are many many online articles about the taboos against nudity you can research for yourself.

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I really don't have the time to go deeply into this subject today and tomorrow, but just a quick response:

were you asking the question assuming that one is in a situation where nudity is socially acceptable?

We must keep a clear separation between one's own meaning of nudity and the reasons why or why not someone chooses to take off their clothes, as your question demonstrates.

One may have a certain meaning to nudity, but will choose to stay dressed not because of that meaning, but to not outcast themselves (because it would mean greater loss of value).

The problem is: if there is no rational reason for why people outcast people who get undressed in public - where is the line of what irrationalities one has to conform to in order to not lose other values? I mean... if my Professor's reasons for finding my nudity bad, irrational, and I make sure to stay clothed to not be thrown out of class, then what is the next step? Where is the fine line that separates justified conformity to irrationality and unjustified conformity to irrationality? In all these cases conformity is needed in order to keep a value and not to gain one. In communist Russia I would conform to communism (externally), to not lose my life. The last case is an initiation of force (against me) but outcasting me is not, so I'm not sure if those two cases belong together...

So now we have 2 questions:

1) What is the meaning of nudity, to you? and Why?

2) What are the reasons (other than your meaning of nudity) for keeping your clothes on?

From what you say, sNerd, it sounds like you do consider Nudity to be private, but perhaps you have not completely formulated why. It is implied from your emotional response to locker-room scene:

The first time I was in a locker room in a Western country and all the guys were stripping I was uncomfortable doing so myself. Even though I knew intellectually that it was merely an arbitrary custom one way or the other, it was only after a few visits to the locker room that I actually stopped being conscious of it.

Notice that you never mentioned any additional reason that made you change your emotions. The conclusion is that emotions are determined by habits rather than ideas. Which means more introspection is due.

I agree that once somebody changes their ideas, it takes time for their emotional responses to change as well, but in this case you saw nothing wrong with nudity to begin with, which is why it is strange that you felt embarrassed by getting undressed...

Parenthetically, I'd add that a vast majority of people probably look more attractive clothed than nude.

Oh, GOOD point! This reminds me of a photo of somebody I know without a shirt on (oh yuck! in his case). It makes you look at the significance of clothes in a whooollle different way...

Two last thing: Inspector, you seem to be missing the point that my question about suffering heat vrs. being nude is a hypothetical one. So either you have something against hypothetical questions, or you missed the point that it is hypothetical.

I agree with Sophia's point about breasts being sexual organs, for the reasons she stated. I also think that genitals are metaphysically sexual (except for some unfortunate cases).

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Abritrary should be rejected. The only guide to action and judgement is reason, not social established taboos and rules.

The reason why the concept of (what we now know as) "man" is denoted by the symbol "man" and not by the symbol "gifish" is arbitrary. The choice between certain (comfortable to use) symbols over other (comfortable to use) symbols is arbitrary.

But if you reject all choice of symbols, you end up with no language. I think this is what Inspector was trying to point out here.

Edited by ifatart

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41C (getting really uncomfortable here)?

We once had that kind of heat in Hungary (40C = 104F). Taking my clothes off would have made no difference. What did make a difference is that I dipped my t-shirt into water before putting it on--that would keep me pleasantly cool for hours!

In fact, the more extreme the heat is, the more you need clothes to protect you from it. The ultimate example is the astronauts whose spacesuits protect them from temperatures that would be unendurable without clothes.

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Just noticed the mix-up in my last post. I'd appreciate it if a moderator erased it, I am writing a new, corrected one:

Arbitrary should be rejected. The only guide to action and judgement is reason, not social established taboos and rules.

Olex, The reason why the concept of (what we now know as) "man" is denoted by the symbol "man" and not by the symbol "gifish" is arbitrary. The choice between certain (comfortable to use) symbols over other (comfortable to use) symbols is arbitrary.

But if you reject all choice of symbols, you end up with no language. I think this is what Inspector was trying to point out here. And some social conventions also serve as a part of a "language" like shaking hands.

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But if you reject all choice of symbols, you end up with no language.
I don't know what you mean by 'reject all choice of symbols.' Is this a meaning of something from my posts?

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Olex, The reason why the concept of (what we now know as) "man" is denoted by the symbol "man" and not by the symbol "gifish" is arbitrary.
I disagree. However, I will not debate this here. If you wish, you can start another thread for this.

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You may as well ask why women shave their legs, armpits, pubic region, arms, eyebrows . . . well, basically their entire body any more. Matters of sexuality/physical appearance are largely a question of habits that you acquire early in life. If a particular habit is not actually harmful, then why spend endless time analyzing it?

My housemate hates wearing clothing and can frequently be seen wandering around the house utterly nekkid. End result: he's only cute when he has clothes on. I think this is because it means he's making an effort. For someone that eschews nudity, on the other hand, nakedness requires a mental effort and thus attains greater significance, something I think can only be to the good because, as softwareNerd said, many people look better when they're wearing clothing. It's hard to maintain a romantic relationship with someone that would prefer not to see you naked.

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INotice that you never mentioned any additional reason that made you change your emotions. The conclusion is that emotions are determined by habits rather than ideas. Which means more introspection is due.

I agree that once somebody changes their ideas, it takes time for their emotional responses to change as well, but in this case you saw nothing wrong with nudity to begin with, which is why it is strange that you felt embarrassed by getting undressed...

Emotions are a matter of habit, which is why, if you want your emotions to be determined by your consciously held ideas, you have to act on them until they become a habit.

I expect that softwareNerd has never seen anything wrong with nudity qua nudity, but he was aware that it's considered inappropriate in some social situations. Embarrassment is not an emotion you feel when you've done something you consider immoral, but when you've committed an unintentional social gaffe. Having internalized that nudity was not appropriate even in locker rooms, softwareNerd would naturally be embarrassed when confronted with something that, to him, constituted a social gaffe of enormous proportions. In that situation, there's nothing to do but practice until you've internalized the new social paradigm.

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You may as well ask why women shave their legs, armpits, pubic region, arms, eyebrows . . . well, basically their entire body any more. Matters of sexuality/physical appearance are largely a question of habits that you acquire early in life. If a particular habit is not actually harmful, then why spend endless time analyzing it?

I disagree. There are plenty of things that I can do that are not harmful to me. This does not mean that I should do everything that is not harmful to me, and then consider which habits to stop only if they are harmful.

A man should only do things to gain/keep values.

As for appearance and body hair: There are two possible reasons why one would go through the shaving process: to enjoy their own looks, or to conform to social conventions in order to keep certain values.

My view is that unless not conforming to those social conventions is going to get you arrested/unemployed/uneducated you should not follow them, but seek the company of people who look for what is beyond conventions. In the case of body hair, no one is going to fire you if you don't shave your legs (as oppose to showing up naked to work), so in this case I would say you should only do what brings you pleasure.

I personally like those habits of shaving legs, nurturing my hair, face etc'. Same thing goes from dressing up (this is really fun to do).

I think the meaning of nakedness that you implicitly mentioned in your post, JMeganSnow, is beauty, and appealingness to one's partner, only in reverse:

It seems like the meaning of nakedness that your house-mate has, is one of convenience. And clothes have the opposite meaning of granting a gift to his romantic partner.

I can only amuse myself with the thought of what happens when two people who hold the opinions of your house-mate and of Inspector's, have a romantic relationship: One takes off their clothes, preparing to give the other a wonderful gift, and the other looks at them and says "put on some clothes you slob". :lol:

Olex, I will just ask this: if using the symbol "gifish" and not the symbol "man" to denote the concept "man" is not arbitrary, then can you give me one logical reason for why one symbol fits better than the other?

And, I would also like to know: Would you shake hands with someone after closing a deal with them? why?

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As for appearance and body hair: There are two possible reasons why one would go through the shaving process: to enjoy their own looks, or to conform to social conventions in order to keep certain values.

My view is that unless not conforming to those social conventions is going to get you arrested/unemployed/uneducated you should not follow them, but seek the company of people who look for what is beyond conventions.

This neglects the question of why you enjoy your own looks more when you shave . . . perhaps because it is a social convention? There's no metaphysical reason why hairlessness is any more beautiful than a furry pelt . . . or, for that matter, why bald men are less desirable than ones with a full head of hair.

My view is this: if something isn't actually immoral (meaning, ultimately, harmful to you), pick whatever convention suits you the best. This means that, even if the entirity of society has decided that women should not have friendly relations with unattached males, you would still do so because it's not actually immoral for women to have male friends. Conversely, if an entire society has decided that Jews should be rounded up and killed, you will not do this because it is immoral.

However, if it's the norm for people to remove body hair or cover their genitals at all times, no one can tell me that there's a moral issue involved in this either way. So, it is morally acceptable to go either way as long as you don't attempt to force your attitudes on other people. Wandering around on other people's property in the nude constitutes forcing your attitude on them . . . which is immoral.

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You may as well ask why women shave their legs, armpits, pubic region, arms, eyebrows . . . well, basically their entire body any more. Matters of sexuality/physical appearance are largely a question of habits that you acquire early in life. If a particular habit is not actually harmful, then why spend endless time analyzing it?

The difference is walking in public nude will get you arrested for indecent exposure. Nudity in a film will reduce the audience allowed to view it, etc. If going nude were simply a social gaffe, I doubt anyone would really discuss it at any length. Social views on nudity are a much stronger moral issue than shaving your legs.

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Social views on nudity are a much stronger moral issue than shaving your legs.

No, they are a much stronger social issue.

The question isn't: will I receive more approbation if I do this than if I do something else, the question is: should I receive more approbation if I do this than if I do something else. The answer to whether or not you should get in trouble for being nude in public is: no. Therefore you should feel free to choose to do so as long as you aren't forcing your attitude on other people. I don't know how to make this any plainer.

Now, as to whether you should go out of your way to be as bohemian as possible and appear naked whenever you can get away with it, the answer to that is also no. You should go naked when you a.) actually want to go naked and b.) not forcing your nudity on unsuspecting passers-by.

Even so, you may occasionally have unsuspecting passers-by because of slight cultural differences. In that case, it is the responsibility of the visitor to either make allowance for the customs of the place they are visiting or not visit. Making allowances is perfectly acceptable when a given custom is not actually a matter of irrationality or immorality.

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I don't think nudity is immoral, but I think it would be impractical in most situations. First off, as others have mentioned, some people look better with clothes on. Secondly, it's more sanitary. Would you want to sit on a public bench when some random stranger just had their naked butt on it?

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Nudity is sometimes impractical. With clothes on:

You have pockets to put things in.

You have shoes to protect your feet.

Hats to sheild your eyes from the sun.

Clothes protect you from sunburn (but produce awkward tanlines)

Clothes have all these advantages. But sometimes, sometimes, the wind can feel awesome on your genitals. And thats the truth, try it at least one time.

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No, they are a much stronger social issue.

I disagree. It may not be immoral to go nude, but it is definitely a moral issue in our society. If you tried to remove the laws against public indency/nudity you'd get all sorts of rejections on moral grounds from the religious groups.

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Secondly, it's more sanitary. Would you want to sit on a public bench when some random stranger just had their naked butt on it?

I was wondering how long someone would bring this one up. Clothes are supposed to perform a competely utilitarian purpose, protection, sanitary, etc.

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Well since clothes perform that function of protecting you from germs and such, why would it matter if there was a naked guy on the bench before you when you are wearing pants?

That would depend on how messy the guy before me was. I still wouldn't want to walk around with someone else's waste on my pants.

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