Nudity – I’m not shocked

DID you see Janet Jackson’s right breast as revealed during the half-time entertainment at the Superbowl in America?


Well you are one of the few, because for at least 24 hours it seemed to put the serious affairs of the world on the back burner.

In America, there was an almighty row. The born-again pro-family righter-’n-Genghis-Ghan set had a collective canary. The Federal (Soviet?) Communications Commission promised a witchhunt. Worse of all, Justin Timberlake, who was singing with her, went craven in his apologies over the incident. Rock-and-Roll is truly as dead as a duck when such a fawning creature of the establishment is to the fore in popular music.

And all over a naked breast. Or a nearly naked breast – her nipple was covered over. 

You see, I’m genuinely puzzled. What is shocking about a naked breast? Is it the context? Is breast feeding shocking? Is going topless on mediterranean beaches ok but topless on Dollymount Strand not?

I’m not trying to be ultra-liberal here. Who determines standards in dress behaviour? What proportion of the population must object before something is offensive?

I’m not shocked by nudity and I believe that a very large proportion of the Irish public (especially young people) are not shocked by nudity. 

A few weeks ago there was a furore when a picture of a schoolgirl was being texted (what is the past tense of text anyway?) around the mobile phone network. I think I saw a blurred-out copy of the picture in one of the papers, and honestly, I don’t see what all the fuss was about.

In fact, I think this fuss about nudity is a bit perverse in itself. All right, so the girl was probably embarrassed by the whole thing. I wouldn’t think any less of her. Would you? She wasn’t being exploited by some monstrous pornographer. She wasn’t physically injured. There was no evidence that she was forced into the picture. And there is no evidence that there will be any lasting damage.

Are those in authority really saying that young people will never see a naked person until they are 18 and, if they do, they will be damaged by it? 

The philosophy behind this new puritanism seems to be as follows: Nudity will encourage sex. Sex is bad for young people because they can get STDs, they can get pregnant and they can get hurt. Furthermore, promiscuity threatens family stability and thus social stability in general.

All of this is true to some extent but the pursuit of the unattainable goal of no sex will rob a huge number of people of personal freedom, places the natural human (naked and passionate) back in the realm of sin, and hasn’t the faintest, foggiest, remotest chance of succeeding.

I have a better plan. Why don’t we all take off our clothes (weather permitting) and be done with the pointless and destructive taboo of nudity. I’m naked in public every Thursday, Friday and Sunday after I play soccer and hurling.

Call me for an appointment.