CASUAL NUDITY AND THE FAMILY
Copyright ©2012 Thomas Hatfield
What spirit is so empty and blind,
That it cannot grasp the fact
That the human foot is more noble than the shoe
And the human skin more beautiful
Than the garment with which it is clothed.
Dr. Joyce Brothers is a very high-profile permission-giver with broad access to the media. That includes motion pictures, books, television, radio and a syndicated advice column in papers across the country. She tells people what to do and not do, what to believe and not believe, and people follow her advice unquestioningly. As for the people who listen to her and follow...well, don't take me there.
A few weeks ago, my eye was caught by a headline on one of her advice columns, "Parents' casual nudity with young children at home is never a good idea." The letter came from B.U.’s older sister who was shocked to discover that B.U. and her husband bathe and swim nude with their son and daughter, ages 4 and 10 respectively. Not only that, but there are no locks on the bathroom door, so the daughter actually walks in the bathroom while her father is using the toilet! I can only assume that the sister hasn't seen B.U. and the kids for a while, since they've probably been doing this for a few years. B.U. asks Dr. Brothers for her opinion. Why B.U. asks Dr. Brothers her opinion on this issue, or any other...well, don't take me there either.
Dr. Brothers answered B.U. in much the same manner as Indiana Jones did when he came face to face with the wild-eyed Berber tribesman brandishing his wicked, gleaming scimitar; she pulled out her trusty revolver and shot the idea dead, leaving no possibility of equivocation or debate. Her adamant conclusion is bad enough, but her reasoning for coming to that conclusion is even more frightening.
In her usual patronizing tone, Dr. Brothers informs B.U. that young children are sexual. Gee, there's a wake-up call for all parents! She goes on to warn that adults need to protect children, making sure they are not exposed to erotica in videos or printed material, or over-stimulated in any way.
Wait a minute! How did we jump from walking around the house and pool nude to leaving copies of "Playboy," "Hustler" or "Penthouse" on the coffee table, and forcing the children to watch dozens of triple-X rated movies available at your local video store?
What data does Dr. Brothers base her conclusion on? None, according to The Naturist Society. She would have come to exactly the opposite conclusion if she had studied the results of tests at the University of Northern Iowa and used their research in the matter. Their conclusion was that children raised in a nudist environment had more positive body self-concepts. She could have read a report by psychologists Robin Lewis and Louis Janda at Old Damien University who reported that "increased exposure to nudity in the family fosters an atmosphere of acceptance of sexuality and one's body." Or another of her peers, Aileen Goodson’s excellent book that describes not only casual family nudity, but the history of casual nudism in different cultures and the practice of using nudity in group therapy, “Therapy, Nudity & Joy”. Dr. Brothers could have interviewed the thousands of very functional families who belong to the organized nudist (or Naturist as they're called now) clubs around the world, or the thousands more, like myself, who have practiced casual family nudity, but don't belong to an organization. She did none of these things.
James W. Prescott (another of Dr. Brother's peers), a neuropsychologist, was health science administrator at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development in Bethesda, Maryland. He was a member of the Board of Directors of the American Humanist Association. (By the way, I was on the Board of Directors of the Center for The Scientific Study of Human Sexuality at California State College, Northridge).
Dr. Prescott wrote a seminal article titled "Body Pleasure and the Origins of Violence" in 1975. The article first appeared in The Futurist, published by the World Future Society, then later in the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists. Dr. Prescott's basic premise was that "...deprivation of body pleasure throughout life--but particularly during the formative periods of infancy, childhood, and adolescence--are very closely related to the amount of warfare and interpersonal violence."
These are only a few examples of the research done on the positive aspects of casual family nudity. I am hard-pressed to find any negative reporting by a scientific study of it.
My own involvement with casual, family nudity, which includes raising children and five years with the Sandstone Foundation for Community Systems Research (and thousands of conversations with other parents), has lead me to the following conclusions:
· Casual, family nudity establishes a level of trust and respect between family members that can't be found any other way, and improves honest communication.
· It de-mystifies the human body and its functions.
· It raises self-esteem and improves self-image, especially during that difficult time of emotional and physical adjustment called puberty.
I am not saying that the casual nudity lifestyle is for everyone, each family determines their own value system. But, without question, the most visited addresses on the Internet are Adult sites featuring supposed teen-age girls. A very popular magazine on the newsstands next to “Hustler” is “Barely Legal.” It would be great to see the demise of all, both ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ core, pornography, but that isn't going to happen until this society takes a more realistic approach to the human body and its functions. And as long as we have permission-givers like Dr. Brothers giving out this type of advice, I don't see that happening. Dr. Brothers, if you really want to help families, especially children, take the age-old advice, "Physician, heal thyself."
Today, clothing performs three functions: protection against the weather, gender identity, and sexual attraction.