MadSci Network: Other

Re: Why was the naked human body deterimined to be vulgar and by whom?

Date: Mon Mar 26 16:20:52 2001
Posted By: Daniel Fletcher, Anthropologist and Ordnance Expert
Area of science: Other
ID: 985573728.Ot

In many cultures around the world, the human body is not only considered a 
natural thing, but nudity, whether total or partial, is not even 
considered something special or unique.

The Danii of New Guinea only consider a man to be nude if he lacks a penis 
sheath ( a conical empty root that covers the penis), but this sheathe 
doesnt cover the scrotum, only the penis.

I could give you more examples, but the main point I would like to express 
is this : In the old world, life is just too hard for people to worry 
about what kind of clothes a person wears or if he or she is even wearing 

I am an Anthropologist, but reams of ethnographic minutiae will not yield  
hard and fast data with names and dates and rules to apply.

If you want a rule to understand social opinion concerning nudity and the 
human body, I suggest the works of Alfred Louis Kroeber, the Dean of 
American Anthropology.

The general trend ends up looking like this :
As  population density increases to a level that threatens available 
resources, social taboos against sex increase.
You see, in order to maintain the quality of life, you must either produce 
more food, which may be impossible, or you must limit the number of 
individuals there are ( by war or abortion/contraception)

These taboos can take secular (fashion and law) for or religious form, 
such as the puritanic beliefs to which i believe you were referring.

By keeping people clothed and covered, the hope is that they will be less 
likely to have sex and increase the surplus population, so to speak.

It was a poorly conceived idea and it didn't work.
Nothing burns the flames of desire like partially obscuring the desired 
item. That's the whole idea behind strippers.

It may be considered lewd to run around naked in public, but the porn 
industry is a multi-billion dolar a year industry, so something is wrong 

I hope I have been of help to you.

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