[Warning: this post may not be suitable for Americans.]
Spring has sprung here in Old Europe, and that means the naked people have come out to play. Old and young alike are sunbathing naked in the parks, enjoying a nice naked sauna, or looking forward to that first trip to the beach where the can have some naked fun in the surf and sand.
Nudity isn’t exactly everywhere (and before you start whipping off that bikini bottom, be advised that its appropriateness varies greatly by country and situation), but to American eyes it sometimes sure seems like it is. Even after all these years here I sometimes catch myself staring when an unexpected boob or penis jumps into my range of vision. It’s not my fault – growing up in the US my brain was conditioned to pay attention to such things, since they are extremely dangerous and might attack me at any moment.
No, you say, they’re not going to cause me harm? Well then why are Americans so very afraid of them? I offer you Exhibit A: Nipplegate, a scandal which seized the entire country back in 2004. During the Superbowl halftime show, Janet Jackson’s breast was momentarily exposed at the end of a performance (her nipple, however, was covered). Meanwhile, over here in countries where boobies grace the cover of the TV guide on a weekly basis, people were scratching their heads trying to figure out what all the fuss was about.
This event caused a huge public uproar in the US which led to firings, lawsuits, public apologies, and fines. This rabblerousing was justified by the fact that children had been watching, and breasts are very dangerous to the delicate sensibilities of American children. Now I’m no child psychologist, but what do you really think is going to do more psychological damage to little Johnny: seeing part of a breast for a fraction of a second, or hearing his hysterically angry mother yelling about how evil breasts are?
I’m not saying the Europeans have it exactly right when it comes to body acceptance and sexuality, but personally I prefer living in a society which doesn’t deem any parts of my anatomy to be inherently repulsive. Plus it’s much easier to put a bra on in a public locker room when you’re not trying to keep your bits covered up with a towel the whole time. Much easier.