Stories

The Price of Public Nudity

Topless Woman at the Beach

We all know the story of Lady Godiva. What the hell is the point of this story. To protest an unfair tax imposed by her lordly husband back in the 11th century, she rode naked through the town of Coventry.

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A man named Thomas, meanwhile, who dared to peep out, despite the command being given that all the citizenry should stay indoors and not look, was struck blind for his pains. “Peeping Tom” was the original voyeur.

There are a few threads to follow here. It seems like the 11th century was a regressive time, in terms of women’s rights and all. However, I think that things are just as bad, if not worse today. In a lot of the world, women can be killed for even going out in public with the the wrong parts uncovered.

In some places being uncovered whatsoever, or even unaccompanied by a male guardian is a serious crime. Even here in the so-called liberal West, the baring of female nipples is often a sexual taboo.

So how much different are things, really? I’d say we haven’t progressed whatsoever since the 11th century in this regard. All this makes the notion of public nudity a ripe ground for the flowering of yet another interesting kink.

In the Middle East the danger attached to the act of public nudity is probably more dangerous for women in that they can face legal punishment or even death for appearing nude in public. In the West, the danger is more likely worse for men, in that they can be branded as sex offenders. Women in the West can be charged with public obscenity, but this is a lesser charge.

This causes the thrill of taking off one’s clothes in public spaces to be fraught with personal risk. It seems a bit stupid to me, since we are all born naked, and we are all naked under our clothes, but modesty is a powerful force—or maybe it is that the powers of the state and religion simply can’t trust us to control ourselves when we are undressed. It would be a direct attack on the productivity of the state!

Technically the two parts of the Godiva story have split into different kinks. Lady Godiva represents public nudity, flashing, exhibitionism—the act of taking off one’s clothes in public for the purposes of the spectacle, and to shock and scandalize the delicate sensibilities of the public.

Peeping Tom, meanwhile, has taken on the world of the voyeur. This is somebody who enjoys catching people naked when they think they are in a private space, but are observed in secret, and are oblivious to being seen.

Both things relate to the thrill of unexpected nudity, but in different ways. Both things assume that nudity is the unusual state for a human being to be in, and that the clothed state is the natural and normal one. I think the opposite ought to be true, but what do I know?

Tell us what you think!

Tell us what you think!

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