Parents often express embarrassment over the idea that their children might see nudity or sexual activity. But there is no reason why children should be harmed by simple nudity. Children are likely to be curious. It is good that they know what nudity and genitals looks like. Boys may even be aroused by such images and this is also not harmful.
Children should know that other people can touch them in some ways but not in other ways. They also need to understand that nudity is not always appropriate. This does not mean that they should be ashamed of their bodies. With those we love, in the family, among friends, nudity may be acceptable as long as there is mutual consent.
We use the term ‘private parts’ to indicate any part of the body that a person might want to keep covered up (or might be required to keep covered up). Private parts include the genitals and also the female breasts. ‘Inappropriate touching’ is when someone attempts to touch someone on, around or in the vicinity of these private parts. Almost any part of the body may be designated as ‘inappropriate’ for another person to touch depending on the individual. Generally, we avoid touching other adults out of respect for individual privacy.
When we touch another person it is a tentative sign of trust. It may be an invitation or an offer of further intimacy. When they are unattached and free to do so, men may welcome approaches from people they are attracted to. Women generally prefer more time to assess a man’s character. A woman may accept touching and caressing only once she has evidence of a man’s genuine affection and caring attitude.
There are cultural differences. What is acceptable in one culture or family may be unacceptable in another. Different personalities are also more inclined to touch others in daily life. Typically, people touch on the arm or the shoulder. In some cultures, it is normal to kiss on the cheek as a routine greeting. It is always best to start by being cautious until you know someone well. Reserve can also be interpreted negatively.
An image may include nudity without being aimed at arousing anyone. Pornographic images involve close-up shots of the genitals and genital stimulation. Some images use clothing (such as a thong) to accentuate anatomy such as buttocks. Provocative behaviour may be implied by facial expression or words. Men need explicit images to assist with orgasm. Other images are simply tasteless or lacking in human dignity. Censorship exists to limit the publication of images that might offend women (typically pornographic images).
A lady crosses her legs when she is wearing a dress, even if she is wearing panties. Little girls are also encouraged to cover up the area between their legs. Boys learn to keep their penis hidden. This is what we call ‘decency’. We are decent when we are not showing too much bare flesh. Different cultures have very different attitudes to the amount of bare skin that is considered proper to expose in publish. Nudity can be embarrassing because bodies are so different to each other. Men may be sensitive if others can see that they are aroused. As we age we may be embarrassed by the effects of aging or others seeing a less than perfect body.
Women may lack self-confidence (especially under male scrutiny) and feel that their bodies do not match up to the ideals in the media. Women do not start out with ‘female modesty’. Women become self-conscious because their bodies are constantly scrutinised not just by men but also by women. Any woman with a less than perfect body is ridiculed because it is assumed that a woman only displays her body because it is attractive to a man.
We are all sensitive about being identified as unusually different. Sexual remarks may gratify those who make them. But compliments are only appreciated if you find the other person sexually attractive and women often take longer to decide on this point than men. Differences in physical appearance can cause us to feel insecure and embarrassed. The truth is that diversity is vital to every species.
Beauty is in the eye of the beholder! For all of us there is someone who will find us attractive.
Some people equate nudity with a lack of inhibition. Nudists prefer to wear no clothes whenever they can. They seem oblivious to any legitimate reason for covering up their bodies. Naturally this hobby is primarily a male interest. Some women may go nude if they have the protection of a male partner. But most women don’t want the attention they inevitably get from men. Nudity increases most men’s desire for sex. So if she wants an easy life a woman keeps her clothes on.
Heterosexual men are the first ones to object to being touched by anyone other than a prospective sexual partner. Yet their belief in their greater need, leads many men to claim that their intentions are innocent. No one is obliged to allow another person to touch them however innocently.
Women often complain that their husbands never touch them unless they want sex. (Michele Weiner-Davis 2010)