Nudity: What’s Sex Got To Do With It?

The question of whether nudity and sexuality are inseparable, of whether nudity always has to be sexual, often pervades my mind and heart. Although the relationship between nudity and sexuality is, strictly speaking, slightly off the topic of “beauty” – or at least the topics I have discussed so far – the two concepts are integral to the way we view ourselves. They determine whether or not we are comfortable in our own skin, and whether we believe that we ourselves and others are beautiful.

For me, nudity can be both sexual and non-sexual – it all depends on the context and the relationships between the people involved. Having worked as an art model, the classroom, for example, is one context is which nudity is definitely not sexual. For a start, the classrooms are often cold, dusty, and generally uncomfortable! More to the point, though, everyone there – the teachers, students and models – are not there to have sex. The students are there to learn how to be artists, and the teachers and models are there to help them do that.

Along with the context, the people involved also make the art classroom a non-sexual environment. If the model acts professionally, and if she is not embarrassed about her nudity, that contributes to the non-sexual vibe. If the teacher treats the model with respect, and ensures that the students do the same, that’s another huge factor.

Both nude beaches and saunas are two other, similar, situations in which nudity does not have to be sexual. (Last year, I wrote about my experiences with both in Amsterdam. Feel free to read it here). In both cases, being naked is about being natural and being good to your body.

Going to a sauna in Amsterdam was such a liberating experience, such an affirmation that my body was a natural, beautiful thing – and that this was true even though I was not having sex with anyone there. I was beautiful – flowing from the steam sauna to the pool to the resting area and back to the sauna – all on my own; I didn’t have to think about my body in relation to other people, and worry about whether or not I was attractive to other people.

While there are situations in which nudity is non-sexual, there are also situations in which people are wearing clothes but which are none-the-less sexual. Think about all the bars, pubs and clubs we’ve all been into in which the sexual energy was palpable, in which everyone was there to get laid…

I won’t pretend that I know anything about BDSM play, since many of you have so much more experience and knowledge in those areas than I do. However, perhaps the issues of context and consent that are present in nudity versus sexuality discussions are also present in adult play situations. For example, someone who likes to spank or get spanked in the context of a play situation, where everyone involved is a consenting adult, would probably not be very happy if someone on the street came up to them and slapped them. Likewise, someone who likes to play at being a submissive in a certain context with defined rules and relationships might not find it particularly sexual if someone tried to dominate them at work or in other areas of life. As I said, though, many of you know more about this than I do; I would love to hear what you think.

Beauty to bodies to nudity to sex to BDSM to consent – funny how it is all related and how, even though I am consciously trying to stay focused, I am finding it difficult, since all these issues are interconnected!

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2 Responses to Nudity: What’s Sex Got To Do With It?

  1. k yee says:

    Last year, I took a figure drawing class. At first, it was awkward for me being in the same room as a NAKED PERSON but after drawing for about 10 or 15 minutes, this naked person started to transform into surfaces of light and shadow, shapes and negative space.

    Once I was running about 10 minutes late for class, and when I opened the studio door (while juggling all of my drawing gear), the model was startled and covered up to protect her modesty, even though she was in the middle of doing 2- and 5-minute warmup poses. (Apparently there were workmen next door, and she thought one was entering the room). She relaxed when she saw it was just me. I apologized and started to set up, and she resumed her posing.

  2. Mary says:

    You are right–the issues are all connected!

    As I think about the different points you touched on, I am focusing on the connection between a positive self image and comfort level with nudity. I suppose someone could feel very comfortable with her own body but not feel comfortable in public, non-sexual, naked situations because of modesty. However, I think that being comfortable with nudity is very connected to one’s self image. You do not have to feel like you are super good-looking or sexually attractive to feel comfortable with nudity (or being naked), but you do have to accept the human body as something good and wonderful in all different shapes, sizes and stages of life.

    I am also thinking of how much parents can influence their children in this. If you grow up in a home where people sometimes see each other naked in a non-sexual way (changing clothes, walking to and from the shower, etc.), you learn that the human body is something good and wholesome to be respected and admired, not something to be ashamed of.

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