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Old 11-13-2018, 02:40 PM
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What is the scientific explanation for people being ashamed of nudity?

AIUI, humans are unique in being the only creatures who are ashamed of being seen in their skin. No other creature feels the need to cover up.

There are, of course, many practical reasons for clothing that have nothing do with modesty - it keeps you warm, it protects from sunlight, etc. - but why do only humans have this concept of modesty while no other creature has issues with being nude?
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Old 11-13-2018, 02:44 PM
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It is simply adherence to cultural norms, which is not universal across all cultures and is much more restrictive in the American culture than even some European cultures.

You are taught to be embarrassed, it is not a biological trait.

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Old 11-13-2018, 02:54 PM
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We're only the only species "ashamed" to be naked, because we're the only species that isn't naked.

And we're not naked because of the practical reasons you listed.

And only certain cultures are ashamed to be naked. I will admit that the ones that aren't are widely perceived to be "less civilized", but my guess is, clothing became more or less universal in certain areas due to practical reasons, which lead it to become a norm, which led to lack of clothing to be not a norm, which led to cultural/religious pressure to stay clothed in public.

Breaking norms causes shame for many things not related to clothing.
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Old 11-13-2018, 02:56 PM
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I can't find a confirmation quickly, but I believe that feral children have all been naked, who were found in nature. I don't believe that it's instinctual in any way.

We teach our young shame.

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Old 11-13-2018, 03:05 PM
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It is a matter of social mores, not science.
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Old 11-13-2018, 03:08 PM
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I think to really understand this we need to know what the scientific explanation is for shame in general and to what degree our nearest as well as more distant relatives in the animal kingdom have similar cognate behaviours.
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Old 11-13-2018, 03:09 PM
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It is a matter of social mores, not science.
"It is a matter of social mores" is (at least part of) a scientific explanation.
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:09 PM
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I just finished reading a book entitled "The Naked Tourist", where the author went upjungle in Papua New Guinea.
The jungle inhabitants considered being clothed as ridiculous, and offered him a codpiece so he could shed his clothes. They had no qualms about being "nude". Based on that, and other accounts I've read of so called primitive people, the concept of being ashamed of nudity seems to be a cultural concept, not universally shared.
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:24 PM
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Nudity shame is a cultural construct we've tried to take here on the SDMB before, and we can't seem to crack the reason why.

Let's consider the Alphas ... people who look good naked. They want to be naked, and they want to be seen naked. You can look, and admire, and the go simper off on your lowly, non-Alpha, lives.

Betas don't want to be naked. They know, the better covered they are, the better they appear to lower ranks. They want to trick us into believing they're better than they are, with clothing.

How the hell did they convince the Alphas to cover up in the first place?

It seems like, in Art, we do have Alphas. In Classical times, there were nude statues, that someone modeled for, then nude painting in the Renaissance, then artistic photography, then playboy and now just about everyone who wants to can put their nudity online. We essentially say, "You. Yeah you. You look good naked. Undress. Entertain me." Maybe the Alphas, always in short supply, became so culturally marginalized that they cam to be defined as dumb?

No one wants to be seen as a bimbo. Everyone want to be seen as impressive, but not trying too hard. "Look at me, I'm Beta. Surprise. I'm Alpha."
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Old 11-13-2018, 04:55 PM
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its funny that when even semi nudity is legal (women can go topless in nyc ) but hardly anyone does unless its to prove a socio-political point
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:03 PM
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How the hell did they convince the Alphas to cover up in the first place?
Genealogy of morals. The less-attractive people convinced the beautiful people that they're supposed to be ashamed of themselves. The virtue of being beautiful was replaced by the "virtue" of modesty and humility. Christianity is a religion built on shame and control of other people's bodily autonomy.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:15 PM
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The less-attractive people convinced the beautiful people that they're supposed to be ashamed of themselves. The virtue of being beautiful was replaced by the "virtue" of modesty and humility. Christianity is a religion built on shame and control of other people's bodily autonomy.
Do you have any evidence for any of these claims?
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:23 PM
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Nudity shame is a cultural construct we've tried to take here on the SDMB before, and we can't seem to crack the reason why.

Let's consider the Alphas ... people who look good naked. They want to be naked, and they want to be seen naked. You can look, and admire, and the go simper off on your lowly, non-Alpha, lives.

Betas don't want to be naked. They know, the better covered they are, the better they appear to lower ranks. They want to trick us into believing they're better than they are, with clothing.
Your non-evidence-based hypothesis seems to be contradicted by every nudist colony in existence.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:28 PM
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I suspect that moving out of Africa had a lot to do with it.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:37 PM
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The other factor is that clothing facilitates sexuality, in the sense that what you cannot see is much more intriguing. I think it was Margaret Mead who hung out with a bunch of Amazon jungle natives who went around naked most or all of the time, and she claimed that she never observed guys in public with an erection. When you see it all the time, it all becomes meh.
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Old 11-13-2018, 05:38 PM
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The Finnish sauna is a direct example of nudity not being sexualized in the Western World.

While not public nudity grandparents, parents and children (outside of puberty) all see each other in the nude all the time. Americans often come across as prudes or bashful when visiting the country.

This demonstrates that the "out of Africa" theory doesn't really seem mesh with the evidence.

Last edited by rat avatar; 11-13-2018 at 05:40 PM.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:05 PM
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There must have been a time when any clothing beyond a loincloth was a status symbol. A nice sabertooth pelt or pair of mammoth slippers would have been a showing of serious wealth. Maybe "look what I can kill" or maybe "look what I was able to trade for." Either way, it tells a potential mate, "look at me, I am a provider."

Later on you get things like Chinese silk, Phoenician purple cloth, Canadian beaver - all things that tell the people around you that you're better than they are.

Meanwhile, clothing is also a kind of shelter. It's way down at the bottom of Maslow's hierarchy. Not having it at all is telling the world that you're destitute, that you can't provide, that you're vulnerable. Look back at Depression-era photos of men wearing suits in in soup lines. They were poor but they had pride dangit. They could still put on a suit and coat and hat.

It's no small wonder that most modern cultures want to be clothed most of the time. It's been baking into the human brain for millennia.
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Old 11-13-2018, 06:44 PM
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Genealogy of morals. The less-attractive people convinced the beautiful people that they're supposed to be ashamed of themselves. The virtue of being beautiful was replaced by the "virtue" of modesty and humility. Christianity is a religion built on shame and control of other people's bodily autonomy.
Given that clothing existed before Christianity spread, and is practiced by members of pagan faiths aka non-Abramic religions, would seem to poke some holes in that.

We're often a little stuck on the Christianity angle. And maybe, the puritanical attitudes in the contemporary US can be traced back to, I dunno, the Puritans who first arrived, having left Europe and its ... non-puritanism.

Its recorded that the Ancient Romans made a big deal about moral rectitude, and held high public morals to a high standard. Maybe its not the spread of Christianity, but instead the spread of Roman culture -- just at one point, some people decided to wear clothes to make a point, and that spread as far as it could. And that was easily visualized as more clothing. Even when it seems to have pre-dated that point, or seems to be a modern attitude, that may have been the threshold.
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:22 PM
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I have seen some websites where people are definitely not ashamed of being naked: in fact they seem to genuinely enjoy the experience.

Last edited by Leaffan; 11-13-2018 at 07:23 PM.
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Old 11-13-2018, 07:34 PM
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It is simply adherence to cultural norms, which is not universal across all cultures and is much more restrictive in the American culture than even some European cultures.

You are taught to be embarrassed, it is not a biological trait.
This seems to be the case. The idea that it's "Betas convincing Alphas" or "Christianity" is nonsense, except as the latter at least is a cultural phenomenon. But it's hardly the only cultural phenomenon that views nakedness as not suitable for public display.

I would even question if other species exhibit signs of "shame" about anything. Remorse, perhaps, but I'm not aware of shame having been exhibited by non-human animals.
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Old 11-14-2018, 10:42 AM
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Shame is probably mostly relegated to humanity for two reasons, first because it requires a sophisticated level of self awareness, and second, because a good number of the things cultures latch on to to be shameful about are qualities that remind us of the ways in which our nature is like animals.

So nudity is particularly shameful in cultures which value the idea of human superiority to nature.

But beyond that, I think nudity is particularly popular in shaming because it feeds into the basic idea of shame itself, which is the feeling of wrongness and or vulnerability which needs to be hidden, escaped, or covered up, for which clothing makes us feel more secure. Even in places where clothing is standard, maybe people wear sunglasses in non sunny places to escape the penetrating gaze of strangers. Whether clothed or not, the sensation of shame and the feeling of exposure or vulnerability are physiologically similar.

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Old 11-14-2018, 10:59 AM
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I have seen some websites where people are definitely not ashamed of being naked: in fact they seem to genuinely enjoy the experience.
I'm not ashamed, per se, but I would feel better if I lost 15 pounds.
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Old 11-14-2018, 11:01 AM
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IMHO it is related to sexuality, as demonstrated by the fact that the sexual organs/characteristics are the ones required to be covered. (Once you get past the practical, like avoiding catching dangly bits on the thorny underbrush).

Sexual interactions is an extremely powerful dynamic in society. It starts fights. It creates social friction and jealousy. It causes feelings of inadequacy. Humans are self-aware. Therefore societies make it the norm to hide sexual characteristics to some degree or other except in certain practical situations (even Papua New Guinea, as mentioned, cod pieces are the norm). This I assume is a form of "hands off" warning, or "already taken", or similar message. It removes the view - out of sight, out of mind. Once this social conditioning is learned, it is hard to un-learn.

Plus there's the consideration that sex leads to babies, and in the good old days, the standard nuclear family requires the male and female to provide for the children. Grandparents did nt want fly-by-night males leaving them to provide for grandchildren - even more relevant as society evolved from wandering tribal groups to single (extended) family farms.

Of course, clothing have evolved from practical to decorative and have become a way to decorate. think about why certain clothing (or lack) is considered socially inappropriate - why? usually because of the message it sends. being naked, or in a string bikini or speedo, in the wrong (or right) social setting is considered sending a message that normally society wants repressed - specifically to avoid that fighting and jealousy that could result. Everyone ignores the elephant in the room, socially, when those elephants are covered up.
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Old 11-14-2018, 06:21 PM
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I just finished reading a book entitled "The Naked Tourist", where the author went upjungle in Papua New Guinea.
The jungle inhabitants considered being clothed as ridiculous, and offered him a codpiece so he could shed his clothes. They had no qualms about being "nude". Based on that, and other accounts I've read of so called primitive people, the concept of being ashamed of nudity seems to be a cultural concept, not universally shared.
Well, the specifics aren't universally shared, but the concept seems to be.

Or else: why did they wear the codpieces?

Are there actually cultures that exhibit no nudity/modesty mores, as opposed to just different ones?

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The Finnish sauna is a direct example of nudity not being sexualized in the Western World.

While not public nudity grandparents, parents and children (outside of puberty) all see each other in the nude all the time. Americans often come across as prudes or bashful when visiting the country.
I mean, sort of. Nudity isn't always sexualized. But the fact that there are specific social contexts in which nudity is ok doesn't mean that there's no body modesty. The Finns don't disrobe in other contexts.

Last edited by iamthewalrus(:3=; 11-14-2018 at 06:22 PM.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:13 PM
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I just finished reading a book entitled "The Naked Tourist", where the author went upjungle in Papua New Guinea.
The jungle inhabitants considered being clothed as ridiculous, and offered him a codpiece so he could shed his clothes. They had no qualms about being "nude". Based on that, and other accounts I've read of so called primitive people, the concept of being ashamed of nudity seems to be a cultural concept, not universally shared.
If it's the same thing I read the author also manged to offend the locals by walking around nude without wearing the penis gourd.
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Old 11-14-2018, 09:41 PM
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Your non-evidence-based hypothesis seems to be contradicted by every nudist colony in existence.
So true! It's the same phenomenon present in mens lockerooms (can't speak for womens). The ones who wouldnt make you want to bleach your eyeballs after seeing their nude bodies are ever the guys who do choose to let it all hang out. Those men are always the ones that make you feel traumatized for being exposed to their "glory".
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Old 11-15-2018, 01:45 AM
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Consider the lesson in the Bible. I assume it's the written version of oral history from about 4,000 years ago or more... Their explanation for clothing (or fig leaves) is that when man and woman learned the difference between good and evil, they were immediately ashamed of their nakedness. What does this say about the mindset back in the day even when available clothing was a lot more limited - that the imperative was to cover their genitals?

So the question to ask really is - why does human society try to in various ways restrain its members from having sex whenever they feel the urge? Clothing is just one way to reduce the temptation. Whether it's by clothing, by social pressure and social mores or more explicit rules and punishments; societies try to limit the opportunities and formalize the right to have sex - generally in most societies - only within some form of social binding like marriage. I can think of a number of reasons, all having to do with peace, order, and good government... and child support.
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Old 11-15-2018, 01:57 AM
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I should also point out that we feel ashamed of other urges and consider them "bad" such as jealousy, greed, gluttony... (i.e. "the seven deadly sins"). Basically, it is the primal urges or base instincts detracting from cooperative and communally beneficial behaviour. It is necessary to deny one's immediate instincts for longer term good, to ensure that social conflicts don't arise; sex just happens to be one of the strongest and therefore must have been considered the "baddest" of these urges, plus has the most disruptive and lasting consequences.

Last edited by md2000; 11-15-2018 at 01:59 AM.
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Old 11-15-2018, 02:04 AM
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I should also point out that we feel ashamed of other urges and consider them "bad" such as jealousy, greed, gluttony... (i.e. "the seven deadly sins"). Basically, it is the primal urges or base instincts detracting from cooperative and communally beneficial behaviour. It is necessary to deny one's immediate instincts for longer term good, to ensure that social conflicts don't arise; sex just happens to be one of the strongest and therefore must have been considered the "baddest" of these urges, plus has the most disruptive and lasting consequences.
Can you provide a cite that shows nudity is inherently sexual for humans?

Several cultures in tropical areas have demonstrated partial or complete nudity is separate from sexual arousal especially without contact. Equating nudity with sexuality seems to be purely a product of particular cultures and not an innate human trait from the information I can find.

Last edited by rat avatar; 11-15-2018 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 11-15-2018, 06:46 AM
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I read a report about public nudity in India a couple of years ago.

According to the report, nudity vanished in northern India due to Muslim influence. It persisted in the south until long-term European visitation, invasion, and conquest. I assume sexual harassment by Europeans played a role. However no public nudity spread fast in the south, when I assume many areas in southern India saw very few, if any, Europeans.
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Old 11-15-2018, 07:36 AM
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I read a report about public nudity in India a couple of years ago.

According to the report, nudity vanished in northern India due to Muslim influence. It persisted in the south until long-term European visitation, invasion, and conquest. I assume sexual harassment by Europeans played a role. However no public nudity spread fast in the south, when I assume many areas in southern India saw very few, if any, Europeans.
That is a remarkably provocative quote, when you consider the quote I'd heard:

In Goa, the last European outpost in India (reclaimed long after unification,) there's still a large number of European expats. And women wanted to go topless on those beaches. It was tolerated well until the 1980's until the local government had to step in and essentially say, "Look. We recognize you have a long tradition of the European culture of beach toplessness. But this has been our country for a while now, so cover up."

Like the md2000: examples, and mine regarding Ancient Rome, and the several others regarding cultures of tropical areas, we really don't know what is sexuality (md2000) what is random shame (my earlier post) what is some sort of moral trip (my Ancient Rome, md2000's biblical reference, the reference to Muslim influence) and what's a reaction to heat and comfort (Papua New Guinea.) And we're getting conflicts when we try to ignore broader cultural mores with outliers (Scandinavian sauna nudity vs they wear clothes in other contexts, the nudity subculture which may simply be family nudity) or even ignoring how the Westerner offended the Papua New Guineans by not wearing a penis gourd, despite the fact that in Western contest, exposed testicles is nudity, penis gourd or lack thereof notwithstanding.

We're close though. Humans are more self aware than other animals. This notion of self is going to drive how we present our "self" to others, restricting it from some people, exposing it to others and trying to entice yet others by letting the shield slip slightly.

The question is how we decide to make the transition from, "I'm cold, I'm covering up" to "You look cold, here, have one of my spare animal skins," to "Ok, wrap your torso in a wool toga, like a Real Man(TM)" to "You, yeah you, topless blonde Portuguese lady, cover up those pasty white flapjacks, you're frightening the Hindu and Muslim children. Seriously, they think you're poor, or something."
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Old 11-15-2018, 07:59 AM
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Recently, I've been reading on Wikipedia about the toga: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Toga I wanted to know how it was draped, around a human body for day to day wear. When I was in grammar school, and there was a story about a Roman boy, just getting into adulthood and they described draping it, drape over this shoulder, wrap here, drape over arm, etc. What I learned was that Wikipedia can't describe it better than that, styles changed over the centuries. Meh. However, I learned more from that article about clothing, which is why I hark back to Roman culture for a discussion on nudity.

The toga is a circle of wool cloth. It a manly garment. Manly, I say. A real civilized man's man garment, an Ancient Roman would say. Oh, some sissy man might wear a tunic underneath, but not a Real Roman. A girly man could use a broach or a pin to keep it from unraveling. Pfft. The rough wool will hold it in position during normal wear. That's right. That's the toga -- a man and a circle of rough woolen cloth.

Compare this to the Scottish kilt. What's worn underneath a kilt?

Nothing. Everything under kilt is in proper working condition.

Ha. Ha. Seriously, its cold in Scotland, you just gonna wear a kilt and nothing else on rainy, windy days?

Yeah. Just me and the kilt. Like a True Scotsman(TM). In fact, the other day it snowed, and I used my tallywacker to clear the path.

OK. Then why do the Highland games specify that you have to wear under pants when competing?
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Old 11-15-2018, 09:10 AM
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But beyond that, I think nudity is particularly popular in shaming because it feeds into the basic idea of shame itself, which is the feeling of wrongness and or vulnerability which needs to be hidden, escaped, or covered up, for which clothing makes us feel more secure. Even in places where clothing is standard, maybe people wear sunglasses in non sunny places to escape the penetrating gaze of strangers. Whether clothed or not, the sensation of shame and the feeling of exposure or vulnerability are physiologically similar.
Maybe it's not just psycological vulnerability, but actual, physical vunerability.

Just may WAG, but consider: Humans are virtually the only mammals who walk around with their squishiest, most vulnerable organs front and center, exposed to predators and rival humans. Even the other great apes walk crouched over; humans, OTOH, walk upright with their parts sticking out in front. Perhaps our ancestors felt that leaving their crotches exposed was too great a temptation for enemies to attack, and decided that hiding them would be more prudent.

Plus, you know, thorns.
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Old 11-15-2018, 09:59 AM
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As an aside I still get shocked when a male character on a longstanding show takes his shirt off for the first time and he's ripped as hell. I know I shouldn't be shocked, since he's an actor, but it just goes to show that unless you're wearing extremely tight clothing all the time it's basically pointless to get that ripped.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:01 AM
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As an aside I still get shocked when a male character on a longstanding show takes his shirt off for the first time and he's ripped as hell. I know I shouldn't be shocked, since he's an actor, but it just goes to show that unless you're wearing extremely tight clothing all the time it's basically pointless to get that ripped.
Unless you're doing it for, I don't know, yourself?
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:08 AM
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Unless you're doing it for, I don't know, yourself?
Or for the people you get naked with.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:18 AM
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I can't find a confirmation quickly, but I believe that feral children have all been naked, who were found in nature. I don't believe that it's instinctual in any way.
Well, birch bark pants are so uncomfortable.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:29 AM
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Or for the people you get naked with.
Yeah, maybe if you're single. However, there is a propensity for taken people to look worse, not better, when they settle down though.
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Old 11-15-2018, 10:38 AM
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Yeah, maybe if you're single. However, there is a propensity for taken people to look worse, not better, when they settle down though.
Oh, believe me, I can attest to that personally.
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Old 11-15-2018, 11:37 AM
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No disagreement that there are societies where nudity around other people is considered acceptable in some circumstances. But, there are very few societies where constant public nudity after puberty is standard, where clothing is optional. (There are, National Geographic tells us, some societies where bare female breasts are normal) All around the world, it seems covering up is a social norm. AFAIK American aboriginals did not learn about loincloths from the European invaders. Nor did outsiders teach Papua New Guinea about codpieces.

Nudity may not automatically evoke sexuality, but the equipment is in full display and everyone knows what it's for. Putting it "out of sight, out of mind" to help repress a socially disruptive primal urge is probably a prudent thing in the eyes of any society.

Last edited by md2000; 11-15-2018 at 11:40 AM.
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Old 11-15-2018, 12:03 PM
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No disagreement that there are societies where nudity around other people is considered acceptable in some circumstances. But, there are very few societies where constant public nudity after puberty is standard, where clothing is optional. (There are, National Geographic tells us, some societies where bare female breasts are normal) All around the world, it seems covering up is a social norm. AFAIK American aboriginals did not learn about loincloths from the European invaders. Nor did outsiders teach Papua New Guinea about codpieces.

Nudity may not automatically evoke sexuality, but the equipment is in full display and everyone knows what it's for. Putting it "out of sight, out of mind" to help repress a socially disruptive primal urge is probably a prudent thing in the eyes of any society.
I would still appreciate a cite that that empirically supports this claim. While I grew up in a society that does make this assumption fairly common it seems to be a claim based on cultural biases.

As someone who has close family ties to Finland it took me a while to get over my American ideas in the sauna, but it also exposed me to the reality that nudity and sexuality are not directly related.

As this is GQ and the OP asked about a scientific explanation, the only claim that seems to meet the intent of the OP and the rules of GQ is that the sexualized representations of nudity is purely an artifact of culture and is not biased on biological or scientific origins.

Cultural production is a social processes, and that has been documented but there have been no cites related to claims about a biological or scientific basis for this cultural standard. The ubiquity of this moral standard in the modern world does not demonstrate any such link.
  #42  
Old 11-15-2018, 12:23 PM
Steven Estes Steven Estes is offline
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Shame about nudity may well have a biological cause.

As so much of explanation these days is biased towards the social-cultural, the answers to this question are likewise.
However, with all of the thousands of independent societies all having shame at nudity (or at least wearing clothes for some reason) only one respondent gives an example (Papua New Guinea) and all Internet sites on the subject have the Papuans dressed
Without a clear exception on a societal level, it seems to me that a biological answer is most likely correct.

Of course there are small subgroups within societies, just as there are groups of people who don't have sex. But this hardly refutes a biological answer for societies as a whole.that
  #43  
Old 11-15-2018, 12:56 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Originally Posted by Alessan View Post
Maybe it's not just psycological vulnerability, but actual, physical vunerability.

Just may WAG, but consider: Humans are virtually the only mammals who walk around with their squishiest, most vulnerable organs front and center, exposed to predators and rival humans. Even the other great apes walk crouched over; humans, OTOH, walk upright with their parts sticking out in front. Perhaps our ancestors felt that leaving their crotches exposed was too great a temptation for enemies to attack, and decided that hiding them would be more prudent.

Plus, you know, thorns.
Yeah, but how does that turn into cultural shame?

If you live in a cold climate, then you wear thick clothes out of necessity. But then when you're someone warm, you don't. There's no societal shock at not wearing a parka inside.
  #44  
Old 11-15-2018, 01:17 PM
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The external human sexual organs are kind of a nuisance. The male set flop around uselessly most of the time, the penis being good for little more than the convenient excretion of fluids, the testicles, well, not really good for anything. Breasts are useful for nursing and pleasure, but most of the time they are just in the way. The vuvla is tidy, except when it might be advertising menstruation. So, it kind of makes practical sense to keep these things under control with clothing, which most other animals have little need for, because their junk is mostly arranged more conveniently.

The other difference between humans and most other creatures is estrus. Humans are basically always on, so sex can occur randomly, rather than seasonally. The sexualisation of nudity seems like a logical cultural development where exposure to the cold or sun calls for the body to be covered for a large part of the year. But the progression to the extremes of prudishness found in places like the US and Muslim-dominated countries seems absurd and unhealthy.
  #45  
Old 11-15-2018, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steven Estes View Post
As so much of explanation these days is biased towards the social-cultural, the answers to this question are likewise.
However, with all of the thousands of independent societies all having shame at nudity (or at least wearing clothes for some reason) only one respondent gives an example (Papua New Guinea) and all Internet sites on the subject have the Papuans dressed
Without a clear exception on a societal level, it seems to me that a biological answer is most likely correct.

Of course there are small subgroups within societies, just as there are groups of people who don't have sex. But this hardly refutes a biological answer for societies as a whole.that
Explain Finland, which is not some hunter gather tribe that we can use social biases to discount then. While limited to certain well-defined situations like the sauna there is no issue here. How about in Swedish families where nudity is also commonplace. What about sailing crews in tropical areas, where non-sexual nudity is common away from populated areas and is no issue.

If we don't discount tribal societies how about complete male nudity being acceptable among the Mursi, Surma, Nuba, Karimojong, Kirdi, and Dinka.

How about the Melanesian cultures where a string tied around the waist is fine for almost all activities? In warm climates in hunter-gatherer cultures nudity seemed to be the rule and until western culture was introduced.

Even in a European context the taboos seem to really rise during the Enlightenment era and later.

The shame at nudity doesn't appear to be as universal as you are claiming.

At this point in this thread there is zero evidence to suggest a biological basis for this shame. To be scientific a biological claim requires evidence and argumentum ad populum or anecdotes do not rise to that level, especially with the above evidence pointing to the null.

Last edited by rat avatar; 11-15-2018 at 01:22 PM.
  #46  
Old 11-15-2018, 01:35 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by rat avatar View Post
I would still appreciate a cite that that empirically supports this claim. While I grew up in a society that does make this assumption fairly common it seems to be a claim based on cultural biases.

As someone who has close family ties to Finland it took me a while to get over my American ideas in the sauna, but it also exposed me to the reality that nudity and sexuality are not directly related.

As this is GQ and the OP asked about a scientific explanation, the only claim that seems to meet the intent of the OP and the rules of GQ is that the sexualized representations of nudity is purely an artifact of culture and is not biased on biological or scientific origins.

Cultural production is a social processes, and that has been documented but there have been no cites related to claims about a biological or scientific basis for this cultural standard. The ubiquity of this moral standard in the modern world does not demonstrate any such link.
Is it cultural bias if every culture has the same bias?

get back to my basic thesis - one of the major role of rules in society is to ensure order by making its members repress their impulsive primal (selfish) urges. We don't allow stealing, we encourage sharing, we encourage working together for the common good, we encourage even sacrificing one's life for the common good.

A prime motivator to encourage "good behaviour" is to make everyone feel ashamed of these "anti-social" urges. Cowardice, greed, jealousy etc. are urges to be ashamed of.

I would suspect, unlike Alessan's suggestion, it's not that the visible sex organs are vulnerable so much as they are "on display" as a reminder, and sex is a strong primal urge that causes trouble - so must be hidden.

I suggest it is cultural; perhaps some societies have figured out a cultural context that represses problems with sexual interaction without requiring a cover-up. But it seems to me, most prefer "out of sight out of mind" as a rule.

Yes, some societies in some contexts allow nudity in contexts that are not sexual, like saunas and hot tubs. (Well, maybe just saunas... ) But few such societies are OK with nudity all the time in all settings.
  #47  
Old 11-15-2018, 02:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
Is it cultural bias if every culture has the same bias?
Why do you persist in this argument when it is clearly wrong?

Quote:
I would suspect, unlike Alessan's suggestion, it's not that the visible sex organs are vulnerable so much as they are "on display" as a reminder, and sex is a strong primal urge that causes trouble - so must be hidden.
This makes little sense. Once we are aware of the existence of genitalia and what they can be used for, hiding them is a stronger appeal to the primal urge (what you cannot see is more intriguing) than leaving them out. You see 200 naked people in a day and you very quickly lose interest in gazing at everyone's equipment.
  #48  
Old 11-15-2018, 04:00 PM
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Originally Posted by eschereal View Post
You see 200 naked people in a day and you very quickly lose interest in gazing at everyone's equipment.
Is this empirically true, or just speculation?
  #49  
Old 11-15-2018, 04:57 PM
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Is this empirically true, or just speculation?
I guess you have to find out for yourself. Grab a towel and go spend a day at one of those nudist enclaves. A full day at least, preferably a weekend or even a week. You will probably find out that nudity is not all that sexy after you get used to it.
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Old 11-15-2018, 11:03 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eschereal View Post
Why do you persist in this argument when it is clearly wrong?

This makes little sense. Once we are aware of the existence of genitalia and what they can be used for, hiding them is a stronger appeal to the primal urge (what you cannot see is more intriguing) than leaving them out. You see 200 naked people in a day and you very quickly lose interest in gazing at everyone's equipment.
because other than telling me it's wrong, you haven't made a logical argument why. My point is almost every society that we know about has worn clothing, even when not climactically necessary. The few that don't, typically lack the resources to produce passable clothing. Are you suggesting it's my western cultural bias to say so?

Again, since the VAST majority of societies, not just modern society, have used clothing, even in climates where it is clearly irrelevant. Even where it serves no practical purpose (like the excessive codpieces of Papua New Guinea) it is worn. And Margaret Meade also seems to suggest that the men of the tribes she hung out with did not get erections from seeing her clothed and her bits hidden either, so intriguing is equally lame as a reason.

Also, most societies have formalized "marriage" of some form; and strict rules about sex outside of that, except in certain circumstances... just as most instances of group nakedness are in strictly circumscribes social settings - like saunas and topless or nude beaches, or men's wrestling in Ancient Greece, etc. Almost all societies have some form of formalized marriage and try to restrict activity before this or with someone other than a partner. The logical explanation is the desire to limit reproduction to times when the child would have both parents able to contribute to their needs.

Perhaps an interesting corollary to the question is why in most societies, except in rare circumstances typically ceremonial, does sexual activity seem to happen in private - either away from prying eyes, or at night when others can't see what they can't avoid hearing? I don't recall Margaret or anyone else describing a society where it was normal for the husband or random guy to bend a woman over the nearest bench in the middle of the village and go at it whenever the urge struck them, no matter who was watching. So perhaps we're not ashamed of nudity, per se, except as it draws attention to sexuality. Many societies allow displays that draw attention to beauty and desirability, make-up, jewelry, shaped clothing, etc. which might encourage attracting a mate - but draw the line a overt exposure of the genitalia as a part of such displays. (Is the codpiece the male equivalent of a padded bra?)

I believe it was "the Naked Ape" where Desmond Morris discusses the evolution of sex and the various reproductive strategies of assorted primates, from the harem to the group model to the pair bonding; and the associated visible or hidden ovulation issues.

Last edited by md2000; 11-15-2018 at 11:05 PM.
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