Naked

“we live in a world where we have to hide to make love,

while violence is practiced in broad daylight”

John Lennon

I saw the above quote this morning, and like so much of John Lennon’s perceptions, it was awesome in its simple clarity. A clear perception makes questions possible.

Coincidentally we were in town yesterday sitting outside a cafe,  and a really delightful thing happened. An enormous and joyous naked bike ride went down the end of the road. Just lots and lots of naked people on wheels, all shapes and sizes, ages, sexes, naked and beautiful and bringing laughter and surprise. Also a few disgusted expressions from passers by, just a few, but mainly people seemed just amused or supportive.

My reaction, after simple delight, was that we so need more nakedness. It was so healthy to see naked people, not naked models, or the standard (usually slim, young and female) consumer depictions of  the unclothed, but real naked people, with bellies and dangly breast, smooth and hairy, genitals showing without it being a big deal. Happy, real nakedness. It was wonderful.

Yet as per Lennon’s observation, our culture still finds it hard to get it. You can have films that show appalling violence, and video games that do the same, but passionate consensual sex gets hedged around with restrictions. A face full of hate is ok, or a fist used to hurt, but what is dangerous and too much? An erect penis, a vagina, an anus.

Moreover, what is the spill over of this into our life and living culture? What on earth is wrong with public nakedness? What is wrong with seeing someone have consensual sex? We watch people box and bloody each other, and seriously injure each other at times. Why is watching people fuck less acceptable than that? We can happily see someone dressed to kill (literally) for war, but we shy away from someone dressed for something entirely natural and pleasurable, and overwhelmingly associated with affection. What is our culture saying to us, and to our children?

We need less violence and less hurt, and less valuation of violence. We need more nakedness, more life, more love and more sex.

I don’t think the promotion of the one is unrelated to the suppression of the other. On that I tend to feel that Wilhelm Reich may well have been on to something.

World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) in Zaragoza (Spain) – By Enrique Matías Sánchez (Quique) (dsc_5495) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

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11 Comments

  1. The naked body is indeed a beautiful thing. We are so caught in what is ‘decent’ and what is not and body image. The media puts so much pressure on people, especially young women, to have the ideal body shape, size ridiculously small, which is resulting in problems like anorexia and bulimia. That attitude is not only unhealthy it is dangerous. After witnessing the bike race with you guys and what we talked about I was thinking on the way home how shallow we are when we judge people by image. It is something we all do if we don’t check ourselves.

  2. Mo, It is a sad commentary on ‘modern’ society that violence is excepted as a given, whereas the simple acceptance of ‘natural’ humanity is not. My first-time experience at a naturist campground (many years ago now) was a complete revelation. Although I’ve never been abashed by taking my clothes off in public, I found the dynamic of group nakedness quite wonderful. It breaks down all of the social barriers between people that existed when these same people were clothed. One can not be pretentious nor superior with their genitals hanging out.

  3. Pingback: Face the Fear « Chronicles of a Homosexual Hobbit

  4. Nice post. I agree that it is refreshing to experience the distinction between nudity and sexuality. They are not inherently synonymous. However, our culture isn’t faced with a simple dichotomy:with sex on one side and violence on the other. Unfortunately, a great deal of the sex depicted and experienced in our culture isn’t “healthy sex” — it’s sex twisted by violence or power over dynamics. I don’t just refer to rape, I mean that the vast majority of consensual sexuality and what passes for “romance” is layered with subtle dynamics which are fraught with shadow, ego distortions and disconnection from the sacred, As a species we have a lot of healing to do before we come home to a true understanding and embodiment of what it means to authentically “make love”.

    • I agree we have a lot of healing to do Naia, but I think there is a strong cultural link between fear and condemnation of sexuality on one side, and violence and its valuation on the other. The more twisted by violence and power over (or under) are our visions of sexuality and relationship, the less are they actually referring to sexuality and relationship in reality, but we have been moralistically indoctrinated to think that violence and abuse of power are intrinsic to these things. I think there is a strong religious element to that, which also divorces the spiritual from both the sexual and the simply “natural”.

      However, I think it is inevitable that something as powerful as sexuality and relationship (or indeed life) will engage our healing dynamics to bring up shadow and ego issues, so an understanding of how to engage progressively in such healing processes is invaluable and needed. As we are not separate from the sacred, I do believe that relationship with and in the sacred is an important part of that.

      peace and blessings

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