Saturday, July 12, 2014

Nudity is nudity, right?

I have a question that is bound to stir up controversy, but it is legitimate question:  Why is public nudity socially acceptable in some cases and not others?

For example, it is illegal (in Kentucky) for a women to walk down the street with her breasts uncovered.  But, it is  legal for a woman to stand on the corner with her breasts exposed in the name of art.

In the former, the vast majority of society would condemn the act (at least publicly).  In the latter, it would be more equally divided with the slight majority teetering based on who was asked and what preconditions they mentally placed on the situation.

Now the controversial part, why is exposing your beast in the process of breast feeding (or pumping) acceptable in public?  

Don't waste your breath with the "it's natural" argument, because so is full nudity. 

Don't say, "it's always been this way," because it hasn't.  

I understand the importance (according to least for now) of breast milk.  I accept that breast feeding has been around since the beginning.

I also understand the same logic would have us all walking around fully nude all the time.

The fact that I understand something doesn't mean I want to witness it.  There are lots of things, on nearly any topic, that I understand or at least know about, but don't want to see.  I'm not a Neanderthal nor a prude, I am just fine without (clarification of) the mental image.  In that same way, there are also things I do not care for my pre-teen sons to witness.  

Let's talk about children just for a minute.   Children develop mentally, emotionally, and socially at different rates and to different levels.  There are numerous influences upon that development, but that has nothing to do with this post.  

Children develop the ability to delineate behavior based on their experiences with, and their models of, their respective cultures and family values.  While each culture varies, in every one I'm aware of, there is a distinction made between what is acceptable in one place/situation, but not in another.   

As such, it is lunacy to expose a child you don't know to something and expect that (s)he will instinctively understand that their mimicking the behavior at the same time in the same way would be deemed unacceptable.  And that's a specific, children tend to generalize far more often; I see him doing X, X is only acceptable in the same way/time as Y, thus if he is doing X without issue, I can do Y without issue.  In psychology it is referred to as Associative Behavior, and among other things, it is part of how we learn to cope is social settings.

This post was prompted by a recent incident in my town.  A family amusement park had asked mothers who are breast feeding to "use discretion."  The outcry was fast and furious.  The torrent of outrage was overwhelming.  

It quickly became another "women's rights" rallying cry.  Of course, the park apologized and reversed their policy labeled as "misogynist" by some groups. [The label showing ignorance of the concept.]

To compound this issue, there's actually a state law (the scope of which I can't believe would ever hold up in court) that makes the park's policy illegal.

Now, before we delve too deeply into breast feeding and all that goes with it.  I want to return our focus to the question as hand: When is public nudity acceptable?

More to my personal question, should a person be allowed to expose themselves to my children?  

Should it matter why my child is being exposed?   Art?  Breast feeding?  Air conditioning is broken?  Personal preference (often mislabeled as personal freedom)?

Can we reasonably expect children (and some percentage of adults) to understand why X is acceptable now, but Y isn't?

Nudity and the social mores that accompany it, differs around the world.  And while others might be more in line with your views, let's look at just the good 'ol USofA.

Nudity is nudity, right? 

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