Excerpts from Clothe the Naked: Acknowledging the Need for Human Dignity by Mark Shea, and my thoughts:
…nudist movements…propose that our natural state is to walk around buck naked on the theory that clothes are an unnatural encumbrance on our glorious childlike freedom.
For our ancestors of not many generations back, such a proposal was not just silly in a practical sense; it was also just about 180 degrees backwards from normality. Fallen man was, so to speak, born clothed. Something unnatural had to be done…for him to end up naked. It was seen, not as a return to simplicity and beauty, but as a shameful state. Pity — or scorn — was heaped on those found to be naked, not breezy “Flower Child” approval.
To nake someone, to strip them publicly, is universally understood as taking away their human dignity. Clothes, in some mystical sense, quite literally make the man.
I don’t believe that Mark Shea understands why people can see clothes as “an unnatural encumbrance on our glorious childlike freedom.”
Going by the Catholic faith, clothes are an “unnatural encumbrance” in the sense that God’s original plan for humanity did not include clothes:
“The man and his wife were both naked, and felt no shame.”
~ Genesis 2:25
It is only after Adam and Eve sin — only after the nature of the world is fundamentally changed — that clothes become necessary:
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they saw that they were naked. So they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths.”
~ Genesis 3:7
My point is:
Nudity is natural. It is our awareness of our nudity that is unnatural.
It is because of awareness of one’s nudity that, for example, if a man unexpectedly walks in on a woman naked, she instinctively covers herself: Because she can’t trust this man like Eve trusted Adam — she can’t trust that when this man is looking at her breasts, he is seeing more than her breasts, he is seeing her. The woman’s shame is a defense mechanism aimed at reminding the man of her dignity.
Shame is a woman implicitly telling a man: Hey! My eyes are up here.
Regarding “breezy ‘Flower Child’ approval” and the notion that publicly stripping someone naked is taking away their dignity:
I don’t know anyone who, seeing a person get their clothes ripped off in public, would think that the person doing the ripping hadn’t hurt the naked person’s dignity in some way.
But: Let’s say the act of taking off clothes was consensual. Let’s say a person allowed themselves to be naked in public. Now would the fact that they are naked be an attack on their dignity?
A person who chooses to be naked in public knows what it is that they are choosing.
On the other hand:
A person who is naked against their will is in a situation that they did not desire to be in.
Thus, I would say: One person’s dignity is unharmed, while another’s is under attack.
A “Flower Child” gets naked for a number of reasons.
One of those reasons being: To see, and thus learn to accept and love, all of themselves. Even the parts of themselves — like their loins — that institutions like the Catholic Church tell them are shameful.
A “Flower Child” gets naked in order to stand up for their dignity, not toss it aside.
The desire to have one’s dignity acknowledged is why you see campaigns like “Still Not Asking For It” — people undressing in order to say “Look beyond my body and see the human being underneath.”
I might write more about my thoughts on this article later, but that’s all for now.
Thank you for reading.