Naked Men

I wrote this as a guest post for The Art of Manliness, only to find that they are no longer accepting guest submissions. I hope it won’t seem too out of place here then:

I think it’s fair to say that the average man exposed to the above advertisement is either:

a) uproariously amused, under the impression that it is fake or

b) painfully creeped out, under the realization that it is real or

c) a little of both.

As it turns out, the advertisement is real.

As men, we need to confront the obvious fact that, as awkward as Bradley’s group showers may appear to us now, it certainly didn’t appear so to the men who bought and sold Bradley’s group showers then. If a man were to submit this ad to the Washington Post today, he’d undoubtedly be rejected as a prankster. Less than 100 years ago, however, this ad was accepted and displayed. Male nudity just ain’t what it used to be.

And this isn’t some big secret. As The Oatmeal has it:

Our grandfathers are far more comfortable than us in their own skin. Thus modern men are left with two possible conclusions:

1. They’re weird.

2. We’re weird.

And though I’d like it to be otherwise, it seems that we’re the odd ducks: Our modern timidity over the naked male form is silly, unprecedented, and ultimately a detriment to the manly life.

At no point in history have men been overtly nervous over their own bodies.Whether in the Roman baths, Greek Olympics, or in medieval Europe — where public nudity was common in bathhouses, and even priests appeared completely nude in certain religious processions — there has been ease about men, a confidence and a certain peace in the display of the human form.

Then came Puritanism. I’m sure we remember our history, so I won’t bother with the full progression of the revolt against the allowances, worldliness and fleshliness of the old, liturgical religions. I’ll simply give the end result:

Puritanism saw the world — the flesh, material goods, etc. — as evil, perishable stuff, good only for ‘getting over’. The world is fallen, in the clutches of Satan, and the goal of the Christian man is to reject it in favor of the spiritual world.  The body — as part of the material world — is an essentially confusing thing, filled with dirty desires, concupiscence, unwieldy passions, bewildering emotions, depressions, rages and all the rest. It is not something beautiful — it is flesh to be transcended.

Thus a culture developed in which it was considered poor taste to say “thigh” or “breast” in conversation, and even perspiration and digestion became taboo topics.

But hold up! you may rightly protest. We’re no longer Puritans! In fact, many of us are not even Christians. Why then, do modern, western men fear male nudity more than their grandfathers? Why are so many modern locker rooms and dorm bathrooms redesigned with private showers?

At this point things get more speculative, but hear me out. There was a revolution against Puritanism. It was inspired in part by the inflow of alcohol-loving immigrants of the very same religious beliefs Puritanism reacted against (Big Bad RC’s), and in equal part by the philosophy of Transcendentalism, which saw the material world as holy and good, exemplified by Walt Whitman’s embrace of the body:

Through me forbidden voices,
Voices of sexes and lusts, voices veil’d and I remove the veil,
Voices indecent by me clarified and transfigur’d.

I keep as delicate around the bowels as around the head and heart,
Copulation is no more rank to me than death is.

But this is not the revolution against Puritanism most of us are familiar with. No, most of us are familiar with the Sexual Revolution. This revolution of the sixties and seventies defied Puritanism, not by calling the body beautiful, not by glorifying it like Whitman, but essentially by saying, “Everything is allowed. Sex is just a biological, ordinary thing. No need to surround it with silly rituals. Masturbation is normal. Pornography is normal. Immodesty is fine. We must gratify our urges. It’s all fine. We’re sexual creatures — let’s live like it.”

In short, the naked body is no longer seen as anything but an erotic body. This is, of course, stupid. The body is aesthetically beautiful, functionally beautiful, and just as much for climbing mountains as for having sex.

But the older ideas that the passions are to be properly controlled, that sex should be inseparable from love — and thus never a merely biological act — and that the body is never only erotic, all this was done away with in pop culture, quite happily by MTV, Planned Parenthood, Big Pharma, and our own weakness.

So when the modern man enters a locker room and sees a nude male, he is immediately bombarded with the understanding that before him is an erotic creature. When the modern man removes his towel, he does so with more fear than his grandparents, for he’s not simply revealing his body to others, but an erotic body. We can no longer be merely naked men, for the naked man has been eroticized. Thus Bradley’s group showers, entirely ordinary less than a hundred years ago, cannot be separated from the erotic.

And this fear of our own bodies is apparent in all aspects of all culture, for men and women. When the body is made purely sexy, then an old, ugly, or otherwise unsexy body is worthless. Thus self-hatred in the form of cutting is more of a problem than it has ever been, bulimia and anorexia remain at their modern highs, and the rate of cosmetic plastic surgery continues to shoot upwards. Characteristics of men that have always been considered ‘just manly’ — not necessarily erotic — must now bow to sexiness. For if the naked body is purely erotic, than it shouldn’t contain such unsexy things like hairy thighs, chests, and pale butts. Thus men — who, stop me if I’m wrong, have never felt the universal pressure to look sexy in the way we do today — are getting brazilian waxes.

It’s painfully ironic that our age’s young men are frightened of their bodies, for this is the age of liberation. But so it goes.

As men, I do believe we need to disdain this particular characteristic of the modern world. This is not to advocate random acts of nudity. This is simply to advocate a change of heart. The male body is no mere sex machine, it is a beautiful, good, and extremely useful system. It’s not simply that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies, it’s that we shouldn’t be eroticizing our bodies outside of the context of sex. As men, we should reject the basic tenets of the Sexual Revolution, that we should follow every one of our sexual urges, masturbate, watch porn, be sexy, and thus define ourselves as purely sexual beings. Such a view is terrible narrowing of the human person into a single characteristic. We are not homosexual or heterosexual men. We are not sexy or unsexy men. Indeed we are not merely erotic men at all, and should no more consider ourselves so than we should introduce ourselves with our penis. We are far more than that.

We are men.

Sexuality and the Land
The Difference Between a Renaming and a Baptism
Catholic Hospital Claims Fetus is not a Person!
The Difference Between a Martyr and a Victim
  • Orenjd

    What is the bottom picture?

    • The Ranter

      Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati in the middle.

      • Orenjd


  • Sarah

    While I agree with you wholeheartedly that the sexual revolution has distorted body image (hyper-sexualizing our bodies), where does modesty fit into the picture? Modesty preserves the mystery of what should remain hidden, guarding and protecting the most intimate parts of ourselves – body as well as soul and spirit. Where is that line between being ok in your own skin, yet not flaunting publicly what should rightly remain private?

    • Kyle Richard Therese George

      You are so right. The Greeks and Romans flaunted the body and it’s glory. That is why they were so often seen naked. But, yes this extreme is very immodest because the opposite of modesty most fundamentally is pride. Pride seeks to unveil the secrecy of the body, that should remain for the spouse. So, I think the most prudent way is to not show off the body the best way you can. And that of course goes for myself, who is a man. I have a duty to veil the parts of me that shouldn’t be flaunted.

      I think that’s what Marc is getting at actually that we shouldn’t be ashamed of our bodies, but that doesn’t mean that we should go around and be naked around people of the same gender. We need to be prudent, we need to be unashamed, but prudent.

      • David

        Another attitude towards the naked body can be seen among certain groups of sadhus in India: Here, the motivation is not pride or beauty, but rather total renunciation

      • Kristen indallas

        it’s not about nudity… it’s about erroticism. There are types of clothing that when worn are far more erotic than just being naked. I can look at the statue of the naked woman filling a pot of water or whatever and still value her whole humanity. Paris Hilton in a bikini eating a Whopper with the pouty lip and vacant eyes… harder to do that. I don’t think it’s about how many clothes you are or aren’t wearing… it’s about some less tangible quality that is completely beautiful that is being eroded on a daily basis from both naked (and clothed) men (and women).

      • Carpe

        Not pride. Vanity. Vanity is concerned with others’ views of me. Pride is concerned with only me. (Has nothing to do with the point of the article or your comment. I just think it’s good to clarify these sorts of things)

        • Kyle Richard Therese George

          Not true, the heart of the sexual revolution also beats with the heart of sexual immodesty. My comment has everything to do with the article and the question this person raised. Pride is a sin just as much as vanity. Many men and women enjoy flaunting their bodies, but also it’s awkward to enter a bathroom for men who are so filled with the eroticization of the body that they cannot get passed the valley of comparison or the sexual inadequacy of their own skin. So, I think the eroticization of the body presents us with the reality of a kind of deep hole in the view of self and that is the desire to be sexy and sexually adequate and to hide ourselves if we are not. Which is very much implied in this article towards the end.

      • Nude0007

        There is no need to be ashamed around men or women, public or private. And being sexually aroused is totally natural and should not be considered wrong or taboo. sex is meant to be enjoyed, even if it is just getting an eyefull.

        • R.C.

          Who said anything about being “ashamed?” You’re introducing a new concept into the conversation as if you thought it was already there.

          Remember you’re conversing with Christians, not Gnostics. A Gnostic (of a particular type) might be ashamed of his body because of his attitude towards matter and the fact that he thinks of himself as an exalted spirit riding in a vehicle of matter which is either irrelevant or shameful. To him, then, you must direct your scold against regarding the naked body as shameful.

          Christians are not ashamed of their body — unless they’re mistaken about what Christianity entails, in which case they’re being bad/poorly-catechized Christians. No, they’re ashamed of sin, if they have sinned and not yet repented and been properly reconciled.

          So if I’m naked around a woman who isn’t my wife because I’m hoping to commit adultery, then, yes, I should be quite ashamed. And if on some other occasion, merely out of thoughtless neglect, I make someone else uncomfortable through inappropriate dress, I should be a little bit ashamed (because thoughtless neglect is less shameful than willful sin).

          Now as it happens, people are imperfect and prone to both errors and willful sin in matters of sexuality and modesty. It’s a struggle for almost everyone to some degree, except a few saints (e.g. Thomas Aquinas in the years after his brothers tried to tempt him with a courtesan) and except for the uncivilized slackers who don’t bother to behave properly but meander piggishly from bed to bed and from immodesty to immodesty.

          Because people are imperfect, it’s kind and prudent not to make life difficult for others. Consequently, public nudity should be limited, not out of shame for the human body — an intrinsically good thing — but out of consideration for others. Perfectly sensible.

          For these reasons, your cavalier equating of public nudity and private nudity is off-the-mark.

          As for being sexually aroused being “totally natural”…well, who said it wasn’t?

          Of course it is. But please notice that you’re using a particular definition of the word “natural,” there: You use it to refer to what people and animals do, and how their instincts function, when not governed or shaped by conscious intellect and will.

          In that case, sure, sexual arousal is “natural.” So are the desires to eat, to defecate, to sleep, and so on. But notice that any of these desires may be acted upon in a good or a bad way: A man can sleep after a hard day’s work, or a guard can sleep at his post. A man can defecate because he needs to, or he can defecate on a captured prisoner of war to humiliate him. A man can eat to live, or he can eat like a glutton while his neighbor starves. A man can copulate with his wife, or with someone else’s wife.

          Now Christian ever makes a taboo out of sex; that’s a heretical notion and people who hold it have been regularly excommunicated down through the centuries. Crusades have been leveled against groups which taught that marrying and copulating and bearing children was evil.

          But Christians do, of course, label the misuse of an instinct or desire as sin when, y’know, it happens to be sin. It’s wrong, so they say so, quite matter-of-factly.

          Finally, you say, “sex is meant to be enjoyed, even if it is just getting an eyeful.”

          There’s a sense in which this is true. When I see my wife getting dressed in the morning or undressed at night, I’m all like, “Vive la difference!” I’m enjoying my eyeful. But notice the context involves love and commitment and family unity and a host of other things which prevent this from merely selfishly objectifying the person being viewed. She is a person to me, not a thing.

          This is important because people are people and things are things. Persons have a higher intrinsic value and dignity than things, and to treat a person as a thing is to devalue them.

          Even to treat a person merely as a living thing, but less than a person, is to devalue them. Exterminators exterminate flies, roaches, and the like. Nazis exterminate Jews. Any difference between these two? Of course there is: People aren’t merely rocks or clocks that you should kick them around; nor are they merely bugs that you should squash them.

          Likewise, people aren’t merely porno mags or (pardon my bluntness) dildos or blow-up-dolls or whatever. They are not meant to be used as mere objects for self-gratification. That’s treating them as things rather than people.

          Yeah, it’s a lot better than exterminating them, but it’s nowhere near innocent as y’know, relating to them in the fashion that’s appropriate for the relationship. If it’s your wife, revel in her beauty and “let her breasts satisfy you always.” But if you’re already married, but not to her, then be friendly and wish the young lady good day, and hope that she may make some other man very happy, and for the love of God don’t oogle and pant inwardly and memorize every curve for later enjoyment. That’s just making her into a commodity, and making a crass lecher out of yourself. It’s a form of exploitation, and it’s a great way to morph your own character, over time, into something like that old Jethro Tull song. (“Sitting on a park bench, eyeing little girls with bad intent.”)

        • alicia alicia

          lust is a sin!!!

        • Raj


      • Squire

        While I agree that being naked in front of a member the opposite sex (except one’s spouse) is one of the most destructive things that can be done. God gave us our body to be shared with our sposes. Seeing naked people or being seen naked by members of the opposite sex not only dilutes the adventure of nudity in front of ones spouse, but it takes away a certain vulnerability intended to be shared with our spouses. However, I think nudity in front of the same sex is healthy and can help develop confidence. Since we have the same body parts and there is nothing sexual about it, it is completely different that stripping in front of members of the opposite sex. I have never been naked in front of another man before, but I’d like to, just to develop that kind of confidence.

        • Kyle Richard Therese George

          That’s my point actually. While I don’t see it wrong to be naked with the same gender. It’s not a sin, except for those of heterosexual orientation. It might, however, in this social climate hurt confidence as well or cause people to be be boastful about their sexual excellence. I find it’s best to be prudent. I never said not be shy or unwilling to be naked with your male buddies. I just said it’s wise to be prudent about physical and sexual modesty.

          • Rivka

            Also, you might not even know the sexual orientation of the people around you. Even if they are your friends.

    • Bean

      rightly remain private…? why so? we aren’t born with clothes on. our naked body is not ‘wrong’. There is no basis for ‘rightly’ that is natural. It is an adaptive cultural phenomena.

    • Charles

      We were modest around the opposite sex. We would never say anything sexual, or discuss sex in the presence of girls. Now, they have no respect for women and say anything that pops into their minds. There was no need for modesty between men, because we were all made the same and seeing each other was not considered sexual.

  • kenneth

    I’ve had no trouble at all in both embracing the Sexual Revolution and also maintaining a comfort with my own body. At 42, I’m in better shape than many guys half my age (a VERY low bar, these days), but hardly have a model physique. I’ve spent days at a time at campgrounds without a thread of fabric on my body, in the company of both men and women, and it’s not an erotic thing at all. In fact, it becomes one of the most un-stimulating ordinary states of being one can imagine.

    Later this summer, I’ll be appearing in a friend’s burlesque show nude or nearly so, (or both at different points). Not a turn-on or self-conscious thing for me at all. It simply is. There’s a spa near me where men and women start off in their own hot tub/pool area, all completely nude. Lots of old-country Koreans and Eastern Europeans who grew up with the practice. It’s not erotic for most of them. Well, there is always the one bearish dude who looks at me suggestively in the steam room, but we shan’t dwell on that….

    Don’t get me wrong. Lust has its place, and I give it more than its due, but I refuse to let that, or shame, control me. Maybe that’s the pagan in me. Maybe it’s that I’m preparing for my eventual place among the old guys in the locker room…..

    • Michellehood

      Actually, lust is a sin and does not have its place in the life of a Christian. But then you’re probably not a Christian if you’re planning to appear nude in a burlesque show.

      • kenneth

        I’m not even Christian-ish. Pagan down to the sub-atomic level! :)

    • Alexandra

      I think it is that you’re getting closer to being one of the old dudes in the locker room.

      This article really confused me, really. My sense of not wanting to be nude in the locker room was rooted in the fact that I went to Catholic schools that emphasized modesty. The fact that modesty was a virtue, because our bodies are private and only meant to be shared with our married partner, was what made me aware that bodies were sexual and therefore meant to be kept clothed.

      It wasn’t until college that I learned more about the ideas of the sexual revolution and spent some time in Europe that I started to feel at ease in my body and be okay with nudity.

      At least in my case, my self consciousness and need to change in private was because of the Church and the idea of the importance of modesty and abstinence. My ability to walk into the public showers in the gym was because I embraced the ideas of the sexual revolution that my body is mine, to do whatever I want with. That if I want to have sex, that’s okay, if I don’t that’s okay too. That if I want to keep covered in the locker room, that’s my choice, but I also have the choice to not keep covered.

      • Mary Hoerr

        That’s interesting. When I was growing up in my Catholic home, it was clear to me that modesty only required covering up properly in mixed company or in places where it was inappropriate to be naked. So while I wouldn’t dream of walking around nude in the living room, there was no problem changing with my mom in my parents’ bedroom (after notifying Dad, if he was around, not to come in) or with changing in one of my sister’s rooms. Of course, a closed door meant you had to knock and get permission to enter, but that was about privacy, not specifically modesty.

        The shower room at school wasn’t totally comfortable. There’s a difference between family and strangers, especially if you don’t have any friends at school, which was the case for me. Just being in college where there were other people like me was enough for me to get comfortable.

        Of course, I had three sisters and shared a bedroom with one of them for quite a while growing up. I wonder whether this has something to do with what DG said about “in the Victorian age, where modesty became rampant due to increased living space.” When and where I grew up, it was very unusual for every child to have his or her own room. Sometimes if there was only one child of one gender (like my brother) and the rest were all the other, the singleton would get his or her own room. Of course, it was also very unusual for a family to have fewer than four children, too. How modest can you be when you grow up sharing a bedroom with one or more siblings?

        Larger families sharing less space acts as a kind of natural limitation, I think, on what Marc is talking about, where the naked body is always and everywhere eroticized in the popular culture.

        • Alexandra

          Well modesty is about the fact that the body is sexual. I mean there’s no denying that connection. Whether or not it affects people’s view of themselves as sexual beings is obviously going to depend on the individual and the living situation.

          My three sisters and I ran around naked at home all we wanted until we were about 12, when we had to start covering up. Clearly this had to do with puberty and the fact that our bodies were becoming sexual Even though we all shared a bedroom, we became more guarded of our bodies once we hit puberty. This probably had a lot to do with the large age gaps, though. In no way did this make me feel like my body was ONLY sexual, but it made me aware of the fact that it was sexual, and that made my body something that I shouldn’t be sharing with anyone, even my sisters.

          Mainly, I think that Marc’s views of what the sexual revolution are about are very different than what they are to feminists and people who believe in the importance of the revolution. What I learned from it was that my body was mine. To do exactly what I wanted with it. If I didn’t want to save it my sexuality for my husband, I didn’t have to, but that didn’t mean that I HAD to have sex before marriage.

          Once I didn’t care if people saw me naked and saw me as a sexual being, it became okay to be naked. Modesty is about avoiding being perceived as a sexual being. We keep covered because we don’t want people to focus on our body, which is sexual (though obviously not only sexual). Once I was comfortable with being a sexual being and people seeing me as one, I could be naked in the locker room and be at ease. I walk into the showers naked knowing that it is okay to be sexual and that even though I’m no longer hiding the sexual aspects of my body, I am still a whole person and haven’t been reduced to a sexual being.

          • Dash Riprock

            I’d suggest that none of us “has” a body. Rather, we are our bodies in a very non-dualistic way. The Catholic understanding is, I think, consistently opposed to the idea that the body is an instrument of the person, since the two are not separable.

            Second, and on a more practical level, I have to take issue with the idea that the lesson of the sexual revolution is that you can do whatever you like with your body. That is, it may *be* the lesson, but such a lesson is hardly the sort of thing that, say, a 15 year old girl can learn without significant danger to herself.

          • Alexandra

            I grew up Catholic, but I’m an atheist, so my perspective on this is different.

          • Teresa

            I think Mr. Barnes was trying to distinguish between sexual and erotic. Obviously men and women are sexual beings; they are one or the other. I think he was trying to point out that the massive eroticization of the body was detrimental to persons.

          • Mary Hoerr

            I’m beginning to think that a lot of this has less to do with the “sexual revolution” or feminism than the culture. As Marc points out, our pre-sexual revolution grandparents (and I do think this applies to our grandmothers as much as our grandfathers) were *much* more comfortable being naked around members of the same gender under appropriate circumstances. The “puritan” (perhaps we should call it “Victorian” type of modesty) was an aberration.

            I would guess growing up Catholic would be a bit of an antidote to that, but judging from your experience, there must be a significant number of people for which it wasn’t.

            Growing up in the fifties and sixties, I never got the idea from my family or Catholic school (after all, they had those group showers) that girls ought to hide their bodies from other girls once they hit puberty. I thought it was just an awkward stage most girls (and boys) had to go through as they got used to the changes and the new feelings.

            My mother respected our need for physical privacy as teens but I rather got the impression she was relieved when we outgrew that phase. I guess I was raised to think that a grown up woman shouldn’t be embarrassed to be naked around other women in the appropriate places.

            Maybe some of the confusion is that we did talk about that need for privacy as modesty also.

            You say: “I walk into the showers naked knowing that it is okay to be sexual and that even though I’m no longer hiding the sexual aspects of my body, I am still a whole person and haven’t been reduced to a sexual being.”

            Well yes, of course it is okay to be sexual, if by that you mean it is okay for a person to have a sexual aspect. It isn’t always okay to act on that. And you don’t have to hide the sexual aspects of your body among those of the same sex, primarily because those of the same sex are very unlikely to reduce you to nothing but a sexual being. At least, that used to be the idea *until* the sexual revolution.

            You *do* have to cover the sexual aspects of yourself in mixed company because, in our fallen state, it is difficult for people (especially for adolescents and young adults, especially those who are male) to prevent reducing others to their sexual aspects if they aren’t.

            None of it has anything to do with “being able to do whatever I want with my body.” That’s ridiculous. Of course you can’t do whatever you want with your body, especially in the area of sexuality and especially if you’re a healthy female. That’s the whole point of all our technology and medicine to fix what happens when people, especially female people, act as if they can do whatever they want with their sexuality.

            There’s a difference between “My body is mine and I can do whatever I want with it” and “My body and soul are inseparable and you can’t make me do things that are wrong.”

        • Alexandra

          Also I’m not sure that it’s true that the naked body is ALWAYS eroticized in popular culture. I think since the sexual revolution it has certainly been more acceptable to eroticize the body, but humans have always eroticized the body, we just do it more often since the sexual revolution. There’s a lot of really raunchy ancient art, raunchiness isn’t a product of the sexual revolution. And some of the most graphic pornography I’ve seen is from the Victorian Era.

          There certainly are instances of just appreciating the body for it’s form in pop culture. I know I have a calendar on my wall of famous atheist women posed nude to emphasize that their bodies are theirs and they’re beautiful. Some of the photos are sexual, but even then, it’s emphasizing the beauty of the body that is sexual.

          It’s not that appreciating the body as beautiful doesn’t exist in pop culture, it’s that there’s a whole lot of stuff that only eroticizes the body that swamps other things.

          • Mary Hoerr

            You’re right. The body isn’t always eroticized in pop culture. As you say, there’s just “a whole lot of stuff that only eroticizes the body that swamps other things.”

      • Mary Hoerr

        Oh, and I didn’t learn that our bodies were sexual specifically from the teaching on modesty. I think that had more to do with seeing my mom and neighbor women pregnant.

  • Skyler von Enn

    So true! This is exactly how I feel, but it hasn’t just affected our relationships with other men and ourselves, but also made it harder to have a purely platonic relationship with a woman.

  • mary

    I like the “so it goes”!

  • Peter S.

    Oh man, if you want the “Bradley group shower” experience, go to boot camp. Or if you’ve already been, stare at that picture until the flashbacks kick in.

    • Jeff

      The flashbacks didn’t take long. The hilarity remains.

    • Charlie

      Ah, yes. Fort Leonard Wood, 1999. Drill Sergeant Chapo: “You’ve got 10 SECONDS to clean your privates, Privates!!”

  • Michael

    I think you’re right completely. We do need to stop viewing and objectifying each other as sexual objects. @ Sarah, locker rooms are by their nature private places, and historically were not sexually charged places. So, yes, being comfortable in your skin means not being afraid to see another person of the same sex w/o clothes on in a changing room. I’m being over simple here; Thanks for the post Mark!

    • Sarah

      @Michael, are you saying that because locker rooms aren’t sexually charged places, modesty can be suspended? They are “private”, but they’re still filled with people, right? Shouldn’t a person, male or female, strive for modesty no matter where they are?

      Dr. Alice von Hildebrand points out that from the time Adam and Eve were booted out of the Garden, it has been a sign of respectability and distinction to have clothing totally veiling our bodies – especially the female (but the male as well). Why? Because, she says, anything that is precious, mysterious or sacred is hidden from view, or veiled, if you will. I don’t really see any appropriate time or place for “public” buck-nakedness. I feel that the personal modesty prevents it.

      Maybe Kyle hit on something when he said the virtue of prudence needs to come into play. People need a place to change before and after sports/workouts. Obviously those places are going to have semi-nude and nude people in them. Oh well. We go, we change, we workout, we change, we go home. No big deal.

      • Matthew Roth

        It would be no big deal…except for the fact that immature guys hypersexualize it and make homosexual references in the locker room to make others uncomfortable.

      • bearing

        “are you saying that because locker rooms aren’t sexually charged places, modesty can be suspended? They are “private”, but they’re still filled with people, right? Shouldn’t a person, male or female, strive for modesty no matter where they are?”

        As a longtime member of an urban YMCA, and a 37-year-old Catholic mother of four, it’s my view that an adult, single-gender locker room is the kind of place where various degrees of unclothedness are to be expected — as are various levels of people’s physical abilities to navigate slippery floors whilst carrying buckets of toiletries and trying to keep a towel wrapped around themselves. There’s only two toilet stalls, and people need to use them for the toilet; if everybody changed in the stall, we’d all be waiting a loooong time for the bathroom. I understand that some people may have experienced special trauma which necessitates them to have more privacy than the average person needs when changing. But for most of us, I think we just have to expect naked people in the locker room. Getting all shocked about it is like getting shocked about bathing suits (like, ordinary ones) on the beach.

        I really think the best way to practice modesty in the locker room is through custody of the eyes. Mind your own business and there won’t be a problem with seeing naked people — in this place that is expressly designed for people to take off their clothes and put on different ones.

        • Sarah

          @bearing, I see what you mean and I agree. A change/locker room is what it is, and is needed for changing. I suppose the immodesty that could go on in a locker room are things like overt staring and exhibitionism.

      • Don Corleone

        Dr. von Hildebrand is a wonderful, insightful lady, but she’s not perfectly insightful; either that or we misunderstand her point. Is Michelangelo’s David any less beautiful and mysterious because it’s naked? Is there no mystery in a naked infant? Even in a sexual context, does all the mystery about the other leave after two people get married? The nakedness enhances the beauty and mystery. This means that clothes, by themselves, can add to the mystery where appropriate, but not universally so. What matters about nudity is the context.

        • Rivka

          I think you misunderstood her. Or read her out of context. Remember, she was a married woman, who loved her marriage and thinks marital intimacy is a beautiful thing.

      • Just another Catholic

        Are you actually saying you believe the whole “Garden” story? There are so many holes in that story its amazing anyone still refers to it. But understand that even conceptually, God apparently had no issue with nudity – it was Man who “took on” shame – because of disobedience – NOT because he was naked. Secondly, no other creature feels shame in their natural state – except man. This is how we are – this is WHO we are. Why is skin immodest? What is inherently “wrong” (if you want to approach it that way) are the THOUGHTS associated – not the nudity itself. My boys skinny dip in our pool – is that immodest? Wrong? Sinful? Or just practical? If they had girl friends over and were having a make-out party – and they were naked with the intent of sin, then yes it would be considered immodest. Are we THAT afraid of the human body that any glimpse will lead to impure thoughts? If that is the case, there is a bigger problem than social nudity. I see nothing wrong with nudity in the locker room or anywhere not given to impure thought or social misunderstanding. I would not go to a bar naked (that would be immodest), but I’m not doing a “towel dance” in the locker room for fear someone of the same gender might see I have a penis. Ridiculous.

  • D. G. D. Davidson

    Now, wait a minute, it’s possible I don’t know as much about the Puritans as you do, but I’ve been made to understand they were quite the consumers of alcohol. They invented eggnog, after all. And I guess I don’t know that much about how they viewed sex, either, but I’ve read the Puritan Paradise Lost, and that’s pretty sexy.

    Why do the Puritans get the blame, exactly?

    • Luka Alexandrovich Nevskeyev

      I don’t recall dear Milton being a Puritan…

      • D. G. D. Davidson

        Check again, then. Everything I’ve read about him identifies him as a Puritan.

    • J.AO

      Yes, Marc should replace Puritan for something else. We dislike popular, simplistic misconceptions about Catholic history, we should extend that to the representation of Puritans as representing the utmost example of sobriety in all things, particularly sexual. That’s the only fault I find in this post so I really do hope he revisits that.

  • Tim Dessonville
  • DG

    I’m not sure we can blame puritanism for everything. There was also that little rise in Victorian England as well. Plus, modesty is not exactly an un-Christian virtue. Nor is moderation – and I don’t mean the moderation of Catholics fallen over the table at Church picnics after passing out from drinking while spewing forth more vulgarities than Carlin could have come up with – a bad thing. I mean actual modesty and moderation. Plus, let’s not forget, puritans are not the only ones to blame (though in Catholic circles, they seem to be). Not to mention, the average Puritan in the day would probably be more at ease talking about sex in the natural way than many today.

    I remember an interview with Kelli McGillis back in the 90s. It was on David Letterman. She was talking about her bigger movies (Top Gun, Witness). She went on to tell a story about filming Witness. During that time, they stayed with an Amish family that showed them the ropes, showed them how to be Amish (the closest case study to Puritanism as it once was). A young boy was showing her about the farm. This is Kelly McGillis. 80s actress. Sexually steamy scenes, you know – modern. He took her around the farm and while there, two animals (horses I think) were mating. The little boy looked up and asked if she did that with her husband. The audience laughed, and she said she was so embarrassed. Yet the little boy didn’t seem the least bit bothered.

    I’ve never forgotten that. Some of the ‘ick, sex’ we get was not from Puritans as much as it came later, in the Victorian age, where modesty became rampant due to increased living space, more and more homes with multiple rooms, and greater distance between people. In the age of those nasty Puritans, Mom and Dad made babies in one room, along with the extended family, along with the same place they used the bathroom, fixed dinner, and so on. I’m not saying they weren’t prudish, or that they didn’t tend to look at the world as totally corrupt. But I think those Puritans get a bad rap, and some of what came later, that would be completely foreign to them, gets dumped on their doorsteps, and rather unfairly at that.

    • D. G. D. Davidson

      Well, I don’t know but that they might have used the bathroom somewhere else.

      The story of Kelly McGillis sounds as if it might come from the division between city folk and farm folk more than from the division between modern actresses and Amish. Anyone growing up on a farm is going to be used to animals rutting. It’s embarrassing or prurient only to those who aren’t used to it.

      Also sounds like the sort of embarrassing question children ask because they don’t know any better.

      • DG

        No, it’s a difference between what we call Puritan and not. Privies were inside in many a Roman villa, and throughout history, while going to the bathroom outside might have worked at times, in freezing cold, without access to the superior out-house, you made do with some form of a chamber pot (even as late as Colonial times, a privy outside was rare). Just as the poor peasant made due with making babies in a one room cottage while the family (hopefully) slept beside the action.

        And the point of the story is, farmer or not, that Amish child had no problem with the topic, just as a puritan farmer of old likely wouldn’t have either. Puritanism, which took avoiding excesses to extremes, is sometimes blamed for the sins of the world. True, they did adopt an unhealthy fear of living, fear of the world. But not all of the ‘sex! Ick!’ came from them.

        While they wouldn’t have run around making porn films, the idea that sex itself was not to be spoken of is unlikely. They would have seemed, well, rather earthy and gritty by post-Victorian, and even modern, standards. So we shouldn’t imagine that any and all extreme reaction against excess can so easily be laid at the feet of those rascally Puritans.

    • Jane Hartman

      Kelli McGillis is now a lesbian, just for information.

  • Rick

    “So when the modern man enters a locker room and sees a nude male, he is immediately bombarded with the understanding that before him is an erotic creature. When the modern man removes his towel, he does so with more fear than his grandparents, for he’s not simply revealing his body to others, but an erotic body.”

    Haha, this reminds me of high school football, when we had players who showered in their shorts (showing modesty or keeping something hidden…? I don’t know. I don’t speak for anyone else). Then, keeping towels on after the shower, would change into dry underwear and continue getting dressed… was quite funny to notice when it was happening right next to me. Mind you, these were the same guys who sag their jeans, wear tighter shirts and the like. Seemed a warped sense of modesty to me.

    Marc, you’re right. When in the context of a locker room (or another place that involves group showers, I guess), I always understand that we’re all the same sex, and that you can feel free to change sans harassment. I also have faith that a majority of us still do. We all have the same parts, after all. I won’t get into the antics that go on in a locker room because I don’t find them sufficient to merit the degree of shame I displayed in the last paragraph. Our conundrum is horribly superficial… having talked to my father about being required to shower, going into 9th grade, he said half-incredulously, “Just go in, get your business done, and get out. What’s there to be afraid of?” I advocate the same position to the next generation.

  • John

    If Patheos doesn’t quit posting those “Mobile Winner” popup Android ads, I am done reading any blogs on this site. Real shame, but I can’t read more than a paragraph at a time as it is.

  • Deven Kale

    I must say I’m surprised to see something like this coming from a Catholic. You put some of my own thoughts into words far more eloquently than I ever could have. Well said, Marc. Well said.

    Edit: One caveat. If I were to write this, I would replace each instance of the word men or man with human.

    • Paco

      Well, just keep in mind that it was originally written as a guest post for Art of Manliness

    • Andy, Bad person

      Since political correctness has destroyed language that it’s practically impossible to speak truth anymore, I would leave every single man as man.

      • Deven Kale

        I wasn’t intending to be PC. I don’t care too much for it really, I think it just leads to confusion just as you seem to.

        What I was trying to say, subtly, is that the only way I would change Marc’s words if I were talented enough to write this, is that I would apply it to both men and women.

        • Cal-J

          Marc’s already done that. He has some old posts from about a year ago on human nudity and beauty.

  • Catherine

    I’ve always thought of this when reading old literature or looking at art – How much more natural it seemed. I’ve always regretted that it’s different today, that there is always an erotic connotation attached to the nude form.

    - But then again, even in the very old days the female figure was more guarded. The Greeks and Romans celebrated the female nude in their art, but to my limited knowledge they seem pretty isolated when it comes to that in comparison to other advanced cultures. This was revived in the Renaissance but was still only acceptable when it came to depicting mythology or religious themes, such as virtues. It caused quite a scandal when the female nude began to be depicted in art without any high-minded symbolism, just painted for its aesthetic beauty. I think that is because there seemed to them then to be an erotic connotation. But that mode of thought was overcome, and then the female nude in art was widely studied and accepted. – And that was all before the sexual revolution.

    Huh, maybe someone else can think more on this, because my thoughts aren’t really ordered.

    • Misfitmentor

      Catherine, I know what you are talking about. I am a female Catholic artist… went to art school and the whole 9 yards. I have been drawing naked people for half of my life (I am 30). The naked/natural human form is exceptionally beautiful. I’m not just talking about the fit models I’ve drawn either. There is an elegance that the human form possesses on it’s own without any social or cultural context. There is something regal about witnessing a room full of artists, drawing from a nude model and the basic respect these men and women have for the form they are putting on paper. The relationship between the artist and the nude is different from the relationship between the “peeping Tom” and the nude.

  • Sirlanka

    Great post!
    By the way, That’s Pier Giorgio Frassati? :)

  • KarenJo12

    This is a typical product of Barnes’ male privilege. We women have been hating1 our bodies since forever, mainly because men make us hate ourselves. You really want to feel bad about your looks? Be any stage female, ever, and the Catholic Church enthusiastically encourages women to hate ourselves. The single woman your Church has ever viewed in a positive liight is its own entirely fictional version of Mary, and any time women confront Catholic authorities with the harm they do to us, the only response we ever get is “Mary, Mary, Mary.”

    • Babs

      See, the Church I was raised in taught that I am wonderfully made and that I don’t need to chemically alter, or shove a metal contraption in my body to be whole. In fact, she taught me I had the power to demand not to be treated as a sex toy by anyone, and to choose my destiny free from fearing my own fertility. The Church is where I learned the real power of choice.

      • Katie Eichstaedt

        Well said!

        • Rufusruff

          Misogynistic, indoctrinated rubbish actually.Yes, you’re completely free… to have ten kids whether you want them or not and be under some withered old celibate’s moral authority in your most intimate and private moments. Wow, sure. Great freedom there.

          The smug “non-Catholic women/women who use contraception are all sex-mad sluts whose men regard them as toys, we who are righteous have ‘real choice’” rhetoric doesn’t help convince anyone. It makes you all sound unbearable.

          Why are supposedly intelligent women taken in by this BS?

          Oh, and before you all start on the “ooh, hairy legged promiscuous feminist” comments, I’ve been married for 27 years utterly faithfully on both sides.

          • treyfer

            Why does it bother you so much that someone actually likes her church’s teaching? In fact, it bothers you to the point that you verbally eviscerate someone you don’t know, questioning her intelligence & life choices. Please have some respect.

      • Rufusruff

        This news in, honey. I use contraception and I’m no-one’s sex toy just for your information. I’m no-one’s brood mare either. Cut the misogyny that the Church poisoned your mind with and quit your high horse.

      • Guest

        I rather like being a sex toy. BDSM ftw

      • Lapsed

        Is this the same Church that promoted nude swimming by boys (Sorry – that’s a fact) – the same Church the covered up the abuse of boys (and girls no doubt) – and the same Church that has consistently promoted outdated and indefensible standards? The same Church that “castrated” statues because they were nude? I’m sorry, but when you have 10 kids and can’t afford to feed them, that isn’t being holy – that’s being irresponsible. And let’s admit that we have all seen that. You are obviously free to accept any and/or all of the Church’s teachings, but there are some significant issues – even with the subject of nudity – where the Church has damaged its own moral authority. It is pretty commonly accepted that those disciples who were fisherman likely fished nude, and I doubt Jesus owned a bathing suit. Nudity is taken in historical and social context – and the author’s point is valid – we are apparently “Afraid” of nudity in the current social context – but why?

    • Elaine

      Karen… Marc wrote this post to submit to the Art of Manliness. He’s not being sexist, he wrote it for a website that is geared towards men. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

    • Mary Hoerr

      Guess I’m lucky then not to have ever been a stage female.

      I did leave the church for a while over their teachings on contraception, abortion and not allowing women to be ordained priests. But I did miss the part where the Catholic Church was encouraging me to hate myself. It’s seemed to me that it was the media mainly trying to do that, and it’s only got worse, not better.

      The less we cover ourselves in public, the seems like the more our bodies are eroticized and the more women hate their bodies. What’s kinda unique is that it’s finally hitting the guys too. There’s got to be some sort of realistic medium between hot pants and a burka.

      • KarenJo12

        You belong to a church that teaches that the basic, minimum qualification for any leadership role is having a penis. If you don’t have a penis, no matter how intelligent or spiritual or hardworking you are; no matter how educated or cultured, you will never, ever, ever be a leader. If you have a penis, you have the single most important thing to make you an “alter Christi.” The church worships Jesus, and the most important thing Jesus had was a penis. Think about that the next time you go to Mass.

        • Brian

          Logical fallacy much?

          • Deven Kale

            Even I don’t recognize the fallacy here. Which one are you claiming?

          • Stan

            Even you Deven Kale??! Heaven forbid, throw this claim out of court if even Deven can’t recognise it.

        • Mary Hoerr

          I see. So the only way anyone has a leadership role in the Church is to be ordained? There are no other leadership roles?

          I imagine you’re not going to like this next part, because the role of childbirth has been so incredibly devalued in our society, but I think the exclusively female ability to “build” a new human being and give birth is exactly analogous in importance to the role the priest has when he is acting as an “alter Christi.”

          Childbirth is reserved to women, by reason of gender, because God created them male and female, and being designed to give birth is what it means to be female.

          Ordination is reserved to men, by reason of gender, because God, who created gender, incarnated as a male.

          There is no biological male role that is equivalent to the biological female role. The male’s role in conception, while essential, is in no way comparable to the female’s role in pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding.

          Perhaps the second person of the Trinity incarnated as a male because he wanted the ultimate picture of the male role to be summed up in the crucifixion?

          • guest

            “being designed to give birth is what it means to be female”

            …honey, no. What it means to be female is so much bigger and better than how many beings I can pump out in a lifetime.

        • Teresa

          The Church doesn’t say you can’t lead if you are female. It says you can’t be a priest. Being a priest doesn’t really depend on leadership skills per se but rather on standing in the place of Christ and blessing the Eucharist. He is a vicar as Christ is.

          Also, as a Protestant, I admire the place for women held by the R. Catholic Church since the Protestant church pretty much has no place for women as women.

          • Jennifer Tatum

            Well said, Teresa! What makes your reply even stronger is the fact that you don’t subscribe to our “evil Roman teachings.” :D

          • Mana Rengifo

            Jennifer I agreed with everything in your comment except the last bit in quotation marks. I think you just meant it as in, “see they are not really evil although that’s what they are generally said to be by protestants”. But I feel that that would be an over-generalization of what many protestants might be thinking (whether or not that’s what they are being taught, which I can’t say I know). I think it can feel particualrly offensive if is used as a response to a beautiful comment about our faith.

          • Funkycedars

            seems to me that the comment was in refernce to KarenJo’s posts about what she sees as the Church’s teaching, nother to do with our fellow Christians

          • Funkycedars

            oh my spelling; reference, not refernce and nothing, not nother

          • JenniferTatum

            It was not said with Protestants necessarily in mind, but the general feeling towards the Church by many in this day and age. I’m sorry my use of the phrase has offended you so.

          • Sonny Ramirez

            Are you a Christendom student? I see you live in FrontRoyal.

          • Blue Henn

            I was, at one point in time.

        • amused by your ignorance

          You belong to the school of thought which seems to think that just because you can operate a keyboard, you should.

        • MoonChild02

          So, being Reverend Mother of a religious order is not considered a leadership role? Being religious education director is not a leadership role? Being youth coordinator is not a leadership role? How about music ministry director, teacher, school principal, medical director, director of a volunteer lay ministry, etc.? These are all leadership roles.

          The only reason that women cannot be priests is because of the fact that Jesus was a man, and while it is said that He had female disciples, he didn’t choose female apostles, even though religions in his day and area of the world did have female leaders.

          • davemc

            Apart from Mary Magdalene, the Apostle to the Apostles, of course…

        • Christine Falk Dalessio

          I belong to the Catholic church and I am a Lay Ecclesial Minster with a Master’s Degree, a Director of a ministry for eight and a half years, and now going on for a PhD in Theology. Oh, and I’m a woman. In leadership. In the Church.

          We do not have a phrase “alter Christi”.

          And the most important thing Jesus had was a Divine Nature and a Human Nature. There is no teaching in the Catholic Church that says “the most important thing Jesus had was a penis.” I am very sorry if someone taught you that, because that person was wrong.
          You may want to refer to the writings of the theologian Has Urs von Balthazar for a really interesting discussion of the masculine and feminine in the Trinity.

          And I would also recommend either the simpler “Theology of the Body for Beginners” by Christopher West, the study of John Paul II’s work “Men and Women are from Eden” by Mary Healy, or the entire meditation on the human person by John Paul II, “Man and Woman He Created Them” transl. by Michael Waldstein, if you wish to learn what the Church teaches about the human person.

          • Peter Samwel

            Well said, but doing so would force her to jump off the populist notion of the Church as “woman hating”. Can’t have that.

            My guess is the thoughts of West, much less von Balthasar or JPII, will remain shrouded in mystery and obfuscation intentionally by those who just can’t come to admit that their secular view of the Church hierarchy is often much more rigid, stuffy and sexist than anything that even remotely approaches reality within the actual Church.

        • maggieanne

          I find it interesting when women complain about leadership roles in the Church, and what they mean is that they want to be ordained priests. The “leadership” role of priest is the role of servant; hence a title of the Holy Father is “Servant of the Servants of God”. The “leadership” of Bishops, Priests, and Deacons is to provide the Sacraments and to teach as Jesus taught. It is not to teach one’s own teaching and to order a bunch a people around to follow one’s own social or political agenda. Service and humility to do the will of God is the first role of the priesthood, and it is our role as well.

        • Nicholas

          Pfft, as someone who just survived the application process for seminary, you have absolutely no rational basis for that statement. If you want to attack a position, don’t be an ass, please.

    • Carl

      Sorry you have had such a bad life. People who go around with a “chip” on their shoulder generally have a mental blockage from some event in the early life. Find a counselor and may be your life will improve.

    • Cal-J

      “…and the Catholic Church enthusiastically encourages women to hate ourselves.”

      That’s an interesting interpretation. Which teachings are you referring to?

      “…because men make us hate ourselves.”

      Are you referring to the fashion/beauty industry?

    • Cord_Hamrick


      Respectfully: Whomever you need to forgive, why don’t you?

      Easy for me to say, I know. And I could be wrong, of course. But I say it because you sound so much like, well, ME, when I was still stuck in coping with a profound wrong done to me.

      I get the frustration, believe me I do. But this is one of those things like a Chinese finger-trap: Pulling against the constraining force just renders everything that much more trapped and pinched. You have to be counter-intuitive; which means you have to give in the direction you instinctively want to pull away from.

      At any rate, doing so won’t make you any LESS free than you are now.


      Cord Hamrick

    • Penny Farthing1893

      Can’t tell if trolling or just… I don’t even… Also, you used “male privilege” in a serious discussion. The whole notion of dismissing someone’s points because they are from a privileged (or any other) group is the worst kind of ad hominen argument.

      Also: Therese of Avila, Hildegaard of Bingen, Joan of Arc, Queen Isabella of Spain, Empress Maria Teresa, all of whom were very holy women whom the Church admires. There is also the fact that many medieval religious communities were run by abbesses, even when there were abbots who could have done the job. See, the Church mainly values women for their minds, and strength of character, and always has.

      • KPaloma

        Male privilege is real. Also Joan of Arc was given by the Church by secular society to be burned. When she cried for a cross to the Catholic guards and priests present, they would not give her one, and the only person who would was a soldier unaffiliated with them. Joan of Arc also claimed that female saints heard her confessions, which they totally weren’t cool with, and even today would not be. She was only sainted for political reasons. Almost every female saint is sainted for political reasons. Hildegaard was not, but she was kept on the back burner for 800 years for no reason, and she was an amazing leader who earned her reputation. But nope, the Church ignored her too. Admires? No.

        • Cal-J

          For what political reasons? Joan of Arc was canonized a saint in 1920, half a millenium after she died.

          Also, what account claims Joan of Arc reported her confessions directly to female saints? I’ve never read one.

          “Almost every female saint is sainted for political reasons. Hildegaard
          was not, but she was kept on the back burner for 800 years for no
          reason, and she was an amazing leader who earned her reputation.”

          I’m detecting a smidgeon of spite, here. You make two assertions that are a little troubling: first, you claim that most female canonizations are marred by political undertones (which is foreign to my understanding), and second: that the 800 years between St. Hildegaard’s death and her canonization are an injustice, which suggests that the Catholic Church has an obligation to canonize certain people, (which is also foreign to my understanding). Under what circumstances does this obligation arise?

    • drummerboy

      Ummm…. this is awkward…

    • laursaurus

      Like the nuns who run schools, hospitals, charitable organizations, etc? Geez, the priests are stuck at the parish.

    • Pam

      Karen, that is so true what you wrote!!


  • JQ Tomanek

    Soon “crusdade of manliness” will be snapping online and you will always have a welcome spot for a guest post!

  • VivaPapaBen

    You’re starting to sound like a nudist again… Yes the human body is good and beautiful of itself, but you forget that God commanded us to keep ourselves covered when Adam committed the original sin and bestowed concupiscence on all of us his decedents.

    • Marc Barnes

      God commanded no such thing. Our Parents took it upon themselves, and it was a covering of nakedness between the sexes, an entirely different issue than locker-room nudity.

      • VivaPapaBen

        Adam and Eve were the fist to cover their nakedness, but God proceeded to make “for Adam garments of skins and he clothed them” (Gen. 3:21). You used the locker-room as an example, but you never stated that these remarks only pertained to members of the same sex. I was lead to believe otherwise when you said it was natural to climb mountains without clothes and when I considered your other posts in which you’ve spoken of desensitizing our lustful passions by viewing “non-erotic” nude women. Just don’t forget that mankind is fallen and that the virtue of modesty (at least among members of the opposite sex) is absolutely essential to the virtue of chastity.

        • VivaPapaBen

          I left a clause out of Genesis, “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21)

          • Alexandra

            That is interesting. Because at the time Adam and Eve were the only people at the time that God is making them clothes. But shouldn’t their nudity together as a married couple still been acceptable? If they were embarrassed of their nakedness, what does that mean for the importance of modesty in a marital relationship?

          • Misfitmentor

            My understanding of what you, Alexandra, are speaking of is not an issue of modesty at all. Having chosen to disobey and disrespect God, it logically follows that Adam and Eve were then all too aware of their falleness and ability to disrespect each other. It wasn’t that their marital nakedness wasn’t acceptable, it was that their marital TRUST in each other was shaken. They became aware of the possibility of being “used” instead of loved by each other. That’s how I understand it anyway. :)

          • Alexandra

            Do you mean that Eve “used” Adam? Or is that not the point? Is it just that the fall made them aware of the fact that they could do evil against each other?

          • Misfitmentor

            Yeah…your second point. The fall made them aware of the fact that they could do evil against each other. Imagine if you were so innocent that you could not even contemplate that your Adam was looking at you with anything but adoration and love. You two eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil and you suddenly have knowledge that your Adam is capable of looking at you like an object, with lust not love. You would hide your body.

            And your God, being kind, suggests that in your fallen state, clothing yourselves is a kindness to each other. They would love each other enough not to want to tempt the other unnecessarily. “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.” (Gen. 3:21)
            It is a theory anyway.

          • Penny Farthing1893

            This is brilliant! Truly well said and compassionate.

      • Austin

        Pope JP II’s Theology of the Body talks about covering ourselves up at the dawn of lust right after the Fall. We felt shame for the first time, because before, Adam looked upon Eve’s naked body with love and understood the “nuptial meaning of the body.” After the Fall, there is the dawn of lust, erotic desire void of God’s love, and Adam can feel lustful instead of loving.

        Sorry, Christian Morality class is kickin in.

    • Eric

      You, of course, are assuming that everyone must abide by the rules of Christianity. I’m somewhere between an Agnostic and an Anti-theist, and I personally believe it’s self-limiting to “go by the book” and purely accept Biblical stories as how things should be. Just because an old book tells us that we need to be unnaturally modest does not mean that we simply should be. Other cultures, such as Roman and Greek cultures, teach us that immodesty isn’t always a bad thing, so bringing up Christian views as a means of debunking the article in question is sort of… narrow-minded.

      Great post, Marc.

  • David

    its teh gays

  • Scott Mastel

    I posted a topic similar to this a while back at Catholic Answers:

    Fortunately, I don’t think this silly aversion to buck nekkid-ness in the locker room is universal. As a swimmer and someone who travels for work, I’ve experienced my fair share of locker rooms. Upon reflection, it seems like those in (shall we say) more secular areas of the United States are the ones where hypersensitivity about nudity reigns; conversely in the Dakotas (this blessèd land) it doesn’t even seem like an issue. I like how Marc tied this into the general subject of men learning to be men again. God’s blessings and Mary’s prayers!

    • Deven Kale

      I live in Utah, arguably THE most religious state in the US. Here, even at public swimming pools, we have changing stalls for people who don’t want to leave wearing wet swim trunks. Oftentimes I’ve changed into my street clothes outside of those stalls, and somebody will come and tell me not to, because children are around. Who are also boys. With the same parts. Which has ALWAYS confused me. There are even sometimes signs in the shower that state suits must be worn. I’m glad that there are other places where that insanity hasn’t set in yet, but it seems obvious when combining both of our experiences that religion has little to do with it.

      • Scott Mastel

        I guess my post could have been improved a smidgeon had I said something along the lines of “regions influenced by traditional Christianity”; it could be argued that Mormonism has a rather puritanical worldview akin to what Marc was discussing above (e.g., proscriptions against alcohol, tobacco and caffeine). Your blog says that what defines you is your “atheism and your nudism,” is it possible that you were scolded because you were being a creep about nudity?

        • Deven Kale

          Nope. Minding my own business, getting out of my suit, drying off, and putting on my street clothes, all while facing the lockers. Nothing creepy at all. It’s just how people are around here.

        • Alexandra

          Are you imply that being a nudist means it’s more likely that you’re a creeper?

          I’d think a nudist would be even less creepy about nudity in a locker room than someone who isn’t as comfortable with nudity.

          • Deven Kale

            It’s actually a very common belief. I don’t know why people automatically think nudist = pervert, considering it’s almost the opposite of the reality. Nudists tend to be less likely to look at pornography, less likely to dress provocatively, less likely to be sexually promiscuous, etc. So this persistent* belief that nudists tend to be “creepers” is really confusing.

            *Edit: pernicious was the wrong word.

          • Alexandra

            That’s so weird to me. I imagine nudists being the least creepy naked people ever. Though I don’t really know what makes you a nudist. To me it’s just being very comfortable being naked, including in public, so yeah, by definition comfortable and not creepy.

          • Deven Kale

            Nudists are always arguing what it means to “be a nudist.” We pretty much all agree on these basics though: nudists are people who are comfortable being nude in situations where many, even most, people wouldn’t be. Being nude, and being around other nude people, more often makes it far less sexual. So I would agree, it’s probably a lot less creepy. Unless people think being comfortably nude in a changing room is somehow creepy.

          • Scott Mastel

            Perhaps my accusations of creepiness were a bit hasty, nevertheless I still think that your definition of nudist is inaccurate; because if it were accurate, one could consider me and others to be nudists in that we’re comfortable being nekkid around others. (I never would). I think a more accurate description of a nudist would be someone who enjoys being naked for the sake of recreation; and I would think that someone with such inclinations could possibly be in the locker room for different (albeit perhaps innocent) reasons than just showering up after the game. Of course, with the extra information describing your particular situation in Utah, I don’t think this was the case for you.

          • Alexandra

            I think your definition of nudist is what is inaccurate, and what leads to your inaccurate notion that nudists are creepers.

          • Deven Kale

            What you describe is a “recreational nudist” (Yes, nudism actually has subcategories), where they have no reason to be nude other than during certain recreational activities, like swimming. Even then, they’re still not creepy in a public changing room.

            Enjoying being nude around others is called “social nudism.” These people are usually dressed in nearly all circumstances, but when around other nudists they have no problems taking off their clothes and socializing. They’re still not creepy in public changing rooms.

            There’s also a bit of philosophy which has developed around nudism involving health and nature, and following that philosophy makes one a “naturist.” Even these people aren’t creepy.

            In fact, there’s quite a few subcategories. Not all nudists agree on their definitions, or even if one should be a category. The ones I stated are the more commonly agreed upon ones, but there are those who wouldn’t agree with me. I don’t know of ANY nudist though who is creepy about it, especially around non-nudists in public.

  • Melv1024

    I love how this is filed under “destupidification.” Rad.

  • Arkanabar

    Try 50 years ago. Group showers were installed in both my middle and high schools. The middle school was constructed in the 70s, and the high school in the 50s.

  • Patrick Shrier

    I have been battling this in my son for the past year. Maybe it is my time in the military but nudity to me is nothing special. it is nothing to be ashamed of as much as it is nothing to be commented on within the context of group showers, the sauna, or other activities that are customarily performed naked.

    Great post Marc.

  • Maria

    Great post!
    I’ve noticed differences regarding this in different countries. We in the USA seem to be the most adverse to public nudity, and I have found England to be pretty similar. Ireland however (historically Catholic rather than Protestant) seemed to be more open, including complete changing of clothes on beaches (regular family type beaches, not nude beaches).

    I think this attitude, the viewing of the body as purely sexual, has carried over into children. It used to be that young children were exempt from the necessity of clothes and it was common for them to be completely naked at beaches, or playing in a sprinkler. Because of their innocence, they were exempt of the need for modesty. They didn’t have impure thoughts, and it was considered unthinkable that anyone would have impure thoughts toward them. Alas, we have come to a sad state where even children’s innocent bodies are looked upon with corrupt thoughts.

    Lord, have mercy!

  • Phil

    To me it seems somewhat of an issue of dealing with the culture seeing the body as purely erotic before we start becoming comfortable in the nude in proper situations.

    The feeling of shame that we feel when wanting to cover up is very proper and prompts us that we are not meant to be objectified and are not to objectify. (i.e. Love people, Use thing.) It directs us towards our nature as a rational human person. But in this culture where the body is seen as nearly purely erotic it seems that this has opened to the door to being objectified in ways that past generations were not and therefore this feeling of shame kicks in and we are lead to cover up.

    So I might suggest to hold up of becoming free wheeling with the proper nudity while trying to deny the shame that might crop up, and rather look to change how the culture views the human person and body. When we then view the human person and body correctly then the shame should subside as we are not in danger of being objectified as shame looks to protect us from.

  • Tony Esolen

    You’re all dancing around the issue. Not only can men not simply be themselves in their own skins in the locker room — they can’t walk down a street with arms around each other’s shoulders. We know why not. “They’re gay.” That’s it, right there. Don’t blame the Puritans. They were an earthy lot, and they have nothing to do with this. I don’t imagine that Amish boys have any qualms about being naked with other males around.

  • Ambrose

    Personally, I have zero desire to shower with other guys, or even to change with them. Lots of things stir nostalgia but not that.

  • Phillip James Jedlovec

    I love the picture of Blessed Pier Giorgio! He is definitely one of the best examples we have for how to be a holy, young Catholic man.

  • John Paul Dominic Brodeur


    I think you hit the nail on the head by asserting that the naked body is always interpreted as erotic in our culture today. What aggravates the situation even more is the cultural recognition and acceptance of homosexuality as a way of life. No longer are you a guy among guys in the locker room and communal shower. Instead, you’re a straight man amongst guys who could swing either way. And sexual orientation differentiates men just as much – if not MORE (culturally speaking) – than gender differentiates men and women. Only, it’s not nearly as obvious as the difference in genitalia that distinguishes men from women. And so, I think our generation’s tendency to cover-up in the locker-room is at least partly a Judeo-Christian instinct. We don’t want to be used. We don’t want to be prey to some other guy’s fantasies. Isn’t “necessary nudity” decidedly less problematic amongst good friends than complete strangers?

    What I’d like to know is PRACTICALLY, how do Christians handle the situation any differently? It seems like you’re addressing something practical without ever speaking about it. Are you saying, don’t use a stall to get changed? Are you asserting that guys ought not to turn and face the wall as they change from their swimming suits? Are you saying, guys should be in the habit of showering communally from a young age? Should they deliberately strike up conversation there while they are undressed? I mean, these sound like silly, pointless questions. Or are you merely addressing the more existential side of it, trying to theorize why the majority feel awkward in the locker-room – without trying to find a solution?

    All-in-all, though. Excellent post – as usual.

    • Yo

      Let me answer. First some background. I am a Mexican Catholic that studied at a Mexican and at a US university and use to swim there and here. While Mexico is conservative our point of view with respect to nudity is more relax. Explicit nudity is more frequent than in the US and some time it is used as a way to protest. You can see partial nudity in serious newspapers, and sometime total nudity when it is necessary (in medical articles). I have seen women feeding there babies in buses, restaurants,…, and nobody complains or get offended, even in the presence of teenagers. Staring a feeding mom is considered rude. In general, the concept of the human body is less offensive than in the US. In Mexico, while in the bathrooms, after swimming, everybody use to take a shower and nobody was worry about our nudity, just joke, talk, and do whatever guys do. There use to be a long row with many showers. In the US everybody use to shower fast, without talking, showering with their swimming suits, cover themselves, and use separate stalls. This article is just pointing out how the concept of the male body has changed and tried to explain it. It is not advocating nudity or to adopt certain behavior. It is just pointing out that the body is natural and beautiful. The attitude toward it is molded by our culture. However, you can not adopt behaviors that are alien to your culture.

  • Cord_Hamrick

    I notice there’s a bit of a debate here about whether, even for men, modesty or dignity or something fundamental requires the veiling of the body in all public situations.

    I think that it usually does, but not always; and I think that what’s missing to a certain degree is that under very narrow circumstances nakedness is a uniform: It is a thing that you put on rather than a stripping off or a violation. There is a certain sameness about all bishops in their mitres; about all monks in the garb of their order; and about all men when they forsake the garb of their individualism and wear the uniform of Homo Sapiens.

    But this is very easy to get wrong, of course, and more so in a society like ours that is simultaneously oversensitized and desensitized to sex [meaning gender], to sex [meaning instinctual desire and desirability, from the healthy to the fetishistic], to sex [meaning procreation], to sex [meaning one-flesh union], and to sex [meaning the consummation of marriage's sacramental mirroring of the transcendent love of Christ and His Church].

    All of the above “sexes” overlap, of course; but the very paucity and confusion of language reveals a paucity and confusion in our capacity to cope with any of the above. Sex is talked about all day long, but has any society ever been more sexually ignorant and confused? In one sense we know more about sex than our great-grandparents; but in the most important senses we know far, far less, because so much of what we know is trivial or wrong.

    So it may be that we are a special case: That we, in our ignorance and confusion, cannot permit even the nakedness of the male, even in those circumstances which would normally call for it, because we are in a state of extreme sickness on such matters. We are sickened by poisoned sexuality and starved for unspoiled sexuality, and as a result we cannot take the sight and significance of the human form at its full strength without vomiting it up.

    It’ll probably take a civilizational penance and purgation, like Chesterton’s description of the Dark Ages in the biography of St. Francis of Assisi, before, after some centuries of cold rawness and harsh living, our imaginations will be again clean enough to cope with even the fallen-human norms on such matters.

    (Is the oncoming economic crisis and the imminent collapse of the 20th century’s silly wealth-redistribution schemes really just God’s emergency medical treatment?)

  • AmberHopps

    Lots of sports players still take communal showers, i think its still quite normal!

  • Andrea D. Ruthless

    It has to do with race. In the past, white guys were with other white guys and they all identified with one another and most were physically similar. So, they felt more at ease.

    Now, more diversity means white men have to undress in front of black males who are more muscular and bigger-penised. So, white guys have become far more self-conscious and insecure about their physical attributes. But blacks don’t feel that way. If anything, blacks love to flaunt their muscle in public and their penises in porn.
    They are the new alpha while white males are the new beta.

    • Timothy Dalrymple

      I may be wrong about this, but I remember reading about this in a psych course, that there are distinct differences in penis size by race only when penis size is self-reported. When it’s actually measured by another party (a doctor, nurse, researcher), there is no statistically significant difference in penis size.

      Which is not to say that the impression that there are differences in penis size would not have the same effect as you suggest…

    • guest

      That’s just racist bullshit.

  • Christine Falk Dalessio

    This is well said. “It’s painfully ironic that our age’s young men are frightened of their bodies, for this is the age of liberation” and “Such a view is terrible narrowing of the human person into a single characteristic”, espcially insightful.
    I want to also suggest that we have a tendency to narrowly judge both men and women on their appearance, without thought to the complexities of human frailty. That is to say, one might encounter a too-tan, uber-muscular man and think he has overemphasised his body, without realizing that he has had a recent conversion of heart, and now works as a nurse who can easily lift patients, or perhaps simply keeps himself fit, but has a new understanding of himself… or a woman who is very overweight after years of bad choices or abuse, but who learns the truth of her body thirty years into her life, and is now at a place where it is nearly impossible to lose the weight…
    By this I am saying that your observations are true. And I add that we all have a tendency to be narrow-minded, even when making assuptions about a person’s heart based on his or her body. Perhaps as we learn to understand the Truth, we will be set free…

  • Alex

    Marc you almost got me to click that male Brazilian Wax link, but then I realized my friends would see it listed on my weekly internet accountability report they receive wonder what I was getting into. =P

    • Timothy (TRiG)

      Frankie Boyle said that men should never get a Brazillian, because when you get a hardon you look like a sundial. Frankie Boyle is not the politest of men.

      On the other hand, Greta Christina has some rather interesting things to say about the cultural trope that women should shave their pubic hair. She comes at it from a sex-positive feminist perspective, and is actually quite fascinating (and less predictable than you might expect).


  • nakedbeauty

    I think this is a wonderful post. I think it would be nice if men were more comfortable with their bodies. It would be even better if it could be extended to women as well; if a women could be naked without being treated as a sex object. Sex is great but not all the time.

    Have you considered going to a nudist camp? I believe people become nudists often as a way of finding peace in their own skin.

    • Borris

      Very well said, indeed. I am a naturist as well as a Christian. Naturism is to do with freedom, for me, and Christianity to do with truth. Surely it is possible to experience both. I certainly believe that I do. :)

  • Mary

    fantastic post! I think there has been an overall increase in body shame in the last century ( not that I’ve been around that long). Perhaps women have always struggled with body image, but I think it has gotten far worse. For one thing, eating disorders were no where near the amount they are now. I think a lot of this has to do with the proliferation of pornography. It has popularized the highly sexualized versions of both the male and female body. In these days, it seems nudity can only be viewed with lust or guarded with shame.

    • Borris

      Well said. :)

  • Amber

    Gosh. Awesome post. Awesome picture. Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati was such a man.

  • Aaron W

    Very good article, man! Here’s my view of male nudity with other men. It’s a Christian based website that I have created.

  • Chris

    An interesting post, to say the least. I am interested in whether or not you could provide a reference for your statement that, “even priests appeared completely nude in certain religious processions.” I’ve never heard this before and wonder when and where this took place (and in celebration of what feast day).


    I’ll tell you what I think the problem is: “GAY” happened & began to spread giant lies that implanted in the public subconscious. The lie that if a guy likes male nudity then he probably wants to arse-rape you – became THE implanted stigma in the subconscious mind. Eventually, lots of guys became hypersensitive to the entire gay-paradigm lies. “If you’re flaunting your nudity then you may be ‘gay’”. “If you’re nude, then a gay closet case may be scoping your arse.” THAT piled on top of realizing physical limitations or imperfections, –all combined to create the paranoid locker-rooms of today. And what I see is particularly telling because lots of guys who have no physical shortfall to be ashamed of, -are ashamed of being seen in the raw. I realized this back when I was in highschool & as a Kinsey-6 guy, -observed the false modesty & “he-may-be-gay” paranoia in the locker-room. The irony was that I was never suspected of being a guy who was into guys because of my conservative nature and I had a “blow-it-off” attitude if anyone wanted to be a douche & make sexuality an issue. I had several ready to reply comebacks if some guy wanted to throw “gay my way”. “Hey, Veh — are you into guys?” Would get a reply of something like, “You wish!” Shut the jackasses down every time! The FACT was that a few of the guys like myself were into guys — a very select group of studs on the DL who made it a point NOT to associate nor defend the growing “Arse-Fukker-movement” (gay). These distinctions are covered on the website in more detail.

  • Icebergman

    Sorry Sarah, who decided “what should righly remain private”? Remember, we are the naked ape…….

  • Oliver

    its disgusting how the penis actually grows!

  • Cathy

    Bravo!!! Well said. Your article is full of wisdom and great insight. Thanks for posting!!!

  • Jalo meanses

    oh shut up sarah

  • Jalo meanses

    you are a bitch sarah

  • Megm

    i wanna know if those men are avalible for sex!!

  • Dylan

    I like it so sexey

  • Chris

    Marc, I was still wondering if you could cite the religious processions to which you referred as having priests processing nude. That’s a claim I have never heard before and I was hoping to see some actual historical references for it.


  • Jdunay88

    Let’s all have sex!

  • Ranmanop

    Thanks for raising this very disturbing development. Although disagree with your ideas of where this inhibition comes from, I DO aGREE that it is a distraction to eroticize our bodies totally. And for that matter: How does a brazilian wax make a man’s body sexier. I don’t even like it on women.

  • Jonathan

    Some time ago I realized that in the New Testament there seemed to be an awful lot of conversation about circumcision. Almost as if everyone knew who was, and who had not been circumcised. If modesty were so all-important at all times, or nudity so rare, then I wonder how folks “knew”, and furthermore why the topic of circumcision had not become utterly taboo. On a more comic note, I am reminded of the “heap of foreskins” that the warrior shepherd David proudly brought to King Saul. Wonder what he had to do to get those….

    • Chris

      Knowing what circumcision was has nothing to do with modesty or immodesty. It was a religious practice that all Jewish males went through. It was how men entered the covenant and is proscribed in Old Testament. So of course everybody knew what it was. But that didn’t mean people walked around showing off the proof that they were members of the covenant (i.e. they had a sense of modesty even as it applied to this).

      As for what David did to get the foreskins of the Philistine to give to King Saul, he killed them. That’s stated right in the text of 1 Samuel 18.

  • Adeponte2003

    I come to a site geared towards men to read a well-written article about men’s issues and some twat decides to make it about female issues and feminism – it’s not always about you, bitches! F**k off!

    • Aoife_f

      I resent that comment. As a female, I understand and relate to these issues. The reasons that women are posting on this article are just as relevant as men posting their comments. So I’m just telling you to calm the f**k down. Btw I’m 13 and I do understand the importance of privacy and modesty, yet I understand the desire to be sexual. Religion is just stupid for condemning people to be ashamed of themselves.

      • Borris

        I think you’re right to object to that comment and I agree that these issues are relevant to women too; we all share the same world. However, I don’t agree that all religion condemns people or makes them ashamed of themselves. I am a Christian and have no problems with simple nudity at all. Jesus Himself was naked on several occasions and sinless. Adam and Eve were naked before sin entered the world. The article submitted by Marc is a thoughtful one and an interesting read.

  • Ken Gault

    Of course, a lot happened after the 70′s. AIDS wiped out 1,000′s of the revelers of the previous decade.

    In the 70′s we learned sexual freedom, but we never made the link to sexual responsibility or even to develop an adequate vocabulary of sexuality or eroticism. With the epidemic rising, the primacy of ‘safe sex’ or ‘safer sex’ became the mantra. There was no time to discuss the meanings of sexuality, relationships, intimacy, or eroticism. The overriding directive was: Put a condom on it.

    I can see the affect this has has on the gay community. The gap in leadership that young people will never see, for one, and later, the knee-jerk response that is implied by Gay Marriage. I began to see the blessing of same sex couples in the mid ’80′s. There is still a lot of discussion over the rights & meanings Gay Marriage, but as I see it, marriage is only one response to a kaleidoscope of valuable and potentially sacred relationships.

    Getting married does not inform any couple on how to live their lives together. We see this in the success rate.

    What we need is not a Leviticus of rights & rules, but a calculus involving “What would I do if I loved you?”, “How do I respond to beauty?”

    I hope as in the past, children will find better answers to this than we have.

  • Grygry28

    KarenJ012-not going to go into a long post about all the “holes”in your argument,but let me say this-there has to come a time in everyone’s life where they make their own decisions. you’re an adult-you have a mind,which means you have a choice. a choice to continue to believe what you’ve said(whether it’s true or not) or to break free. if nothing else-break free of your anger-it’s eating you alive.

  • Patrick Shrier

    That is because the average guy has never been to basic training and had to share showers with 60 other guys. Eventually it is not shocking, it is just 60 guys taking a shower, there is nothing inherently obscene about the human form. It is modern culture that has made the human body seem to be only good for sex and not for admiration of its aesthetic beauty.

  • Thomas Dubites

    Do I have to remind you of Clement XIII figleafing every nude in the Vatican? Adrian VI covering up the Sistine Chapel’s ceiling, calling it a stew of naked bodies?

  • olive

    i love this

  • lexisilver

    Young men today suffer under what could be called, ‘femlibfear.’
    Youg men want to be sexual objects, peacocks, it’s natural but have been beaten back into wearing lose clothes to hide their sexuality. It’s pointed as Gay to wear tight jeans, women don’t like them, on the beach baggy shorts are the norm as women ‘hate’ speedos. Men like wearing speedos and no athlete would dream of wearing anying else. Whilst this piece is about men, women have seen it as OK to hyjack it for their own, a kind of let’s all look at our vaginas sisters. This is about men. back to to the vibromaseur ladies

  • anduarto

    Got news for ya folks. There has always been an erotic element to same sex locker rooms. The only difference is now we’ve begun to acknowledge it. Before it was all unspoken. And it seems a peculiar trait of human beings that they can accept much more that is unspoken than spoken.

  • Lol

    O.o I was looking for pics of REAL nakid men

  • Stan

    Emm, – hairy thighs, chests, pale butts not erotic? Little you know ;-)

  • Borden

    The comments have taken quite a turn. To get back to the article – I am over 50 so I guess I am an old guy, but nudity in the locker room was not something we ever thought twice about. All through school, military, at the gym, it was just natural. Now young guys shower in their underwear. If we tried that in school we would have been ostracized as sissies for our pathological shyness. It is only with the rise of the gay movement that men in general started to become self conscious like that. To young guys now I guess this is weird, but for thousands of years, up to the70′s, this was just totally normal. This is not a good thing. We don’t’t need to sexualize everything – it has caused doubt and fear to enter into places of healthy male friendship and camaraderie. This is not progress but de- evolution.

  • MainlineP

    I’m not a regular reader of Patheos, particularly the Roman Catholic part. You are spot on about the younger men and their squeamishness about locker room nudity or common showers. I’m not a hundred years old, but I can remember those multi-shower-head fixtures in locker rooms as late as 1990. I used them, not always comfortably but who wanted to be sweaty and dirty after exercise.

    While I agree that the eroticism and blatant sexuality of the 1970′s onward changed how men looked at their own bodies, I feel you left out the elephant in the room. The LGBT movement and the use by advertisers of homoerotic images (e.g., Abercrombie and Calvin Klein to name but two) made young men uneasy about nudity in front of other men. Now that everything was eroticism, how can a heterosexual man be blase’ in front of a sexual being? For the old, raised in a different culture where same-sex male bonding didn’t have a sexual component, nudity in the locker room has far less psychological threat. They don’t have that baggage. I feel sad for the young guys who wrap themselves like mummies in the shower room and skitter over to their locker where they dress as rapidly as possible while never dropping the towel until absolutely necessary. Yet the same generation sends erotic photos out over that most public of places, the Internet, to one another. Go figure!

  • Steen

    I’ve made a similar observation, but with one key difference. In the locker rooms of the gym I go to with my friends, the women walk around naked, shower together, and go into the sauna together. We lay out our towels on the sauna benches and lay on top of them totally uncovered and chat with each other. I am completely naked in the women’s locker room every day, and it is actually a big social time. Yes, we’re naked, but we’re not uncomfortable about that.

    But our male friends say that, in their locker room, they always cover themselves with their towels, and do everything to avoid letting themselves be uncovered in the locker room. Even in the sauna, they cover themselves and it sounds less social. The men always tell us, “well, it’s different for men; it’s easier for women.”

    So why do you think that is? There is much more complexity here than you are admitting to. If it were simply to do with the sexual revolution distorting our view of the body, then why would women be unaffected? Why would only men display this symptom?

    Something to think about. I don’t think you’ve quite got the whole picture.

    • Deven Kale

      I agree with your observation that it’s more complex than most people here seem to think it is. Most of the men who have posted on this entry seem to be of the opinion that it’s about homosexuality, but to me this has never been the case. It’s always seemed to me to be more of an unwillingness to let any other men see how they “measure up,” regardless of who’s looking, either homo- or hetero-sexual. In other words, it’s more of a fear of ridicule than anything.

      It’s not just size that’s a problem though. There are always those who will find any excuse to make fun of someone, no matter how silly it is. I was often ridiculed in locker rooms because I actually dried my back, which requires holding the towel at the ends and pulling it back and forth across the back. I eventually gave up showering in mens locker rooms because of such antics from my peers, and homosexuality never entered into my thoughts at all.

      There’s also this prevalent idea in modern culture that the penis is something which should never be exposed to anyone, unless you plan on using it with the person you’re exposing it to. There have been many times in locker rooms at public swimming pools where I’ve heard someone tell a man who actually stripped naked that he should not do that with children around, even if those children are all male! Why that is, I cannot fathom.

      So you’re definitely right that it’s more than just the sexual revolution that’s caused it. In my experience, the possibility of a homosexual seeing you undressed barely even enters into the equation for the majority of men. Why so many men here seem to be fixated on that particular aspect of locker rooms completely escapes me. I truly don’t understand it. It’s almost as if they have blinders on.

  • David K. Ward

    The Ad above is from the folks that sold showers to the US Military for years. i was in the military for 6 years total. i find it crazy that so many of yall think that God’s creation is evil. It is not. The gym derives its name from gymnasium or more exactly, gymnos: “the place to be naked.” In ancient times, the gym was the school. You would workout, bathe and hear lectures of profound depth while nude or nearly nude.

    We as a culture have allowed Madison Avenue and Hollyweird to so skew nudity that this very strange exchange of words is published on the Internet and no one even questioned it. Theodore Roosevelt bathed naked in the Potomac openly with friends while President. It has only been recently, in the twisted, mangled, warped views of 20th &21st Century America that we have become scared to death about seeing a naked Brother or Sister.

    In the First Century Church, there was a long delineation of nude baptisms. The Jewish Ceremonial Washing is done publicly in the nude. Their baptistries are designed for this. They must strip down naked, and them submerge, untouched by anything for a moment in the water as part of the ceremony. It is veryvery likely that Christ was baptized in the same way. Christ on the cross was more than likely naked. In the early church he was painted and enshrined that way until Pope Pious X i believe.

    In Eurpope, with itself much older Christian Traditions, nudity is an everyday thing.

    Do you folks realize that there did not exist anything like a bathing suit until late in the 1880s? Nude social bathing was the norm until about 130 years ago. Even then, most of the middle class bathed socially nude until the 1940s.

    i love the Lord, with all my heart. He knows me as i truly am with every single fault and sin. i am His child. If God can accept me in my birthday suit, so should everyone else. It is only in the absolutely screwed up American Culture that we are so nutty about what is absolutely normal in every other part of the world, and even in our own Christian Traditions.

  • Sabrina


  • The Dread Pirate Roberts

    This is one of the best articles I have ever read! That cartoon is so true. I could not stop laughing at it. “This is not to advocate random acts of nudity.” Hilariously true!

  • Charles

    The problem seems to have originated with the homosexuals “coming out of the closet” and making a public spectral of themselves, and a public issue of their sexual orientation. Children used to be innocent, but now kindergartners are afraid to wrestle and to even touch each other for fear of being seen as gay. What a shame. When I was a child we skinny dipped on hot days, and no one thought anything about it. Now two men cannot share an apartment for economic reasons without being suspect. They have done a terrible disservice to the male gender.

  • Kikinwing

    You got it SO SO WRONG!!!!! the reason old guys don’t care about being nude in the locker room is because they havent been floored by this militant homosexual in your face everyone is gay bull crap and the younger generation has. So those of us who clothe up modestly in the locker room know that the fruits and nuts of the world today are checking other men out for sex……, more then likely ME as I walk bare butted in what was once a true man cave and now is a half a man cave. Thats the reason.

  • William E. Bauer

    This article bring to me something that I have not thought about. I was in the Navy and went to high school where (in both places) we showered together without a thought of modesty or uncomfortableness. I am amazed.

  • Aelred

    You seem to quote Whitman as if unaware that for him the male body was erotic. Didn’t you know he was homosexual?

  • michael

    How does a male post naked pictures of himself for females to see

  • Jacque

    Brilliant, timely, and very well said. It’s embarrassing even being witness to the embarrassment of other men in change rooms, to say nothing of young guys who would rather wear wear boxer shorts home (yikes!) than get dressed/undressed properly after swimming, for example. Bodies are beautiful even when not sexualised.

  • trs

    I think that what you say here has a great deal to do with contemporary male homosexuality. Men see other men as sex objects–and are taught to see themselves as sex objects–more than ever before. Why? In part because they don’t know what else they are supposed to see themselves as. Masculinity is now a more superficial virtue (quite literally) than it has perhaps ever been.

  • Liam

    During my studies as a painting student, I’ve taken a class in life drawing. In this environment, I saw and recorded both male and female bodies without any trace of eroticism, so at least in this one regard, in art, the body is still not necessarily erotic.

  • JasonStellman

    Hey Marc,

    Interesting and provocative post. Obviously the widespread availability of porn is a factor as well, with it’s, umm, exaggerated view of what’s normal, wiener-wise.

    A friend of mine, Amanda, wrote something similar about the objectification of women over at Heavy for the Vintage, an online group of artists I’m involved with:

    PS – We met briefly at the Steubenville conference in July, I was one of the speakers.