Why Are Americans So Freaked Out By Nudity?

I was on Facebook yesterday and I saw this article about a man who is being charged with child pornography because he had videos of his naked children on his phone. He didn’t send them to anyone. From what I read, the content sounded harmless. And the only reason the videos were discovered was because his phone broke and the technician was transferring his photos and videos to his new phone.

I think we’ve taking “protecting children” a bit too far in this case. Yes, sexual abuse of children is a real problem and deserves a swift response. But since when is taking a video of your children dancing naked, considered pornography?

To me, this seems to indicate a real problem we Americans have with nudity in general. Does nudity equate pornography? I think most Europeans would agree with me on this one, the answer is no. Nudity is just that, nudity.

There is nothing lewd or lascivious, obscene or indecent about a naked body. The human body is beautiful, functional, and something to be celebrated. Is the prevailing attitude a vestige of our Puritanical roots?

Interestingly, children aren’t born with the need or desire to cover their bodies. They don’t feel ashamed of their arms, legs, heads, or groins. At least not until they learn that bodies are something to be ashamed of and that hiding our “private parts” is the socially accepted norm.

We’re in the midst of toilet learning at our house and my daughter seems to be more aware of her need to use the potty when she has nothing on from the waist down. And since we’ve always used cloth diapers, I can understand her confusion. When she’s wearing underwear it feels just like a diaper, so she just goes. But if she’s half nude, she runs over to her potty saying “I have pee in my bladder!”

So, I’m introducing underwear slowly and trying to minimize the time she wears it so that she can remember not to go in her underwear. It’s working! She’s able to go longer and longer in her underwear every day and keep them dry.

Luckily, no one in our immediate family has a problem with a two year old running around half clothed. And I do sometimes put her in a dress so that it’s not so obvious that she’s going commando. But this article frightened me. What if my husband takes a photo of my daughter doing something cute and she happens to be pants-less? Will he be arrested for child pornography too?

Certainly we’ve established clear boundaries and guidelines for our whole family and no nude pictures will appear on Facebook or be sent via phone to other family members (although, now that I think of it, I do remember sending my brother a cute bath photo a few weeks ago, oops!).

But with all this new technology that makes taking videos and sending them to friends and family so easy, we’re bound to run into these situations more and more. And I’m curious about how we as a culture will handle it. Will we continue to equate nudity with obscenity? Or can a bare bottom just be cute?

What do you think? And how do you handle these situations in your family?

Have a wonderful week, Shelly

12 comments
thesimplething666
thesimplething666

Though this article came out years ago, i think i can shine a light on the one question asked here.

The reason is, religion. Pure and simple. Granted not recent(last say 40 years) but the past 3,000 years. For a long time the church ruled like a dictator, you didn't dare question them.

ThomasKuoh
ThomasKuoh

Love it. I totally agree. I have a photo of paisley standing naked outside of our bathroom looking like an Italian cherub sculpture, you know, those naked babies with wings in counter costal poses. I love the photo and sent it to her godmother. And was chastised for doing so, due to fear of molestation charges. I actually wouldn't mind having a phone chat on the subject. Maybe I can give you a call.

Skitzzo
Skitzzo

I think the article is trying to make a judgement call without having all the information. If this is innocent, the coach shouldn't have a problem with his defense. However, the description of the first videos sounds pretty much inexcusable. There's just no way I can see to explain it as innocent. The article you link to says "silliness getting out of control, perhaps" but even if it was just silliness, why would you want to keep that video?

drucen
drucen

That article is so deeply disturbing to me.  Our family knows many families who could be this family.  They have beautiful, light-hearted, loving relationships with their children. They are close and caring and allow freedom of expression and silliness such as this in their home.  These people are very likely a loving, close family just like the ones we know.  How traumatic for them. I can't even imagine.  People are so quick to judge and condemn.  I have no idea why people are so freaked about about human bodies sans clothing.  What a dysfunctional society!!!  We're sending the message that close bonds where we can be expressive and vulnerable together are NOT acceptable.  We must be proper and BE SCARED of what could "happen to us" if we get to fun or to close!   Wow!!!

deemarie
deemarie

I have spent the majority of my life on a ranch miles from town, and my children spent a lot of their young lives  naked or partially clothed playing either in the house or outdoors. I never felt the need to force them to wear clothes, however, when we had company they had shorts or dresses on.  I don't feel nudity is something to be ashamed of, however I have always used common sense when around others. I am very aware of the predators roaming free, and they are often people we are not aware of. A good family friend of ours was a sex offender specialist, and I believe every parent should educated themselves on the signs and habits  of offenders. Unfortunately there are A LOT of them around ! God gave us all gifts to be proud of, not ashamed or embarrassed by. I always want my children to love themselves, respect their bodies, and ALWAYS trust their instincts.

yourfriendkira
yourfriendkira

I love reading what you write, Shelly!

We keep all partially clothed photos private meaning me, my husband, and the kids.  A photograph could always wind up somewhere I didn't intend, even if the purpose was harmless.

 

In person, around others besides me and my husband, we usually aim for underwear, at the least. And no photos.  (Luckily, I'm the one who likes to take photos-- no one else in our family really does!).  Summer pool swimming is the place I'm pretty lenient about suits.

 

One could make the case that most abuse actually occurs within families, so it's good for readers to remember that keeping things "in the family" doesn't equal safety-- everyone has to judge for themselves.