The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’
That, according to Freud’s biographer Ernest Jones, was the conclusion that Freud himself had finally come to. Freud couldn’t admit this candidly in his own writing. But Jones feet obliged to report it, even though his biography of Freud is generally regarded as a bit overly complimentary.
Is there very much in social conversation that can be more fraught with peril than for men to speculate about what women do or should “want”? Probably not. However, when it comes to issues of naturism and nudity, it’s a topic that cannot be avoided. In our society nudity is generally regarded as risible, awkward, or uncomfortable, at best – and scandalous, shameful, embarrassing, or disgusting at worst. Consequently, people who hold the contrary view – that nudity is wholesome, enjoyable, and life-enhancing – have no choice but to speak up. And this includes men and women equally.
In environments that women trust as safe places for nudity, those who participate find being naked just as pleasurable as men do. This includes traditional safe havens such as naturist/nudist resorts and clubs. But the variety of such zones of safety is gradually expanding to include, for example, private homes, health spas, yoga studios, dance and theatrical performance spaces, and art classes. (The sphere of activities with an overt sexual emphasis is a separate matter, but the extent of women’s participation is probably no less now than it’s been in recent times – and participants are increasingly less bashful in talking and writing about it.)
Obviously, too, our society, as prudish as it is, has for a long time legitimized and encouraged women to wear clothes that leave uncovered a lot more skin than most men would ever consider (in similar social circumstances) – except for the taboo on complete chest exposure, of course. For the most part, women seem to accept this convention – sometimes quite willingly, sometimes more reluctantly (when there are body acceptance issues). Many women suspect that self-serving male preferences encourage this convention – but they often go along anyhow. Who, after all, really wants to wear a lot of uncomfortable clothes on a hot day if the culture says “don’t bother!”
An article that appeared in Salon last week puts this whole issue squarely in a feminist context – and the feminist attitude (in this case) is that enjoyment of nudity, free from both male preferences and harassing behavior, is a woman’s right as much as it is a man’s. In short, nudity is something feminists can affirmatively support – as long as they have a say in the matter.
Many people seem confounded by expressions of female nudity that are not sexual – because isn’t titillation the whole point of women’s nakedness? The real question about female nudity isn’t why anyone would want to show or see women’s breasts if they’re not titillating. The real question is about who has the right to say what they’re for, where and when they can be seen and by whom. That’s about power.
Soraya Chemaly goes on to offer 6 compelling, feminist answers to the question “Why is exposing the world to non-sexualized female nudity important?” Read them yourself. The conclusion, however, has to be emphasized:
We all know that the prohibitions on women’s nipples have nothing to do with women’s nipples, but everything to do with control. The threat that female toplessness and self-articulated nudity poses is culturally defined and can be culturally redefined.
In both the world of ordinary, everyday nudity and the world of nudity as social commentary, art, entertainment, and protest, one answer to Freud’s question is the same. What women want, but often don’t have, is control of their bodies – equally as much control when their bodies are partly or fully naked as when they aren’t.
Source: Naturist Philosopher
Original publication 26 January, 2014
Posted on NatCorn 18th August 2021
Reference to an article does not infer endorsement of any views expressed.