A Brief History Of Nakedness Reviewed
Nudist Book Review – A Brief History Of Nakedness
A Brief History Of Nakedness is a Published Novel written by: Philip Carr-Gomm Reaktion Books, 2010 Oxford
A Review Of: A Brief History Of Nakedness
There are many different perspectives on the history of naturism examined in the Philip Carr-Gomm Novel, A Brief History of Nakedness, some which include a series of religious, political and social movements. This book starts by exploring the linguistic origins of the terms “naked” and “nudity”. The author then elaborates on how nudism is seen by various religious groups including Christians and Jews. He further identifies on how nudity is viewed throughout history and the arts including Michelangelo’s David.
Philip Carr-Gomm recognizes that baptisms in the early church were performed bare and writes in detail on the social events of public nudity since the 1960’s, showing the reader that even though public nudity has declined, acceptance of nudity has grown causing an increase in desire for all sorts of nude recreational activities. Such activities include nude cruises and massive numbers of participants and opportunities shown in Spencer Tunick’s large collection of nude photography.
Philip continues to uncover some of the reasons why people choose to go without clothing. Being deprived of clothing can be either thrilling or terrifying, depending on the intention and context. The skinny dipper strips to feel the water on his skin. Lovers strip to feel and excite each other. Ascetics strip to mortify their skin and ignore the bodily needs. The mystic strips for religious reasons. The fifth reason is functional: taking a bath, medical. Activities like skinny-dipping and nude sunbathing are sensible to do (in the nude). The sixth motive for nakedness is to gain attention including streakers and dares etc. He uses the standard line about what Christian Naturists believe; that nude is not sinful.
One quote that I personally found particularly meaningful is:
“Nakedness itself is not immodest… Immodesty is present only when nakedness plays a negative role with regard to the value of the person, when its aim is to arouse concupiscence as a result of which the person is put in the position of an object for enjoyment.”- Pope John Paul II. To me this quote allows Christian Naturists to have a respected authority backing them up.
Throughout recent history the voices of social nudity can be heard in matters of protest including such structured organizations as PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and the World Naked Bike Ride. Philip even mentions the battles of nudity on Facebook particularly the displaying of female breasts. Further topics in the book include a short informational piece about the early history of naturism from 1906 and its major changes to its establishment in America. From there Philip brings into discussion common reactions our society has on public nudity such as the 2004 incident with Janet Jackson’s “wardrobe malfunction” as well as the use of naked body scanners that were forced upon flyers when traveling through any public airport. Secondary alternatives to this approach were cavity searches both of which left an unwanted feeling of insecurity for those who were not familiar with the nudist naturist lifestyle.
Even while this book is extremely informative, I have a problem with the author’s choice of vocabulary with the use of the word “topless” all throughout the book. “Topless” implies that a top is missing while carrying a negative sexual connotation; this cannot be good for naturism. The term “topfree” carries a softer and more meaningful approach which can help us advance in social nudity for women. All in all, this book is a recommended piece of literature because it digs deep into the reasons why people get naked and how we evolved today within the usage of Nakedness.