Seeing the word wounded in Robert’s post made me think ( http://www.naktiv.net/blog/122/naturism-and-healing-the-wounded-soul/ ). There are three main reasons to stay shielded from the gaze of others if nude, the risk of aggro/police action, what other people may think and one’s own feelings. The first is much discussed and varies from country to country, it is the issue of one’s own feelings that rang a bell with the word wounded. It may be an amazing admission for a life-long naturist but in some circumstances I feel vulnerable, embarrassed or awkward being nude. Such feelings are the result of upbringing and life’s experiences.
I have had the desire to be nude for as long as I can remember, certainly from early childhood, but as I thought no-one else in the world felt that way and everyone else stayed dressed, I kept it very secret. Being brought up as a Catholic, body shame and guilt were part of the school curriculum, we were taught that bodies were sinful in their own right and that touching one’s own body “in certain places” is a sin. When a teacher (a nun) was asked how one went to the toilet or washed thoroughly, she told us that we should “touch” ourselves to the absolute minimum. She then went on to say that the holiest people would bathe in special smocks to avoid the sin of seeing or touching their own bodies. As children we all thought this was very odd but it demonstrated the level of guilt felt and taught in Catholic schools.
It took some years to throw off the idiotic feelings of guilt taught by these people, or at least that is what I thought. I have now come to realise that the effect on my outlook on life was and still is significant, I feel damaged, wounded. It did not help that I was the victim of a homosexual assault as a child. The assault in itself is not really the issue, it would now fall into the medium category of offences, the real damage is the body shame that forces people to keep it secret. I did tell my mother about it at the time and she stopped the person involved from any further unsupervised visits, but apart from that he got away scot free, shame protected him. Much of the current news shows this was commonplace, victims have kept secret the damage done to them by perverts, but all the time absorbing the damage caused.
The key to me was the teaching of the Catholic church, “child abuse with good intentions” as some have described it. Having realised as a young adult that all this teaching was utter nonsense I started to think about the rest of the Catholic teaching and realised it suffered from the same fundamental flaws. Logic says that as we are born nude and supposedly “in the image of God”, that nude bodies cannot be sinful of themselves but religion does not work by logic, it works by irrational emotions, guilt and fear of punishment.
So am I still wounded? Yes. Participating in the naturist world helps but the real benefit is showing to everyone as far as possible how liberating and wound-healing naturism can be and how wrong, harmful and wounding is the deliberate, systematic teaching of body shame. Sadly, Catholics and many other Christians are still at it.