Monday, March 2, 2009

Naked as nature intended?

I for one will be tuning in to BBC 2's Horizon tomorrow at 9pm for a fascinating glimpse of what we sexologists consider our daily bread: nudity.

The programme will be exploring just why human beings feel embarrassed when they take their clothes off - and, by means of a series of exercises, will be attempting to lower the embarrassment factor for a group of volunteers. Apparently the exercises are so successful that at the end of the filming process, the group walks to their 'take-me-home' taxis stark naked. Gripping stuff.

Of course what interests me most here are the sex-related implications. Apparently we humans are socialised into a wariness of nudity in order to keep sexual temptation to a minimum, avoid infidelity and maintain social stability. Mmm.... I do fail to imagine everyone suddenly jumping into bed with everyone else just because the clothes are off. Nudist camps, by dint of intelligence and respect, manage not to generate daily orgies - and speaking for myself, seeing a naked man who I'm not personally involved with is a turn-off rather than a turn-on. Nevertheless, I get the point.

But I do still have a problem with the backlash that such socialisation creates in society. Because I'd be a rich woman if I had a pound for every advice-seeking letter from a reader who's hung up about their body, hung up about physical intimacy, hung up about getting naked even with the person whom they most love and desire.

Our emphasis on nudity may be keeping us all safe from making love indiscriminately - but it's also keeping us from being at ease with our bodies, and from being unembarrassed and comfortable with other people's bodies. It's also making us wary and inhibited in the very arena and in the very relationships where we should be most open, trusting and uninhibited.

Not to mention the fact that what's forbidden immediately becomes more fascinating. (I'd love to see some studies exploring whether people who are at ease with nudity are less prone to using pornography. I strongly suspect they are.)

So I'm with the Horizon group. No, I won't be walking naked to pick up the next taxi that I hail. But I'd love to live in a world where doing exactly that was entirely possible!

1 comment:

Fab said...

Sue, did you see your book mentioned on the Sunday Times (1/3/09) page 15? The lady (cannot remember name) said children should see their parents naked in order to prevent teenage pregnancy!