Most Americans, and particularly Christians, have a very strong “modesty-ethic“. From a very young age, children are taught that there are certain parts of their bodies which must NOT be seen by anyone of the opposite sex. Those “boy-parts” and “girl-parts” are often called “privates“.
This brief essay isn’t about “body-shame“, because I have already covered that topic. Instead, it is about those “exceptions” to that rule, because we all know that there are certain “acceptable-exceptions“.
The first “exception” is parents, but only to a point. While a mother may see her girls naked virtually anytime, even after they are grown up and go out on their own, a father may only see his girls naked until they reach a certain age…often first grade. A father may see his sons naked off and on until they are likewise out of the nest, while their mother may never see them naked after they hit puberty. What is interesting to me is that both parents were “allowed” to see their children naked when they were quite young, but the rules changed beyond a certain age. Same parents and same children, but different rules…what is wrong with this picture? For the record, neither of my parents saw me naked after I hit puberty…
The next notable “exception” is baby-sitters – FEMALE babysitters, that is. It appears that it acceptable for parents to delegate their “exception” to a babysitter, but only if the babysitter is a girl. The same is NOT true with MALE babysitters. Is babysitting considered to be “preparation for motherhood“?
Another notable “exception” is teachers…that is, as long as they are FEMALE. Are teachers considered “surrogate-parents“? That seems to be the case for elementary school teachers. Male teachers are frequent in the upper grades, but NOT in elementary school. That profession is dominated by women. A female teacher is allowed to take either little “Suzie” or little “Johnny” to the restroom, but heaven-forbid allowing a male teacher to take either to the restroom. Don’t men have what it takes to be good elementary school teachers? Sorry, but men have the “wrong plumbing“. Men can’t be “surrogate-mothers“…
Do you see some common threads here?
Another notable “exception” is one’s spouse…husband or wife. It is almost universally accepted that it is okay to be naked in their presence. I say “almost“, because pastors and marriage counselors see an occasional couple who have not, even after a year or more, consummated their marriage, because one of the spouses hasn’t been able to bring himself/herself to get undressed in the presence of the other, even to consummate the marriage. Failure or refusal to consummate the marriage is against God’s Word, and an extreme case of prudishness. A person’s spouse should be the one person they can be most comfortable with. In some states, inability or failure to consummate a marriage is adequate grounds for an annulment.
The final notable “exception” is medical care-providers, doctors and nurses, and by extension, certain medical technologists are also “exceptions” to the rule. What amazes me is that we not only pay them to tell us to disrobe, but we do so more or less willingly. It is a “given” that a person must check their “modesty” at the door of a health-care facility, particularly at a hospital. While some think nothing of going to an opposite-gender health-care provider even for “intimate” exams, there are some who absolutely refuse to be seen by anyone of the opposite gender.
I used to be in the latter category, and my rants and raves in a “Physical Exam” forum were legendary. I absolutely hated being seen by an opposite-gender health-care provider, and was that way for over fifty years. My own attitudes have changed significantly in the last few years.
What would cause a “modest” lady, who wouldn’t be caught dead even being seen in only her underwear by any man other than her husband, to allow herself to be examined by a male doctor? What would cause a “modest” man, who likewise wouldn’t be caught dead being seen in only his underwear by any other woman other than his wife, to allow himself to be examined nude during a head-to-toe skin exam by a female doctor?
Why these “exceptions”?
I believe this health-care provider “exception” may be prompted by how we perceive doctors and nurses, and I believe that it is a combination of:
1) We perceive doctors to have a certain “authority” over us, because they have a TITLE – doctor.
2) We perceive nurses to also have a certain “authority” over us, because they have a TITLE – nurse.
3) It all goes back to who had “authority” over us when we were young…our PARENTS, and they have TITLES – father and mother.
4) Parents, because they have that “authority“, also have the privilege of delegating their “authority” to others, such as baby-sitters, teachers and health-care providers.
As adults, we have “authority” over our own bodies, and I believe that we do a “cost-versus benefit” analysis, even if it is subconsciously. Once we get past the marriage-nudity hurdle, our only “exception” is health-care providers, but we must be convinced that the “cost“…nudity, is worth the “benefit“…health-care. Thus, if we want or need a certain kind of health-care which requires nudity, we will “allow” that “exception” to certain health-care providers.
I have ongoing urinary-tract issues, which require both frequent monitoring and occasional treatment, so I “allow” my urologists to see, examine, and occasionally treat me. I also have a history of skin-cancer, so it is very prudent for me to get examined by a dermatologist regularly. If I were to hesitate, something might get out of hand, and become full-blown skin-cancer…the nasty kind. My “benefit“…good health-care…is worth the “cost“…occasional nudity.
I also need to mention that all of my health-care providers genuinely care about me and my health and treat me with the utmost of respect. On the scales, the “benefit” is great, and the “cost” is small.
I believe that if we have to grant “exceptions” to our “modesty-rules” based on the person’s TITLE, we have the wrong concept of MODESTY. We have equated clothing with MODESTY, and certain garments are more MODEST than others, but that is patently-false. MODESTY is about DEMEANOR, not whether a person is clothed or not. We have also placed a false SHAME on certain body-parts, which is also patently-false, because God created ALL of our parts.
What we do with some of those body-parts may need to be hidden from public-view, namely having sex and using the restroom, but even then, neither the parts nor what we do with them is shameful. Those are simply “private” actions.
Once I got past that false notion of clothes-based “modesty“, I have been able to dress up or completely-undress based on the place and situation without any concern about whether I was “modest“. When I got to a health-care appointment, I am often far less concerned about my “modesty” than the care-provider is.
I spent two days with about two-dozen other naturists, and even though none of them wore any more than a grin, they were entirely-modest. I was also around another couple of hundred other naturists on and off during that weekend, but I didn’t see anyone behaving “immodestly“, even though they were also not wearing much more than a grin.
I have also spent many “mental-health” days at Cypress Cove, and even though I have gotten to know quite a few people at the Cove, there are always people who I don’t know. As a result, I have been “seen” by hundreds, maybe even thousands, of people, most of whom were also nude. I have even led Cypress Cove Bible Fellowship clothes-free. We are just human-beings, so there is nothing “weird” or “strange” about any of us. I enjoy being clothes-free.
A grin is the only “clothes” you need!