Going Naked

14 year old Akito moves from Japan to small-town US Midwest. Utterly, utterly bewildered at the discovery that boys could actually be nervous about each other’s nudity. More of Akito’s experiences with his new Western homeland can be found on his (now discontinued) blog.

Although it might seem strange to some people, particularly those with a more conservative upbringing, but right up until I was 14 years old I had absolutely no concept of male prudishness. None whatsoever. I literal had no idea that one man might feel in any way uncomfortable at the thought of being in a state of undress while in the presence of another man.

I’d grown up in a world where such an idea simply didn’t exist. On the base, my world had consisted of servicemen who had absolutely no inhibitions at all around each other. The showered together, they got changed together, and they had a penchant for skinny-dipping together at every opportunity. Outside of the base, I went to public baths and hot springs where communal male nudity was the norm and I showered in school and after martial arts practice with people who’d had a similar upbringing and therefore were similarly without such inhibitions. Even in compound dwellers in Kyoto, for all their strange ways, never blinked at the thought taking a communal bath in the compound’s large bathhouse. In fact, it wasn’t until it came to taking a shower after gym; during my first year in an American school, that I even encountered the concept of male prudishness.

I remember it quite clearly, if only because it seemed so odd. I walked into the shower block and had just slung my towel onto a peg, so that it wouldn’t get wet, when I noticed how few other towels there were. I didn’t really pay it much heed, until I rounded the corner into the shower proper and realized why this was. About 90% of my classmates had their towel with them, around their wastes. In fact, there were only about 4 boys in the entire place who weren’t showering in a towel. Myself, a boy who I would later come to learn had grown up in an extended family where there were so many brothers to a bedroom and uncles to a bathroom that privacy was almost as alien a concept to him as male-prudishness was to me, and two boys whom I later realized were pretty much showing themselves off (as in, puberty had been a boon time for them).

As I stood there and showered, I noticed a couple of other odd things, too. Not only was everybody wearing a towel, but they were also acting rather strangely. There was a massively uncomfortable air amongst my classmates and each and every one of them kept their gaze locked on the wall straight in front of them.

They never diverted their eyes, not even for an instant. Even if one of them dropped the shampoo or soap, they wouldn’t look down. Some of them would short of crouch crab wise on the floor and grasp around blindly for it rather than divert their eyes from the wall in front of them. While other’s would carry on as if there had been no soap or shampoo at all, and would head back into the showers afterwards to retrieve it, rather than simply bend down and pick it up while their classmates were in there.

Things continued to be strange even once we were out of the shower. On the way out, one of the boys who had been towel-less slapped me across the shoulders and cryptically declared “so the rumors about Asian’s aren’t true”, to which there was a chorus of uncomfortable laughter (I’m sure you’re all familiar with said rumor about Asian men. However, at that age, I wasn’t). [In fact nowadays we know that Japanese men actually are ahead of the American competition when it comes to the average size / Ed.]  The coach then made some equally cryptic comment about how we should “just keep counting the tiles” before hushing things down and hurried everybody out so that the next class could start.

After that first experience in the school showers I noticed that some of my classmates were behaving slightly differently around me. More apprehensive, more distant. At first I put this down to the events of the class itself (in which I had made a slight seen over the coach referring to my using my Mother’s family name, rather than my father’s. Which is another story entirely). It was only later on that I learned that they were uncertain what to make of a boy who’d happily showered nude, but who wasn’t  showing himself off. Thinking back, I really didn’t pick up on the whole prudishness thing at all, at least not as anything more than a generically uncomfortable vibe. A couple of people made cryptic comments to me, but I’d only been in America for a couple of months by then and I simply didn’t make the connection (I’ve always been a bit dense in that way), and it wasn’t until about three weeks later that I found out what the whole deal was, or even that there was a deal to begin with.

One day, just after we’d finished showering the school’s soccer coach came up to me and tried to delicately explain that I might want to start shower in a towel. I didn’t understand, so he explained it less delicately. I still didn’t understand. So he came out with it bluntly. Which rather shocked me. He also told me that there had been complaints from one or two of the parents that I was naked in the same shower as their children. Which shocked me even more.

Once I got over the shock I felt a little embarrassed. Not because I’d been naked, but rather because of the thought that other people might see me being naked in any way other than it being perfectly normal and natural. After that I tried showering in a towel for a week or so, but it felt unnatural – Like taking a bath with your clothes on or wearing jeans at a formal event – so I gave up and went on as I’d always done. It honestly felt more embarrassing to shower in a towel than to shower without one.

On a slightly different note, it was also about that time that I started to become militantly Japanese, and turned against anything American which I felt might have an undue influence on me. Once I entered this phase of my life I put aside all thoughts of conforming with what I saw as American prudishness, and I showered naked for the rest of my time at the school.

I did this partly out of spite, but mostly because the only thing about my body that I’ve ever been embarrassed about in my entire life is the fact that I am quite tall. Which is pretty obvious to everybody whether I am naked or not.

Sent in by Rimmer, thanks. Photos by Will McBride

  

84 thoughts on “Going Naked”

  1. I dont really understand a person’s shyness about being naked. You aren’t supposed to show anyone your undergarments if you’re a woman but men are free to walk around shirtless and in their underwear [boxers, not briefs] but nonetheless both genders feel awkward about being naked unless they feel comfortable with the person.

    I’m not sure how this started – a body is a body right? Girls aren’t supposed to show anyone their bras and underwear but they go out to the Beach in a bikini? I dont really understand the concept here. Maybe because the human body is supposed to be a taboo thing only for sexual encounters? o.O so confusing.

  2. such an interesting perspective haha, i thought all boys going through puberty were like that…. guess not haha

    In my school at least, no one really tries in gym class and no one is forced to shower, so most people dont. But those that do are open about it but thats probably more so that they are showing off than anything.

    idk why all americans have the consciousness about nudity, because it is there and strong and thats undeniable.

    in my swim class everyone showered with the bathing suits, which isnt as funny as towels but still funny. haha, everyone tried to act like they didnt care tho, but you knew everyone was feeling awkward haha

    ….us americans. does this happen in europe too?

    1. It is nothing strange in Europe. At least here in germany people go showering after swimming or in the fitness center for example. Naked. No matter if its kids or adults or men or women. Of course there are different showers for males and females, but thats all.

      How can you clean yourself with the bathing suit/pants still on? This is actually what would draw the looks on it, for being uncommon.

      No big deal here, really. In fact it is so normal and common that I never thought about it until reading this post.

      Come on over here and start enjoying the view :D

      1. thats so funny, i wonder why it is. I mean, here its just the way it is, everyone is just conscious about it without even being told to be conscious about it

        and we were pretty much just washing the chlorine off from swimming and you get pretty clean i guess. but not all the way, which is a sacrifice everyone was willing to make haha

      2. yes, people do shower nude there more often but far from always. But to my knowledge quite rarely at public pools. Especially teens :(

        But it can depend on the area or city if people are more open or not.

    2. i love when people r naked i like it when i am naked it is fun & joyable here is my skype andi.blaceri

  3. When I was in puberty (late 60’s) and later in high school (early 70’s), showering was not an issue; either at school or in a gym. Nor was there any issues of skinny dipping during my scouting years of the same period. Later on in life I began to see changes in the views on nudity even around peers. It was also about that time of the witch hunt of older men preying on anyone younger. This put ALL men into the molester category, even coaches. So the parents were then led to believe that all men wanted their children and programmed a scare into them to never be nude. Around anyone. Most of this scare I put on the media and religious right. It is a shame that boys will never experience the joys I had growing up. Yes, skinny dipping is a joy! It is more of a shame on the US that we as Americans are so prudish. (Remember President Clinton’s issues that most of the world thought was silly)
    I raised my children not to be prudish or shy about their bodies. I believe it is healther.

    1. I agree. I was in my teenage years through the 1960’s and we all took naked showers after gym class. Nobody looked at the wall, in fact some guys took pleasure in pointing out odd or large looking cocks. One kid even got a hardon every single time, and it was the running joke. We also went skinny dipping, no problem. I think it is kids awareness of being called gay in the US that is the problem.

      1. both of your perspectives are really interesting. i cant believe that there wouldn’t be some level of uneasiness though, or maybe i just cant get over that this isnt a young boys just being shy young boys.

        i feel like its the way our teenage society has become, whether its through parents, media or pop culture, who knows. An interesting topic none the less— what made us change…..

        1. when i was going through puberty..that would be in the late 90’s, whenever i had to take a shower with other people…i would get embarrassed, and i would either take it alone, w8 to get home to do it, or not at all. I have no explanation for this, after about 1 year i didn’t have this problem anymore.

    2. I am a bit older than you, graduated high school in 1955. Starting in junior high school (7th grade) showers were required, the showers were open, towels were provided as you left the shower. Most boys were not prudish, there was no attempt to hide their genitals, most were just entering puberty, some with pubic hair, some not yet. I was embarrassed. I was not circumcized, and that was uncommon in Washington DC, and that probably contributed to my shyness. But since it was required, you just did it. No one made jokes about it, there was some looking at others and nothing was made of it…. The only jokes were made about the phys ed teachers who wandered through making sure every boy showered. No one discussed being gay, and I had no idea what “homos” were until several years later. As I got to high school, showering nude or swimming nude at the YMCA was perfectly normal and expected. Bathing suits were considered a source of germs and were prohibited at the local pool. I was always worried about getting an erection but managed to get by without a noticeable problem.

      1. Bathing suits of females are lengthier, so they must be more full of germs than men. So females should have been mandatorily naked in your times…. if not, then it is plain sexual abuse of boys by society.

        1. Quite true. I guess I never thought much about it. My wife told that when she was growing up in western NY girls did not wear bathing suits in their public school pool, where swimming was required….. but in most places apparently it was only boys who were nude…. Ah, to be back in that day!

  4. Customs around nudity are not very rational. As odd as they are in present-day US, they are often odd elsewhere, but in different ways. I grew up in the middle east in the 60s and 70s when boys could and did swim naked in rivers, lakes and streams. In rural areas boys did this until way past puberty. Communal bath houses were the norm at a time when a hot bath at home was a luxury of the upper and upper middle classes. Baths were segregated by sex, except that boys often went with their mothers until age 8 or 9. At home, like in many cultures, families varied a lot in what was the norm amongst relatives. At home I never had to wear clothes and if the weather was hot I usually didn’t. Long, loose, draped clothing that covered skin was considered modest, regardless of what was underneath. There was also a strong idea that one could look away if you shouldn’t be looking. Our neighbors across the street were a very conservative Muslim family and no women ever walked out the walled compound without a complete covering. But from our third floor we could not only see their entire garden, but into their entire building, which was floor to ceiling glass. We could see absolutely everything. However, since they were in the “privacy” of their own home, it was considered just fine. When I came to the US I didn’t understand the norms — which were different. More on that adventure another time. Suffice it to say I solved it in my life by not wearing clothes at home — and my kids are just the same way!
    Things have become more restrictive in the middle east and more restrictive in the US — my two homes — so I consider I’m doing my part to move things in the other direction.

    Regards
    SJT

  5. Interesting comments and blog :D I swam for a club when i was a kid and both there and at school after games we would shower naked, it was no problem no-one really cared :D

  6. I remember that when I was a child I used to swim in the sea naked. There were a lot of kids doing this. And it was till I was 7 or 8. Now it happens with kids up to 4-5 yo. When I was showering before or after swimming in a public pool I did it naked, so did my father and most of men. Not everybody. And it’s still like that. Of course it’s gender separated. I don’t know how does it work at schools right now but on tournaments that I attend usualy kids bathe without clothes, although due to political correctness (pedophilia awareness) coaches usualy don’t bathe with kids. It’s different with sauna. In Poland in public saunas (hotels, spa) people wear bathing suits (which I find uncomfortable). When I went skiing to Austria everybody (men and women) used sauna naked and nobody looked ashamed.

  7. I never understood the whole be ashamed of your body business until it went to hell…. but that’s something else again.
    I loved showering after gym, heh. Most of the guys did too… this was in the early 70s in High School.

    We live in an increasingly repressive society based on real fears and concerns. It’s sad really. Nice picture… thanks Josh.

  8. Hi guys!
    I’m a brasilan from a big town…
    I understand a person’s shyness about being naked. Actually, I was shy about it. Coz’ i’m livin’ in a place when being naked is something really embarassed and a taboo. At school we wear bathing trunks or ‘speedos’. So we never being naked in front of another guys, excerpt for brothers or maybe cousins. I guess people (parents) fom here think “the human body is supposed to be for sexual encounters”, so we are just get used to be shy since we are kids…
    That’s really funny and weid…

    1. Actually I didn’t have problem to find a way to look another guys naked… I was really “curius”(if know what I mean), but I was afraid to be gay… That was a great irony ¬¬ …………. lol

  9. A while after I moved to Japan, a new public bath opened up near my apartment, and The Boyfriend really wanted to go. I admit, my American upbringing made me feel kinda freaked out by the prospect, but I went anyway. I learned three things that day:

    1) Being naked around other people in a place where nakedness is accepted is easier to get over than I’d expected.

    2) I may not look all that good naked, but neither do most people. Body issues tend to dry up around a bunch of stressed-out salarymen and 70+ old men in their skin.

    3) I started to do some research about prudishness in American culture, and I Must say, it is shocking. We’re better than we were, but still….

    I can totally see how this kid would have major culture shock over this. I’d sometimes see kids of high school or JHS age in the baths and thought, “On pain of death, you could not have gotten me to hang out naked with my friends at that age….”

  10. Only in America. I feel so bad for kids who move to this country and have to experience that level of rude conformity.

    On wikipedia, if you look up friendship, there is a very lengthy section about a serious decline in close friendships among Americans, stating male insecurity as one of the biggest issues.

    No other countries understand it, especially not Japan, they think we’re insane.

    So do I, for that matter. What’s the big deal?

    There’s way too much homophobia and insecurity in this country about the issue of nudity. Most of it is purported by the media, who constantly shove down our throats how pedophilia and homosexuality are two of the biggest problems.

    It’s really NOT.

    But since the media runs this country with a conservative iron fist, I wouldn’t expect much to change soon.

    It’s really sad. The kind of close friendships seen in other countries involving people of the same gender are very different, closer, more intimate, and less likely to be seen as odd.

    Which is one of many reasons I want to move out of this country. It’s gotten so ridiculous, and I probably would feel far more comfortable somewhere else.

    Here…we have to hide, we have to succumb to definitions of what is considered “normal male behavior”, and I’ve had rocks thrown at me while walking down the street with my boyfriend.

    That was on the west coast.

    If we’re really to change things, we need to stop indoctrinating each other. Before we start destroying any real sense of our culture.

    So, so sad.

  11. Yeah-the American culture DOES have a big hang up about anything possibly sexual…Nudity being one of them of course…Europeans however…lol.

  12. I showered nude everyday after gym class for six years (and at 3 different schools) and never experienced anything like you described in your story. I think you should be careful about making such generalizations about Americans and there modesty.

  13. Never bothered me showering in school. We would laugh and make jokes in the showers. If another lad was turned to the wall looking at tiles it was not because he felt embarrass but because of something else which often happens when boys shower together. It happens to the best of us, when i was a teenager i remember getting an erection quite often on the school bus doesnt mean i want to screw it. Society nowadays is going backwards and forgetting about common sense and that things just occur without thought of malice.

    1. I agree that we’ve seemed to have lost common sense along the way somewhere. I suspect it started with the poisoned tylenol and the nursey school satanist/rape nonesense out of California in the late 80s

  14. i am 14 and i see where hes comin from back when school was in 1st semester 2 guys went into shower and there people were all uncomfortable i was like wtf we all got the same thing its not anything new! growin up in amrica made me realize how sheltered we rlly are as i start to see thing in other countries i myself feel freeir in the buff thn when im fully clothed

  15. On a lighter note me and my friends never wore any sort of covering if we decided to skinny dip at the marina and nobody ever complained. I think sensible people turned a blind eye and thought it was cute.

  16. Perhaps instead of bashing America, we should bash Boardie shorts! Hear! Hear! Hear!

  17. Lost a comment, sorry if it inappropriate. I dont bash anyone i leave that to there own rules and laws. People make enough of them to go round

  18. Maybe you can realice the coincidence with those b/w-pictures which are obviously meant to be erotic. Just in the way behaviour having been quite usual gets connected with erotic – it ends being regardet as usual.
    So maybe its wrong to blame some “moralists” for our societies do become less open minded. Maybe its the fault of those who did load up quite normal behaviour with erotics.

  19. We always showered nude after sports.

    My son and his mates wear their shorts in the showers and don’t know why.
    If anybody had done that in our day they would have had the piss ripped out of them.

    But how the fuck do you shower in a towel ???

  20. I played Australian Rules Football from age 11 to 26 and we showered naked after the game and twice weekly after training with no hangups. Now many years later I love looking at naked boys/men

  21. I’m going to comment one more time:
    My concern is not to “bash” America — but to try to figure out how things can be better, especially for my kids. Things are not the same everywhere, in fact they are ridiculously inconsistent. I try to help my kids see that there are inconsistencies, because I think it makes it easier to discover ways to live your life if you realize that you aren’t up against one solid mass of oppression. My son is in elementary school and “being gay” is the biggest taunt and fear of the school. He and his best friend were teased daily last year — in third grade!!! My daughter has experienced a very tolerant middle school and a very oppressive middle school — just a couple of miles away from each other in the same town. When kids want to be close friends with someone of the same gender and get teased daily, and sometimes beaten up, it really does make it hard to continue to seek out close friends.

    1. My son faced the same harassment in middle school and jr through sr high school in Texas. The school’s answer was to ignore his being taunted, punched, kicked, stuck with pins, stabbed with scissors and when he finally said enough and fought back, the school board’s zero tolerance policy on violence got him punished. He was almost sent to a school for the difficult cases. I stopped that. My ex and I had gotten the divorce and she called at a loss what to do. So I went in (the gay man whose son was being harassed) in my good suit (I was heading to work) and sat listening to biggest load of crap I have ever heard. The upshot is, this nonsense comes from the parents, through the kids. School districts either deal with it or dont. The inconsistencies are with the elected members of the board and the local social groups that push their agendas. In college towns, it tends to be fairly liberal. In working class towns (middle class and up… this was a wealthy suburb of Dallas) they tended to be conservative and members of large evangelical groups.

      I asked why they allowed this to go on. The principal said that it was one kid against several classes. He felt my son was exaggerating. And that because of our ‘family issue’ this was what happens. And I told him in the most polite way I could that if I heard one… single…case of such again, I was going to spend the money and sue the school board, the teachers, the vice principals and especially him. I was not loud or obnoxious. Just clear and very serious. Most of it stopped but not all and the school was a bit more responsive but the noise from the other parents was amazing. They not only condoned their kids’ violence, but excused it as doing ‘god’s work’.
      Fortunately I did not trust these cretans to protect my child, and since I could not sit there with him, I taught him some of the more effective means to protect himself but only if he felt truly in danger. He fought back and never used them. And today he is a solid, hard working GAY male with no patience for violence and stupidity. He should never have had to deal with that level of abuse.
      I’ve heard a few miles away in another district, it was wholly different. But there was a major university there.

    1. This is the normal size. There are more pictures of Will Mcbride on the Milkboard, under the ‘[Gallery] Request’-topic on page 7.

    2. The photographs are by the well known photographer Will McBride. While some photos are available on the internet, they are also available in published books.

  22. When playing sports in high school we showered and it was no big deal. I didn’t know of anyone being all that shy about showering in high school. I also remember showering at boy scout summer camp as a kid. Just remember, the plural of anecdote is not data. What I experience may not be the American norm but the same could be said for Akito’s experience.

    1. hey dude thats cool.we are the same and its awesom bathing naked with your team mates after training .

  23. The nudity taboo came about in America in the mid-1990s because of Roseanne Barr. Roseanne, if you don’t know, was a quite famous sitcom star. Near the end of her sitcom career, she began going around to talk shows and discussing the sexual abuse she suffered as a child. Her abuse is nothing to be jeered at, it was really very savage and would deeply hurt anyone. But while Roseanne was sharing her story (I believe she also wrote a book), she set loose a very simple idea that spread through the culture faster than AIDS and which is still spreading everywhere – “Children are non-sexual creatures.” The idea that ANY human being is ‘non-sexual’ should be offensive to any human being, it being one of the core components of who and what we are as a species and as individuals. But this idea was widely adopted by all pop psychologists, and it spread like wildfire. As mentioned earlier, the child molester scare started with Roseanne, or at least passed the tipping point with her. The idea that sex was bad and dirty was already completely accepted by all segments of society. (Read “Good Sex Illustrated” to see how even the ‘most liberal’ sex ed materials of the 1970s sold a very anti-sex message that is still being sold to this day) And parents were just entering the modern trend of being abusively overprotective, so they jumped on this train with both feet. Things which were completely innocent before – children swimming nude in a swim class, artwork featuring child nudes, etc were re-seen by everyone through the eyes of child rapists. Everyone was encouraged, indeed they were told they were irresponsible parents if they did not do it, to view every male in their life as an almost-inevitable child rapist. Children were given a completely contradictory explanation with regards to sex – that they were not capable of making decisions about their own body (who sees it, who can touch it, etc) so had to give that authority to adults… but also that adults were as likely as not to rape you into oblivion. And that is what ALL pre-adult sexual experiences were sold as – complete psychological destruction that was so devastating that it was a fate worse than death, that it would make it impossible for the child to ever live a normal life or be a normal person if they fell victim to it. They started with applying this idea to children, but soon changed the definition of the word ‘children’ (look it up in a dictionary, the definition of the word is ‘pre-pubescent human’… no one who has started or finished puberty is a child. The idea that childhood extends to 18 or 21 is an invention less than 10 years old.) to include all adolescents. How people that advocate an idea of complete asexuality for adolescents explain why human beings evolved to have the highest levels of sex hormones they will ever have in their entire life at the beginning of puberty I’ve never figured out. Apparently their belief is that puberty is a trap laid by evolution that would obliterate every person if not for the watchful eyes of the censor and the hovering parent.

    That was probably the single biggest factor that created the nudity taboo. I think, also, though that our modern ideas about sexual orientation also helped. The belief that you could be gay, hard-wired to be gay actually, and not realize it is terrifying, especially to pubescent boys. The bisexual tendencies in all people (your nerves don’t care what gender is stimulating them, trust me on this) cause most, especially boys, to panic. Since no one tells them about these universal curiosities and tendencies and the extreme commonness of sexual experimentation with the same sex (and enjoyment of the experiments as well, even for those who go on to lead entirely ‘straight’, and happy, lives) and most adults can’t figure the issues out for themselves, the only safe move is to be as loudly and militantly anti-gay as possible. If not to convince your peers, then to convince yourself. Well, natural curiosity about what other males look like (if you’re a male, then you’re going to be curious to see how you stack up, plain and simple, you will want to see what other guys look like naked until you’ve seen enough that you have a good idea what human males can and do look like) scares the bejesus out of them. If they’re curious about how other boys look, how full grown men look, especially about their penises, what could it mean? Could it mean that there is a timebomb trap of homosexuality buried in their DNA that is going to spring at any moment? The idea sexuality is concrete is a very fatalistic one, and it destroyed an entire class of human relationship (called platonic romance), it caused untold psychological anxiety and trauma by eliminating physical affection amongst peers (holding hands, hugging or kissing on meeting, putting arms around shoulders, sitting close, all the things you see children do until they learn about ‘being gay’… human beings NEED this closeness, and they flat out do not get it any longer, especially not in adolescence where a very strong neurological case could be made is where it is by far the most necessary), and it put people in the bizarre situation of being afraid of being naked. You know, the way they are. Always. Under their clothes.

    Consider this: In a modern kids life, most kids in typical American schools will reach adulthood, 18 years old, never having seen more than a handful (5) of people naked. They might see a sibling naked, maybe catch a short glimpse of their parents (though this is horrific to them), maybe see a couple people they’re dating naked, and that’s it. No, the porn stars they see on the Internet do not count. People process images on a screen completely differently from how they process seeing something in person. And, of course, keep in mind that the people on the screen are 2 inches tall and airbrushed. What you see in porn does not exist except as bits in a computer. The things you see are not what actual real living human beings anywhere look like.

    I’d like to have hope for the future that things will change, but I think that hope is fading rapidly and will soon be gone. We’re already seeing people reaching adulthood who think these things are normal. And thanks to the taboos, and the fact that these ideas were SO common-sense and SO meaningless and everyday just a generation ago, no one even thinks to mention it. We’re in for a future of guys who think of showering with other men as “with a bunch of dudes? Gross!”, the idea of nude beaches as “with a bunch of old and fat people? Gross!”, the idea of themselves, alone, in their house, naked as “I just don’t like it personally, I decided on this completely on my own and believe its entirely normal”.

    1. Thanks for a thoughtful comment and a good read! I agree with you in general (but maybe I´m a bit less dystopic about the future), but I´ll have to correct you on one important point. You wrote :
      “But while Roseanne was sharing her story (I believe she also wrote a book), she set loose a very simple idea that spread through the culture faster than AIDS and which is still spreading everywhere – “Children are non-sexual creatures.” The idea that ANY human being is ‘non-sexual’ should be offensive to any human being, it being one of the core components of who and what we are as a species and as individuals. But this idea was widely adopted by all pop psychologists, and it spread like wildfire”

      The de-sexualising of childhood definetly did not start with Roseanne Barr in the mid- 90s. In theoretical and professional discourses among psychologists, pediatrics, psychotherapists and social workers this had been going on since the early 1980s. So when Roseanne came on to the scene, there was a whole crowd of “experts” ready to fill in on the topic of the unsexual child.
      The best read you can get on these questions I think is historian dr Steven Angelides. Several of his most important scholarly articles can be downloaded from this URL:
      http://arts.monash.edu.au/womens-studies/staff/angelides-publications.php

      It´s not an easy read, but it´s substantial read.

      1. Very interesting read and I agree with most of it.

        I feel there is a correlation to the lack of boys being naked around other boys and being comfortable and the increase of homosexuality (or awareness of). NOT commonly seeing others naked INCREASES curiosity!

        I spent a summer in Samoa while in college. At first I was shocked to swim/play with girls who went topless – but carefully wore a lava lava covering their thighs. It did not take long before it was common and not a “turn on”! But I found myself wondering what their thighs looked like!

  24. I’m pretty happy I am raised in a country where nudity, in general, is a natural thing. The difference between countries and cultures is a reality and I feel sorry for people who must feel a shame, or just feel non-secure regarding this. Running around in the shower room, being natural and having fun should be every kids right! :D

  25. @ensocio
    I just want to thank you to write that thread
    Im from canada and I suffered a lot, feeling so alone, thinking that I might hide all these affective (not too sexual or pornographic!) pulsions, and all that for not looking gay… All this anxiety of not being like everyone else and that nobody discovered that part of me could be homosexual! Think it looks like renounce partly to ourselves…
    Your words are better chosen than mines… sorry but
    thanks again!

  26. I must say I was ashamed of my body for almost the first 15 years of my life and I wish that I hadn’t been.

  27. Cultural differences like this exist everywhere. The idea of taking of ones shoes to walk into your own house seems silly to me, but then I’m not japanese so it would. I think you’ll find strong religious history in areas which view nudity as taboo. Sex is demonised in western religions.

  28. I agree with proxyMan … I grew up in a religious family and went to both Catholic and Protestant churches, and I can tell you that sex and anti-nudity was strongly preached. I remember my parents saying something about the “free love” movement in the 60’s having something to do with the churches push to make people ashamed of there bodies and that sex and nudity in general was a sin. The church was afraid that society would become a giant orgy and that God would destroy the USA and or the world altogether. What happened … they destroyed it before God could. Go figure.

  29. hi am 18 and i have a younger brother who is 12 last weekend me and my brother went to the local swimming pool and changed in the lockroom..my younger brother seen me naked for the first time and i told him about puberty and i have hair around my cock under my armpits and on my chest and all boys get hair there

  30. It’s really a nice and useful piece of info. I’m satisfied that you just shared this useful information with us. Please keep us informed like this. Thank you for sharing.

  31. “[In fact nowadays we know that Japanese men actually are ahead of the American competition when it comes to the average size / Ed”

    What study? Your asian bias is definitely showing.

    According to Family Health International, “The World Health Organization bases its specifications for condom width on consumer preference and penis size, citing three studies. Taken together, the studies show significant variations in penis size within all population groups, but also indicate that men of African descent on average have a slightly wider and longer penis size, Caucasian men have a medium size, and Asian men a slightly narrower and shorter size.”

  32. I’m from South Africa, and we never really feel conscious regarding nudity while taking showers. Most males shower and walk around in the nude at school, at the gym or at sport facilities. I guess because our customs are more inclined towards Europe and the UK, everyone’s generally comfortable with nudity.

    In the same breath, because South Africa is so diverse, your background and type of school you attend could possibly influence your views/comfort. I’ve noticed that many conservative Afrikaaners cover up compared to English whites, brown people are a little more conscious compared to blacks, people educated at private schools were more comfortable in the nude compared to public schooled men, and the older men were less shy than the younger generation.

    What I’d like to know is, HOW DOES ONE SHOWER WITH A TOWEL?!

  33. For a lot more on this topic check out the Yahoo group YMCANaked2.

    Good points. Before the 70’s believe it or not it was the NORM in public schools and YMCA’s across the country that boys swimming was nude and everyone took showers after PE. Naked.

    It’s all an evangelical Christian fueled senseless reaction to realizing that molestation exists and gay people exist. Roseanne Barr was just a very minor part of the picture. Good point about reaction to the hippie “sex and nudity is OK” attitude as well.

    Remember the big arguement against ending Don’t Ask Don’t Tell? That straight guys would be taking showers next to gay guys and bunking on submarines and living in tents right next to them as well. (As if they already weren’t). Then what happened? It ended, and nothing.

    Hopefully we will go back to normal eventually as the information is absorbed and evangelical Christian influence wanes or they change too.

  34. Oh, I’m no expert, but about Japanese prudery: In some ways, maybe yes. Naked men together, no problem traditionally, even more so than in the good old days here. There are Japanese comics about guys with enormous dicks and muscles. Unbelieveably, there is a big public festival somewhere where they parade giant penises around and sell penis candy etc. So I guess it’s complicated!

  35. As much as I enjoyed the article (and the photos “took me back” to my days in junior high), I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the comments, as well. In particular, number 40 (from ensocio, I believe) was a very well-written piece.

    I was raised in the US and the UK where there was no privacy while in the changing (locker) room or in the open showers – nor was any expected, in my opinion. I don’t think any of us gave it a second thought.

    But, as someone implied in another comment, we are all creatures of our environments. While a 14-year old today might believe that it’s totally HIS opinion and belief that taking off his clothes and showering totally naked in front of his classmates is completely unacceptable – that same boy, had he been born in the same location forty years earlier, would believe it’s totally HIS opinion and belief that showering while wrapped in a towel is not only inefficient, it’s patently stupid.

    None of us lives in a vacuum and all us our opinion and beliefs are formed, to a large degree, by the societies in which we are raised.

  36. i have a wrestling friend at the high school that say it is against his religion. even though it had adam and eve. also, they added boarders in the showers. i also think the gay thing is also the thing. the last thing is their penis size. so think it is too small or they grown up with their parents telling them nude in front of others are wrong.

  37. i have a wrestling friend at the high school that say it is against his religion. even though it had adam and eve. also, they added boarders in the showers. i also think the gay thing is also the thing. the last thing is their penis size. so think it is too small or they grown up with their parents telling them nude in front of others are wrong or they were raped.

    1. Dragonmaster, start over and think before you write. I had no idea what you thought you were saying. You ideas may be interesting, but until you learn to express yourself in writing, they will be incomprehensible to the rest of us.

  38. At my public high school all the boys showered and obviously they were all naked. This was in the seventies. At first it was a bit strange for me but soon I got used to it. Now I think it’s very weird that middle or high school boys don’t shower naked together. Unfortunately it seems lots of kids don’t shower at all now after P.E. and I’ve heard that teachers are sick of having to put up with the smell. I teach my kids to be modest around people they don’t know or trust but as far as showering naked with other kids their age it’s taken for granted, as is being naked at home when appropriate. They understand social conventions but on the other hand have no embarassment at all about their bodies, which I think is good.

  39. I have lived in the states, the U.K and Australia and asia. What I saw when living in the states is the fact that their urinals are like horse stalls. some have huge walls you walk into so that the lower part of your body is not in view of the next person.

    Personal dividers are rampant in the states not like in Europe or around Asia.. Why are you lot so shy about people seeing your bits.

    Shower stalls enclosed so no one can see you but like places in Australia and the U.K you have open shower blocks and have no where to hide. The boys and men grow up seeing that we are not shy about nudity.

    I was in the scouting movement and boy was it a shock to see change rooms with walls and dividers while I attended a . summer camp there. In Russia nudity is a family affair and families enjoy the freedom of being nude.

    Showering using a towel is such a strange way to show boys that their naked body is something of an offence to see.

    Max.

  40. When I was 12, in 1945, I attended a Grammar School where the showers were of the ‘walk-thru’ variety. You entered at one end and came out the other.
    Every one showered naked. Being war-time, we had a female Games Mistress, She stood at the exit of the shower, with her hand on the control valve, while a file of naked boys squeezed past her. A few of us already had pubic and under-arm hair, even at that age.
    Imagine the shock/horror in the media if such a thing was to happen today! A female teacher in a room with 30 naked boys!

  41. if more boys had more exposure to their nude friends i am quite sure more boys would have a life changing experience and become gay. guy – guy love is the most intense form of sexual contact. Am i right?

    1. You are making a faulty assumption IMO because being gay is not a matter of socialization (which your comment implies) but rather of genetics. There is also empirical evidence that being nude with other boys has little or no effect on being gay–those of us in the U.S. who are older experienced being nude with other boys regularly at school in phys ed, swimming pools, etc., and outside the U.S. in western countries being nude with other boys continues. There is no evidence that there were more gays in the 1950s than now.

  42. When I was at school, all the boys would shower nude regardless of what others thought. A few of our swim lessons were held nude, and even the coach would join us once in a while. Even on trips with my closet friends, I can remember coming to a stream, stripping down and diving in.

    I used to visit my grandfather’s house every year, and he lived close to a pool. Every day after 8:00 I would walk down to the pool and skinny dip. My older brothers joined me, and soon we were all swimming nude. Children these days are so self conscious about their nudity, they feel embarrassed by just looking at another man’s private area. I think skinny dipping should be the norm just as it was years ago.

  43. ja man ari ta bija kad zeni skatijas dusa uz manis un es sakaunejos…14 dados sacelas atri …!!!tas ta ir un viss !

  44. I’m sick of this talk about gay being genetic. Gay is a CHOICE! I’m gay because I want to be and like to be gay. Saying it’s genetic makes it sound like something that can’t be helped…something deterministic. Stop hiding what you like to be behind a flimsy excuse like genetics. Be proud of what you do!

    1. Sorry Radical Fairy but your comment is a political statement not a scientific one. Not much point with having an argument with ignorance but that sort of comment plays into the dogma of those religious nuts who can cure you because you have chosen your evil ways.

      1. I hate seeing people arguing over the question of whether being gay is a choice or genetic. I never see people bring up this idea:

        It can’t be both? Isn’t it possible that there are some people that are really genetically gay, and there are others that (maybe confused, maybe rebelling, deciding they prefer their sex over the other, WHATEVER reason) are actually gay by self-identification? I don’t see why not.

        Not ALL gay people have to be gay by genes or by choice. Some people can’t eat certain foods because of allergies, and others because they don’t like them.

      2. Stop it with the ‘political’ crap. That’s always a convenient way to avoid controversy. And throwing around epithets like ‘ignorance’ just shows your insecurity about your position. The science on a genetic cause for being gay is on pretty shaky ground, and the scientists who try to find one are usually gay themselves and unable to be objective with the evidence. Gay people like you have to find an excuse to hide behind rather than just admit you are gay because you like it. No one ever forced you to start having gay sex, you chose to do it. And I can affirm this without worrying about your ‘religious nuts’ or what they think about my ‘evil ways.’ If you can’t handle the opposition, than stop being gay.

        1. I would agree with Radical Fairy and I get tired of the idea that choice “plays into the dogma of those religious nuts”. I happen to be a religious nut and I’d be perfectly fine hanging out with Radical Fairy and accepting him just as he is, choice and all.

  45. I grew up in boarding school, naked was normal in changing rooms, dorms, showers, etc. As little kids we just accepted it and that is how we went on. The odd erection would be noted and maybe touched, big lads would show off with pride, quite often somebody would get masterbated and a little group would gather round and cheer when he went, often there would be a chain reaction with several getting done. After lights out a lot of bed sharing went on with grunts and gasps. To us it was just a happy free for all. Trick was not to get caught by staff. Standard punishment was six laps of playing field. Now live in a bi household, we often go bare, all random free and easy, anything goes. Lovely.

  46. In the early to mid 70 in Jr. Hi School we used to get in one big shower after practice and all shower together. no problems.

  47. Even though I’m a nudist, I do understand people’s shyness about nudity. Being naked is being vulnerable and there are those who would take advantage if they had the opportunity. So I don’t go naked everywhere because I don’t trust everyone.

    The real problem is not that people are shy about nudity. The real problem is that people tend to blame the naked person. I’ve even heard some sexual harassment cases where the person was told that she wouldn’t have been harassed if she was wearing clothes, told that her nudity is seen as an invitation for jerks to disrespect her.

    I don’t see pictures of boys as an invitation to molest them and I have a huge problem with people who do see it as an invitation. However, the problem is with the one who sees the picture as an invitation. The picture is not the problem. (unless it is porn in which the boy is posing specifically in an inviting manner.)

  48. I’m a show off, so I like being naked in front of other people. So I dont understand why people are shy about it. Wish I lived back when my Great Grandpa lived cause boys back then was naked all the time. I love hearing the stories my Great Grandpa tells me about skinnydipping and playing naked.

  49. Thank your for this compelling discussion. It’s always baffled me why people are so uptight about their bodies? Why being seen nude in public is “indecent” and that one is labelled a criminal or a sinner or a pervert if one is comfortable being naked. People often ask me why I’m so comfortable being naked. I tell them “I have a secret. You see – I was actually BORN naked…”

  50. “I have a secret. You see – I was actually BORN naked…”
    I love that comment.
    I’m surprised that no one has mentioned military experience?
    I grew up during a time when there was a “draft” and every boy knew he’d probably have to serve in the military. I would be very surprised to be told that nude group showing isn’t the norm in the military anymore. And, anyone who thinks for 30 seconds must surely realize that straight and gay men have been showing together since forever.

    I’m inclined to think there is a deeper issue to a lot of this; it has to do with bullying (discrimination, abuse, pick your synonym). All too often, people look for ways to put someone else down, in order for themselves to feel a bit higher. Once someone starts bullying about a particular topic/characteristic, there will be all too many others willing to join in, if for no other reason than to make sure they don’t get bullied themselves. However, if you have one popular athletic kid in a school who will defend anyone else that is being picked on for any reason, the entire atmosphere of the school can change for the better. If teachers present a consistent and united approach against bullying, it will dramatically reduce the problems. What is really disturbing to me is when the adults of a community will not say that bullying is wrong, but then that is usually because they are guilty of it themselves. The human race has a long history of finding excuses to disenfranchise other people of their humanity.

    1. Very well expressed. I entirely agree with you. It’s amazing what one person can do simply be making conscious choices. One person has so much power in raising the consciousness of many.

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