My theory on why people object to nude images.

I live in a society that's extremely conservative and it's as likely to bump into another naturist here as it is to meet a pink unicorn with purple polka dots on its body. Naturally, friends have asked me what made me a naturist and why have I no "shame". In the Oriental context, shame is something everyone talks about when he or she thinks of nudism.

I always show my wife who isn’t a naturist all the photos I take in naturist settings. Her usual criticism is I should not stand like a tourist facing the camera when I’m naked. It’s not tasteful to show the male genitals in photos. She appeals to all the artistic nude photos where the male organ is always “tastefully” concealed.

Frankly, this is something I totally disagree with and I always want to make a stand on this. The major reason why I’m a naturist is I want to rebel against this mindset that there exists a part of my body that is obscene or distasteful and should be concealed from the public view. As I always tell my wife, she is at liberty to think of her own body as obscene and vile but my body is not. My naked body is certainly far from perfect and it’s not something you would want to place in a pornographic magazine (it’s sure to make any viewer gladly take the most sacred vow of chastity) but I have never professed to be a porn star. You see, people who say the genitals are distasteful are usually the same people who confuse a naturist photo with a pornographic photo. And I’m not slamming them. The world has conditioned a lot of us to think that way and in my experience, even some naturists fall into the trap of confusing the two and they will speak with great disapproval of any photo in which the subject has not taken great pains to hide his genitals.

Some of my friends think I have an axe to grind when I openly post my photos online and they are right. I really want to rebel against this unilateral decision to relegate a part of my body to the category of obscene or inappropriate. I find that absolutely unacceptable and I can sometimes be quite angry when I think about it.

I have a theory why most people find genitals (particularly male genitals) offensive. It has something to do with our primordial past. We know that primates have this tendency of exhibiting their genitals to establish their right to mate with their group of females. This crotch display is intended to subjugate other male primates into giving up their right to mate with the females in the vicinity. Despite thousands of years of civilization, our hackles are raised every time we see the male genitals because of this behavioural trait of alpha male primates to do a crotch display. It’s instinctive in us.

But we, like all primates and many other animals, have the same primordial propensity to bite anything that is placed close to our mouth. But we don’t do that. That’s because we are now civilized and have been so for thousands of years. This distaste for the unconcealed genitalia can be traced to our pre-civilization animalistic past.

So, I always tell my wife that if she wants to behave like a genteel civilized woman who has got over her ancient ape-like instincts, she should not feel any discomfort over photos of frontal nudity.

I know it can sometimes be “artistic” if a person poses to the side but I’m a pleb in the world of art so generally, I stand facing the camera when I’m clothed and there is no earthly reason why I should be any different when I’m naked. Of course sometimes, I do try to be artistic and I might take pics like this:

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But most of the time, I have to be true to myself. If I naturally pose facing the camera when I'm clothed, I wouldn't be honest if I say I truly believe nudity is natural and yet I carefully conceal my crotch when I'm posing naked. And if I think showing the genitalia is distasteful, I have to get rid of my primordial animalistic instinct. It's too bad if some people (my textile wife included) find this distasteful. This is how I naturally pose for a pic whether clothed or naked so there.

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68 thoughts on “My theory on why people object to nude images.”

  1. My POV… "modern" societies are dominated by archaic views of the human body, largely because of cultural prohibitions. IMO, there are four major contributors to prudity.

    1. Religious obsession with total (and unscriptural) control over the private lives of the people who warm the pews. In fact, anyone who studies the Bible objectively will discern that nudity was the norm in Eden.

    Gen 2:25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

    And then, Adam and Eve snacked on fruit from the no-no tree (there's no support for the apple tree notion). This conversation ensued.

    Gen 3:6 And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.
    7 And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.
    8 And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.
    9 And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?
    10 And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.
    11 And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?

    "Who told thee that thou wast naked?" Obviously, God didn't make nudity a shameworthy state. That was their self-deception, narrated in verse 7. Religions exploit that passage for the purpose of control, and in so doing they spit in God's face and tell Him that His greatest creation is ugly and evil. And examples of innocent, harmless nudity are common in the Bible.

    Speaking only for Christian religions, the warping of the Bible to justify the premise that God loves His believers only if they are clad in several layers of textiles is pure churchianity. Religions are major contributors to the vile equation of nudity with sex.

    2. The "entertainment" industry relies on that offensive misconception. Consider that part of the cherished "R" ratings of films ("G" is usually box-office disaster) is based on nudity. With very few exceptions, the producers of "R" films inject gratuitous nakedness even though there is little if any justification for it, and it could be deleted without negatively affecting the films.

    And what sort of nudity is SOP to gain the "R" rating? Who here knows of any Unholywood flick that depicts nudity other than as naked groping? Has there ever been a Hollyweird film that showed nude people simply enjoying the freedom and openness of the clothes-free lifestyle? Reality time: naked bodies engaging in sex sells tickets. The studios profit from the nudity-equals-sex notion.

    3. The porn industry of course relies totally on the premise that being nude is 100% sexual. It survives because of that perception, and it certainly offers its thanks to the film studios and the churches for their contributions to its profits.

    4. The U.S. apparel market is the largest in the world. In 2015, the market was valued at approximately 359 billion U.S. dollars. What's the largest department in a typical Walmart? What type of stores are predominant in an average mall? And what would happen to the economy if the US populace decided to embrace naturism en masse? The clothing industry relies on the notion that nudity is evil.

    Why are nude photos so "offensive"? I blame it on neo-Victorian prudery. The soi-disant censors are "offended" by the very thought that people are nude under their clothes. The prudists will not be content until babies are born wearing Pampers, and people must don three layers of modestywear when bathing.

    And they will not rest until their crackpot demands are made law.

  2. Earnest, you have done it again … another thoughtful, articulate blog. You are a remarkable young man, and many would say attractive, never mind your strands of grey hair or your penis size. But I'm not sure I think negative opinions of exposed male genitals is a genetic or instinctive issue. I think it's more related to generations of social indoctrination. Some people see penises as threatening, others as indecent, unsightly, immoral or revolting, when in reality penises are simply part of a man's physical persona, if not a rather mysterious, intriguing, diverse part.

    • Martin, thanks! It's very kind of you to say that. For those of us who have lived for half a century, it's always pleasant to be called "young man". LOL.

      I agree with you. My friend was wrong to say I shouldn't post a photo in which my penis appears small. As everyone knows the penis is the most changeable organ in the human body as far as size goes. When I look at all my nude photos, I can see that it's smallest when I'm in a public place and I'm feeling tensed and anxious of being caught. Its size becomes normal when I'm standing at home or in my garden.

      What you say about social indoctrination is absolutely right. Except for those of us who were brought up in nudist families which is extremely rare, all of us have undergone years and years of textile indoctrination. However much we try to change, we are bound to have still the vestiges of textile inhibitions brought about by the indoctrination. However I do try hard to rebel against them.

      • How true. A man's penis perpetually changes size. Mine, during those times I want it presented in all its glory, is most uncooperative. I think it must be shy. Nevertheless, as opposed to being labeled obscene when I am naked, I prefer the adjective "adorable".

  3. Hey Ernest. We find you very brave. After years visiting nude beaches and being home nudists as well, it's still an issue whenever anyone takes out a camera. In fact, any kind of photo or recording equipment are completely banned in any Nudist Resort.
    We still feel the urge of covering our bits after all, keeping Nudism as a secret.

      • Hi Troy, What you wrote is very interesting. Just imagine if the many resorts for textile folks were to impose a camera ban, they would surely have to close down because nobody would go. That tells us a lot about our own perception of nudity even as naturists. The naturist resorts only do what they know paying naturists want. When I went was with the Taiwan Naturist Association, everyone was very free with the camera. Many of the wonderful photographs I took and got featured here were taken there and they would not have been possible if there had been a blanket camera ban. At first I was afraid to be seen with the camera but the President of the Association took my camera and snapped hundreds of photos of me and others too. Nobody complained. What impressed me was everyone behaved no differently from how textile folks would behave in the usual resort and with cameras being used all over. You pointed out the hypocrisy of these nudist resorts. Although I'm loath to use such a strong word, I find myself unable to disagree with you intellectually. 🙂

    • Hi Miguel, I do not think ill at all of any naturist who is shy of having his photo taken. I honestly think it's really up to the person to do as he pleases. I used to be quite shy too. I wouldn't mind appearing naked with other people but I would not have dared to post even a single pic of me naked and with my face shown. It had to be one or the other. If I was naked, no face could be shown. And then not long ago, I gave the matter some serious thought. I felt that by doing that, I'm in fact saying that nudity is not natural. When naturist resorts rule that no camera is permitted, they are doing precisely what the textile world has always declared – that nudity is wrong and shameful and the naturist resorts that ban cameras are implying the same thing. Once I reconciled myself to the fact that nudity was not shameful, I went overboard and literally flooded the internet with images of myself. I'm not doing it to show off my new-found "bravery". No, I'm doing it because I do normally post a lot of my clothed photos online and in Facebook, instagram and google+. So I felt that if I do that clothed, I should also do the same when naked. Otherwise, I'm not being true to myself and I'm really saying nudity is shameful whereas being clothed is not. But I'm not criticising naturists who want to be private. I'm just saying this was the journey I went through. It's relevant only to me. It's not for general application to other people. We are all different people. But the repercussion on me should be greater than for people who live in the West because how many naturists does anyone know who's from my country? Logically, I should suffer for my "bravery". But the truth is, nothing has happened. Not even in my country where having chewing gum is a criminal offence has anything happened to me. A few (very few) people did un-friend me on Facebook but I can't be sure it's because of my naturism. It could be the scpetical things I posted about my own religion that has made some of my church friends decide to un-friend me. But honestly, people can find my nude photos so easily but nothing and I mean absolutely nothing has happened to me. So honestly, we sometimes have exaggerated fears about people discovering our naturism. If nothing happens to me and I live in a country condemned by the West for its draconian laws and strict conservativeness (homosexual acts between two consenting adults is still a criminal jailable offence), definitely nothing will happen to you guys who live in the liberal West. LOL. I'm not brave. I just tried flapping my wings and I found I could fly. LOL.

    • I should explain one more point. Some people are generally more private than others. Some people just don't post their photos on Facebook, not even the clothed ones. My wife is one such person. She doesn't like to post her pics anywhere. She's a conservative textile woman. Some people are just like that. Whereas I'm different. I'm always posting my pics. Even when I'm playing in the church orchestra on a holy day, you will see me on Facebook with my instrument even before church begins and right through the service. So for me, posting selfies and my own pics is the done thing. Naturally, if I believe in naturism, I should also post my nude pics in line with my love to post my self-pics. So it's only applicable to me. Doesn't affect other naturists at all. 🙂

    • Right. I just followed a link to a Google street view tour of Bare Oaks Nudist Resort and there was not a soul to be seen even though there were plenty of cars and campers at the site. I was expecting pixelated pictures, but not a ghost town. It gave a poor image, rather uninviting.

  4. I remember going through a stage of wanting to rationalize nakedness and it's historic context which might have been a coping response to my wife's initial criticism and disdain for nakedness.

    At some point I realized the historic context doesn't matter in the grand scheme of things. It's the present day situation one must focus on.

    A good illustration of why I came to feel this is the case is due in part to other customs people no longer understand the context of. EG: People today often say "Bless you," when someone sneezes devoid of any understanding why. This custom comes from the Influenza epidemic. If someone sneezed back then, chances are they're be dead in a few weeks time. Back then it was a genuine remark of heartfelt sympathy. Today it's a mindless remark people make with no real understanding of why. Mindless acts have always irritated me because of the ignorance behind them. My response to people who "bless me" when I sneeze is "It's okay, I'm not going to die of Influenza."

    So it is with nakedness. Nobody remembers why it is taboo. They've simply been culturally conditioned to be ashamed of it. Ashamed not only of their own nakedness, but that of others as well.

    In a society where nakedness is strongly associated with titillation, and pleasure is frowned upon, you can understand why people feel uncomfortable seeing others naked, even if those naked are completely comfortable and don't mind being seen.

    A few weeks ago there was some discussion about staring and how it is inappropriate and unwelcome.
    Naked oppression is as much about suppressing natural instincts as it is anything else. A lot of the mess people find themselves in is about suppressing their natural instincts and behavior.
    It's normal to stare at something unusual because it is your brain trying to fit what it's seeing into the internalized projection of the world it has. This normal behavior is suppressed at an early stage of childhood. How many children have you observed staring at someone and their parents abolishing them?

    If you examine "normal" accepted custom and behavior you'll come to realise a good deal of it is a form of mental illness. Of course it's so wide spread, and so ingrained throughout the wider culture, it's not recognized as a sickness of the mind. It's accepted as normal. Within this context when you're cured, you're the one who's viewed as abnormal and sick.

    So irrespective of historic rationale why things have come to be, the fact is, if you cure yourself of the world wide mental illness and adhere to your natural state of being, you'll be shunned like all individuals until you prevail.

    It took one ancestor to stand upright, adapt and set us on the path we remain on. The onus is on us to continue our evolution, out survive the stressed deluded masses and emerge as a species devoid of coverings.
    All thats required of any of us right now is to be ourselves and set the example.

    • True, all of it, except the mental illness bit… maybe. Suppressing natural instincts isn't always bad, btw. Physically forcing a noisy thing isn't healthy if it's a person making the noise. Whiny kids are my greatest pet peeve.

      I totally agree that "now" is all that matters, yet understanding historical reference add understanding to current circumstance. Wandering through life without context is just willfully ignorant – therefore, stupid.

      Understanding why America puts on three layers of clothes every August and yet the Spanish or the Australians think nothing of swimming in the buff – even the travel hosts who are on camera – will, and does, help me become more comfortable with my own nudity and also help frame my interest in social nudity as something other than just eccentric behavior of a mad hatter.

      Last paragraph, surely you don't see textiles as de-evolved? That somehow a cultural custom is indicative of some corrupted genes? Granted, a fear of nudity and the possibility of lust is not useful to our evolution, but a cultural norm cannot possibly hinder the advancement of the human race, can it?

    • Nicely put, shane. And while I agree with much of what you say, it's quite easy to be as "certain of our current knowledge" as our wives once were. We might do well to keep in mind though, that not everyone is at the same stage, (of development if you like), as we are.

      I find your comment on how "when you're cured, you're the one who's viewed as abnormal and sick" quite apposite of course, as that's what my wife was insisting, for the benefit of my kids, that I was. And while I might disagree, it's a bit of a problem when her psychotherapist, and her self-help group, and all her friends, agree with her! Basically because none of them have ever dealt with the own body issues either.

      Regardless of whether I had/have issues or not, (who hasn't?), my wife certainly had serious problems with any form of nudity, calling naked-hiking "worse than rape". I managed to find a naked-friendly-psychiatrist for my (ex-)wife at one point, but she refused to go see him, naturally…

      • I have heard it said that women are the keepers of culture, and I suppose that if our wives grow up in a textile upbringing, they will not accept nakedness as a lifestyle choice. I learned this the hard way. When we met and courted my wife would sleep naked and was not averse to skinny dipping. That was the extent of our nakedness till the first child arrived. After our son was born she began to cover up more and more, she would turn her back to me when she changed, she would not sleep naked (what if she had to tend to the child?), always wore a towel in and out if the shower (too cold), would only make love in darkness (more sensual) and there was little question of skinny dipping (except for one time when we met up with old friends and she couldn't get out of it. She never really wanted to visit with them again at their farm.) We never did spend naked time together. What really struck me was in 2005 when we visited the south of France with two other couples, all textiles, and decide to spend a day at the beach, which turned out to be a c/o nudist beach. Her behaviour at the beach stunned me. It was an overcast day, no danger of excessive sun. My wife is an attractive fit woman, this is what she wore to the nudist beach. She wore a one piece bathing suit, a wrap around her waist, another wrap around her shoulders, a big floppy hat, and huge sunglasses and sandals. The other couples also remained covered. I had not travelled all this way to a nude beach to stay covered so I stripped and went into the ocean. As I came out, they all took photos of me, and that done, she told me to cover up because I was the only one naked in the group. I could sense her discomfort with the entire thing. I dressed and we left the beach shortly thereafter. I wanted to discuss her almost frantic fear of being naked, but dared not because I would have been eaten alive. it was not rational behaviour. The level of body shame she experienced was manic, tantamount to mental illness. That experience made so many other things in our relationship clearer to me.

        • I wouldn't worry too much if I were you. Women are sensitive about their bodies after giving birth. Even if they look really good. They will think they look ugly etc. It's almost psychotic. The thing about naturism is it's all about body acceptance so how one looks should not be a problem. But for some women, it is a problem. They can be incredibly perfectionistic over the body. My wife is always complaining about my looks. Why don't I do something about my hair – many grey strands. Why don't I smoothen my face which is filled with craters from old pimples? Why don't I apply moisturizer on my face as some men do? There are a lot of these "metro-sexuals" as they are called who do facials, etc. In Korea, lots of men do that sort of thing and if you look at some of these Korean actors who are said to have sex appeal, I can't tell these men apart from women. Their complexion is like a woman's and their hair, even the texture, seems feminine. There's no way a guy like me can do that. I'm happy to keep my complexion as it is and I positively refuse to allow dye to touch my hair. But it's such women who will be sensitive about their bodies and many of them after childbirth cannot accept their bodies any more. That's sad but it's a part of life we have to accept.

        • Oh I forgot to mention this. I actually showed this blog post of mine to an old friend who thought that I shouldn't have posted the last photo in this blog. He said of all the many photos I had to pick, why did I pick this last pic that showed me in the worst light? I asked him why and he said I looked not at all well-endowed in this photo and my colour looked a deathly pale hue. I should have posted a photo in which I'm better tanned. You see, that's how the textile world thinks. I told him if I wanted only a "well-endowed" photo, I'd be looking for a porn site to post and not a naturist site. The same thing with women after childbirth. Many of them are upset about the birth lines on the tummy. My wife has that too. My wife exercises at 6am every morning and she does advanced yoga too and she's as slim as a runway model. But when I ask her to join me in a nudist resort, she will always remark that her body is not good enough. It's so hard to explain to her that the body does not matter. I would be a nudist even if I were a castrated man with surgery marks all over my torso. I think of all people, naturists would be the first to accept such a person into their community. Body acceptance is such an important code of honour in naturism that I cannot believe anyone telling a disfigured man not to be in a naturist community.

    • Wow, Shane! That's quite a thesis that you wrote. I find myself agreeing with tiny nuggets of wisdom (the sort that made me pause to say "Oh, how wise!") within the article. It helps me to understand why I seem to be flooding the internet with my nude pics. It's like I'm saying, "Can you not see that it's perfectly natural and it's not shameful?" Thanks.

      • Hi Martin. My wife did get over her disdain but doesn't participate in the strictest sense of the word. In year one she would make snide remarks and her attitude was quite toxic. In year two she was far more accepting and now had a sense of humor but requested I cover up around the kids as they were asking questions and talking about it.
        Year three was kind of a break through. We spent a couple of hours at an unofficial nude beach as a family. My son and I revealed in it. My wife and daughter opted to stay clothed. Also in this year we had a very long open honest discussion about cultural conditioning, nakedness and the like, so a clear understanding about it all was established.
        The only reason I think any of this has been possible was because I never set out to be a nudist/naturist. I set out to improve my state of being. Physical, mental and spiritual. People talk about improving yourself emotionally, but realistically if you cover those three, emotional healing and stability comes almost automatically.
        So there's still progress to be made in the coming summer but it's all a holistic journey, not a determined destination. I've gone from, "this will never work out," to "I'm amazed how things have worked out."

        It's not easy to accomplish what I have, but I think the 4 agreements go such a long way towards accomplishing anything in life.
        1. Be impeccable with your word. Only tell the truth and don't be deceptive with people.
        2. Don't take things personally. People are messed up. Chances are, someone getting agro at you has absolutely nothing to do with you. They're getting angry because of some problem that taunts them internally.
        3. Don't make assumptions. You can never know or truly understand what others are really thinking. They see the world completely differently to you, so don't assume they see things as you do.
        4. Always do your best. You're really only ever capable of your best at any given moment. Your best when you're tired will be different to your best when you're refreshed. Your best when you're relaxed and confident will be different to when you're stressed and tense. So only ever do your best in any given moment.
        Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz.

    • Shane, you wrote: 'If you examine "normal" accepted custom and behavior you'll come to realise a good deal of it is a form of mental illness. Of course it's so wide spread, and so ingrained throughout the wider culture, it's not recognized as a sickness of the mind. It's accepted as normal. Within this context when you're cured, you're the one who's viewed as abnormal and sick.'…

      …and I agree strongly. It's exactly the situation with Steve Gough here in the UK. His continually recurring arrests, trials and sentences follow directly from authorities' prejudice that he is the one who is sick in mind; they are completely conditioned that their point of view is the only sane one.

  5. I'm not convinced that there is actually a crotch display in other animals as there is in humans. I can't think of any one instance where the penis is displayed in a competitive fashion or where it is used as a method to subjugate other males. I don't believe I have ever seen dueling penises. I do agree that some animals and primates offer their rear quarters as as a sign of submission to the alpha male. Maybe I'm wrong, just seems to me that I have never seen it in animals other that humans.

  6. I've thought about this seemingly natural urge to cover ourselves also. If you're right, then how could some cultures have survived to the current day in which nudity is secondary to other displays of manhood. I've heard rumor of cultures in South America, Africa, and Australia where they still live nude and clothing is actually a mark of status reserved for medics and wise elders.

    Coming from a Christianized country with its fear of sexuality (or the evil sin of lust) I find this hard to imagine. Should I ever make the time, anthropology and the internet might make a good match.

    • I'm afraid I have no answer to that. LOL. Could it be that in cultures where they have not covered up, not covering up is not synonymous to a crotch display. Perhaps they will only find it offensive when you stand up naked and raise the pelvis in the face of the person you want to subjugate. But for us who have a long tradition of covering up, mere nudity is enough to be interpreted as a domineering act of crotch display. I'm only guessing of course. I'm no anthropologist and I don't know a thing. 🙂

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