Saturday, October 24, 2009

Nudity in Front of Children?

Ok, my friends, here is one to discuss.  Hillary Swank, the actress, has revealed that her boyfriend's son sees her in the nude all the time. He is 6 years old. Admittedly, she says that it is in the bedroom but is there a difference in a small child seeing an adult nude in the bedroom as opposed to parading around the house in the nude as we hear that some do? Another question that might come up is whether or not it matters if the nude person is a woman or a man? Here is the story.


Brian Taylor - British Naturism said...

Children are not naturally upset by the sight of a naked person, they have a body of their own after all. It is adults who all to often teach children that there is something shameful about the naked human body. This is a very negative message to give to a child as it makes them ashamed of their own body. This body-shame is perpetuated down the generations because few will challenge it. However, it is a contributory factor to all kinds of psychological disorders, an obvious example being eating disorders such as Anorexia.

The prudish attitudes born of body-shame also contribute to the embarrassment felt by both teenagers and their parents when it comes time to talk about sex, so many just don't! This can result in the teenagers experimenting for themselves, with the obvious consequences.

It has been shown that the more prudish the nation, the higher its rates of teenage pregnancy, abortions and STI's. The difference can be staggering with a ratio of 10 to 1 between the best and the worst nations.

This lad has been happily tripping into his dad's bedroom every morning since he was three years old, he is clearly not being traumatised by Ms Swank's naked presence. However, I am far more concerned by what effect the media hype, that a perfectly natural part of his family life seems to be generating, might have on him.

Prudery is simply child abuse with good intentions.

The Griper said...

hello, brian,
welcome to the site and hope you have found it worthy of visiting again.

you know, your argument would have greater weight and credibility if you didn't present it in a manner that tends to demean those who would disagree with you.

and citing something as a contributing factor is not the same as citing it as a cause or even determining it as being a major factor or a minor factor.

and while you may be addressing the psychological aspects of it, it doesn't address the moral aspects of it unless you expect everyone to submit to the same moral concepts as you possess.

Left Coast Rebel said...

@ Brian - Give me an answere then. I sentence. At what age does it become inappropriate for a parent to be in the nude in front of their child. What age? Any? Tell me.

tweetey30 said...

I have to say I sleep naked and my girls have both been taught not to be ashamed of there bodies. I let them undress in the bathroom at the same time and shower at the same time as I do. I mean it saves water that way also. Now daddy on the other hand we send them out of the bedroom when he gets up in the morning but they can come back in after he has put some boxers on or what ever he wants for the time being.. I dont see it as harmful for children to see there parents naked. Its life because when they hit higher grades in school they have to change in locker rooms with other girls/boys. I dont mean together when i put the slash there. But still. If we had boys I would send them out too after they hit a certain age. I dont see whats wrong with it but still many might have a fit...

Rational Nation USA said...

I agree with you Griper.

LCR, your question is a valid one. Perhaps Mr. Nature will one day respond to your legitimate inquiry.

My take, as SOON as the child shows any sign of being being uncomfortable or wanting their own privacy.

I had three children with my ex wife and all three of our children reached that age well before 6 years old.

Brian Taylor - British Naturism said...

Hi Griper, (can I put that?)

I'm sorry if my comments came over as demeaning anyone, that was certainly not my intention.

It is a bold person who claims something to be the cause, but you did say a cause, so yes I agree. I should perhaps have made it a 'major factor' at the very least, because there is strong evidence to back that up in the form of a 98% correlation between a nation's teenage pregnancy rate and its population's membership of their national naturist organisation. This is a complex subject and attempting to summarise a more lengthy study in a short(?) comment is bound to dilute it a bit, I guess.

There are probably as many moral codes as there are people in the world and sometimes we change our own ideas of what is morally right or wrong. I was not seeking to dictate morals as each reader has to make up their own minds about that. My aim was to make the case that non-sexual nudity is not in itself harmful. Of course it can be made harmful if people choose to treat it as such, hence my comments about prudery.

May I draw your attention to the following comment made by Pope John Paul II:
"The human body can remain nude and uncovered and preserve intact its splendor and its beauty... Nakedness as such is not to be equated with physical shamelessness... Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person...The human body is not in itself shameful... Shamelessness (just like shame and modesty) is a function of the interior of a person."

In answer to Left Coast Rebel: There is no age at which it becomes inappropriate unless you choose to make it so, in which case the age is your choice also.

- "Mr Nature"

The Griper said...

welcome back, Mr. Nature,
have to say that the Naturalist life style is an issue i'm not too familiar with especially the rules of association when a group gets together for any length of time. but i have heard that when groups gather there are strict rules in regards to bodily contact with the opposite sex.
if this is so, that would explain some of the differences in pregnancy of teenagers since rules of the outside world are far more looser. but as i said i'm not that familiar with the life style so i can't rely on my information of it.

as for the demeaning, i was referring to just a couple of words you used like "prudish" and "shame". your argument would have been more effective without them.

but, i think as you have read some of the comments here, there is a certain amount of agreement, on some level of the idea, especially in a private setting.
and i think you'll find general agreement with the quote among people.

Brian Taylor - British Naturism said...

Part of my role within British Naturism is to make comments like these, so it is interesting to get your reaction to my choice of words. Thank you.

I quite regularly use the word 'prudish' to describe an attitude to nudity that represents being easily shocked. I have just tried a thesaurus, and I think prudish is the mildest term to describe this kind of attitude! I will consider alternative ways of expressing this in future. Any suggestions?

The reason for the word 'shame' (usually in the context 'body-shame') is that it is meant to describe a state of being ashamed of your body. Sadly many people are ashamed, usually due to being told by their parents that the naked body is shameful, so must be covered up. In many respects this is not my choice of word, it is society's.

I had thought it might have been my last sentence in the original comment that caused offence - deliberately provocative! :)

Your impression of social nudity is a common one amongst those who have never tried it, but it is not accurate. The only 'rules of engagement' are the same rules as exist when groups of clothed people get together. It has been said that naturists have a better sex life, due to being more relaxed, but it is every bit as private as you would expect it to be. Naturist society is just the same as 'textile*' society, except for the dress-code.

*Now there is a term that many naturists think is demeaning - what do you think? Personally, I normally avoid the term.

My best theory for why more relaxed nations fair better is that a more open attitude to nudity makes for easier conversations with parents, who really should be the best people to help teenagers adopt a responsible attitude towards sex. This is supported by the same study showing only a small difference in the age of first sexual encounter, but a greater difference in the proportion using a condom for that encounter.

The Griper said...

hi brian,
onr thing i forgot is the fact that attitudes in regards to use of words are different here in the States than they are over there.

over here, the words are used very little unless it is used to demean someone. being called a prude over here is equivilent to being considered out of date in your attitude as if you belong to the past. the word shame regardless of how it is used is a negative word and is discouraged. they form an element of an ad hominum arguement by portraying a person in a negative way, though i'll admit it isn't as bad as most arguements.

but we must also recognize that it is cultural. what words would be accepted and encouraged in one culture would be frowned on in another culture.

and if we think about it, a person's religious beliefs would be the biggest obstacle to overcome in each culture. that was why i brought the ideas of morals.

as for advice, given different cultures, i really have none to give you that would satisfy everyone or every culture. have to say that this is one topic where one would have to just risk it and hope you can convince others of your good intentions if the words you use offends.

though i would say that a lot would not see it in terms of prudish attitude and shame but in terms of inappropriate behavior and in terms of respect or disrespect towards another.

Dave Thornber said...

All I'm seeing in this story is fear of the unknown: What damage might this do to the child? Will he learn to associate his step-mother's nudity with sex and develop and oedipus complex? I can see how that would be every parent's nightmare.

But in reality, the opposite is likely to be true. As a naturist myself, I know a lot of naturist families, and I don't know of any children who are sexually confused with regard to their parents. On the contrary, by teaching that nudity is not necessarily connected with sex, we teach them not to treat the naked human form as a sex object. As Brian already mentioned, statistics have shown that cultures that take this attitude raise children that have healthier attitudes about both nudity and sex. I'm sure there are many factors involved, but I reckon a significant aspect is that they realise that nudity doesn't have to lead to sex.

Going back to the original blog post: One word I do take issue with is 'parading.' This clearly infers a sexual context which I don't think is present in the case of this story. It means that the original post amounts to 'a leading question', and it's not surprising that much of the follow-up has anti-nudity bias.

Let met leave you all with a couple of thoughts on decency and its relation to nudity. Is it 'decent' for a couple to engage in heavy petting while fully clothed in public? Is it 'indecent' for someone to be naked in the locker room amongst others at their gym? The latter often seems to be accepted in that same-sex nudity is inherently non-sexual, but come on, we're in the 21st century now and it's widely recognised that at least one in ten people is gay.

Just give it some thought and you'll soon see that the link between nudity and indecency is far from written in stone. I'm not suggesting that you should run straight to your nearest nudist club and get your kit off. Just try to be a little more open-minded about the people who choose to do so.


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