Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Stigmatized and Narcissistic

Dennis Prager, national talk show host, educator, author and lecturer, is a dedicated advocate for the protection of children’s “innocence” in our sexually permissive and exploitive society.

On the Best of Dennis radio show on 3/27/09, David from Sherman Oaks called in and reported that he is a member of a swim club that uses the facilities of a public swimming pool. David stated, “…fathers who don’t wish to leave small children unattended have been bringing them into the locker room including very young daughters…” David opined that the girls were three-four years old, and he stated that he is uncomfortable having to undress in the young girls’ presence. David said that the pool management was not sympathetic to his plight.

David apparently believes that his self-consciousness in front of three-four year old girls trumps the safety of small children, and the fathers should leave the children unattended, or perhaps not frequent public swimming pools.

Dennis Prager strongly agreed with David’s complaint about being exposed nude to the girls. Dennis stated that the innocence of nude young children is between children and does not apply to the presence of a nude adult male.

Dennis recounted that at the age of four he attended a summer camp wherein the boys and girls were together in “total innocence.” But, if a male adult had walked around (nude) “it would have been very upsetting to all of us.”

Dennis reported many years ago that his then approximately ten year old son was once on a Greek beach in the presence of topless women. Dennis stated that his son could not have cared less about the women as he went about his beach play activity. Is Dennis now saying that adult male nudity is inherently more unsettling than adult female nudity?

Dennis also wondered about: what “these fathers think when they bring their kid (to the locker room)?”; “Does your little girl see you naked?”; and “I am sure that these fathers do not walk around naked in front of their little girls so why would they expect other men to walk around naked?” Dennis, are you thinking that these fathers bring their little girls into the locker room and then hide from them when changing and showering?

David’s discomfort with being seen naked by a child is disconcerting because it may signal an adult fixation on the human body as predominantly sexual. David only voiced uncomfortableness when naked in front of little girls. But, that is not the case with many males today, especially the young, who are hiding from other males.

I take my grand children swimming at the YMCA. Recently my seven and eight year old grandsons and I finished swimming, and we took off our swimming suits in a shower room full of males. Most males do that, but that’s changing. Neither of my grandsons had any problem showering or walking around naked in front of others. But, when my eldest grandson was about to get dressed he started to string up a towel to shield his nakedness. I asked him why he was doing so, and he stated that he did not want anyone to see him. I asked him if he was trying to hide because he possessed something that no one else had. He immediately took down the towel and proceeded as if nothing had occurred. My grandson is comfortable being naked while showering, but something about getting dressed caused him to seek cover. Someone is influencing my grandson to be uncomfortable with his body in the context of getting dressed. Fortunately, my question disrupted that context and put him at ease.

The explanation that young males are hiding themselves from other males because there is so much child sexual abuse is unsubstantiated by the facts. These children are expressing a learned adult prejudice which probably expresses itself in subsequent adulthood as narcissism.

I believe Dennis is reacting to his deep attachment to the precepts of modesty as expressed by his understanding of Judaism. I had the same modesty upbringing under Christianity. I grew up in a household of males, and until I was in college I never saw my mother so much as topless, much less naked. I was embarrassed in the third grade when female classmates were ogling a photo of a nude male statue in the dictionary.

At age twelve, I had a paper route and happened upon a nude female about three years of age. My proximity to her resulted in the police paying a visit to my home that evening. I was embarrassed, humiliated and scared simply because I was curious and had never seen a naked female.

As a teenager and a sexual late bloomer, I had virtually no concept about the female anatomy beyond a gross generalization. On a beach I observed two teenagers and the boy had his hands down the front of the girl’s bikini bottom. He was rubbing his hand forward and backward, and I thought him foolish because his actions could not have accomplished anything for her satisfaction. I had not yet learned anything about the clitoris.

Certainly there is much to admire from the wisdom of religion. But, sometimes ancient wisdom can become a stifling yoke of subjugation and ignorance.

From “YMCA Doesn’t Stand for Christian or Male Anymore and You Can’t Go Nude.”

“A child is born into this world without self-consciousness, and he must be
taught to be ashamed of his nude body. That’s an unhealthy religious/cultural consequence of immense impact. It is the melding of nudity and sex as the former is stigmatized by the “sinfulness” of the latter.”

Link in this Blog:
YMCA Doesn’t Stand for Christian or Male Anymore and You Can’t Go Nude

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