Extropianism and Nudism

Perry E. Metzger (perry@piermont.com)
Fri, 09 May 1997 12:24:33 -0400

> From: hanson@hss.caltech.edu (Robin Hanson)
> I'm not sure why you think people's preferences regarding nudity would
> be very different in the comon areas of a gated private development,
> vs. in a private park. If nudity is prohibited in one are, why
> wouldn't it be prohibited in the other as well?

I live in the equivalent of a private gated community right now -- a
multibuilding cooperative apartment complex. The rules of behavior in
common areas are extremely restrictive, largely to prevent residents
from disturbing each other's quiet enjoyment of their homes.

A park, on the other hand, is not directly near someone's home. Given
that the reasons for the high levels of restriction in the gated
community do not exist in the park and other areas, I suspect that the
rules will be different -- the balance of the demands of the competing
interests being different.

Note that this is just a hunch -- we both could be wrong in some way
that we couldn't predict in advance. Human behavior is very complex.

> I don't see why we should think expectations regarding preferences on
> nudity should be very far out of equilibrium. I think most people
> know what naked bodies look like.

I disagree partially. I think you are correct that most people are
familiar with what naked bodies look like, at least theoretically, but
I disagree that people are *used* to what naked bodies look like.

I base this on personal experience. Before I took life drawing classes
(that is, took classes in which one spent several hours drawing a nude
model), I eroticized the human body to a much greater extent. Exposure
to nude bodies, week after week, posed in banal positions and being
forced to view them analytically to draw them, desensitized me to the
nude form. I've noticed that my own degree of body modesty and "body
shock" (that is, surprise at seeing a nude form) dropped dramatically
as a result of this experience.

This should not be surprising. To the Victorians, who rarely saw a
naked ankle, even the sight of an ankle was a charged experience. To
those who see the naked form repeatedly, it becomes uninteresting or
even banal.

Indeed, one might note that the degree of bodily exposure considered
"uninteresting" in our society has dropped radically over the last
century. We now are at the point where people practically go with
only ritual coverage of their reproductive organs in sufficiently warm
weather, as one example. This was unthinkable in Victorian times. I
believe that our shock at such things has eroded from exposure,
leading us to no longer notice it (much as I lost much of my shock at
nudity). It is not unreasonable to assume that the existance of places
open to the general public at which large numbers of people were
"routinely" unclothed would lead to further erosion of current
societal norms on body modesty as fewer and fewer people noticed or
eroticized nudity qua nudity.

> Also, within a small condo complex, does anything now prevents people
> who want nudity from offering to pay an amount to the association to
> allow it, thereby lowering other owner's fees?

No, nothing does, but then again, demand is fairly low at the moment,
and people do not use the common areas of such communities very much,
which is one of the reasons people such as me happily tolerate
draconian restrictions on activities within them.

Again, all of this is merely informed speculation. I could very well
be wrong about it, or the future impact could be radically different
from what either of us envision. Its hard to tell. There are far too
many variables, and its hard to assess them all.