Why Do We Have a Thing About Nudity?

426159836_640Last  weekend I went with my older son Abhi to Wilbur Hot Springs, for a delicious weekend of soaking in mineral water, hiking, eating good food, and thoroughly enjoy being father and son together. Wilbur Hot Springs is clothing optional. More or less everybody there takes the option of being naked. For the first 15 minutes or so there is a tendency to notice a lot of breasts and genitalia. But, as you may know from being in a mixed gender sauna, or on a nude beach, that passes pretty quickly. And then it feels completely natural. By the second day at Wilbur you hardly notice at all that people are not wearing any clothes.

Which leads us to the very interesting conversation about why  human beings have this huge obsession with nudity.  Nudity, by the way, does not mean covering your elbows or your ankles or your knees or your ears (unless perhaps you live in Iran). Nudity means covering up “the bits.” It means that we are not allowed to see the mammillary glands (breasts) and we are also not allowed to see any areas associated with urination, excretion or reproduction.

Now why, we might ask, is this so? Who made these decisions, and for what reasons? Genesis would have us believe that all this was decided way back at the very beginning of creation, but I am going to question that story a little bit. Remember that the Bible has been translated many times from one language to another, and approved and sanctioned by the Catholic Church, entirely run by men.

pets-in-bikinis-19Let us remember for a moment, before we examine the reasons for this prohibition on nudity, that we are the only mammal on the planet that views things in this way. Not sure about that? Kindly remember that dolphins, pigs, horses, cows and even very domesticated animals like dogs, cats and goldfish do not cover their genitalia or breasts. It is only human beings.


I am actually really fascinated to hear your thoughts on this topic, but here are a few of my own:

Less excitement makes us less alive.

Priest_Claims_Hate_Texts_Are_From_Demon_Spirit_You may have noticed, particularly if you are a man, that when you go to a nudist beach, or a clothing optional spa, looking at women’s breasts, hips and vaginas can cause a flutter of excitement and well-being; both in your heart, and potentially down south as well. If you are not used to experiencing this kind of aliveness, it may sometimes even cause you to take action inappropriately and to make advances which are not welcome or reciprocated. So who makes the rules about nudity? In a nutshell, priests and politicians, who have almost entirely been men. And what agenda do priests and politicians have on the whole? To control their populations into conformity, obeying rules and above all not being rebellious. A horny or angry population is more difficult to control.

Whenever anyone feels sufficiently horny or pissed off, they are likely to say “To hell with this, let’s just go for it anyway.”

So that is one good reason I can see why nudity has got a bad rap; because it makes us more herdable, and allows for greater conformity.

Premature Ejaculation

You said what?

Yep! You heard me right. Premature ejaculation. I would humbly suggest to you that the prohibition on seeing breasts and vaginas, or indeed letting women see a beautiful penis now and then, was created by men who suffer from premature ejaculation.

How on earth did you come to that conclusion Arjuna? Have you been sniffy that glue again?

Relax a minute, and I’ll tell you.

Frisco1_620_1632555aFirst of all, I hope you will agree that it is a given that these rules were made by men. So what would cause a man to not want another man to see a woman’s “private” parts, and what might cause that motivation? Men making such rules probably do not care too much at all if you see your neighbors’ great-aunt Mildred in the buff. A man is going to care primarily if you see his wife naked.

Why, we might ask? An obvious conclusion might be that if his wife is beautiful, and another man sees her breasts and vagina, he might feel a quiver of desire. And even worse.. much, much, much worse, dangerously not okay, she might reciprocate and even welcome his advances. Now, what could possibly cause a woman to welcome the advances of a man other than the one with whom she has had children? The most obvious conclusion I know, from years of counseling couples, would be if she is not sexually satisfied. If a woman has had deep, rich, fulfilling orgasms; wave after wave after wave going through her body; she’s very unlikely to go down to the sauna or the watering hole the next morning and find another man irresistibly appealing. That’s been my observation working with couples. Because a woman takes the man into her body, and receives his energy and his DNA within herself, she is naturally quite protective of receiving too many different energetic imprints. In my opinion, a woman only welcomes another man’s advances when she feels sexually frustrated. And a woman is generally going to be sexually frustrated when her husband is unable to sustain sexual arousal long enough for her to be fully satisfied: AKA: premature ejaculation or sometimes the inability to get an erection.

Think about it for a minute. Which culture historically has had the greatest habit of repressing sexual energy? The British, obviously, (I should know because I am one), particularly in the Victorian era. And coincidentally, Britain (the home of Puritanism) has had the biggest problem with the visual display of nudity.

So now we have got the ball rolling (no pun intended). I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic too. We are used to such sweeping words as “immoral” or “obscene” but you would never use these words with any other mammal than with humans. A naked pig, or a naked cat, or a naked dog, or a naked cow, would never be thought of as immoral. Nor, for that matter, would a naked baby.

So why do you think that we have entered together in to this unquestioned agreement about having a problem with nudity?


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9 Responses to “Why Do We Have a Thing About Nudity?”

  1. Morgan February 16, 2015 at 11:16 am // Reply

    We have a problem with nudity because it has been handed down to us. Most of us have grown up with minimal nudity and the complementary belief that clothing is not optional in public. We do not have much propensity to question such widely-held beliefs and customs especially when \\\”indecent exposure\\\” is a criminal offence. I am glad to have been raised by a nudist. It gave me a sense of comfort in my own skin that I would not have come by easily otherwise. I have seen that nude beaches and other clothing optional settings can make for healthier, MUCH less sexually obsessed people. I have also seen that \\\”pervs\\\” hang out at such locales. The Abrahamic religions, Jewdaism, Islam and Christianity come from a root that seems to fear or need to control sex. It puts many rules on sexÃ�¢ï¿½Ã�¦ who you can and can\\\’t have it with, when in relation to marriage etc. Some say these patriarchical laws came in at a time when the divine was feminine and women were the leaders of society and sexuality was viewed as sacred. They say these violent, greedy, religious men hungered for the right of inheritance which was passed to female children at that time, and that they feared their own feebleness or impotence in the face of female sexuality (premature ejaculators?) and the creative force inherent in the female body. Or maybe it was their own lack of sexual skill and prowess that drove their destruction of the feminine Goddess cultures and trees and sanctuaries of natural beauty. I imagine this is when our naked bodies became taboo as nudity was equated with sexuality and sexuality was to be controlledÃ�¢ï¿½Ã�¦ by men. Nudity does NOT equal sexuality, except in a culture that makes it so by keeping nudity behind closed doors of homes and darkened windows of strip joints. And the feminine force does not reside excessively in women. As long as genders are so polarised man is sick and woman is sick. Perhaps when we all embrace our nurturing, creative feminine nature as well as our masculine responsibilities to protect each other and provide for each otherÃ�¢ï¿½Ã�¦ perhaps then we can take our clothes off and walk naked as the day we were born onto this heavenly home. And then we will naturally love and respect our planetary mother for the creative, nurturing provider of everything that she is. Thanks for inviting comment.


    • Arjuna Ardagh February 20, 2015 at 12:48 pm // Reply

      Thanks for the well thought out reply, dear Morgan!


  2. Redpelican February 20, 2015 at 12:28 pm // Reply

    Ultimately Judeo-Christian belief (not only Catholicism) does not sanction public nudity because there is a belief that we are now fallen creatures due to Original Sin and unlike our first parents the flesh competes with the spirit rather than being subject to the spirit. Adam and Eve were originally naked in Eden and there was nothing wrong with that. We live in a different dispensation now and nudity is more than genitalia – the thighs and shoulders are to be covered also. Orthodox jewish women dress like this- yet are encouraged to have satisfying sex lives with their husbands. St Thomas Aquinas also finds it reasonable that marital relations be satisfying and happy. Regarding breasts that is very much an Anglo Saxon obsession – Latins have always breastfeed in public. Whereas page 3 seems to hold a perennial and juvenile satisfaction to Brits. I don’t think you understand the theological nor the historical background to the prohibition on nudity particularly well.


    • Arjuna Ardagh February 20, 2015 at 12:47 pm // Reply

      Hello my dear Red Pelican. Very kind of you to add your erudite clarifications here. Not sure what you mean by page 3, as on my screen its all one page. Maybe you mean page 3 of a tabloid, which has a semi clad young lady, sometimes. I am not a scholar, dear Red Pelican, perhaps in the same way that you are not really a Pelican, are you now?! My role seems to be roughly defined as to provoke people, which seems to come quite naturally to me without even trying. It helps to shake up our assumptions a little, and then to see where things land. Thanks for reading, and thanks for commenting.


  3. Apollo Grace February 20, 2015 at 2:08 pm // Reply

    Thanks for this, Arjuna. It\’s interesting to note that in many ways, culture is holding back on this one more than law and politics. For instance, in many places, due to judicial decisions based on sexual discrimination lawsuits, laws requiring women to wear tops have been overturned, so both men and women are free to bare their breasts. And yet, most women don\’t; for those who I\’ve talked to, avoiding unwanted attention is part of the mix, but not wanting to disturb the cultural sensibility seems to be a stronger motivation.Another point that\’s worth considering is that we are, compared to most animals, a terribly, wonderfully, horny species, one of just a handful that are wired to enjoy sex anytime, not just during ovulation cycles. So it\’s not terribly surprising that we\’ve reached for ways to be able to set this part of our nature aside and get on with chopping wood and planting corn and so on. I don\’t think that\’s entirely tragic – but what\’s important is being able to realize, individually and globally, that that\’s a choice we\’ve made, and that we are free to make others.


    • Arjuna Ardagh February 20, 2015 at 2:32 pm // Reply

      thanks for the intelligent thoughts here, Apollo, and the wonderful name!


  4. Joe Gagliano February 20, 2015 at 2:46 pm // Reply

    This kind of freedom, and this extent of freedom both excites me and terrifies me. The thought of such total freedom is wonderful! However, the mind insists that it will never be.It requires a level of honesty and self integrity that threatens the status quo on every level. All freedom is freedom of mind. My conditioning and societal/self-imposed limitations does not allow such behavior. It is a sad state of affairs.Is it a problem that we limit the exposure of certain body parts to specific agreed upon conditions and events? Not really. It is just a game we play.Would a new game be more fun? Only if I think it would be. After all, it is my game.agreeme


  5. Sherry Tuegel February 20, 2015 at 4:23 pm // Reply

    Beloved Arjuna,Having gone from my 20\\\\’s Hippie nudist freedom, to in my early 50\\\\’s being afraid to put a picture of my face on a real estate business card, to now having nude pictures of myself on my website, I\\\\’ve run the gamut of responses to nudity. Growing up in the 1950s I still watch myself judging folks who want to be nude. New students often ask me if my Tantra classes will be nude. I hear fear in the women\\\\’s voices as they ask and desire in the men\\\\’s voices. I immediately assume the men are \\\\’up to no good.\\\\’ Why? We\\\\’re programed that way. Sex and bodies has been made wrong for so long we have strange perverted reactions to it. I really appreciate you writing about this and hope to hear more from you about it.I\\\\’ve mostly gotten positive responses on my photos on my site but occasionally I get a rather nasty response. Why am I putting myself out there nude, you may wonder. I\\\\’m a very large woman and have been shamed about my size since I was normal sized in my teens. Twiggy was \\\\’in\\\\’ then. I\\\\’ve been shamed from Hollywood stereotypes to Spiritual communities making me wrong that I have this large body. Now I feel at home, loving and fully accepting of this body. I\\\\’d still like to be smaller for health reasons but having put myself out there nude at the age of 58 (now 64) I\\\\’ve healed a part of myself. Both women and men who struggle with the shame of being a large person in this society have told me my example has helped them free themselves as well. You didn\\\\’t mention, Arjuna, the different ages and body types and if that affected you. I\\\\’d love to hear more about your reaction to seeing aging sagging nude bodies or large ones. Instead of a sexual response to these nude bodies many are confronted with aversions or fears of their own mortality. We are not kind or accepting of our aging process. Such a curious species we are! What will we think of next? Oh my!I hope to see you again in person someday! Still hoping you do some in-person retreats in the US! Sending love to you!NamasteSherry


  6. Duygu February 21, 2015 at 12:23 am // Reply

    …heLLoo dear beLoved friend Arjuna,,
    my answer will be so short 🙂 having a problem with nudity stars with human ‘thoughts’….conditions… learning ‘shame’ and ‘guilt’……before ‘I’ we aLL naked,, we were born naked,,, aLL feelings comes after that………. created by men…..aLL concepts 🙂
    thank You,,
    Lots of Love


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