Naked isn’t sexy

Last updated on August 8, 2020

Blasphemy!  Nonsense!  Poppycock!

(hehehe… I said “cock”….)

Alright, I’m done being funny, but listen, there’s something to this.  Why is nudity such a taboo thing?  This is not a “what’s up with airplane food?” question, it’s a legitimate inquiry.  On one hand, it’s used to subjugate people (nakedness is having your “protection stripped away”), but at other times, it’s used to empower them (consciously stripping away the masks of society).  And for the most part, this idea of the presence (or absence) of clothes as a power-play is associated to sexuality almost exclusively.

Something that occurred to me some time ago, though, was that nudity isn’t really about sex at all.  Maybe sex is just one of the “final end-goals” whether it’s the suppression of it or the realization of it, but the real meaning, the real value of it, is vulnerability and trust.

Apocryphal story:

Woman and Man have a tiff.  Man has been seriously hurt in the past, as has Woman, but they deal with it in different ways (as they are wont to do).   The tiff goes on for a few days, and Man wears pajamas (pants and t-shirt) to bed (and at all other times), which is unusual.  Woman wears nothing, which is not unusual but certainly different from her partner, and this “nothing” extends to more than just bedtime.  The more they fight, the more her clothes come off and the more his go on.  He makes a comment about her sexuality through this moment (referring to her nudity), and she responds that it has nothing to do with sexuality – it has to do with vulnerability, because she trusts him and is willing to take a little hurt, to not hide from him, if he’s willing to just talk about the things that are really wrong.

Neither party is wrong or right in this scenario, it’s merely an illustration of two sides of the dichotomy.  In all fairness, these roles could easily be reversed, but there’s a deeper complexity to men’s sexuality than would be honored by this story, so I chose these genders to illustrate.

I want you to think about this.  I want you to mull it over in your head.  Imagine every porn, imagine every scenario wherein nudity is a factor.  The topic of vulnerability and trust is present in every one.

Children bathing with their parents is the first and ultimate indication of that.  Who do we trust more than Mum and Dad?  People ready to share intimacy for the first time often find that there’s such a rush that clothes are left on, but perhaps part of that is a subconscious feeling of “not ready to trust”.  People who bare all and don’t care are often so self-aware and self-confident that vulnerability is not an issue – their personal power is their protection.  Clothes are a form of protection, even when they’re not “protective” – they protect our identity, they protect our modesty, they give us a chance to choose who we trust and when.

An interesting thought that passed through just now is that in cultures and subcultures where nudity is used a form of control (think of BDSM scenarios where submissives are not allowed normal clothing, for instance), the aspect of vulnerability and trust is even more poignantly displayed.  A sub must trust her/his Dom/me to respect those pre-established boundaries, making a more complete and concrete display of these principles.  Likewise, when the nudity isn’t a choice (sex trafficking, mob girls, etc.), the sense of power that’s stolen through being denied clothes (or at least proper clothes) makes those people far more compliant to a degree.

I can’t imagine that these are original thoughts, but I do not see these words attached to the questions of sexuality that we as a species are starting to struggle with.  The fact of gender as a fluid thing – and even sexual preference as a fluid thing – is coming out enough (if you’ll forgive the pun) to expect its full acceptance within one or two generations at the most.  The myth of “traditional marriage” is being destroyed, and all of the weird ideas we have about sexual behavior are being called into question.  We are realizing that virginity and abstinence are not virtues, that a person’s worth is neither diminished nor increased by the number of people they’ve had sexual relations with, and that sex, as with so many other things, is really an expression, not a moral imperative.

So, let’s go back to our apocryphal examination.  Man has been hurt and goes into the cocoon, he hides and adds more layers to the shell until he can know that it’s safe to come out.  Externally, he is neither saying anything productive nor listening, he is going through his own process to figure out what the issue is.  This is his method – utilizing a good defense – and it works for him because his sense of control is maintained by keeping the boundaries up.  Although it will not get the problem solved quickly – problems between two people require dialogue to be resolved all the way – but he will not be ready to engage in that until he’s done with his retreat.

Woman chooses instead to take the offensive path, to drop her “protection” and not so much ride into battle but walk gently onto the field, ready to take whatever comes.  She knows that she’s going to be at more risk, that there’s potentially going to be a longer recovery time for her personally when everything is said and done.  But she’s putting it all out there, trying to push the situation forward so that the resolution can be found and they can get back to a sense of normalcy.  This is works for her because it is another way to maintain control, to take action instead of waiting for an outcome beyond her influence, but until he is ready to engage, she can only expect to pelt him with words that hopefully will be kind enough to make it through the armor.

Somewhere within these two methods is a good balance, and perhaps a right answer for some would be to sit on a bed together naked, separated by a wall of pillows or perhaps individually wrapped in a blanket, and share their thoughts and needs – consciously choosing to be vulnerable but still hidden to a degree.

Outside of that very practical advice, there is still the question of the role of vulnerability and trust in our view of nudity.  How would we change and transform as a culture if we were willing to start viewing things that way, if we were willing to examine the body language of nudity and clothing around us and interpret the level of trust we are being invested?  Will we recognize our own capacity to take the power in that moment of nakedness, will we realize the power of compassion in seeing the nude?  We could pull at least some of the teeth of the pernicious underbelly of predatory sexuality that underpins our society and replace it with a healthier concept of sex.  We could find ourselves empowered in our skins instead of constantly torn between shameless and shameful.

It’s a crazy idea, wresting the power back into the autonomous sovereignty of the self, but when you look at the bare skin of your lover and feel the connectedness in your own unclad state,  how could we not admit that this is where humanity must inevitably go for evolution and survival?

Image by 25621 from Pixabay

Dawn Written by:

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