Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

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Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby jasenj1 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 7:08 am

(This isn't the right place for this topic, IMHO it really belongs in the Schoolhouse. But I don't have access to there yet, so I'll post it here.)

Re: What If, Then What

by Ramblinman » Sat Sep 28, 2013 10:11 pm

Just a footnote: there was a long period when a double standard flourished regarding nudity.

In that era, total public nudity for boys was acceptable. Even grown men to a lesser extent in certain areas were commonly nude, while women were expected to cover their bodies but often allowed to mingle freely with nude boys and men.
Here's a web site that documents this odd phenomenon: Historic Archives - Nude Male Swimming

One would have hoped that by now women would be equally free to be totally nude and men had never lost this freedom.
----

I want to thank Ramblinman for the pointer to the great site above. I've read through almost the whole site over the past several days. What an eye opener!

This article in particular was a fun read. The more things change the more they stay the same. Many of the same arguments against and for nudity are used that we see today.

One passage of note:
"But these unclad boys continue to bring offence to the Evangelicals, who maintain that all boys should abide by the same bathing standards now imposed on the men. Yet I do not endorse expanding such prohibition on boys as I am of the mind that it unnecessarily dampens their spirit, and I have not encountered anyone else at the seaside that carries such discomfort that the puritans claim. Indeed it was not but a few decades ago when even grown men were able to eschew the wearing of bathing trousers on these same sands yet few thought ill of it, so why should we now find it discourteous for boys to do so?"

The site also has great stories about nude swimming at the YMCA and in schools. A common practice until the 1950s!

The site uses many newspaper stories to document nudity and this got me to thinking that there are many newspapers with digital archives. I did a bit of searching, and sure enough, quickly found articles mentioning nude bathing and swimming as if they were common.

So take heart. Our desire to be nude is not a new, uncommon, or uncivil thing. Nudity has been common for hundreds, even thousands of years. It is our modern paranoia about the unclad body that is strange and unseemly.

- Jasen.
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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby JimShedd112 » Thu Nov 07, 2013 10:00 am

Thank you Jasen, and Ramblinman as well, for having initially brought the site to light. I haven't checked it yet but based upon what I've read I want to do so when I have the time.

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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby jochanaan » Fri Nov 08, 2013 2:22 am

Very interesting indeed. And yet, if Renoir and others are to be believed, women often did swim naked when by themselves, at least in France: Bathers
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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby jasenj1 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 8:55 am

jochanaan wrote:Very interesting indeed. And yet, if Renoir and others are to be believed, women often did swim naked when by themselves, at least in France: Bathers



From here:
"These Lancashire working people bathed naked in the sea, without any segregation of the sexes. In 1795 one observer described how the 'lower class of people, of both sexes' made an annual pilgrimage from the inland towns to Liverpool, where they could be seen 'dabbling in the salt-water for hours at each tide, covering the beach with their promiscuous numbers and not much embarrassing themselves about appearances'."

and

"Contemporary accounts make it clear that, while working women often bathed naked, those from the middle and upper ranks of society always wore dresses when in the sea."

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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby jasenj1 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:08 am

Here's one I found in a USA paper from 1849.
"Mrs. Swisshelm is the editor of a paper in Pennsylvania—she has her own views, and her own way of expressing them. Noticing a complaint made in one of the Pittsburg papers of the bathing of some men in a place rather public, she says :—

" It is no doubt painful for people to be offended with the unnecessary exposure of any one's nude form; but it is no less painful for people to need washing, and be prevented the luxury of a bath.— The health, comfoit, and good morals of the community require more bathing houses at the water's edge, where men could undress and get into the water without offending anybody's vision, it would be the right way. And in the mean time it would be better for ladies to wear leather specks, than for the men to be unwashed! Ladies in hundreds visited the last collection of curiosities exhibited in Washington Hall, and in that were numerous figures ol nude men! They would go there, stand within two feet of these figures, and examine them carefully,for amusement; but their modesty will not let them pass within a hundred yards of a man in the river without his clothes. But there is some practicle good to be gained by the bathing operation, while the statue business is for ornament alone—a mere evidence of cultivated taste and refined manners.— Now, we would respectfully suggest, that instead of making laws against bathing, our councils appoint a police force, to catch our dirty population,take them all down to the river and heave them in, once every day, unless they can show a certificate of being already washed. Let them make some provision for bathing, if they do not want folks offended by seeing people in the river; and we would advise all the men and boys who want to wash, just to wash away, until some of the modest people begin to make a stir for a public bath house."

From this I deduce that before indoor plumbing people bathed in the open in full view of passers-by with nary a care.

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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby JimShedd112 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 9:50 am

I'd say, Jasen, your deduction is correct. Mrs Swisshelm displayed a lot of pragmatism and good sense. Isn't it amusing how people have no problem looking at "fine art" but are "offended" by the nude form in real life?

I believe our more ancient and pre-industrial societies probably were much less sex/lust driven and accepted nudity as a normal part of life .

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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby natman » Fri Nov 08, 2013 12:02 pm

Jansen,

When I read about "bath houses", one thing comes to mind, the fact that "bath houses" in San Francisco and other major cities have turned into gathering places for (mostly) homosexual men as a place where they can find willing and temporary sexual encounters.

The fact that the men in the above article were bathing in a public and visible location probably prevented such activities.

My point is that the, while the author's encouragement for building bath houses may have been well-intended, like Victorian Prudery, it would lead to negative consequences.

We would (have been) better off in the long run to simply allow such men (and women) to bath in the rivers and streams as people have done for millennia, as God created and intended. It seems that whenever we drive something into the shadows, be it nudity, alcohol consumption, drug use for examples, we create a dark, highly profitable underworld which produces more problems than we solve.
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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby Ramblinman » Fri Nov 08, 2013 3:44 pm

jochanaan wrote:Very interesting indeed. And yet, if Renoir and others are to be believed, women often did swim naked when by themselves, at least in France: Bathers


Yes, on the continent, nude bathing for women persisted to more recent times than in England and as you said, the painters of the day preserved a record of it. One of Renoir's many bather paintings was painted in 1895.

Danish painter Paul Gustav Fischer painted some nude female sunbathers in 1916.

Vitali Gavrilovitch Tikhov 1876-1939 painted bathers, some of whom were in Banyas (bath houses) but also painted some Ukrainian women bathing nude in the Black Sea.

German painter Wilhelm Hemfing (1886–1948) painted nude bathers along the Baltic and North Sea.

The fact is not so very long ago, everyone bathed nude outdoors in the warmer months.


While it seems clear that women were usually by themselves, neither were they totally secluded.
For what it is worth, they did agree to be painted!
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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby JimShedd112 » Fri Nov 08, 2013 11:29 pm

While I agree accepting the right of people of both sexes to bathe in the open would be the ideal, I don't believe bath houses were thought of in the same negative light as today's San Francisco bath houses Nathan.

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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby natman » Sat Nov 09, 2013 9:48 am

JimShedd112 wrote:While I agree accepting the right of people of both sexes to bathe in the open would be the ideal, I don't believe bath houses were thought of in the same negative light as today's San Francisco bath houses Nathan.


That is my point. Originally, bath houses were intended to provide a place where men (and I assume women had separate bath houses) could go to "discretely" bath out of site of public view. That way they wouldn't HAVE to bath in rivers and streams and especially where they might be seen. Also, they would be someplace warm in the winter. Unfortunately, the good intentions were used later on for evil purposes.

When I was in Korea, I stayed in a town that for all intents and purposes looked very modern. However, very few homes had running water. In the center of town, directly across from the open-air market, there was a fenced in area with a wading pool and about thirty showers around the edge. The opening was about ten-feet wide and you could clearly see in as you walked to the market. They would alternate days between women (and young children) and men. I happened to pass by on the womens' day and was surprised to see many women standing around talking and/or showing (in the nude of course) and no one seemed to care that they were clearly visible from the street. I never passed by on the men's day, but I doubt that the activities that occur in our modern-day bath houses would occur in that open-air environment.
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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby JimShedd112 » Sat Nov 09, 2013 10:51 am

Your description of the Korean facility doesn't surprise me at all, nor does the attitude, though I've never been to Korea. The hang ups about nudity are more a western European and North American issue, I believe.

In Viet Nam we had open showers with private toilets. It was normal for the mama sans, who stayed clothed, to scrub our uniforms in those showers right alongside the nude GIs. In Turkey, gas station male restrooms were simply a wall for men to stand behind while urinating. I'm not sure about defecation nor women's facilities. And, nudity was more accepted in the Phillippines as normal, though I never saw anyone freely walking about nude.

My wife, who is of Vietnamese heritages, told about playing nude in the rain as a young girls with both boys and girls but won't even consider going nude at home today.

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Re: Recent historical attitudes toward nudity.

Postby natman » Mon Nov 11, 2013 5:17 pm

JimShedd112 wrote:My wife, who is of Vietnamese heritages, told about playing nude in the rain as a young girls with both boys and girls but won't even consider going nude at home today.


I think you have mentioned that before, which makes me puzzled as to why she has such an attitude toward nudity today. :?
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