Letters at length, December 7

The nudity facts

If a column starts with a paragraph that is absolutely riddled with errors of fact, opinion dressed up as fact, innuendo and surmise, then there is little hope for the rest of it. Ignorance underlies most prejudice, and this column is absolutely riddled with it (see Nov. 23 "Indecent exposure"). Here are the facts:

  • Children couldn't care less about other people's nudity, unless an adult tells them to.
  • Children couldn't care less about their own nudity, unless an adult tells them to.
  • Teenagers are often concerned about their own nudity, but few have any great problem with other people's, unless an adult tells them to be concerned.
  • Children and young people have a right to know what people really look like, instead of finding out from pornography.
  • It is not coincidence that the countries with the worst body-shame in the Western world also have the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the Western world.
  • It is not coincidence that the countries with the worst body-shame in the Western world also have the highest teenage abortion rate in the Western world.
  • And the youngest age of first sexual intercourse, lowest condom use, lowest contraception use, highest teenage HIV rates, highest gonorrhoea rate ... the list goes on and on.
  • Is there any evidence that seniors are so upset by it? Some seniors are, but far fewer than this column implies.
  • Is there any evidence that women are so upset by it? Some women are, but far fewer than this column implies.
  • The evidence suggests that men are more likely to be upset, often because they assume that women will be!
  • The author says "I am sure that people ..." but has she actually asked them, in a fair and impartial way? Has she tried looking at the opinion polls? Or is she just assuming that everyone shares her prejudice?

I suggest that Laurie Baden goes on a fact-finding trip to Europe, where people are not nearly so hung up about the body that God gave us. Visit the Englischer Garten in Munich, or one of the other parks where nudity is common place. Then she will find out what the reaction of children, seniors, women and everyone else really is, when people like her are not spreading body-shame. When she has done that, visit a sexually transmitted infection clinic in the U.S. and think long and hard about why, if they lived in Munich, most of the patients would not be there.

Body-shame is child abuse with good intentions and ignorance is no excuse.

Malcolm Boura

Cambridge, U.K.

Prudish behavior

Vickie Aldous' article makes specific mention of children seeing adult nudity and the possible consequences of this (see Nov. 18 "Nudity issue sparks more city council debate"). Children are not born afraid of the naked human form; indeed they often revel in their own nudity. It is adults who teach them to hide their bodies, and in so doing we teach them to be ashamed of their bodies and that it is "rude" to be naked. This is a very negative message that can eat away at a child's confidence and ultimately lead, in teenagers, to eating disorders such as anorexia. I have much experience of children brought up by naturist families with frequent experience of social nudity at clubs or on beaches, and they are often the most confident and well-adjusted children you could wish for.

There is also a more important effect of society's attitude towards non-sexual nudity, and that is its effect on rates of teenage pregnancy, abortions and sexually transmitted infections. British Naturism has recently researched this effect, and the results surprised even us.

There is a very strong correlation between a nation's attitudes and these rates. I'm sorry to say that America is the most prudish of the nations studied and has 10 times the rate of teenage pregnancy when compared with a country like Denmark, where naked sunbathing is common in parks and on beaches as well as being expected in saunas. Considering STIs, the ratio between the U.S. and Denmark is 70:1 for gonorrhoea!

To attack public nudity is to support a prudish attitude. Anyone in the U.S. doing this should be made to stand in front of 10 pregnant teenagers and inform them that in Denmark, nine of them wouldn't be there.

It is the actions and intent of the individual that should be referenced by the law, not their state of dress.

Brian Taylor

Staffordshire, England

public relations officer for British Naturism

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