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Voicing Silence 7

Friday, November 16, 2007

A bee in my bonnet 7

Nakedness

The other day I walked into the ladies shower room at our local swimming pool and found two middle aged women having a shower. It's an open shower room with no cubicles. The two women who were both naked (as one should be under a shower) seemed to be deep in discussion. I kept my one-piece costume on (as I usually do) and went to the far shower in the room. I winced involuntarily as a hot jet stream hit prickled my back. The women turned to me and said something about the water temperature. I looked down at the floor, mumbled a response and quickly shuffled outside to the changing rooms.

The incident really got me thinking. Why was I so embarrassed when they were the ones who didn't have any clothes on? Was it due to years and years of 'shame, shame, puppy shame'? If so, surely I should realise by now that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed about one's body. I know a lot of other women who would have reacted the same way as me in a similar situation. Why are we so bothered by the sight of our naked selves? My little boy has no problem walking around the house in the buff. We too must've been like that as kids. When did it change? And why do we think it's so wrong? Is this an Indian women thing? Why do we go all 'chee-chee' at the first sign of nudity? Is it because we believe in the superiority of keeping one's modesty? Or is it simply because we dare not take our clothes off? And really, are we just jealous of those that do, even if it is only in a public shower room?

14 comments:

Anand said...

Ammani

I think it is not just limited to Indian women - I am an Indian man and I have *exactly* the same feelings you express.

Even though I like to blame it on our culture and upbringing that teaches us nudity is bad, I think we as individuals also matter.

Kamini said...

This one is just begging for a Chockalingam Tantex jetti-banian masterpiece.

avataram said...

OV Vijayan says that our great grandmothers in Kerala swam naked in the periyar. Clearly, it was an open shower room with no cubicles. Elephants named Kunjumol were trained to squirt water over their hair and breasts while the periyar caressed their hips. Now we go to shower rooms in one-piece. What happened?

North Indians. And Hindi. I rest my case.

Lekhni said...

"Don't expose your skin! No tight tops! No mini skirts!
Sit properly! Don't cross your legs!"

And suddenly, it's OK to strip in a public shower? So what if they are all women? I am sorry, I cannot bring myself to do this. Can you give me a cubicle with 4 concrete walls? Maybe there, I will be comfortable in my one-piece.. no, no, I still cannot strip, not in public, you see.

Deepa said...

Isn't it quite the opposite in western culture? They never run around naked as kids unlike us yet feel comfortable with nudity as adults again unlike us. Which one is right and which one, wrong?

yezdi said...

I think its the sexual overtone that nudity is associated with in our culture.
Children can run about naked caz they have no sexual desires. Unfortunately sexuality is nothing less than a crime here, sometimes we make sound like a sin even for married couple. I guess thus the "shame shame". We are raising puppets....

usws said...

Well, i think it's just a little gross to look at naked people of the same sex (in my case, men). Especially when they're not all that nice to look at anyway.

Same goes for exposing myself too. Not even at the urinals.

BYE!

The Practical Idealist said...

Most of it, as you've pointed out, is due to social conditioning that begins at an age when we begin to perceive the difference between nudity and non-nudity. I suppose that's why many aborigines in many countries don't consider nudity as a problem.

I guess it's also got to do with the perceived "Indian culture" thingy too - that sex is bad, and nudity has obvious sexual overtones.

Madura said...

Have been through the exact same moments ...

and also dreams of nudity?! rather nightmares! Any day I ignore my wavering guilt, I am sure walking naked in my dream that night. Usually the story line is that I am not aware that something is missing, and ... voila,...

NOPE, NEVER it ended with any sexy note, damn my nude dreams! :) .... They provide pure embarrassment and nothing else.

I usually wake up in the morning and wonder what the hell was I ashamed of yesterday?

But in the day time, I talk as if I am so open and have made peace with nudity and even believe so! I wonder which kind of hypocrite I am when it comes to nudity! :) ...

faitoo said...

Folkss..
if everyone out there is gng to blame the culture and the elders who installed this thought in us.. then pls think over again. i've seen old grand ma's and aunts changing in front of me without even an iota of embarassment(shame), well on those moments am the one having so much of apprehensions.

Though i myself dont know the answer to this pondering,i can be sure this is not from our culture or elders ..
Do u accept ?

Jillu Madrasi said...

Don't know why you are making it an Indian Women things.

It is just you .

the 5-yr old said...

Well, according to me, it is just that Indian women are not taught to be comfortable in/ about their respective bodies. We need to cover it up. Even a really fat woman in the west is extremely comfortable with the nudity..

In fact we push it to such an extent that we dont even feel comfortable to sleep naked even when alone!

muse said...

Don't know whether this is an Indian women thing. Maybe most western women would be comfortable wearing lesser clothes but being completely naked in a public shower room?? I don't think so. It feels slightly weird, not embarassing.

Sathish said...

Choice